After 2 of the most stellar pitching performances in Goss Stadium history, today featured something different. Matt Boyd's 1 hit win Friday night for third ranked Oregon St. and Ryan Kellogg's no hit, no walk performance for #20 Arizona St. yesterday were pictures of control. Today, there were 19 walks between the 2 staffs, though Arizona St. did 1-hit Oregon St. after the first inning.
But a spectacular pitching performance by Max Engelbrekt, who stopped the Sun Devil's rally in the 5th, and shut them out after that, and 2 stellar defensive plays, pulled out the win for the Beavers.
It was really Dylan Davis' strike to Jake Rodriguez, above, to cut down Kasey Coffman, who was trying to score the tieing run that ended the 5th inning with the Sun Devils still 1 run down that turned the game, though it would be a long time before the crowd of 2,547 would know that.
Arizona St. had the tieing run in scoring position in each of the last 5 innings, but never could cross the plate with any of them.
Fittingly, Rodriguez gunned down Sun Devil pinch runner Johnny Sewald trying to steal 3rd to end the game.
Oregon St. took a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, and went up 3-1 in the 4th inning, but the Beavers have elevated (or lowered) getting the least out of opportunities to an art form, and missing opportunities to score more runs than they plated left the door open for the Sun Devils.
It wasn't just the inability to get timely hits either, as a base running error involving Andy Peterson in the first inning, and an error when Max Gordon collided with Michael Conforto in the outfield that allowed Arizona St. to score their first run in the 5th inning, contributed to the problems.
It looked like Arizona St. would go through that door when Oregon St. starter Ben Wetzler couldn't get through the 5th inning for the second consecutive Sunday, leaving with the bases loaded and only 1 out in the 5th inning. Dan Child came in, but couldn't throw strikes, walking in the run that made it 4-3.
That brought Engelbrekt in, and set the stage for Davis & Rodriguez's 9-2 double play.
It was far from over though, as Arizona St. continually got runners in scoring position. Trevor Allen, who had 3 hits and a walk for the Sun Devils was a particular problem.
Meanwhile, Alex Blackford, who went 3 1/3 innings of hitless relief for Arizona St., was keeping Oregon St. well in check, and those early missed opportunities were looking like they would eventually loom large.
Engelbrekt got out of jam after jam himself, though, before handing the ball over to Scott Schultz, after getting 2 outs on 2 pitches, but then issuing a 2 out walk in the 8th.
Schultz promptly put a Sun Devil in scoring position with a botched pickoff attempt, and compounded the problem with a walk, before getting out the inning with a strike out of James McDonald.
The Beavers went down in order in the bottom of the 8th inning, the only 1-2-3 at bat of the afternoon, setting the stage for the dramatic 9th inning.
Max Rossiter started things off for Arizona St. with a single, and Sewald, who was inserted to run for him, advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt.
Schultz got Allen out for the first time all game, with a grounder to Peterson that held Sewald.
Schultz's first pitch to Sun Devil Designated Hitter Nathaniel Causey actually got away from Rodriguez, but caromed off the plate umpire's leg, and Rodriguez alertly scooped up the ball and fired to Jared Casper at third to get Sewald.
"I think we caught a break there, with the ball going off the umpire," Engelbrekt said, "but Jake's an infielder too, and that paid off in his ability to get on that ball."
Engelbrekt got the win, improving him to 3-0 for the year, and Schultz got his 5th save of the season.
Arizona St. starter Adam McCreery, who was knocked out in the 4th, after Oregon St. had taken a 2-1 lead, took the loss, and dropped to 1-3 for the season.
McCreery walked Casper to lead off the inning, and Rodriguez followed up with a hit that put both him and Casper in scoring position. Kavin Keyes followed with a sacrifice fly to score Casper, and when McCreery then hit Max Gordon with a pitch, his day was done.
Mark Lambson, who is from Tualatin, OR, took over, but wasn't effective. A bad throw on a reckless pickoff attempt on Gordon allowed Rodriguez to score, and Lambson then walked both Ryan Barnes and Peterson. Conforto's fly ball drove in Gordon, and drove Lambson out of the game.
Blackford came on, and though he walked Davis, who had driven in Barnes for the first run of the game, he got out of the inning by striking out Danny Hayes, leaving 2 runners in scoring position that would have made life a lot easier for Oregon St. had they been driven in.
"It wasn't pretty, but this team battled, and that why we win games we probably shouldn't," Engelbrekt said.
That got the Beavers to 21-2 for the season, and 5-1 in the Pac-12, while the Sun Devils slipped to 13-7-1, and 2-4 in conference.
The win kept Oregon St. in a tie with Oregon and UCLA for first place in the Pac-12. The Ducks held off a 3 run 9th inning rally to down Arizona 7-6, completing a sweep of the 'Cats, and the Bruins took a 10-2 win over Cal in the rubber game of that series.
Next weekend is Oregon St.'s bye week in the 11-team conference season, and the Beavers will visit San Diego of the West Coast Conference, for games on Thursday and Friday evenings, and Saturday afternoon. The shifted schedule will allow the team to return home in time for Easter Sunday.