After getting a taste of Kansas St.'s "BatCat" attack in last night's 6-2 10 inning loss in the first game of the Corvallis NCAA Baseball Super Regional, the conversation around the dinner table for the Oregon St. team must have been an interesting one. Because the Beavers came out swinging, and laid a record setting pounding on the Wildcats tonight.
Ordinarily, getting Oregon St.'s 1-2 hitters Tyler Smith and Andy Peterson out is a good way to diffuse the Beaver attack, so even given that both put the ball in play, Kansas St. starter Blake McFadden had to feel pretty good about things with the 2 Beaver table setters set down.
It was a short lived feeling though, as Michael Conforto crushed a ball out to right center for his 11th home run of the season, and before the new record crowd of 3,602 at Goss Stadium had a chance to stop buzzing about it, Dylan Davis, below, followed with another solo home run to almost the same spot.
"As a team, you really want to get out and throw the first punch," Davis said. "You want to put the other team on their heels and after Saturday, we made some adjustments and we really took advantage of some stuff. We were more patient, and looked for more pitches that we wanted."
And it was just the beginning. Danny Hayes followed with a double drilled down the right field line, and Ryan Barnes followed with a single to drive in Hayes, extending his hitting streak to 12 games, and ending McFadden's night before the first half inning was over.
Switching to Levi MaVorhis didn't help, as Kavin Keyes, above, picked up the first of 4 hits he would have on the evening, and Jake Rodriguez followed with the 6th consecutive hit of the onslaught, driving in 2 more runs, as the Beavers batted around to start the game, with everyone in the Oregon St. lineup putting the ball in play.
"Obviously the top of the first told the story of the game," Kansas St. head coach Brad Hill said. "Back to back home runs really got the crowd involved, and you could tell their team just fed off of that. Our freshman on the mound just got a little shell-shocked, and we couldn't shut it down, so that was pretty much it."
The 5 runs would prove to be all Oregon St. Freshman All-American Andrew Moore, who had never allowed more than 2 earned runs in a game this season, would need, but the Beavers were far from finished with battering what would turn out to be 6 Kansas St. pitchers.
"Getting that energy going early on, I think we definitely fed off that the whole game," Moore felt. "The crowd was into it, the dugout was into it, and I was able to go out there and be aggressive with early strikes."
Oregon St. added 2 more runs in both the 2nd and 3rd innings, and also scored in the 5th, 7th, and 9th innings to pound out a 12-4 win.
The 21 hits the Beavers hammered out was a season high, and also an all-time school record for hits in a post season game.
In addition to Keyes, Smith, above, also had a 4 hit game, and both he and Davis had 3 RBI evenings.
Oregon St. has been unstoppable the next day after they have taken a loss, and a big reason has been Moore, who had 3 wins and a save in games the next day after a series opening Beaver defeat. So with the season on the line, Oregon St. coach Pat Casey again handed the ball to Moore, and stuck with him until into the 9th inning.
To the credit of the Kansas St. offense, number 2 in the nation in batting average, the 'Cats did battle, getting 3 earned runs, and 4 total, with a home run by Jared King to start the second inning being the most spectacular. But Moore was overall overwhelming, throwing a career high 9 strikeouts, and allowing only 6 hits to the potent Bat Cat lineup.
After King's homer, Moore retired 6 in a row, including striking out 5 consecutive batters.
"I threw them all 5 of my pitches for strikes," Moore said. "We have to do a great job of mixing them up, and not falling into patterns."
The most trouble Moore encountered came in the 4th inning, when Tanner Wilt and Shane Conlon led off the inning with singles, and a wild pitch and a walk later, the bases were loaded. But Kansas St. got only 2 runs out of 2 sacrifice flies, and Oregon St. immediately answered with singles by Keyes, Smith, and Peterson to get one of the runs back, preventing any momentum swing from occurring.
Moore threw a career 124 pitches, but only allowed 6 hits and 3 walks on his way to his team high 14th win of the season, against only 1 loss. Moore came out to finish the game in the 9th, but an infield throwing error on Keyes, a single and a walk loaded the bases, prompting Casey to call on Scott Schultz to wrap things up. Which, after allowing a run on a fielders choice, he did neatly.
Moore, above, tied the school single season record of 14 wins set by Scott Christman in 1993. McFadden was tagged with the loss for Kansas St. dropping him to 6-3 for the year.
The win improved Oregon St. to 49-11, and dropped Kansas St. to 45-18. It also set up a showdown with a trip to the College World Series in Omaha at stake in tomorrow's deciding game of the Super Regional series.
ESPN has directed the start time of tomorrow's game, originally scheduled for 4 PM, pushed back to 7 PM for a National television exclusive, which will make another long night of it for Beaver Nation. But a 50th win will make it all worthwhile.
Ben Wetzler will try to get Oregon St. to Omaha, while the use of a half dozen pitchers tonight has pushed Kansas St. head coach into a "to be determined" status as far as his starter in the 'Cats quest for their first trip ever to the College World Series.
(Photos by Andy Wooldridge)