Gainesville Regional // Game 1
Final Score: Oregon State 6, Florida Atlantic 4
It was supposed to be a clash of two teams who don't rely on the home run to win games, but Oregon State prevailed 6-4 over Florida Atlantic in the first round of the NCAA baseball playoffs, on a humid day in Florida, when four home runs were hit over the course of the game.
The game was delayed three hours and fifteen minutes due to rain. But once the rain stopped, the sun came out for the ensuing the 3:15 PT first pitch, providing sweltering, humid conditions for the players. The rain didn't dampen Tyler Smith's spirits, though.
Neither Adalberto Santos nor Danny Hayes was the offensive catalyst in today's game, it was seven-hitter Smith, who came into the game hitting .241. The Beaver second baseman delivered a two run home run to left field in the second inning, driving in Andrew Susac, who had singled. Then, an RBI single in his second at-bat in the fourth inning, scored Dylan Jones, and the Beavers took a 3-0 lead, with all three RBI's coming from Smith.
That hit sparked what would be a four run fourth inning, giving Oregon State, and starter Greg Peavey, a 6-0 lead. In that inning, Jones, Andrew Susac, Smith, and Keith Jennette all singled, and Carter Bell drove in Susac with a double to right center. Jennette's single scored Smith, and Bell came across on a wild pitch.
Oregon State starter Greg Peavey (6-3) got the win in the Regional opener, pitching six and a third innings, and retiring seven batters on strikeouts. Florida Atlantic shortstop Nick Delguidice got to Peavey in the bottom of the sixth, however, for what was just the third home run Peavey has allowed this season. Dan Scheffler was on ahead of Delguidice, so the Owls pulled within 6-2 going to the seventh inning.
Florida Atlantic got two runners aboard to start the seventh inning, promting pitching coach Nate Yeskie to turn the ball over to Ryan Gorton. Gorton immediately got the Beavers a double play ball on a soft comebacker to get the Beavers out of trouble.
Gorton couldn't pull off a similar feat in the eighth inning, as Scheffler and Eddie Cassidy connected for back to back solo homers. Scheffler's homer came on the second pitch of his at-bat, while Cassidy hammered the first pitch he saw.
Gorton would then exit, and Tyler Waldron came in. With Colby Gratton on, Chase Vergason came to the plate, representing the tying run, but Waldron got the strikeout to keep Oregon State ahead 6-4.
"The last few weeks, I've been getting really comfortable in the late inning, closer role," Gorton told Mike Parker after the game. "It's a lot of fun to come in and close a team down. When I was a starter, I always had to pace myself. Now, coming in as a closer, I only have a limited time ahead of me so I'm able to throw everything out on the line. I don't need to turn the regulator on."
Waldron also has a much lower inning total at this point of 2010 than he had in 2009. It's allowed him to maintain his arm better, and he feels like he's at his best at the right time.
The Beavers would load the bases in the top of the ninth inning with two outs, and Santos extended his on-base streak to 38 games. But Raymond Church was able to make a tough play on a ball hit by Dylan Jones to prevent Oregon State from adding to their two run lead.
Waldron would record three quick outs in the ninth inning, giving him his third save of the season.
Florida Atlantic starter Mike Gipson (8-2) went six innings for the Owls, and took only his second loss of the season.
Tyler Smith, who ended up going 2-for-4 with 3 RBI's, was one of three freshmen in Coach Casey's starting lineup. Catcher Susac went 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored, and Danny Hayes started as the designated hitter but was lifted after going hitless in his first two at-bats.
"These guys have continued to grow," Pat Casey said of his rookies. "One thing about freshmen is they all want to play and play right away. We had an injury (to second baseman John Tommasini) that allowed Tyler Smith to play more than he would normally. He proved he wasn't going to be a freshman for very long. This is what athletics are about."
The win also proves that the Beavers have put their mid-season slump behind them.
Once we hit the series against the University of Oregon, the season has taken a huge turnaround," Waldron said. "We're gelling as a team, we love playing together, and we want to play together as long as possible."
The win keeps Oregon State in the top half of the Gainesville Regional, where they'll meet up with either Florida or Bethune-Cookman in the Saturday evening game, which will begin at 4:00 PM PT.
--Jake | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
AndyPanda also contributed to this report.