By George Kopf
Mississippi State rallies, Ohio State survives to win Frisco Classic
Game 1: Mississippi State 8, California 4
Bulldogs charge late, shutdown Golden Bears in Sunday morning finale
A back-and-forth affair turned maroon and white late, as Mississippi State scored four in the last three innings to leave Frisco with a 8-4 win over Cal on Sunday.
The Bulldogs salvaged their last game of the weekend, mainly on the arm of right-handed reliever Nate Dohm. He pitched five scoreless innings to shut down the hot bats of California, who had a little bit of a letdown from Saturday’s run-rule over Ohio State.
“We knew it would be a very tough game,” said Golden Bears head coach Mike Neu. “We needed to make some plays in those last three innings, and it just didn’t work out our way.”
On the flipside, Coach Neu may have found a gem in center fielder Rodney Green Jr. He had a beautiful swing on his third-inning homer, connecting for his second longball of the weekend. Green also made a fantastic home-run robbery to keep his team in it at the time. His efforts got him on the all-tournament team.
From the fifth inning onward, it was Dohm’s time to shine on the rubber for the Bulldogs. His outing put the gas on the throttle for Mississippi State to close out the win.
“He’s really good,” said Neu. “He made pitches when he needed to.”
Dohm’s one-hit, six-strikeout performance stole the show on Sunday morning and even in a rocky seventh where he loaded the bases, he got out of it and was rewarded with a win.
“I felt the game was on the line there in the middle innings and he got us another win there today,” Mississippi State head coach Chris Lemonis said.
At the plate, second baseman Amani Larry led the charge in the leadoff spot, fell a triple shy of the cycle, scored two runs, and powered his Bulldogs to a momentum-growing win after tough losses on Friday and Saturday.
“I like being the guy that sets the tone,” Larry said. “If they throw a first pitch that’s a strike, I’m probably going to hit it.”
Both coaches praised the tournament field as having the feel of a regional format, saying a lot about the talent and composition of all four rosters.
“I hope we’re a better team for playing here,” Neu added.
Game 2: Ohio State 12, Oklahoma 9
Buckeyes hold off Sooners late to take home Frisco championship belt
Ohio State center fielder Kade Kern’s 3-run dinger in the seventh inning proved to be the difference, as the Buckeyes survived a late Oklahoma comeback to win 12-9 on Sunday and take home the 2023 Frisco Classic Championship.
Twenty-four hours after getting run-ruled and roughed up pitching-wise, it looked as if Sunday’s game could be headed in the same direction. Luckily for the Buckeyes, three big crooked numbers changed the narrative and gave head coach Bill Mosiello his first signature win at the Ohio State helm.
“Take every win you can possibly get and learn from it,” Mosiello said. “It’s a lot easier to learn from wins than it is from losses.”
The Buckeyes only got to exhale after true freshman Landon Beidelschies pitched out of traffic in the eighth and ninth and certainly didn’t look like a true freshman on the mound.
“We have thrown him in so many tough situations, but he’s the best guy we have for that,” said Mosiello. “He’s going to have to go through that and thank goodness he did an awesome job in that ninth inning.
Meanwhile, for Oklahoma, a strong three-run first inning was only followed by late-inning magic that came up short. In total, the Sooners stranded 13 men on the basepaths when they left 16 combined in their first two games in Frisco.
“We took momentum in the first, but I thought the separator was the third inning,” coach Skip Johnson said. “We could never regain that momentum and did a poor job throwing strikes out of the bullpen.”
Oklahoma shortstop Dakota Harris was named the 2023 Frisco Classic MVP after notching ten hits on the weekend and playing sound defense all three games at Riders Field.
“It’s an honor, I put the work in, everyone put together competitive at-bats, just happened to be me this weekend,” Harris said.
As for Sunday’s MVP, Kern may have been overshadowed by Beidelschies’ pitching, but his long, 426-foot homer was a season-defining moment for the Buckeyes.
“He’s a really special elite player,” Mosiello said. “He has come up in the clutch recently. My dream is for those guys to get some more notoriety so that people realize we’ve got some really talented guys on this ball club.”
Kern drew attention this weekend for his efforts, making the all-tournament team as an outfielder, one of three Buckeyes to be honored.
As for the team’s success, this will be a weekend that sets a standard going forward in Columbus.
“We’re going to put [the belt] somewhere where they can see it and remember what it takes to win on a big Sunday and compete against a great program like Oklahoma,” said Mosiello.