Oregon St. Comeback Breaks Losing Streak

It looked initially like Oregon St. (38-17 in the regular season), who came into the NCAA Regionals on a 5 game losing streak, would give a full crowd at Goss an empty feeling.

After falling behind Arkansas Little Rock, who scored 2 runs on three hits in the top of the first inning, Oregon St. was silent until the middle portion of the game.

And the Beavers further frustrated their full house of fans when they left the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth inning, while the Trojans, who were only 24-32 for the season, capitalized on a wild pitch with a pair of doubles that doubled their lead to 4-0 in the top of the fifth.

But then the bats finally came to life.

Brian Stamps doubled and Ryan Barnes tripled to start off the fifth inning, and Oregon St. scored twice to pull back within 4-2.

The Trojans left the bases loaded in the top of the sixth inning, and Danny Hayes homered in the bottom of the sixth to pull the Beavers within 4-3.

Cater Bell followed with a double, and Stamps a walk, and both moved up a base on a wild pitch. And then another base each on another wild pitch, which tied the game at 4-4. Barnes then doubled in Stamps to take the lead.

Matt Boyd took over for Scott Schultz, who had come on for starter James Nygren after Arkansas-Little Rock had moved to a 4-0 lead, and got a pair of strikeouts and a pickoff to get out of the top of the seventh. Boyd's move to first, well known around the Pac-10 as one of the best, was a surprise to the Sun Belt conference tournament champions.

Hayes singled in the bottom of the seventh, and so did Bell, but it did no good. So Boyd, with the help of a leaping catch by Barnes, set the Trojans down in the top of the eighth inning.

Garrett Nash did Hayes one better, homering with Barnes on base, giving the Beavers a 7-4 lead, the first time Oregon St. had been ahead other than a half inning 1 run lead in the last Oregon game, since the first game of the USC series, which was the last game the Beavers had won.

Tony Bryant, the Pac-10 leader in saves, came in and picked up his 11th. save of the season.

The comeback validated coach Pat Casey's decision to save usual Friday starter Sam Gaviglio for Saturday, and therefore keep Josh Osich in reserve for later in the weekend, by starting Nygren, who gave Oregon St. 4 2/3 good innings, despite giving up all 4 of Arkansas Little Rock's runs. The second half of those runs, in the fifth inning, came after a defensive lapse that allowed what should have been the third out to be the first of the doubles.

Gaviglio will go for the Beavers' 40th. win of the season Saturday evening at 6PM when Oregon St. faces Creighton. The Blue Jays won both the seventh inning and the game from Georgia in the afternoon's first contest by a score of 2-1.

Schultz snared the win, and his contribution was important, but Boyd and Bryant were back to their best form in closing the game out. The Beavers improved to 34-0 when leading in the eighth inning, largely due to the work of the "Killer B's."

The Trojans, who got into the Sun Belt tournament as the 8th. seed, and became the first team to ever win a game in that tournament as an 8th. seed, never mind win the tournament, acquitted themselves well, but their lack of pitching depth did them in down the stretch.

A dozen hits, and especially the power the two home runs and the triple put on display, on the night bodes well for the recently slumping Oregon St. offense, while limiting Arkansas Little Rock to 6 hits was a more than adequate effort from the pitching staff.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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