Without their best hitter the Beavers did what no one thought they could. They came out of nowhere to sweep the defending Pac-10 champs and took over the top spot in the conference, becoming the team to beat in maybe the best conference in the country. The Beavers swept their rival and #5 team in the country, Arizona State, doing so in comeback fashion, refusing to be denied.
The bottom of the order, as they have the whole series, got it done at the plate. Tyler Smith, who came into the series hitting an awful .143, had his third straight multi-hit game, he went 6 for 9 in the series with 4 RBI’s. Ryan Dunn another guy at the bottom of the order, had a monster series. He was 6 of 11 at the plate, including 1 home run, 3 doubles and 6 RBI’s. ASU couldn’t handle him. Carter Bell had a big game as well with 3 hits. The bottom of the order was the difference all series and picked up other guys and got the job done.
The pitching outside of the opener by Sam Gaviglio wasn’t very good. Josh Osich couldn’t survive the 5th Saturday and Ben Wetzler lasted just 1/3 of an inning Sunday. They both need to pick it up. Even with the struggles on the mound, the Beavers found a way to win and all of the makings of a special group.
If the first batter was supposed to any indication of how Ben Wetzler would do, things looked like they might go well. He struck out the first batter, Johnny Ruettiger on a series of devastating pitches. Then he just flat out lost it. He walked Zack MacPhee on four pitches, hit Riccio Torrez and allowed an RBI single by Zach Wilson. Pat Casey went out to talk to him, but after falling behind 2-0 in the count on Deven Marrero, Pat Casey pulled Wetzler from the game. It was pretty painful watching Ben Wetzler flat out not able to throw a strike. James Nygren came into the game for the Beavers, he then struck out Deven Marrero and Andy Workman to keep the score 1-0. That was a big sequence. Can’t afford to let it get away from you early in the game.
The Beavers showed their toughness by striking right back. After a near home run by Ryan Barnes that went off the wall with 1 out, Danny Hayes and Jared Norris walked to load the bases. Kavin Keyes hit a sacrifice fly for the Beavers to score Barnes and tie the game at 1 in the bottom of the first. Carter Bell then delivered a clutch 2 out RBI single, scoring Danny Hayes from second base, giving the Beavers a 2-1 lead.
Nygren then in the top of the second had problems holding the lead. After a fielder’s choice with 1 out, Nygren walked the next two batters to load the bases with 1 out. Then with 2 outs Torrez hit a three run double down the left field line. It was a definite mistake by Nygren. He had a good sinker going and went with a straight fastball and payed for it. Needed to be smarter than that.
The Beavers got a run back real quickly in the bottom of the second. The lead-off batter Ryan Dunn, crushed a home run to left to make it a 4-3 game. After hits by Tyler Smith and Ryan Barnes to put runner son first and third with 1 out, a very strange play happened. It was a 3-2 count on Danny Hayes and a ball was thrown, which should have loaded the bases, Tyler Smith however, was running and was tagged and the home plate looked like he was signaling for a double play. After all the confusion the umpire behind the mound made it clear he called a balk on starting pitcher, Jake Barrett. Thus, Tyler Smith was safe and scored a run, tying the score at 4 and the pitch didn’t count.
James Nygren couldn’t hold the Sun Devils at bay in the third. He gave up a lead-off home run to Deven Marrero, this greatly deflated the crowd. They needed him to hold them scoreless the remainder of the inning. He did this and finally started to get outs.
After a single by Carter Bell and a HBP on Berberet, Ryan Dunn stepped up to the plate and delivered yet again. He crushed a two run double into left center field, scoring two runs and giving the Beavers a 6-5 lead.
Mark Lambson came in to pitch then and his first pitch was costly. He threw a wild pitch which allowed Tyler Smith to score a run with an out. He did exactly that. He hit a sacrifice fly to right field, scoring Dunn and giving the Beavers a 7-5 lead.
The game remained scoreless until the bottom of the 6th inning. With Tyler Smith in scoring position yet again, Ryan Barnes delivered again, this time he hit an RBI single, extending the lead to 8-5.
In the bottom of the 7th the Beavers were able to get an insurance run. Parker Berberet was able to drive a ball deep for an RBI double, scoring Carter Bell. It was a big hit for Parker to bust out of his slump in Pac-10 games.
Tony Bryant who came into relief for James Nygren in the fifth pitched well but in the top of the 8th ran into trouble. With the bases loaded and 2 outs, Matt Newman beat out an infield single to make it a 9-6 game. Pat Casey then elected to bring in Taylor Starr. However, before Taylor could throw an official he was taken out as he was experiencing pain and couldn’t even get the ball to home plate. It would have been Taylor Starr’s first game since February 2009 but it wasn’t meant to be. Hopefully he will be alright and will be ready to go at some point this year and not need another surgery to fix damage.
Matt Boyd was then called upon to get the final out. He did exactly that. He got Andrew Aplin to pop out and end the top of the 8th inning.
In the top of the 9th, thanks to a fantastic double play by Tyler Smith and Ryan Dunn, was able to close it out for his third save on the season and give the Beavers a 9-6 win, and get them a sweep over ASU.
It was a huge sweep for the Beavers, especially without their best player, Andrew Susac. it was also big from a confidence standpoint. Now the players know they can beat any team in the country. I believe they can beat anyone in the country too.
Another reason it was a huge sweep, is now it vaults them into the discussion for a national seed. That is big for many reasons. It means they get a regional at home AND they could get a super regional in Corvallis. This increases their odds of making a College World Series substantially. It also means they wouldn’t face another one of the other 7 national seeds until the College World Series. Much easier road. The Beavers undoubtedly will be focused on getting a national seed.
It was a message sending series sweep. This team is the real deal. I always believed they were a conference title contender, the potential was always there. They just needed to prove to themselves that they were a legit contender. I think they have done that. They have heart and a never say die attitude.
The message they were sending was clear, Oregon State baseball is back and looking to get back on top of the college baseball world. Now it’s just about staying focused.
Here’s the links to the first two wins of the series. Dunn, Tyler Smith fuel late rally to beat Sun Devils in series opener. Beavers make big comeback late on strength of bottom of the order to “walk-off” with a win.
The Beavers travel to Palo Alto for a big series against Stanford. It should be a good series.
The Beavers moved to 24-7 and 5-1 in conference play with a win.