The Colorado State Rams became the first team eliminated from the National Club Baseball Association World Series on Saturday after their 3-2 loss to the Penn State Nittany Lions.
Despite being the second seed, the Rams did not pick up a win in the tournament as the week began with a 6-0 loss to the Texas State Bobcats on Thursday.
The Bobcats jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first inning behind five straight hits, the last two being a double and a triple that brought home three of the runs. After settling down for the next two innings, sophomore pitcher Phelan Castellano surrendered another run in the fourth inning after an error by center fielder Matt Hart.
Texas State added another run in the eighth inning on a sacrifice fly off of junior Brad Johnson. The fly out would have been the third out, but the Rams made an error on a dropped third strike to the previous batter that allowed him to reach base.
The Rams offense came into the World Series hot after scoring 10 or more runs in all three of their regional wins two weeks prior. On Thursday, the Rams failed to capitalize on their opportunities. CSU had runners in scoring position in five of the nine innings, including the first three innings.
Bobcats pitcher Lane Vrba was able to work out of every situation as he finished off a complete game shutout of the Rams despite giving up eight hits. He struck out five and only gave up one walk.
The loss put the Rams into the losers bracket of the double elimination tournament and pitted them against Penn State. The red hot Rams offense went 17 straight innings without a run until they finally broke through in the ninth inning against the Nittany Lions, down 3-0.
Sophomore Brandon DeLay started the rally with a high fly ball in the infield that fell after PSU’s fielders could not communicate to make the catch. Senior Matt Smith would follow it up with a single of his own that forced PSU to take out starting pitcher Matt McDonough who allowed one earned run off of four hits and one walk with five strikeouts.
Two fielder’s choices later and the Rams scored their first run of the World Series on a dropped line drive to first base. Senior Matt Davis stole second with two outs and scored on the next pitch after PSU’s second baseman made an error on a routine grounder by senior Matt Hart.
The rally would end there however as sophomore Luke Demolli went down on three pitches to end the game and season for the Rams with a 3-2 loss.
The season ending loss starts a major change for CSU as next year will be quite different. The Rams are losing eight seniors, including the entire starting infield.
“We are losing amazing leaders,” head coach Troy Tolar said in a postgame interview. “They have done an amazing job stepping up and being leaders for this team and teaching the young guys how to do it.”
The Rams finished the year 28-9 with a 14-1 conference record. It was the Rams’ ninth World Series appearance in their 16 year history and only the third time they have left without winning it all.
“I wouldn’t trade this team for anything,” Tolar said. “Every single one of our players works their butt off every day. I would put this team up against anybody, they are the hardest working team in the country.”
Collegian sports reporter Austin White can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @ajwrules44.