OMAHA, Neb. -- Oregon State will face Arkansas for the national championship in college baseball after the Beavers won their fourth straight game at the College World Series -- a 5-2 victory over Mississippi State on Saturday night.
Sophomore designated hitter Tyler Malone delivered a three-run home run in Oregon State's five-run third inning, all the support needed for starting pitcher Kevin Abel. The freshman right-hander gave the Beavers their first quality start of this CWS, lasting seven innings.
Abel gave up three hits, struck out five and handed off to Jake Mulholland, who escaped a bases-loaded jam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
"It's special," said Oregon State coach Pat Casey, who led the Beavers to national titles in 2006 and '07. "Our guys, you could see, we were running on fumes."
Seeded third overall in the NCAA postseason, Oregon State (53-11-1) takes on the Razorbacks in Game 1 of the best-of-three series Monday at 7 p.m. ET (ESPN and the ESPN App). It marks the first time at TD Ameritrade Park, home to the CWS since 2011, that a team has advanced to the championship round after losing its first game at the tournament.
Ten teams -- most recently South Carolina in 2010 -- won championships after first-round defeats.
Oregon State flirted with disaster late. Mulholland issued a pair of walks, hit a batter and surrendered a run-scoring single, all with two outs in the ninth, before the sophomore closer got Jordan Westburg on a ground ball to shortstop Cadyn Grenier to end it.
"Mully is a drama queen," Abel said. "He likes to make things fun."
The Beavers lost to North Carolina 8-6 in the opening game as ace pitcher Luke Heimlich lasted 2⅓ innings, his shortest start this season.
Heimlich, the controversial left-hander who went unselected in the Major League Baseball amateur draft for the second straight year after winning a nation-best 16 games, was also hit hard Wednesday in Oregon State's 11-6 win over the Tar Heels.
Heimlich pleaded guilty in 2012 to felony molestation of an underage relative. He has repeatedly denied committing the offense.
The senior is now in line to start in the opening game of championship series,
The Beavers scored all five runs in the third inning with two outs on singles by Adley Rutschman and Michael Gretler before the big blow to right field by Malone -- his eighth homer of the year, on a 3-1 pitch from Mississippi State starter Ethan Small.
Arkansas secured its opportunity to play for the title with a 5-2 win over defending national champion Florida on Friday. The Razorbacks are seeking their first championship in baseball and playing for the title for the first time since 1979.
"They're really good," Casey said of Arkansas. "They're complete. They really pitch and hit. To handle Florida, [that's] pretty impressive. I know how good they are."