Oregon St. improved to 2-0 for the still new baseball season, with a 9-2 win over Gonzaga Saturday afternoon in Palm Springs. The Beavers did most of their work in 4th inning, more than batting around, after having had their batting order set down in order the first time through the lineup.
All 9 Beavers in the batting order would put the ball in play, and it produced a 6 run inning, erasing an early 2-0 lead the 'Zags had taken in the second inning.
Sixth ranked Oregon St. had a chance to put the game away in the 5th, when Tyler Smith and Michael Conforto led off the inning with singles, but coach Pat Casey's attempt to small-ball in an insurance run predictably resulted in stranding both Smith and Conforto in scoring position.
Still, even though they only had 1 really productive inning in their first 7, it was still a very solid win, given that the Beavers were facing pre-season All-American Marco Gonzales, who took the loss. Something he has only done 4 times in the last 2 years as a regular starter for Gonzaga of the West Coast Conference.
When the Beavers got another shot at sealing the win in the 8th, which was after Gonzales, a projected first round pick in the MLB draft, had been chased, they resorted to "regular" baseball, and put the game out of reach. Jake Rodriguez led off with a single, and better at bats resulted in 3 more runs that sealed the deal. Oregon St. batted around again, and though they left the bases loaded, a 9-2 lead was ample margin for Scott Schultz to close the deal.
Senior Matt Boyd made his first start since his freshman season, and went 7 solid innings, before giving way to Schultz, who threw 14 strikes in 18 pitches, and threw 2 perfect frames. Boyd, who picked up the win, making him 12-1 all time, allowed 6 hits and a walk, against 4 strikeouts, but was only threatened in the in the second inning.
Zach Abbruzza and Gonzales, who is such a good hitter the 'Zags don't DH for him, led off the inning with singles, and after moving up on a sacrifice bunt, both scored on an RBI single by Cory Lebrun and another sacrifice bunt for an RBI by Cabe Reiten.
But while most 'Zag at bats resulted in putting aluminum on the ball, only a few were hard hit, as Boyd demonstrated his experience and an overall good Oregon St. defense, even though they did commit 2 errors, both on new second baseman Andy Peterson. One came trying to turn an inning ending double play, and no harm resulted.
The solid outing by Boyd and Schultz means that despite being down 2 starting pitchers in Ben Wetzler and Taylor Starr, the Beaver bullpen is still in good shape to support freshman Andrew Moore from North Eugene, who will get the start tomorrow, when Oregon St. takes on UC-Riverside, who is 0-1 pending the outcome of their game later this afternoon against Utah Valley St., after losing 6-3 last night to Gonzaga. Tomorrow's game should start at or shortly after 1 PM, depending on how long the morning game between between Utah Valley St. and Gonzaga takes.
Conforto again had a solid day in front of a solid crowd of 1,746,, with 2 hits, an RBI, and a run scored. Conforto's RBI single that scored Max Gordon, who had led off the 4th with a walk, got the explosion of a 4th inning going. Jake Rodriguez had RBI hits in both innings the Beavers scored as well, and Tyler Smith also had 2 hits, with an RBI and a run scored.
Jared Casper, the junior JC transfer who is manning third base effectively in the early going, also had a good day at the plate. Casper had a 2 RBI double down the left field line in the big 4th inning, scoring Rodriguez and newcomer Gabe Clark, who made his Oregon St. debut today as the designated hitter. Casper went on to score, when Peterson laid down a bunt Gonzaga couldn't handle, resulting in an error, and also eventually scored in the 8th, after drawing a walk following Rodriguez's single that got that inning started.
Casey got 5 players off the bench into the game, including another freshman newcomer in hometowner Jeff Hendrix from Corvallis, and had to be overall pleased with the 11 hit performance, that also included 5 walks, plus a hit by pitch, which produced 8 earned runs, as well as the unearned run that was earned by putting the ball in play, and pressure on the Gonzaga defense, against only 5 strikeouts.
It was definitely an above average day to be a Beaver.