Left for dead by most of college baseball, including Oregon St. head coach Pat Casey, the Washington St. Cougars clawed their way back from 2 different 7 run deficits Friday night to pull out a 10-9 win in 11 innings over the 4th ranked Beavers, who wrote the definitive book on how to "Coug It", eclipsing even the football debacle of 2010 to the same bunch from Pullman.
It looked like Oregon St. would blow 10th place Washington St. off the field when they did as they have in a number of games this year, when they jumped to a 5-0 lead, as starter Matt Boyd has never lost a margin that large. And it seemed the only question would be the exact final score when the Beavers added an additional run in the 3rd, and then another in the 5th inning, when Kavin Keyes homered off the scoreboard in right field.
So much so that a single Washington St. run in the 7th seemed insignificant when Keyes doubled to score Dylan Davis in the bottom of the inning, and Casey decided to give Boyd the rest of the night off. After all, the Beaver bullpen was in position to trade runs for outs and still get out with the win.
It didn't happen though, as both Tyler Painton and Tony Bryant were totally ineffective. Casey then tried to experiment with Jace Fry, and that didn't work much better, as Fry mis-fired on a throw to the plate for a force out that missed Jake Rodriguez. Scott Schultz finally came on, but the Cougars had scored 4 times, pulling within 8-5.
It seemed as though the Beavers might still get away with the win when Max Gordon scored in the bottom of the 8th to open a 9-5 lead. After all, Oregon St. was 39-0 when leading after the 8th inning this season.
But Schultz couldn't control the Cougars, walking Collin Slaybaugh to start the 9th inning, and following that up with a single by P.J. Jones. The big hits were a 2 RBI single by Washington St. pinch hitter Ian Sagdal, and the 2 run homer by Jason Monda on the very next pitch that tied the game at 9 apiece.
JD Leckenby took over on the mound for the Cougars, and promptly struck out both Keyes and Ryan Barnes, and then got Rodriguez to line out to send the game to extra innings.
Still no problem for the deeper Beavers, right? After all, Oregon St. was 3-0 in extra innings this season, and Washington St. was 0-3.
Both the 10th and 11th innings ended on double play balls, by Michael Conforto and Rodriguez, both times with runners in scoring position. The second one ended the game, as Monda had scored an unearned run in the top of the 11th, after Oregon St. second baseman Andy Peterson committed the 4th infield error of the game by the Beavers, botching a ball that could have been the 3rd out at 2 different bases.
"We gave them the game," Boyd said. "It happens in baseball. It hasn't happened much at all this year, but it happens."
Freshman Max Englebrekt, who took over for Schultz in the 10th, took the loss, the first of his collegiate career, in the 4 1/4 hour affair that turned into an ordeal for most of the crowd of 2,506, dropping him to 3-1. Leckenby landed the win that improved him to 2-3 for the year.
Oregon St. slipped to 43-10, and 22-6 in the Pac-12, and failed to clinch the Pac-12, as Oregon downed Utah 6-2, pulling within 1 game of the conference leading Beavers. Oregon St. has the tie-breaker over the Ducks, so a win either tomorrow or Sunday, or an Oregon loss either day, still claims the Pac-12's automatic berth in the post-season. Whether seeding takes a hit remains to be seen. UCLA did fall out of contention though, after being upset 2-1 at Stanford tonight.
Washington St. improved to 23-30, and 9-19 in the conference, with their 11th come from behind win of the season, and kept alive hopes of climbing as high as 8th place in the final standings.
The series continues tomorrow, with Senior Day, and a 1:05 first pitch, when Andrew Moore will be asked as he has been several times, to turn the weekend around, after Oregon St. failed to pick up Boyd after he gave them a quality start.