Washington scored three runs in the second inning and would eventually hang on for a huge, 4-2 win to open the de facto Pac-12 championship series at Goss Stadium. The game was played in front of a loud Friday afternoon crowd of 3,309 in Corvallis.
The fans were into things from the start, making sure that the visiting Huskies knew they were in the friendly confines of Husky Ballpark anymore. However, it would be the visitors that struck first. After threatening in the top of the first and getting Andrew Moore's pitch count up, they broke through in the second inning.
Trevor Mitsui grounded out to open the frame, but consecutive singles and a walk loaded the bases for the Dawgs. Moore then got even more wild, hitting nine-hole batter Erik Forgione and throwing a passed ball to the leadoff hitter to bring in a pair of runs. Sophomore Braden Bishop then picked up an RBI groundout to second, and just like that it was 3-0 in favor of the visitors. That would prove to be all that was needed.
Right-hander Jared Fisher turned in an excellent performance for Washington. His command was evident early on, and a tone was set in the bottom of the first when he got Michael Conforto to ground out on just one pitch to cap a 1-2-3 inning. He was pulled after six innings, giving up two runs on five hits. He threw 86 pitches.
Oregon State finally got on the scoreboard in the fifth, and it all started with a 3-2 Gabe Clark single. Freshman Logan Ice then walked on four pitches, and both runners were moved into scoring position on a sacrifice bunt by Michael Howard. Caleb Hamilton struck out for the second out of the inning, but Trever Morrison lifted everyone's spirits with a single through the right side. Both Clark and Ice would score to cut the deficit to one.
Things calmed down until the eighth inning, which would go down as the most frustrating frame of the night. Oregon State's only error of the day ended up costing it a run, coming on a two out grounder to Morrison at short. The freshman missed the pick attempt, and pinch runner Chris Baker ended up scoring all the way from second as Conforto's throw from left was wide of the plate.
Everything seemed like it would work itself out in the bottom half of the inning when Andy Peterson reached on an infield single, then advanced to second on a throwing error by the Husky pitcher. That brought up the heart of the lineup with nobody out, but reliever Trevor Dunlap would clutch up, getting Conforto to strike out and Dylan Davis and Clark to fly out to end the threat.
With momentum drained and the visiting fans starting to overtake the ballpark, the Beavers closed the game weakly in the ninth. Two groundouts and a swinging strikeout put this one in the books, and Dawg closer Troy Rallings enjoyed taunting the remaining Oregon State fans as he danced off the field.
Aside from the actual game, the suspension handed down to senior Ben Wetzler earlier today was the other big storyline. Despite serving the fourth game of his five game suspension, Wetzler was still his usual self, always being the first one off the bench to greet his teammates after a big play. And after the game, head coach Pat Casey delivered this great quote.
Asked Pat Casey why he suspended Wetzler five games instead of one series: "I put out a statement. You can read it, if you'd like." #GoBeavs
Washington's win pushes the Huskies into a tie for first place in the Pac-12, and also gives them the current head-to-head tiebreaker, despite the overall season series now being tied. This is only important in case a giant snowstorm sweeps across the nation and renders the remaining two weeks of the regular season unplayable. Both teams are still in play for one of the eight national seeds, although the Dawgs likely need at least one more win this weekend to have a shot, while the Beavers could be swept and still have a chance. Three other teams currently ranked in the top 15, Virginia, South Carolina, and Miami (Florida), also lost today.
Oregon State dropped to 39-9 on the season with the loss, while Washington improved to 38-11-1. Both teams will return to action tomorrow at 4:00 PM Pacific in a game to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks. Southpaw Jace Fry (10-1, 1.64 ERA) is slated to get the start for the Beavers, while right-hander Tyler Davis (10-1, 1.77 ERA) gets the nod for the Huskies.