Texas A&M (34-28, 13-16 in the SEC) vs. #3 Oregon St. (47-10, 24-6 in the Pac-12) / 5 PM / Goss Stadium / ESPN3 / KEJO 1240 AM & KPOJ 620 AM
Oregon St. goes for the win tonight that would claim a Super Regional hosting spot next weekend. The Beavers are in good shape, as they have a second chance to claim said spot tomorrow night if they should need it.
The Beavers will face Texas A&M, who won a rematch with UC-Santa Barbara 5-4 in the day's first game. The Gauchos had won the opening game of the Regional 6-4 against the Aggies. Oregon St. will got to tonight's game with back to back come from behind wins in which they scored the winning run in the 9th inning, first with a 5-4 win over UT-San Antonio Friday night, on Dylan Davis' walk off 2 RBI double, and then yesterday evening, when Danny Hayes drew a 2 out, bases loaded walk to score Tyler Smith, in the Beavers' 3-2 win over UCSB.
It's the 9th time the Beavers and Aggies have met, and the first since Oregon St. defeated Texas A&M twice in the NCAA Regionals in Fort Worth in 2009.
Texas A&M took an early, 1-0 lead against UCSB, when Mikey Reynolds led off the game with a double, and scored on a double play ball. The Aggies extended their margin to 4-0 in the 3rd inning, when after a pair of singles, Cole Lankford, Texas A&M's leading hitter, doubled to drive in both runners, and went on to score on Troy Stein's single.
Reynolds, who hits nearly .340 in the leadoff spot, and Lankford are the Aggies' biggest offensive threats. Lankford was 8-9 the first 2 days of the weekend, and enters this evening's game 9-13 for the Regional.
UCSB got on the board in the 6th when Marc Venning doubled, and scored on a throwing error on an infield grounder.
The Aggies manufactured what would ultimately prove to be the winning run in the top of the 7th, thanks to Krey Bratsen's sheer speed. Bratsen turned a routine single to center into a double, stole 3rd, and scored on a fly ball to mid-range right field that most wouldn't have even tried to run on.
Oregon St. will have to keep Bratsen under control, and preferably off base tonight.
Texas A&M wound up needing the extra run, as they had to fend off a 3 run UCSB rally in the bottom of the 7th, aided by a double play producing controversial interference call on a slide at second.
Against an opponent who not only already had to win one game today, but will also be on at best their #4 pitcher, Oregon St. has a substantial advantage in All-Pac-12 LHP junior Ben Wetzler (7-1, 2.10), who already has had a streak of those 7 consecutive Sunday wins.
Texas A&M coach Rob Childress, who is in his 8th season at the helm in College Station, will counter with RHP Grayson Long (4-2, 4.02). Long, a 6'5" freshman, has more starts than any other Aggie outside their 3 weekend starters they have already used, having 9 starts in his 11 appearances.
Long has 35 strikeouts, but has allowed 33 hits and given up 23 walks, in 40 innings worked this season, so base runners are likely.
Texas A&M used only 2 pitchers out of their bullpen against the Aggies, as starter Rafael Pineda worked 2 outs into the 7th inning. Kyle Long was ineffective, giving up singles to both batters he faced, but Jason Jester closed out the inning, and retired 6 straight Gauchos before allowing a single single with 2 outs in the 9th, picking up his 14th save of the season.
The Beavers will be "visitors" in their own ball park again today, despite being the #3 seed in the country, the result of a weighted coin flip that negated much of the benefit of their seeding.
Oregon St. coach Pat Casey is standing pat as far as the defensive alignment goes, but has decided to tinker with the batting order again. The first draft had Ryan Barnes dropping down to the #7 spot tonight, but instead Casey will submit the lineup with Barnes in the #6 slot: