Mississippi State pitcher Ethan Small is expected to start Saturday night against Oregon State despite suffering an injury to his left (throwing) elbow on Friday at the College World Series.
Small, the Bulldogs’ ace, was hurt while playing catch during warmups. Positioned outside the left field line, Small went down after a batted ball by one of his teammates struck him.
“I was catching a ball from someone throwing in,” Small said in a video posted by the Jackson (Mississippi) Clarion Ledger. “They said, ‘Heads up.’ I turned, and my arm goes back here, and it just popped me on the inside.
“Initial reaction was like, ‘Oh, crap.’ It kind of hurt. And then about two minutes later it went down. Took some Tylenol. Played catch, and it was fine.”
Small (5-3, 2.89) pitched Mississippi State to a 1-0 victory over Washington last Saturday on the first day of the CWS.
In that effort, he worked seven scoreless innings and struck out five with no walks.
Earlier in the Super Regional round, Small was roughed up in a 10-8 victory at Vanderbilt, during which he yielded four runs (three earned) in four innings.
Oregon State has been on an offensive tear. The Beavers have scored 92 runs in nine NCAA tournament games. They dropped an 8-6 decision to North Carolina in a CWS opener last Saturday.
But since then, the No. 3 seeded team in the tournament has pounded out victories over Washington (14-5), North Carolina (11-6) and Mississippi State (12-2). Oregon State lashed Mississippi State pitching for 15 hits on Friday afternoon.
“A lot of guys are feeling comfortable in the box,” Oregon State infielder Nick Madrigal told the Corvallis (Oregon) Gazette-Times. “We’ve had some great at-bats, taking some walks when pitches have been out of the zone and we’ve squared some balls up when they do come in.
“I think everyone feels really good in the box, and we are swinging the bats pretty well right now.”
Mississippi State wasn’t among the 16 nationally seeded teams coming in to the tournament. But it has shown great resilience on the first two weekends, winning on the road at the Tallahassee Regional and in the Super Regional at Vanderbilt.
The Beavers haven’t announced a pitcher, but No. 3 starter Kevin Abel (5-1, 3.50) is rested, according to the Gazette-Times.