The Arkansas Razorbacks are one win away from their first baseball national championship.
Arkansas starter Blaine Knight shut down Oregon State’s high-powered offense, and the Razorbacks beat the Beavers 4-1 Tuesday in Game 1 of the College World Series finals at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha in Omaha, Neb.
The series opener was originally scheduled for Monday, though inclement weather led to it being pushed back a day.
Arkansas will go for a clinching win in Game 2 on Wednesday.
The Razorbacks are in their second College World Series finals and first since 1979. They have never won a national title in baseball.
Knight surrendered one run on seven hits with six strikeouts and one walk in six innings. The Beavers entered the contest averaging 9.6 runs per game in the CWS.
“They can hit,” Knight said of the Beavers. “They put a lot of good swings up on me. I was just able to manage the damage.”
Arkansas knocked Oregon State ace starter Luke Heimlich out of the game in the fifth inning, taking advantage of two walks, two hit batsmen and an error to grab the lead. Grant Koch had an RBI single, and Eric Cole, Casey Martin and Heston Kjerstad each had RBIs in the inning.
“He just started to lose it,” Beavers coach Pat Casey said of Heimlich. “He just started to lose it. He didn’t throw the ball where he needed to. I don’t exactly have an answer. He’s been real good all year and just struggled that inning.”
Oregon State grabbed the lead in the second. Trevor Larnach led off the inning with a double to right and later scored on an RBI single by Michael Gretler to put the Beavers up 1-0.
Larnach also led off the fourth with a double, when Kjerstad lost a high fly ball to left field in the sun. After a single by Adley Rutschman, the Beavers had runners at the corners with none out.
Larnach tried to score on a groundout by Tyler Malone but was forced to return to third after Rutschman was called for runner’s interference at second base. The call brought Casey out of the dugout to argue, but to no avail.
Knight struck out Gretler to end the threat, and the Razorbacks left the field with momentum after getting out of the jam unscathed.
“I was pretty pumped up,” Arkansas first baseman Jared Gates told the SEC Network in a postgame interview. “That was a pretty big momentum swing right there.”
Heimlich pleaded guilty to sexually assaulting his 6-year-old niece when he was 15 and has been a controversial figure since the news of his plea was reported before last season’s Major League Baseball draft.
Heimlich gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits with five strikeouts and two walks in 4 1/3 innings.
—Field Level Media