Oregon St. capitalized on a strong north wind blowing out to right field to string together 3 home runs to open a lead on visiting California Sunday afternoon, but it was a couple of runs scratched out by "classic Casey" small ball that ultimately provided the winning margin that produced the 6-4 win that resulted in the second consecutive Pac-12 conference sweep, and completed a perfect 6 game home stand.
The sunbaked crowd of 3,121 on hand once again saw Oregon St. position themselves for an early lead, but the Beavers also once again couldn't take advantage of loading the bases in the first inning. But also as had been the case in the prior 2 games this weekend, it didn't take long to get the lead, as Jake Rodriguez homered off the scoreboard to open a 1-0 lead. It was Rodriguez's second homer of the season.
California evened things up in the next half inning, with singles by Chris Paul and Devin Pearson that equaled the run-scoring production of the previous 2 days for the Bears. California might have taken their first lead of the game, but Pearson made the mistake of challenging Oregon St. left fielder Michael Conforto's arm, and was thrown out trying to go from 1st to 3rd on a single by subsequent batter Andrew Knapp.
Pearson and the Bears didn't learn from the exercise either, as Conforto also threw Pearson out at home in the 6th when Pearson tried to score from second on a single to left by Mitchell Cranson.
Oregon St. took the lead for good in the 4th inning, when Danny Hayes homered over bleachers in right field with Ryan Barnes aboard, and Tyler Smith made it 4-1 with a leadoff homer to right to start the Beavers' half of the 5th inning.
But it would turn out to be the 2 runs that the Beavers scratched out in the 7th inning that ultimately won the game.
After the Bears cut the deficit to 4-2 on 3 consecutive singles by Paul, Brian Celsi, and Brenden Farney that ended the afternoon for Oregon St. starter Ben Wetzler, the Beavers returned to the small ball head coach Pat Casey prefers to put what would be needed insurance runs on the board.
J. Rodriguez singled and Max Gordon induced an error with a bunt to get things started, and both moved up on Tyler Smith's sacrifice bunt. Andy Peterson grounded out to score j. Rodriguez, and Conforto singled to score Gordon.
At the time, the runs seemed like insurance with a fresh bullpen available after the 8 1/3+ outing on Friday by Matt Boyd and Saturday's complete game win by Andrew Moore. But they proved vital when the Bears rallied in the 9th inning.
Jace Fry, who had made his first appearance of the year after undergoing "Tommy John" shoulder surgery following last season when he came in to get the last out in the bottom of the 8th inning, walked Paul on 4 pitches to lead off the 9th inning.
Scott Schultz took over for Fry, but immediately issued a walk to Celsi. Schultz got Farney to strike out, and Pearson to ground out, but then gave up a 2 RBI double off the wall in right-center to Andrew Knapp, before getting Devon Rodriguez, who represented the tieing run, to ground out to end the game.
Wetzler improved to 5-1 for the season with his 5th straight Sunday win, striking out 10 Bears to offset the 11 hits he allowed. Dylan Nelson went the first 5 innings, and took the loss for California, dropping to 1-5 for the season.
Oregon St.'s 6-0 home stand the last 2 weekends improved their record to 37-8, and 17-4 in the Pac-12. But the Beavers, though continuing to lead the Pac-12 by percentage points, continue to trail Oregon by 1/2 games on wins and losses, as the Ducks also completed a weekend sweep of their own, with a 4-3 win in 11 innings at Washington St.
The conference difference in games played will even out next weekend, when Oregon St. visits Stanford, while Oregon travels out of conference for a series at "The' [other} OSU, visiting Ohio St.
The Beavers have a Wednesday game in Keizer, OR, at Volcanoes' Stadium, against Portland to conclude their season triangle series with the Pilots, before heading to Palo Alto.