Oregon State pitcher Jake Mulholland (right), a Snohomish High School alum, celebrates with catcher Adley Rutschman after Oregon State beat Arkansas 5-3 in Game 2 of the College World Series finals on June 27, 2018, in Omaha, Neb. (Oregon State photo)

Oregon State pitcher Jake Mulholland (right), a Snohomish High School alum, celebrates with catcher Adley Rutschman after Oregon State beat Arkansas 5-3 in Game 2 of the College World Series finals on June 27, 2018, in Omaha, Neb. (Oregon State photo)

Snohomish grad plays crucial role in Beavers’ baseball title

Jake Mulholland picks up a win and a save in Omaha, including slamming the door in OSU’s win in Game 2.

Related: Marysville Pilchuck grad Kyle Nobach overcame knee surgeries to help OSU win CWS

Jake Mulholland did his part in what turned out to be the biggest turning point at this year’s College World Series.

The Oregon State University relief pitcher and Snohomish High School graduate played a crucial role in the Beavers claiming the College World Series championship last week in Omaha, Nebraska, and his biggest contribution was making sure Oregon State’s miraculous ninth-inning comeback in Game 2 of the championship series against Arkansas was preserved.

Mulholland, a sophomore left-hander who served as Oregon State’s closer this year, left his imprint all over the College World Series. He made four appearances in the Beavers’ eight games in Omaha, allowing only one run in seven innings while picking up a win and a save.

And the save didn’t just preserve the game, it preserved a chance at the title.

Oregon State’s number seemed up in the championship series against Arkansas. The Beavers lost Game 1 of the best-of-three series 4-1 to the Razorbacks, and Oregon State was down to its last out in Game 2 on June 27, trailing 3-2 in the top of the ninth. When Cadyn Grenier sent a foul pop down the right-field line, it seemed the series was over. However, miscommunication between the three converging Arkansas fielders allowed the ball to drop, keeping the game alive. Grenier, given new life, responded with an RBI single that tied the score, and Trevor Larnach followed with a two-run homer that gave the Beavers a 5-3 lead.

Throughout this sequence Mulholland went from being downcast in the dugout to hustling to the bullpen to warm up.

“The instant the pop went in the air my heart dropped a little bit,” admitted Mulholland, who was in the dugout at the time because he wasn’t going to go to the bullpen to warm up until the score was tied. “Watching it I was hoping it would get out of the park, but once I realized it was going to stay in play I looked and saw that none of the three fielders was really taking charge of the moment. Once it dropped it was weird. We were still losing, but once that ball dropped I think every single guy on the team knew we were going to win the game an ultimately the whole thing. That was the turning point of the series right there.”

It wouldn’t have been the turning point if Mulholland hadn’t nailed down the save. After a quick warm-up Mulholland allowed a leadoff single before striking out the next batter looking. Then with one on and one out Arkansas’ Casey Martin hit a sharp comebacker to the mound. Mulholland snagged the ball and began what became the game-ending double play.

“It was just reaction,” Mulholland said about the comebacker. “I just kind of shot out my glove where the ball was, then ended up making the catch. It really wasn’t anything I had time to think about.

“Watching what those hitters did that game, and what the pitchers were doing before to keep us in the game, how not a single guy quit and how everyone was playing for each other, that gave me all the inspiration in the world to do as well as I could for my teammates,” Mulholland added about how it felt to be on the mound in that situation. “I thought that if those guys can do it, so can I.”

Had Game 3 gone one batter more, Mulholland would have had the chance to finish off the finale as well. Instead, Kevin Abel completed his shutout as Oregon State claimed the title with a 5-0 victory.

But Mulholland isn’t complaining. He did more than enough to earn his championship ring.

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