Jake Rodriguez was supposed to get the day off, having caught the first games of #3 Oregon St.'s Pac-12 campaign opening series at #20 Arizona, both marathon games in the heat at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson. That lasted until the 3rd inning, when Oregon St. head coach Pat Casey put "J-Rod" in for Nate Esposito, who had gotten the start.
Rodriguez proceeded to personally account for 6 runs in the 8-4 win that resulted in the Beavers sweeping the defending NCAA National Champion 'Cats for the first time ever in Tucson. Rodriguez delivered an RBI double double in the 4th, and followed up with a 3 RBI double in the 6th inning, delivering what would amount to the game winning runs.
Rodriguez erased 1 Arizona run, throwing out Trent Gilbert who was for no good reason trying to steal second in the bottom of the 6th, with the 'Cats down 6 runs at the time. Had Gilbert not run himself into an out, he would have scored when Kevin Newman subsequently tripled.
Rodriguez, who had delivered 2 sacrifice fly RBIs crucial to the outcome in Saturday night's 4-3 Oregon St. win, capped his day with another one in the 8th inning, scoring Max Gordon, who had induced his second infield error of the game by Arizona to get on base.
Oregon St. opened a 1-0 lead in the top of the first, when Michael Conforto homered to right center, his 6th of the season, with a shot that initially caused some confusion as to whether it was above the home run line part way up the towering walls at Hi Corbett, and expanded that to 2-0 in the 2nd, when Jared Casper tripled down the left field line to drive in Ryan Barnes.
Arizona answered with a bases loaded RBI fly in the bottom of the second by Cody Ramer, but the 'Cats missed their best chance of the game, getting only that 1 run despite twice loading the bases.
Oregon St. opened the lead to 3-1 in the 4th inning on Rodriguez' first RBI double, and added a run ahead of Rodriguez' 3 RBI double in the 6th, when Gordon's first bunt that prompted an Arizona infield error scored Danny Hayes, who had responded to fouling a ball off his leg by doubling.
It could and should have been more comfortable for the Beavers, though, as they got a runner into scoring position in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th innings with 1 out, 3 of them on 3rd, none of whom scored.
That became an issue when the 'Cat bats, largely shut down for the first 2 1/2 games of the series, finally got as hot as the Arizona weather. Newman, who had tripled, scored in the 6th, but the Beavers got out of that jam with a double play, with another runner stranded on 3rd.
It looked like Oregon St. might still cruise to the win, with 2 out in the bottom of the 7th, but Brandon Jackson ran into trouble when Johnny FIeld homered over the top of the left field wall, the first round trip allowed this season by the Beaver pitching staff, and Brandon Dixon followed up with a double.
Max Englebrekt came in for Jackson, but gave up consecutive singles, scoring Dixon, before he could get out of the inning.
Englebrekt got into more trouble in the 8th, with an opening walk, and subsequently a single, but Scott Schultz, the 5th Beaver pitcher of the day, came in to get Oregon St. out of the inning.
Aided by a game ending double play, Schultz closed out the win, picking up his 4th save of the season.
Arizona starter Cody Moffett, who was chased in the decisive 6th inning, after Hayes' double and Ryan Barnes had walked, took the loss, after allowing 7 hits, 3 walks, and 5 earned runs, dropping to 2-1 for the season.
In an inequity of baseball scoring, Jackson got the win, improving to 4-0 for the year, while starter Ben Wetzler got a no decision, even though he left the game with a lead the Beavers never lost. The reason was he was lifted for Dan Child with 2 outs in the 5th, after allowing his 4th walk of the game. Wetzler did allow only 2 hits, and given the 'Cats entered the game hitting .316 as a team, the fact that that average fell each day before they finally banged out 10 hits today is still a tribute to an overall strong weekend by the Beaver pitching staff, which could have had an easier time of it with more timely hitting from players not named Rodriguez.
Still, its another sweep for Oregon St., who improved to 19-1, and 3-0 in the Pac-12, and effectively a 4 game lead on Arizona, who dropped to 15-8 and 0-3 in conference heading to Eugene to play Oregon next weekend. Prior to that trip, the 'Cats will have only played 2 games away from Hi Corbett.
The Beavers have the week off for finals, before resuming action Friday night at home against Arizona St. FIrst pitch will be at 5:35.