It was excruciating.
Oregon State was unable to hold onto an early 6-1 lead and would eventually fall 7-6 in West Sacramento on Monday night. The win puts Sacramento State up 1-0 in the mini two game series, the first of which was played in front of over 1,500 people at Raley Field.
A sizable contingent of Beaver fans were brought to life early when the Beaver bats exploded for six runs in the first two innings. Some classic Pat Casey small ball got the job done early, as Andy Peterson got aboard a fielder's choice, stole second, and was then singled home by Michael Conforto. Conforto then swiped second and Jeff Hendrix sliced a ball between the Hornets' center and right fielder's to put the visitors up 2-0.
Junior left-hander Jace Fry got the start tonight. Fry is the usual Sunday starter, but since it has been eight days since his last start and six until his next scheduled one, Casey gave him the nod. The southpaw was knocked around in the bottom of the first, giving up three straight singles and two long flyouts before getting back to the dugout. Due to some poor baserunning by Sacramento State, the Hornets only managed to get one run in the frame. Fry ended up laboring through four innings, throwing 77 pitches and allowing three runs on nine hits.
It appeared as if Oregon State had broken the game open in the top of the second. Logan Ice grounded out weakly to open the inning, but back-to-back walks, a single, a sacrifice fly, and a two run homer put the Beavers ahead 6-1.
Then things got bad. Really bad. The "hosts" trimmed the deficit in half in the fourth on a pair of RBI singles down both the first and third base lines. All 16 Sacramento State hits would be singles.
In the sixth, with Scott Schultz on the bump, the usual OSU closer tossed what should have been an inning-ending double play ball. He got junior Kyle Moses to hit a comebacker to the mound, but Schultz hurried himself and threw the ball into center field. That scored another run, pulling the Hornets to within 6-4.
After consecutive singles for SSU in the seventh, Oregon State gladly conceded a run in turn for a double play. But a walk and two more singles immediately after pulled Sacramento State even at six, ending Schultz's night on a sour note.
The winning run came in the bottom of the eighth when sophomore Scotty Burcham singled home Will Soto, making it 7-6 Hornets. Michael Conforto led off the ninth with a single but the Beavers were unable to turn it into anything, ending the game with a strikeout and two pop outs.
With the entirety of what is largely considered to be the best rotation in the nation all throwing against a team ranked 126th in the RPI, this is a terrible loss. Especially considering that Oregon State led by five at one point.
This drops the Beavers to 27-8 heading into tomorrow's series finale in a game on-campus at Sacramento State. The Hornets improved to 25-15 with the win and improved their slim chances of an at-large bid into the NCAA Tournament. In all likelihood, however, they will need to win the WAC Tournament in order to hear their name called on Selection Monday.