Oregon St. capitalized on a number of errors, both by Louisville and the first base umpire, to jump out to an 10 run lead, and cruise to the win that keeps the Beavers alive in the College World Series, and end the season for the Cardinals.
But credit has to go to Oregon St. Max Gordon, who got both the 3rd and 4th innings going, and then capping a 2 for 2 inning with a 2 RBI double. "Bouncing Max" even punctuated the win with a diving catch for the penultimate out of the game.
Gordon led off the second inning by getting hit by a pitch by Louisville starter Jeff Thompson, and scored a pitch later when Tyler Smith doubled down the left field line off the Cardinal's best pitcher.
Andy Peterson followed with his 25th bunt single of the season, and then the mistakes started. Michael Conforto survived what should have been a foul ball pop up out that Cardinal catcher Kyle Gibson couldn't find, and a missed strike out pitch to draw a walk, and both Smith and Peterson scored to make it 3-0 Oregon St. when Louisville second baseman Zach Lucas, playing for the injured Nick Ratajczak, who suffered shoulder damage in the Cardinal's Super Regional win over Vanderbilt, made a bad throw.
It could have been much worse for Louisville, but despite having Conforto and Hayes on the corners with only 1 out, Oregon St. couldn't take further advantage.
It was still considered a good sign by Beaver Nation, which had seen Oregon St. win 37 of the 44 games previously this season when they had scored first.
The sky and the season really collapsed on Louisville in the 4th inning, though. Gordon singled with 1 out to get it started, but Smith struck out, and things didn't look ominous for the Cardinals. But Peterson and Conforto both singled to load the bases, and then the mistakes really came crashing down on the Cardinals.
Dylan Davis' slap to the left side of the infield should have ended the inning, and replay showed Thompson's throw beat Davis, but the Davis was ruled safe by Billy Speck. Gordon had scored, but Louisville first baseman Zak Wasserman, assuming he had made the 3rd putout, disregarded Peterson, who was running hard, and also scored.
Max Gordon (4) and Andy Peterson (14) are greeted by Ben Wetzler (28), Jake Rodriguez (13), and
other Beavers after scoring to open Oregon St.'s lead to 5-0.
(A.P. Photo by Eric Francis)
That ended the day for Thompson, but Cody Ege who took over for the Cardinal couldn't close the door on the Beavers. Hayes drew a walk to reload the bases, and what should have been another inning ender ended in 2 more runs scoring, as both Conforto and Davis crossed the plate. Sutton Whitting had got away with an error in the second inning, but his second of the day was a wild throw on a grounder by Kavin Keyes.
Ege then hit Ryan Barnes with a pitch, loading the bases and ending his day, but Kyle Funkhouser wasn't much better, walking Jake Rodriguez to score Hayes. Gordon, the Beavers' 9-slot hitter, then drove a 2 RBI single to left field to score both Keyes and Barnes, and suddenly Oregon St. had a 10-0 lead, with 7 of the runs unearned.
"Max is always a spark for us," Oregon State head coach Pat Casey said. "And I told him after the Kansas State game, I said, ‘When we put you in the lineup permanently, we really got consistent as a club.' And he does a great job for us."
Only 4 innings into the game, significant numbers of the crowd of 18,980 on hand that weren't wearing orange were already heading for the exits.
It was the first time any team has scored double digit runs on Louisville all season, and the Beavers became only the third team to score 10 runs in a CWS game since TD Ameritrade Park opened 2 years ago. The 7 runs in the 4th were the most scored by any team in a single inning at TDA Park as well.
"I guess we're pretty good with our backs against the wall," Conforto said. "I think we put pressure on them. They did help us out a little bit, but that's what happens when you put pressure on them, and you do it continuously. Good things start to happen."
"I think one of the things about when people make mistakes (is) you have to capitalize on them," Casey added. "There have been opportunities for us in other games and we haven't."
Louisville attempted to rally, but a double play by Oregon St. limited the damage to 1 run in the 5th inning, despite the first 3 Cardinal batters reaching base, and another double play in the 6th inning, below (photo via Oregon St. Baseball Facebook), negated a leadoff single by Cole Sturgeon, who was 3 for 3 on the day at that point, and 6 of 7 in the CWS.
Oregon St. starter Ben Wetzler, who suffered his last and only loss so far this season on March 30, when he gave up 6 runs in 3 innings against San Diego in a 13-3 Oregon St. loss, worked 6 1/3 innings plus, and picked up his 10th win in as many decisions since then.
Wetzler did finally get into more trouble than Oregon St. pitching coach Nate Yeski could stand as he passed the 100 pitch count in the 7th inning, hitting Wasserman to start the inning, and then, after striking out Lucas, walked Cardinal pinch hitter Alex Chittenden.
"Benny wanted to keep us on the edge of our seats there at the end of the game," Casey said. "But I said this earlier, if you want a tough guy in a tough situation, he (Wetzler) is the guy."
"For me, I personally would have liked to pitch a little bit cleaner, a little bit deeper into the game," Wetzler added. "But the guys behind me played outstanding defense, and got quite a few runs on the board. That made it nice."
Scott Schultz finished the day for Oregon St., but got hit hard initially. Adam Engel doubled the first pitch Schultz delivered down the line in left field to score Wasserman and Chittenden, and scored to cut the deficit to 10-4 on a single by Ty Young.
It was as close as Louisville would get though, as Peterson capped his 3 for 4 day with a single to lead off the bottom of the 7th inning, and scored when Conforto cranked out his 3rd double in the 6 hits he's had in 2 CWS games, and Schultz settled down to set the Cardinal down in order in the 8th, and then get 2 quick outs to start the 9th.
Conforto's RBI double made the combined 15 runs scored a record at TD Ameritrade Park.
Louisville did then load the bases, but couldn't push a run across, as a Smith to Peterson shuffle ended the Cardinal's season. Louisville, making their second trip ever to Omaha after their best season ever, finished the season 51-14.
"We just didn't play well, didn't play clean there in the third and fourth innings and it got out of hand," Louisville coach Dan McDonnell said.
Thompson took the loss for Louisville, only his second of the season, against 11 wins, including 5 in his 6 prior starts.
Oregon St. improved to 51-12 for the year, and will next play Wednesday at 7 PM CDT (5 PM PDT), against the loser of tonight's Indiana-Mississippi St. game, in another win-or-go-home game.
The win also moved the 2013 team past the 2006 National Championship squad for most wins in a season in program history.
"It feels good to get a couple of hits, and my first hit in Omaha," Gordon said, "but tomorrow's another day, and we just have to do it again."
When asked in the post game press conference "Were you surprised at what Max Gordon was able to do today?" (the last question of the day), Casey's simple response was: "No."