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Late Miscue Leads to Loss at Oregon

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Oregon avoids the season sweep by coming behind for a 6-2 win.

A Dropped Fly Ball In Left Field By Michael Conforto Hurt The Beavers Badly On Tuesday
A Dropped Fly Ball In Left Field By Michael Conforto Hurt The Beavers Badly On Tuesday

Taking advantage of a fielding blunder in left field, Oregon scored five runs in the seventh inning to propel the hosts to a 6-2 win on Tuesday night. The game was played in front of a boisterous crowd of 2,979 in Eugene.

The fans were into things from the start as the Ducks got out of a big jam in the top of the first. After a flyout to open the game, Nick Rulli doubled and Michael Conforto reached on a bloop single lost in the sun by the Oregon outfielders. Gabe Clark was then hit by a pitch to load the bases, but damage was escaped when Michael Howard flied out to left to end the threat.

Both teams went down in order in the second, as did Oregon State in the top of the third. Sophomore Nick Catalano walked to open the Duck half, but was quickly erased as he tried to take third on a throwing error by starting pitcher Dylan Davis. They would battle back to load the bases later in the inning, but reliever Zack Reser got Kyle Garlick to fly out loudly to center for the third out.

Right-hander Dylan Davis was solid in his 2.1 innings on the mound. He commanded the zone for the majority of his quick outing, which was his fifth of the year. He exited giving up one hit and no runs, striking out two and walking a pair as well. He threw 41 pitches. His counterpart Jack Karraker went three innings, taking a no decision as well.

The home team drew first blood in the bottom of the fourth. Jack Black look alike Shaun Chase belted a no-doubter to left center fielder, and everyone in the park knew it was gone as soon as it left his bat. Thankfully it was only a solo shot and Oregon's lead was only 1-0 after the fourth. It was Chase's 11th home run on the season.

The Beavers would answer quickly. The fifth inning began with a pair of walks, but Rulli and Conforto quickly followed with strikeouts to swing the momentum back into the Oregon dugout. Dylan Davis would lift everyone up though. His single to right field tied the game at one, and the next batter, Clark, did the same to put the Beavers up 2-1.

Things quieted down after that until the bottom of the seventh. That's when the wheels came off. Conforto, who had just returned to his usual left field position, after starting at third base due to regular third baseman Caleb Hamilton shifting to second in place of the injured Andy Peterson, lost a ball off the bat of Aaron Payne into the wind. Payne never stopped running, and by the time the ball was thrown back into the field, he was standing on third as the tying run.

Payne would tie the game on a safety squeeze, with the throw home from first base coming in a tad high, and as a result, just a fraction too late. A Mitchell Tolman double two batters later gave the Ducks the lead, and they picked up some insurance in the next at-bat on another home run blast by Chase, the Pac-12 leader in round-trippers, this one worth three runs.

The final six Beaver batters all went down in order. Kavin Keyes pinch hit in the ninth inning, his first action since fracturing his thumb at Washington State on April 13. Oregon State could definitely use him this weekend in Los Angeles as it tries to lock up the number one national seed. As long as the Beavers take the series from USC, they should hear their name called first during Monday morning's Selection Show.

Oregon State dropped to 41-10 on the season with the loss, while Oregon improved to 41-16. The Beavers return to action at USC at 4:00 PM Pacific in a game to be televised by the Pac-12 Networks. Both team's starting pitchers are still to be determined.