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Fantastic pitching showdown in CWS opener ends in heartbreak

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Another gem by Joe DeMers went for naught as Mississippi State put together a 9th inning rally for a 1-0 walk-off win.

Tyler Davis end

Joe DeMers matched MSU’s Ethan Small in a scoreless pitching duel into the 8th, but the Washington bullpen couldn’t keep the shutout intact as UW fell to Mississippi State in their first-ever CWS game.

Alex Hardy got the final 2 outs of the 8th, stranding Jake Mangum at third base. In the 9th, State opened with back-to-back singles by Hunter Stovall and Elijah MacNamee. Hunter Foscue tried to put down a sacrifice bunt but popped it up, allowing UW to get an out without the runners advancing. Shortstop Luke Alexander hits a deep line drive to right field that just eluded the glove of Kaiser Weiss for a hit. Stovall initially had to hold in case it was caught, but rounded third and scored with the game’s only run to give the Bulldogs (38-27, 15-15 SEC) a 1-0 walk-off win.

Mississippi State advances to a winner’s bracket showdown with #6 North Carolina on Monday evening at 4 p.m. Pacific. Washington (35-25, 20-10 Pac-12) falls to the elimination bracket and will face Pac-12 rival #3 Oregon State at 11 a.m. on Monday.

Alex Hardy (5-3) took the loss for Washington, going 1 inning and allowing a run on 3 hits.

Zach Neff (4-3) gets the win for the Bulldogs, going 23 of an inning and allowing a hit.

Both starters were fantastic despite not many strikeouts. MSU’s Ethan Small went 7 innings, allowing just 4 hits and walking none, fanning 5. He was hit by a line drive earlier in the game but stayed in, although he was shown icing in the dugout after he was removed.

UW’s Joe DeMers went even further without a run, going 7 1⁄3 innings, giving up 7 hits, 1 walk (intentional) and striking out 2. He was extremely efficient with his pitch count, throwing just 72 pitches.

Washington’s best threat against Small came in the 3rd inning. After Christian Jones struck out to lead off, Jordan Schiffer and Mason Cerrillo hit consecutive singles to put runners at first and second. Small got called for a balk to let both runners advance, then lost control of a breaking ball, hitting Braiden Ward to load the bases. Nick Kahle made solid contact, but right at Alexander for a routine 6-4-3 double play to end the UW scoring chance.

The Huskies had a chance to take the lead in their final at-bat. Kahle hit a 1-out single, chasing reliever Cole Gordon, as MSU went to get Neff to face Joe Wainhouse. Neff got Wainhouse to chase back-to-back sliders for a key strikeout, but Levi Jordan singled to keep the inning moving. Once again with multiple runners on, UW hit a ball right to Alexander, as Graffanino hit into an inning-ending fielder’s choice.

Mississippi State had 10 hits, but by only 4 players. Stovall and Alexander had 3 each and were involved in the only run, while MacNamee and Mangum had 2 apiece. Six different Huskies had one hit each, but none more than that.