PORTLAND, Ore. - In what was widely referred to as "a showdown between the best two baseball teams in the state", the Beavers and the Portland Pilots met for the only time of the season Tuesday afternoon at Joe Etzel Field on the campus of the University of Portland.
Sam Gaviglio, getting just his third start of the season, worked five innings against the Pilots, striking out seven and allowing one run on three hits in the game. He moves to 7-1 on the season, and continues to lead the team in victories, despite the low number of starts.
The win is the third straight for the Beavers, who defeated No. 3 Arizona State in a three game series last weekend in Corvallis. They'll head to Seattle this weekend for a series with the Huskies-- Friday's game will be played at Safeco Field.
The Beavers did the majority of their damage in the middle innings, breaking open a game that was deadlocked at zero for the first three innings. Ryan Ortiz scored on a ball off the bat of Adalberto Santos in the fourth inning, and Santos would eventually score on a balk to give the Beavers a 2-0 lead.
With the bases loaded in the bottom of the fifth, Ryan Ortiz singled to left field to bring home Carter Bell and John Tommasini, who were both issued free passes earlier in the inning.
Portland's only run of the game came in the bottom of the fourth inning, when Pilot second baseman Riley Henricks homered to left field. OSU pitcher Sam Gaviglio and head coach Pat Casey both thought that the ball traveled to the foul side of the left field foul pole, but the run would be the sole UP run of the game.
Josh Osich gave the Beavers three innings of relief in the game, allowing just two hits and striking out five. The strikeout total matches Nygren's season high, dating back to when he struck out five BYU Cougars on April 14.
James Nygren notched two outs in the ninth inning, striking out UP's best statistical hitter, Bryant Kraus, to begin the inning. Nygren then gave up a single to Cort Carpenter, the Pilot first basemen. James then induced a popup into shallow center field, in which Joey Wong was able to make a highlight-reel basket catch with his back to home plate.
Pitching coach Nate Yeskie then went to the bullpen for Kraig Sitton, who got his glove on a slow rolling ball off the bat of Tyler Thompson. Sitton, if he had let the ball go, would have ended the game, as shortstop Joey Wong was in persuit of the ground ball. Sitton, who re-directed the ball towards third base, was pulled in favor of closer Kevin Rhoderick, who came into pitch with the tying run in the on-deck circle.
Rhoderick obtained his six save of the season on a ground ball to first baseman Stefen Romero off the bat of Kyle Haskin.
The Beavers won by four runs, but head coach Pat Casey was not thrilled at all with the effort. Frankly, the Beavers got lucky on several occasions, getting walks and balks at key times to put runners on base. Sam Gaviglio pitched well, but beyond that, Coach Casey seemed ready to escape the throngs of the mid-week game and get ready for the upcoming series with the Washington Huskies.
I'll get some post-game quotes for you in soon-- for now, savor the win!