Saturday night, senior Danny Hayes won the game with his ability to not swing the bat, drawing the 2 out 9th inning walk that pushed the game winning run in for Oregon St. against UC-Santa Barbara. Tonight, the last 2 times Hayes came to bat, he ripped the ball into right field and wound up on second base, with runs going up on the scoreboard at the same time.
The first and biggest of the two at bats came in the 7th inning, with the score tied 1-1. Tyler Smith and Andy Peterson opened the inning with back to back singles, but Michael Conforto struck out and Dylan Davis, who had delivered the game winning double Friday night that beat UT-San Antonio, lined out, and it looked like yet another missed opportunity was looming for the Beavers, and the near capacity crowd of 3,362 mostly nervous Beaver fans.
Texas A&M closer Jared Jester, who had already picked up his 14th save of the season earlier in the afternoon in beating UCSB 5-4, worked the count full on Hayes, just as had happened the night before. But this time, instead of a walk, Hayes drilled a double down the right field line. And after over 24 innings of baseball, every minute of which it was either a tied game or a 1 run margin, suddenly Oregon St. had a relatively huge 2 run lead!
Two innings later, with Oregon St. who was the visitor in their own stadium for the second night in a row despite being the #3 seen nationally, Hayes came up with 2 runners on again, as with 1 out, Conforto had doubled to end Jester's evening, and A.J. Minter, who took over, hit Davis with a pitch.
Both moved up on a wild pitch, but of course, Hayes again worked the count full. Goss Stadium then erupted when Hayes hammered another full count pitch to right field. It initiated a series of 3 insurance runs, as Ryan Barnes and Kavin Keyes both singled, opening a 6-1 lead that was more than enough for Oregon St.'s bulldog Sunday starter Ben Wetzler to go out and record a 121 pitch complete game win, improving him to 8-1 for the year. Wetzler surrendered only 4 hits in the process.
Jester took the loss, dropping to 3-4 for the season.
"Coach (Nate) Yeskie told me the 8th ining would be my last," Wetzler said, "but I got out of the 8th relatively quickly, and I really wanted to finish that one."
"I was wondering who he was going to hit first, me or Nate, if we pulled him in the ninth," Oregon St. coach Pat Casey added. "Nate's bigger than me, so I Benny 'You can go back out'."
The game started out ominously for Oregon St. though, as Texas A&M's Mikey Reynolds led off with a walk, and stole second. Conforto then over-ran a grounder to his right by the Aggies' best hitter, Cole Lankford, who entered the game hitting just shy of .360, after going 8 for 9 the first 2 days of the regional. The result was a triple, and the only run Wetzler would allow.
Lankford effectively gave the run back, or at least squandered what should have been a larger lead, running himself into an out later in the inning, but the Beavers' recent struggles at the plate in clutch situations continued in the second inning.
Davis reached third base with only 1 out, and Oregon St. loaded the bases, but left those bases loaded for the 4th time in 6 at bats, dating back to the 6th inning of the Saturday night game against UCSB.
It would be the 5th inning before Oregon St. mounted another threat, and the Beavers did tie the game at a run apiece. But third base coach Andy Jenkens for no known reason apparently confused catcher Jake Rodriguez with Peterson, and sent J-Rod home from second on a single to right field by Smith, and the Aggie's Jace Stratum easily threw the less than fleet Rodriguez out.
Smith eventually scored when Reynolds attempted to throw out Conforto and sailed the throw wide, but another chance to take the lead had slipped away.
The base running miscue also manifested itself in Jenkens holding all the trailing runners in the 9th inning rally, necessitating the 3 hits to score 3 runners all from scoring position.
It felt like the Aggies had all the momentum after Jonathan Moroney doubled to lead off the bottom half of the inning and appeared to be headed for home with the go ahead run when Reynolds drove a ball nearly to the warning track in center field, and apparently over Max Gordon's head.
But "Bouncing Max" did what Gordon has done numerous times this year. A leaping and rolling catch saved a run, got Wetzler and Oregon St. out of a jam, and got Max on Sportcenter, something having the game carried by ESPN certainly helped with.
It also seemed to restore faith into the Beavers, who were appearing to be in danger of losing confidence, as the mistakes and missed opportunities mounted.
Wetzler walked back to back batters with 2 out in the 6th, but battled back for the strike out to end the Aggie threat, and set the stage for Smith's single, and Peterson's beating out a bunt for a hit for the 19th time this season, setting the table for Hayes' heroics.
"We are not done yet," Hayes said. "We all have one goal in our minds, and we are not going to be satisfied until we reach that goal, so we will take this win. It was nice not having to come back tomorrow and play, so we can get ready to go next weekend at home."
Oregon St. infielders Kavin Keyes, Tyler Smith, Andy Peterson, and Danny Hayes celebrate winning the Corvallis Regional with their traditional 4-leap bump.
The third comeback win of the weekend improved Oregon St. to 48-10 for the season, and earned a home NCAA SuperRegional series next weekend against Big XII regular season champion Kansas St. The Wildcats (44-17) advanced with a 4-3 win over Arkansas.
Texas A&M ended their season 34-29.
Davis was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional, and was joined on the all-tournament team by fellow Beavers Wetzler, Barnes, Rodriguez, Peterson, and Andrew Moore.
Texas A&M's Lankford, Reynolds, and Hunter Melton and UC Santa Barbara's Luke Swenson and Joey Epperson rounded out the all-tournament team.
It was Oregon St.'s 14th consecutive post-season win at Goss Stadium, where the Beavers are 18-1 under Casey in NCAA playoff games.
Tickets for the SuperRegional go on sale Wednesday morning.