Final Score: Oregon St. 5 UC-Riverside 4 (11)
Joey Matthews doubled off the left-center wall with 1 out in the bottom of the 11th inning Monday morning to drive in Zane Yanzick, who was pinch running for Kavin Keyes, and Oregon St. pulled out a 5-4 win over UC-Riverside to conclude their stay in Palm Springs.
The hit and the win got the Beavers off to a 4-0 start, their best beginning to a season since starting 7-0 in 2007, and in a move familiar to Oregon St. fans, a stop off at a nearby In-And-Out Burgers for lunch on the way back to the motel, borrowing from a successful meal plan the football team adopted last season.
Oregon St. had taken a 4-2 lead into the 9th inning of the early morning game, which started at 8:30 AM, but after a wild throw by SS Tyler Smith opened the door, Scott Schultz, who had been brilliant earlier in the weekend and in the previous inning, uncorked a wild pitch, gave up a single, and then a walk. Freshman Max Englebrekt, who had done an outstanding job in closing out the win on opening day took over, and promptly hit a batter.
A mental error by first baseman Jared Casper, who didn't realize there was still a Highlander running, after a potential game winning double play didn't get turned quite in time, allowed UC-Riverside to tie the game.
Coach Pat Casey's decision to throw Englebrekt into the deep end of the pool instead of turning to senior Tony Bryant looked highly questionable at the time, but Englebrekt settled down, and wound up going the rest of the way, and even got his first win.
The game was originally to be played with a no new inning after 11:30 AM rule in effect, but for unknown reasons, that was waived without warning, and it worked out for Oregon St., who would have had to settle for a tie otherwise, as the Beavers were unable to rally in the bottom of the 9th with the bottom of the batting order up.
With both Ben Wetzler and Taylor Starr out for the weekend, due to a stiff back and shoulder soreness, respectively, Oregon St.'s pitching staff was pretty stretched by the 4th game of their stay in Palm Springs, and Casey chose to start Dylan Davis. It didn't work out.
After getting the first 2 Highlanders, Davis gave up a pair of singles and a walk, and then a 2 RBI double by Phil Holinsworth.
The Beavers bounced back in the bottom of the inning, however, as Jake Rodriguez continued to play well, doubling to drive in Smith, and then scoring to tie the game on Kavin Keyes' RBI single.
JC transfer Brandon Jackson took over, but didn't last through the 2nd inning. However another Oregon St. newcomer, sophomore transfer Tyler Painton came on, and went 6 scoreless innings, before giving way to Schultz.
Oregon St. took the lead in the 3rd inning, when Smith walked for the second time, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Michael Conforto's RBI single through the middle.
The Beavers couldn't sustain the momentum after an interference incident though, and didn't really get anything going offensively until the 7th, which is when Matthews first appeared. Matthews ran for Jared Jansen, who had walked, and eventually scored on an RBI single by Smith. Matthews stayed in as the center fielder, and eventually won the game for Oregon St.
Once the dust settled, given the degree the pitching staff was stretched, it was a good opening weekend for the bullpen, which still has a 0.00 ERA after 17 2/3 innings, since the 9th inning runs were un-earned. Davis' 2 runs allowed should probably be figured into that, though, as he won't be a regular starter. And there were 6 errors in the 4 games.
Oregon St., which remained 6th in this week's Baseball America top 25 poll, will bus to San Diego tomorrow, and take on the Aztecs 4 times Thursday through Sunday, before returning home. San Diego St. is 3-0, after sweeping cross-town rival San Diego this weekend.
UC-Riverside dropped to 1-3 with the loss.
The Beavers remain the highest ranked team in the west in this week's poll. which is still topped by North Carolina, and saw no shakeups in the top 6. Stanford slipped from 9th to 15th, after dropping 2 of 3 at Rice, which climbed from 18th to 13th.
UCLA remained at #12, after recovering from an opening day loss to take 2 of 3 from visiting Minnesota, and Oregon edged up from 15th to 14th after sweeping a 3 game series at Hawaii.
Defending national champion Arizona edged up from #24 to #23 after bombing visiting Coppin St. 3 times, by a combined score of 43-10.
#20 Cal-St. Fullerton moved up from #22 to #20 after beating USC, Nebraska twice, and Cal-St. Bakersfield. San Diego was replaced at #25 after their being swept by their cross-town rivals by UC-Irvine, after the Anteaters swept visiting Baylor.