UC-Irvine Ends #1 Oregon St.'s Season

Michael Conforto ended his career at Oregon St. with a pair of walks, but no hits, as UC-Irvine kept the Beaver's best hitter from hurting them.

Anteaters advance to Stillwater with 4-2 win over Beavers.

UC-Irvine beat Pac-12 Champion and top seed Oregon St. for the second time in 3 days Monday night to win the Corvallis Regional, and advance to meet Oklahoma St. next weekend in the Super Regionals of the NCAA Tournament.

The upset upset most of the noisy season high crowd pf 3,435 on hand, but it was nothing Beaver Nation hasn't seen before. Wild pitches, more inept offense that again resulted in the inability to get hits in the clutch that would generate runs (Oregon St. was 1-12 with runners in scoring position in their last dozen such situations at the end of the season), dubious pitching decisions (pitching coach Nate Yeski twice pulled a pitcher who had just been effective, getting an out, to go with a different pitcher who immediately did something that led to an Anteater run, in a game the Beavers lost by 2 runs), and finally, hitting into a double play with the tieing runs on base, combined to do in Oregon St.

Oregon St. had a lot of company, in terms of top seeds failing, as 9 of 16 #1s failed to advance to the Super Regionals this year, but the Beavers became only the second #1 overall seed EVER to fail in the regional round.

UC-Ivine coach Mike Gillespie decided to go with his Friday starter, Big West Pitcher of the year senior RHP Andrew Morales, who was coming back on 2 days rest, and he got 4 1/3 innings out of his ace, while Oregon St. coach Pat Casey went with freshman Jake Thompson.

Thompson got off to a rough start, with a pair of first inning walks, but got out of the jam, and settled down to pitch well through the next 4 innings.

Oregon St. even got out to a 1-0 lead in the 3rd inning, after Logan Ice led off with a single. But even that run wasn't an example of good clutch hitting; Jeff Hendrix got the RBI by being fast enough to outrun the relay throw on a double play ball.

UC-Irvine tied the game in the bottom of the 5th (the Anteaters were the "home team" in the top seed's stadium thanks to a random coin flip), and a wild pitch was the culprit. Jackson struck out Kris Paulino, but the bouncing ball got away from Ice, and Paulino reached. He would go on to score when a grounder went off Thompson's glove, and Andy Peterson's only play was to take the out at first for the second out.

The Anteaters did the definitive damage in the 6th, when Thompson gave up back to back singles to start things, and after a sacrifice, issued an intentional walk to load the bases, and then pinch-hitter Grant Palmer got the go-ahead RBI single to score Chris Rabago that made it 2-1 Irvine.

That ended Thompson's evening, but rather than go with a known quantity out of the bullpen, Yeski opted for freshman Trent Shelton.

Shelton, however, got the job done, with help from Irvine, who, inexplicably, had Paulino bunt with 2 strikes, and it went foul, for an out.

Nervous Nate then immediately pulled Shelton in favor of Brandon Jackson, who hit Adam Alcatara with his first pitch to push another run across.

Yeski pulled Jackson in favor of Max Engelbrekt, and why he didn't go with Engelbrekt, who got Oregon St. out of the jam to begin with is dumbfounding.

As has been his practice, Yeski pulled Engelbrekt after facing exactly 1 batter, going with Friday starter Andrew Moore to start the 7th inning, and Moore gave up a leadoff single to Anteater lead off hitter Taylor Sparks.

Sparks would eventually go on to score on a bases loaded RBI single by Jonathan Munoz to make it 4-1 Irvine.

Oregon St. got a run back in the 8th, when Nick Rulli, who was pinch hitting for Peterson, who had 1 hit in the 5 game regional, tripled off the left field wall, and scored on a wild pitch.

But the Beavers missed a chance to tie the game when, with Michael Conorto on on a 4 pitch walk, Dylan Davis came up representing the game tieing run. But Davis flew out to the warning track in deep left center field.

Moore struck out the side in the bottom of the 8th to keep Oregon St. alive, but Elliott Surrey, who had been much of the Beavers' demise on Saturday night, came on to try to close out the win.

Kavin Keyes led off with a single, but Gabe Clark flew out. Ice drew a 5 pitch walk, but Caleb Hamilton grounded into a 6-4-3 double play, and the Beavers' season was over, while the Anteaters dogpiled.

Thompson took the loss, and ended his season 3-2.

Evan Manarion, who took over for Morales, and worked until there were 2 outs in the 8th, got the win, and improved to 4-3 for the year. Mitch Merten threw 1 pitch, to get Davis to fly out to end the 8th, and Surrey picked up the save, his first of the year.

Here's the end of season press conference:

Oregon St. ended their season 45-14, after having won their second consecutive Pac-12 title.

UC-Irvine improved to 38-23, and will set off for Stillwater, having overall out-pitched, out-hit, and out-coached Oregon St.

Andy_Wooldridge@yahoo.com

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