Oregon St. bounced back from their first loss of the season to earn a series split with San Francisco of the West Coast Conference Wednesday night. The Beavers edged the Dons 6-5, and it was Dylan Davis, whose' home run last night was essentially the entire offense for Oregon St., who played the biggest part in the game, in more than one way.
Davis had 2 hits and 3 RBIs, including a 2 RBI double in the 3rd inning that game Oregon St. their first lead. The aggressive swinging Dons actually out-hit the Beavers, but the game was only as close as it was because Davis dropped a 2 out routine fly ball in the 7th that allowed San Francisco to score 2 unearned runs, pulling within 6-5.
However, on the next play, what could have eventually been the game tieing run was wiped out when Oregon St. left fielder Michael Conforto threw out MItchell Rowan, who tried to score from second on a single to left, but was out easily when Beavers' catcher Nate Esposito had the throw from Conforto in hand with Rowan still 15 feet up the line from home plate.
It was another good outing for the Oregon St. bullpen, as Brandon Jackson and Max Englebrekt would have held San Francisco scoreless for the majority of the game had it not been for Davis' drop.
Taylor Starr got off to a terrible start, giving up 3 hits, a successful sacrifice, and also hitting a batter and serving up a pitch Esposito let go to the back stop to the first 5 San Francisco batters, digging a 2 run hole for the Beavers in the process. Only an unassisted double play by Jake Rodriguez, who spent the first 8 defensive innings at second base for the Beavers, averted what could have been a game and series spoiling inning before Oregon St. ever came to bat.
Rodriguez was at second so that Andy Peterson, who had started every game this season at second for the Beavers, could slide over to short in place of Tyler Peterson, whose' hand was significantly bruised when he was hit by a pitch late in last night's game.
Starr settled down after that though, and had back to back 1-2-3 innings.
The Beavers got started on the comeback in the bottom of the 1st when, with 2 outs, Dons pitcher Andrew Pulido plunked Peterson, who moved to third on a Conforto single, and scored on a fielder's choice RBI grounder by Davis.
Oregon St. took the lead in the 3rd, on Davis' 2 RBI double, but the Beavers blew a chance to blow the game open after loading the bases when Sheldon Lee, the first of 6 San Francisco relief pitchers to make an appearance got Gabe Clark to ground to 3rd, allowing the Dons to easily get Conforto at the plate, and then another harmless ground ball by Kavin Keyes.
San Francisco struck back in the next at bat to tie the game, when a single, a wild pitch, a walk, and a steal allowed Brendan Hendricks to score on a sacrifice fly by Bob Cruickshank.
Starr was done for the night after giving up a 1 out single in the 5th, and Justin Maffei stole both second and third before being stranded, as Jackson shut things down, and proceeded to pitch well until there were 2 outs in the 7th.
By then the Beavers had opened a 6-3 lead with their 3 run 5th inning, which started with Peterson singling, and Conforto being hit by a pitch, something San Francisco as a staff seems to be quite good at.
That prompted another San Francisco pitching change, and Davis singled on new Dons reliever Sheldon Lee to load the bases with a 3rd base foul line roller that stayed fair. Danny Hayes drove in Peterson with a fly ball, and 2 batters later, Keyes, who got the start at 3rd base tonight, doubled down the left field foul line to score both Davis and Conforto.
San Francisco head coach Nino Giarratano vehemently argued the ball was foul, but home plate umpire Mik Hendrickson had quickly and strongly signaled fair as the ball was sharply hit and rolled all the way into the Oregon St. bullpen.
With 2 out in the 7th, both Maffi and Jason Mahood singled, but Jackson would and should have been out of the inning on Rowan's fly ball, but with both running at the crack of the bat, they easily scored when Davis dropped the ball.
Englebrekt took over in the 8th, and set the Dons down 1-2-3, but things got interesting in the top of the 9th, when with 1 out, San Francisco pinch hitter Derek Atkinson singled to center, and Peterson, who had moved back to second when Oregon St. coach Pat Casey put Rodriguez behind the plate and Smith in at shortstop, bandaged hand and all, to tighten up the defense to pull out the win, bobbled a ball, putting the tieing run in scoring position.
The Oregon St. defensive moves proved sound though, when Peterson started the 4-6-3 double play that closed out the game.
Casey said before the game that Smith's hand wouldn't be a lasting problem, as test showed no damage beyond a big bruise.
Jackson got the win, improving him to 3-0 for the year, and Englebrekt picked up his 4th save of the season, while Lee took the loss to go to 0-2.
Almost all of the 1,771 fans on hand were there to the finish to see Oregon St. improve to 15-1 for the season. The Beavers fly out tomorrow for their Pac-12 campaign opening series in Tucson against defending National Champion Arizona, beginning at 6 PM MST (6 PM PDT), with Matt Boyd taking the mound for Oregon St.
San Francisco dropped to 7-9, and head on to Spokane, for their WCC opening series against Gonzaga.
After basketball season came to a disappointing, though not surprising, end, the win definitely made it a better evening to be a Beaver than it had been for the preceding 24 hours.