EUGENE, Ore. — Jimmy Rider drove in the winning run with a shallow pop fly that landed just inside the left-field foul line in the bottom of the ninth, lifting Kent State to a 3-2 win over Oregon on Monday and sending the Golden Flashes to their first College World Series.
Rider’s hit off Oregon closer Jimmie Sherfy fell just out of the reach of shortstop J.J. Altobelli and left fielder Brett Thomas, who appeared to lose track of the ball.
Derek Toadvine scored from second base before Thomas could make a throw, making Kent State (46-18) the first team from the Mid-American Athletic Conference since Eastern Michigan in 1976 to advance past the NCAA super regional and book a trip to Omaha.
“It’s really hard to find words to describe what this means for Kent State and the Mid-American Conference to make it to the College World Series,” Kent State coach Scott Stricklin.
Oregon was trying to end an even longer drought, just missing its first CWS appearance since 1954.
Trailing 2-0, the Ducks (46-19) tied it in the eighth inning on a single through a hole in the right side of the infield by Ryon Healy that scored Altobelli and Aaron Payne.
Healy’s hit was just the fourth – and last – of the game for Oregon.
Kent State went ahead early, scoring two runs on six hits against Oregon starter Jeff Gold, who didn’t make it out of the second inning. The Golden Flashes scored once in the first on a lined single by T.J. Sutton, then in the second on a bases-loaded double-play grounder by Evan Campbell.
ARKANSAS 1, BAYLOR 0 (10 INN.)
In Waco, Texas, Jake Wise drove in a run with a two-out single in the top of the 10th inning, and Arkansas advanced to the College World Series.
Wise, a sophomore catcher who entered as a defensive replacement, grounded a ball into left field out of the reach of diving shortstop Steve DalPorto.
It will be the seventh CWS appearance for the Razorbacks (44-20), who play Kent State on Saturday.
Colby Suggs (7-0), the fifth Arkansas pitcher in the five-hitter, struck out two and walked two while allowing one hit over the last two innings. The hard-throwing sophomore has gotten all of his victories pitching in relief.
Dillon Newman (4-4) pitched the 10th for the Bears after senior starter Tyler Bremer struck out eight and allowed three hits in scoreless innings, the longest outing of his career.
It was the third time this season Baylor (49-17) was shut out.