OMAHA, Neb. - Danny Hayes had a potential game-winning home run caught at the warning track and Michael Conforto became the first Oregon State player to get four hits at the NCAA College World Series, but the Beavers dropped the opening game to Mississippi State, 5-4, Saturday afternoon at TD Ameritrade Park.
Tyler Smith singled to open the ninth inning and advanced to second when Conforto walked with one out. Hayes hit a 2-2 curveball that looked to be gone, but fell just a few feet short of the fence and into right fielder Hunter Renfroe's glove for the final out.
After dropping the first game of the College World Series to Miami in 2006, the Beavers battled back to win their first of back-to-back national championships. They will have to do the same to claim their third national title in eight years when they face the loser of Indiana-Louisville at 2 p.m. CT (noon PT) on Monday.
Mississippi State got the game-winning runs on a two-out double by Wes Rea that knocked in Alex Detz and Renfroe who reached on back-to-back singles.
Matt Boyd, who was making his second consecutive relief appearance, was saddled with the loss when a line drive ricocheted off his back on a liner by Renfroe before Rea's double.
Conforto showed everyone he is one of the nation's best players by going 4-for-4 from the plate with two doubles, an RBI and run, and made several spectacular plays in left field, including throwing out Sam Frost at the plate when he attempted to score on a flyout in the second inning.
Freshman All-American Andrew Moore allowed six hits and three runs in 7 1/3 innings but was denied his school-record 15th win of the season when the Bulldogs rallied in the eighth inning.
Oregon State (50-12) took an early 2-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning when Michael Conforto knocked in Tyler Smith, who reached on a throwing error, with a double and scored on an RBI single by Danny Hayes.
The Bulldogs (49-18) answered with three runs in the top of the second with the help of a double, two singles, a walk and a hit by pitch. The inning could have been worse for the Beavers but Conforto gunned down Sam Frost at the plate when he attempted to score on a flyout.
The Beavers tied the game at 3 in the fourth when Kavin Keyes hit a ball down the line that got by the left fielder for a triple that scored Hayes, who led off the inning with a walk.
Oregon State took a 4-3 lead in the fifth inning when Andy Peterson singled, moved to third on a double by Conforto and scored on a groundout by Dylan Davis.
The game was played in front of 24,473, the eighth-largest crowd in TD Ameritrade Park history.
Oregon State had won seven straight games at the College World Series between 2006 and 2007 at Rosenblatt Stadium to claim back-to-back national championships. Saturday was the first time the Beavers played at TD Ameritrade Park, which became the new home of college baseball's biggest stage in 2011.