Oregon St. jumped ahead of Kansas St. early, and thanks to an edge defensively, extended their lead, and then unlike Saturday night, this time the Beavers held off the Wildcats' rally, pulling out the 4-3 win that earned a 5th trip to Omaha for the College World Series.
Danny Hayes delivered the big hit of the game, a 2 run homer to right center with Dylan Davis who had led off the second inning with a walk, to get Oregon St. off to a good start in the rubber match of the Corvallis Super Regional.
The Beavers picked up another run in the 4th inning, when with 2 outs, the difference in defenses began to play into the game, as Dylan Davis reached when Wildcats third baseman RJ Santigate couldn't handle the chance, and scored when Kavin Keyes doubled. It might have been a bigger inning, but Keyes was thrown out trying to stretch the hit into a triple.
Another error the next inning, this time by Kansas St. shortstop Austin Fisher, who hurried to try to get speedy Andy Peterson, ultimately cost the 'Cats the game. Oregon St.'s Jake Rodriguez had led off the inning by getting hit by a pitch by the Wildcats' starter Jake Matthys, and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt by Max Gordon, which ended Matthys' evening.
Gerado Esquivel took over, and got a ground out by Tyler Smith, which moved Rodriguez to third, but another grounder by Peterson didn't get the 'Cats out of the inning when Fisher erred, with Rodriguez scoring.
The Beavers would ultimately need the run, as the "Bat Cats", who have the second highest team batting average in the country, as they did Saturday night, eventually began to battle back, finally beginning to figure out Oregon St. starter Ben Wetzler.
Kansas St. hadn't mounted a serious threat since the first inning, which Rodriguez had squelched by throwing out Shane Conlon trying to steal third.
But in the 6th inning, Ross Kivett, the Big XII Player of the Year, led off with a single, and Tanner Wilt followed up with another. Wetzler got Conlon to ground into a double play, but the Wildcats got onto the scoreboard when Jared King, who walked 3 other times at the plate, got his only hit of the night.
It looked like Kansas St. might cut deeper into the Oregon St. lead in the 7th inning, when Blair DeBord and Santigate led off with back to back singles. But Wetzler and the Beaver defense again thwarted the 'Cats. Wetzler got Lance Miles to hit a come-backer, and went to third to cut down the lead runner.
Kivett was also induced into a grounder, and Smith took down the lead runner at third again, allowing Wetzler to get out of the inning.
Wetzler turned in a tremendous performance, and a career high 131 pitches, but finally ran into trouble in the 8th inning. King walked and Fisher singled, and with 2 outs, DeBord doubled that 131st pitch into the left field corner, driving in both King and FIsher to make it a 4-3 game.
Oregon St. head coach Pat Casey then called on senior Matt Boyd, who has been the series first starter all season, but was a reliever that filled every conceivable role in his first 3 seasons with the Beavers, to pick up Wetzler.
Boyd worked to a 2-2 count on Santigate, but the 'Cats' #8 hitter was able to punch the next pitch into left field. Defense denied the Bat Cats again, though. Conforto made a diving attempt at a catch, but was only able to get the ball on a hop. DeBord made the fatal mistake of trying to score from second, and Conforto, the Pac-12 Player of the Year, came up firing. Rodriguez was waiting at the plate like a brick wall, and DeBord never did reach home, even after getting gunned down.
Oregon St., who was the visitor in their own ballpark, due to losing a coin flip, was looking for an insurance run in the top of the 9th when Keyes walked, but Matt Wivinis took over and held the Beavers at bay.
Kansas St. mounted one last challenge, when Kivett singled with 1 out in the bottom of the 9th, but Boyd got a pair of Bat Cats who represented the winning run to fly out, first Wilt, and then Conlon, the 'Cats' home run leader, to pop up in foul territory. Hayes gloved the ball, and the crowd of 3,564 got to watch the dogpile, as the Beavers clinched their return to Omaha for the 5th time, and first time since completing back to back championships in 2007.
"I'm very proud of what these men have accomplished," Casey said. "They were down early in the series, but battled, and now have a chance to play for their goal. We are very ready to head to Omaha and look forward to seeing a great amount of Beaver fans there to cheer us on."
Wetzler got the win, improving to 9-1 for the year, and Boyd picked up his 1st save of the season, though it was the 8th of his career. Ironically, the bullpen lost leads Boyd handed them in 2 of his last 3 starts, including Saturday night's 6-2 Kansas St. win, and so Boyd took matters into his own hands on the back end tonight.
The win was especially meaningful for Rodriguez, coming on the 1 year anniversary of the passing of his father.
"There's a reason we had to play (and win) today," Rodriguez said.
Matthys took the loss that ended the season for Kansas St., only his second of the year, leaving him 9-2. The Big XII regular season champion Wildcats finished their season 45-19.
Oregon St. improved their record to 50-11 for the year, and will open the College World Series, playing Mississippi St. Saturday at 2 PM CDT, Noon PDT. The Bulldogs swept Virginia in the Charlottesville Regional, taking a rain-delayed 6-5 win earlier today.