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Beavers stage dramatic comeback, force CWS Game 3

MLB.com @JimCallisMLB

OMAHA, Neb. -- In one of the most dramatic turnarounds in College World Series history, Oregon State went from hitting a foul pop that could have ended its season, to scoring three runs in the span of six pitches. With a stunning 5-3 victory over Arkansas on Thursday night, the Beavers forced a decisive third game in the championship series.

Trailing 3-2 with a runner on third and two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Oregon State shortstop Cadyn Grenier lofted a foul ball down the first-base line. Three Razorbacks converged for a catch that could have meant their first national championship, but second baseman Carson Shaddy overran the ball and it fell untouched. Two pitches later, Grenier grounded a game-tying single to left field against Razorbacks closer Matt Cronin.

OMAHA, Neb. -- In one of the most dramatic turnarounds in College World Series history, Oregon State went from hitting a foul pop that could have ended its season, to scoring three runs in the span of six pitches. With a stunning 5-3 victory over Arkansas on Thursday night, the Beavers forced a decisive third game in the championship series.

Trailing 3-2 with a runner on third and two outs in the top of the ninth inning, Oregon State shortstop Cadyn Grenier lofted a foul ball down the first-base line. Three Razorbacks converged for a catch that could have meant their first national championship, but second baseman Carson Shaddy overran the ball and it fell untouched. Two pitches later, Grenier grounded a game-tying single to left field against Razorbacks closer Matt Cronin.

Tweet from @NCAACWS: LIFE.😳😅😳😅 pic.twitter.com/reNs6CQaiJ

Trevor Larnach followed by taking two balls, then hammering a Cronin fastball into the right-field bullpen for a two-run homer, his seventh extra-base hit of the Series. A first-round pick of the Twins (20th overall) three weeks ago, he said he was looking for a fastball after Cronin blew the Beavers away with 94-96 mph heaters while saving the first game of the championship series on Tuesday.

Tweet from @NCAACWS: WHATJUSTHAPPENED pic.twitter.com/i4249Npuvr

"I actually top-spun it," Larnach said. "I'm kind of famous for that at Oregon State. I hit it and I just said, 'Get going, get going,' and it went. And from there I don't really remember."

Tweet from @NCAACWS: OH MY GOODNESS.#CWS MADNESS.WE ������ COLLEGE BASEBALL! pic.twitter.com/69L8ZPYusr

Arkansas had been 42-0 when leading after eight innings this season, a record that appeared would remain unblemished when Grenier (Orioles, supplemental first round) popped up. It wasn't an easy play as the ball carried down the line and toward the first-base stands, but it should have been made.

"It's a tough play," said Shaddy (Nationals, 10th round), whose RBI single in the bottom of the fifth gave Arkansas its 3-2 lead. "I was running and didn't hear anybody call it, so I just kept running trying to make the play and overran it. It's a tough break. We just have to get back out tomorrow and we're really confident in [projected starter] Isaiah [Campbell] and we're ready to go."

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Grenier said he was unsure if his foul pop would be caught because it wasn't a routine play. Once he was given a second chance, he was determined to make the most of it.

"Pretty much as soon as you see the ball drop, you have another life," said Grenier, who gave the Beavers a 2-1 advantage in the top of the fifth with a bases-loaded bunt single. "And really all I thought was I just need to refocus and make the most of that extra life that we got when that ball did drop. That's all you can do. You take it as it was -- that's a gift. And it's a new life and you do what you can with it."

Shortstop Jax Biggers (Rangers, eighth round) led off the bottom of the ninth with a single off right-hander Kevin Abel, who struck out the side in the eighth and earned his third victory of the Series, tying a CWS record. Left-hander Jake Mulholland replaced Abel and earned his 16th save of the season by striking out right fielder Eric Cole (Royals, fourth round) looking on a slider and inducing freshman sensation Casey Martin to ground into a double play.

Oregon State's rally sets up a winner-take-all game on Thursday, The Beavers (54-12) seek their third national championship after winning in 2006-07, while the Razorbacks (48-20) never have won the CWS.

Arkansas made it through their half of the bracket with three straight wins, as opposed to Oregon State dropping its CWS opener to North Carolina and requiring two extra games, so the Razorbacks are in better shape with their starting pitching. They'll turn to Campbell (Angels, 24th), a redshirt sophomore who can miss bats with three pitches, including a fastball that touches 98 mph. He struck out eight in 5 1/3 strong innings while eliminating defending CWS champion Florida in a bracket final on Friday, improving his record to 5-6 with a 4.12 ERA.

The Beavers rank 13th in NCAA Division I with a 3.34 ERA but have gotten just one quality start in seven games in Omaha, taking an extreme toll on their bullpen. Their best option may be to start Abel, who threw 23 pitches in his win over Arkansas and is 7-1 with a 3.25 ERA. A freshman who can show three plus pitches and could blossom into a first-rounder in the 2020 Draft, he allowed one run in seven innings against Mississippi State in his lone CWS start.

College World Series championship series schedule
Tuesday, June 26
Arkansas 4, Oregon State 1
Wednesday, June 27
Oregon State 5, Arkansas 3
Thursday, June 28
Arkansas vs. Oregon State, 6:30 p.m. ET

Jim Callis is a reporter for MLB.com. Follow @jimcallisMLB on Twitter. Listen to him on the weekly Pipeline Podcast.