Scott Schultz, one of Oregon State's closers, was masterful as a starter on Sunday, leading the Beavers to a 4-0 win against UC Irvine.
"If thou survive my well-contented day"
I think that's a Shakespeare quote. It certainly sounds like it. Nonetheless, it definitely applies here.
Oregon State was forced into full survival mode after last night's devastating 14-2 loss to the same UC Irvine team. It also needed a day full of content, and after eliminating UNLV earlier in the afternoon, the Beavers went to work on the Anteaters to the tune of a 4-0 shutout. Senior Scott Schultz, typically one of its closers, put in a tremendous performance in a starting role for the Regional hosts, throwing a two-hit, complete game shutout. The right-hander would end up hitting more batters than he allowed hits to.
So, what does this mean? It means there is a tomorrow. There is one more game to play, and for whoever wins that, there will be a whole 'nother week. There is one more chance to see Michael Conforto gun down a runner at the plate. One more chance to see Andy Peterson try to beat out a bunt. One more chance for a sold out Goss Stadium to lose its mind. And that's pretty cool.
This is what postseason baseball is all about. Going deep into pitching staffs. Every pitch being huge. Surviving and advancing. Staying up deep into the night to write about it all.
Early on in Sunday night's game, it looked like there may not be a tomorrow for Oregon State. Schultz hit two UC Irvine batters in the top of the first but would get a huge looking strikeout to end the threat. To me, that's when it felt like this team had once and for all flushed last night and was officially back.
They would score their first run of the night in the bottom half of the inning on an absolute blast by Conforto to deep right-center field. That ball was a foot away from leaving Coleman Field, but instead banged off the top of the fence. Still, it was good enough to score Peterson from first and put the Beavers ahead 1-0.
It looked as if the visitors might get the run back in the third. Junior Chris Rabago worked a one-out walk and advanced to second on a groundout, then tried to take home on a base hit to left field. Conforto would have none of it. His throw to the plate beat Rabago by a couple steps, and thanks to a tremendous sweeping tag by Logan Ice, the inning was over and the threat was gone.
The one seed rode the momentum, scoring three runs in the bottom half of the third to put the game on cruise control. Kavin Keyes and Gabe Clark each broke out of their own mini-slumps with a couple of huge hits, one a single, the other a double. By the time the Anteaters could catch their breath, the score was 4-0 and the home-field advantage was starting to be felt.
Those would be the final Beaver runs of the long day, but Schultz was so economical that it didn't matter. He retired 18 of the final 20 Irvine hitters, getting stronger as the game went along.
Here's Coach Casey and Schultz postgame with the press:
The bounce back effort by Oregon State means we will wake up Monday and still have a team to root for. I don't know what's going to happen in the deciding game, or who's going to pitch. But I do know we are still playing baseball, and that's all you can ask for.