BEAVERS NOTES: Fry ready, Gordon sees return as OSU prepares as usual for Bulldogs
OMAHA, Neb. -- Oregon State coach Pat Casey said he won't decide on his starting pitcher for Friday's noon PT College World Series matchup with Mississippi State at TD Ameritrade Park until Friday morning.
The choice will be between freshman right-hander Andrew Moore, who pitched 7 1/3 innings against the Bulldogs in a 5-4 loss last Saturday, or sophomore left-hander Jace Fry.
If it's Fry, who is still rehabbing from Tommy John elbow surgery last June, it will be pitcher-by-committee. Fry, who has pitched 4 1/3 innings in five appearances over the past six weeks, is on a pitch count and would be limited to about 50 pitches.
The more likely candidate is Moore, a first-team All-American and the Pac-12 freshman of the year, who would be going for a school-record 15th victory this season.
"I want to make sure 'Mo' gets the rest he needs," Casey said Thursday. "If he feels good (Friday), he's a guy who can go. Jace is good to go. It would be nice to have a quality fourth starter right now where you didn't have to go back to somebody (the Bulldogs) have already seen. That's why I'm kind of thinking about Jace."
Moore would be working on five days rest, one less than usual.
"I feel great," he said. "I'm ready to go. It's good to have a feel for the atmosphere and what the whole park is about."
Moore gave up three runs to the Bulldogs in the second inning but pitched well after that.
"I felt like toward the fifth and sixth innings I calmed down and started to get my curve and slider back," he said. "It's just controlling the emotions and getting ahead of hitters and making better adjustment to making two-strike pitches. There are a few mechanical issues I worked out the last part of the game that I need to carry that into the next game.
"At this point, everyone knows everyone's strategies and weaknesses. I knew exactly where I wanted to go with their hitters and what I wanted to do. and they know all about me and what I like to do. It comes down to execution."
Mississippi State coach John Cohen isn't tipping his hand, either. He said Wednesday there are a number of ways he could go Friday, including bringing back opening-game starter Kendall Graveman -- who allowed six hits and two earned runs in 4 2/3 innings.
"They've already seen Kendall," Cohen said. "The familiarity can help you or hurt you."
Cohen mentioned Jacob Lindgren (4-3, 4.18) and Ben Bracewell (1-1, 1.48 in a mostly reliever role) as possibilities, too. In a 5-4 win over Indiana on Monday, Cohen used Chad Girodo through 6 1/3 innings of relief. It's likely the Diamond Dogs coach will go to setup man Ross Mitchell and closer Jonathan Holder in the late innings of a close game. Mitchell and Holder combined to throw 4 1/3 innings of four-hit shutout ball against OSU.
After losing to Mississippi State, the Beavers faced four elimination games just to make it to the best-of-three championship series. After beating Louisville and Indiana, it's two down, two to go.
"We have the momentum going," said left fielder Michael Conforto, 7 for 12 in the CWS. "We feel pretty good right now. We beat two really good teams. We have the history of our program, a great fan base, a lot of good things going for us here.
"We've faced their best pitchers. If we see them again, we know what they have. We have a pretty good start-up for this game. We're pretty comfortable against their bullpen. We know we can put up runs against them and shut them down offensively. We just have to score more than they do."
Casey said there is no mention of "elimination games" during his squad's preparation.
"We talk about them as games we're going to go after," he said. "Play the way we always play. The season's going to end one way or the other for everybody. Even if you're a real good team, there are seven of them that lose in Omaha. Only one of them will go home a winner. We are prepared to play a game just like it was a Friday night game in our conference."
Center fielder Max Gordon will return to the lineup Friday after missing Wednesday's game when he inadvertently filled his contacts case with allergy eyedrops instead of solution. He awoke Wednesday with a dilated right eye.
"I can see," Gordon said. "It's not 100 percent, but it's way better. I'll be fine."
The other Max on the Oregon State team, freshman left-hander Max Englebrekt, hasn't pitched since suffering back spasms against Kansas State on June 8.
"Between the two Maxes, one's hurt and the other can't see," Casey joked. "Call it the 'Max factor.' "
"Max (Gordon) is a character," Casey said. "Our guys like him, and I like him. It's fun to have him on the team. I saw him walking on his hands the other day as soon as we got done stretching. You have to stay loose. We're a pretty disciplined club. We do things right. It's nice to have someone who keeps it lighthearted."