Head coach Pat Casey's lineup on Saturday featured 3 players making their Oregon State debut, 4 including starting pitcher and JUCO-transfer Travis Eckert. By the end of the game, we saw 6 players get their first action with the Beavers, and they proved themselves capable, as they beat Michigan State 4-3 in 10 innings and stay undefeated.
Eckert, a junior from Austin, Texas who played at Clark College in Vancouver, Washington last year, got into some trouble in each of the first two innings, but escaped thanks to a pair of inning-ending double plays, first on a chopper to third baseman Caleb Hamilton, who stepped on his bag and fired across to first, and then on a 6-4-3 double play started by the ever-steady sophomore Trever Morrison.
The Beavers struck first in the bottom half of the opening inning, when senior transfer Dane Lund reached on an error with one out, moved to second on a KJ Harrison single, and scored when Caleb Hamilton hit a line drive through the right side.
Michigan State starting pitcher Cam Vieaux, an All Big-Ten Freshman selection last year, got through the 2nd unscathed, but gave up another run in the 3rd, when KJ Harrison hit a 3-0 pitch over the fence in left-center field. It remains to be seen whether Pat Casey gave Harrison the green light 3-0 in his 2nd collegiate game because he's immensely talented, or more because he's batting 3rd in the lineup, but either way it shows once again that Casey is fully aware that this is an inexperienced team, and that he has to have faith in some young players.
Keeping true to their roots, that third inning ended when the Beavers tried to force a run across with runners on first and third by getting the runner on first, Scotland Church, caught in a rundown for Billy King on third to score. Of course, the plan failed.
Eckert got quite a bit of help from his defense, with the aforementioned double plays, quite a few hard hit balls that were turned into outs, and catcher Dane Lund throwing out two would-be basestealers. He wasn't dominant by any means, and never had a true 1-2-3 inning, although both of the innings with a Spartan caught stealing were de facto 1-2-3's.
The only run Eckert gave up in his 6 innings came in his last inning of work, when Cam Gibson, son of Kirk, hit a leadoff triple and scored on a groundout. The batter after that RBI groundout was Blaise Slater, who jumped on one of Eckert's deliveries and launched it well out of the park, but it went foul, and the Beavers kept their lead at 2-1.
They re-extended it in the bottom of the inning, when Billy King led off with a double. That marked the end of Vieaux's day, and new pitcher Andrew Gonzalez nearly got him off the hook, but with 2 outs sophomore transfer Kyle Nobach picked up the first hit of his career, a chopper over the third baseman's head that went for an RBI double, and made it a 3-1 game.
Eckert threw 83 pitches in his first game as a Beaver, walking and striking out 2 Spartans, and surrendering 5 hits and 1 run over his 6 innings. John Pomeroy, the hard-throwing sophomore, took over in the 7th, and he decided to stick to the true-outcomes, striking out two batters, walking one, and hitting another, before being pulled in favor of Drew Rasmussen. Rasmussen, the hard-throwing freshman, stuck to the script by striking out the first batter he faced, ending the inning.
Rasmussen got into deep trouble in the 8th, when Gibson singled to start the inning, Brandon Hughes walked on 4 pitches, and they moved up to 2nd and 3rd on a balk (2 balks in the first 2 games, what a world). This time, Salter managed to keep the ball fair, but luckily Rasmussen managed to keep the ball in the park, and it was 3-2 after the RBI bloop single. The Spartans tied the game on a sacrifice fly, but that was the end of the scoring in the inning.
Rasmussen was removed after the 8th inning, giving way to sophomore Trent Shelton, who threw a scoreless 9th inning. Trever Morrison hit a one-out single in the bottom half of the inning, but was picked off, squashing any hopes of the game ending in regulation.
Shelton continued into the 10th, but was pulled after a leadoff lineout to third. Sam Tweedt was the next pitcher, Oregon State's 5th of the day. He walked the first batter he faced, but retired the next two batters on a foulout and strikeout, good enough to earn him his first career win.
The Spartans, meanwhile, were also relying on a freshman pitcher, Alex Troop, who had 3 crisp innings before walking Logan Ice, who took over for Lund in the 7th, and KJ Harrison to start the 10th. Pinch
hitter bunter Tyler Mildenberg did his job, and Caleb Hamilton was intentionally walked, bringing up Elliott Cary with the bases loaded and one out.
Cary had entered in the 6th, when he pinch-hit with a runner on third and one out. Then, he hit a sharp groundball to 2nd that was turned into an out. Luckily, Nobach picked him up with the RBI double. Cary couldn't get any redemption in the 10th, striking out after watching 3 pitches (all of which announcer Jay Reese objected to), but luckily Nobach was there again, lacing a ball back up the middle, sending Logan Ice and the fans home happy, and ending the game at 4-3.
(Fortunately, someone with the team took a shot of the newest Beaver star.)
The only Beaver starters not to get a hit were Jeff Hendrix, going 0-5 with 2 strikeouts, and Dane Lund, who reached on an error and scored before being replaced in the 6th inning. Harrison, King, and Nobach all had 2 hits, and combined for 2 runs and 3 RBI's.
The Beavers continue their stay in Surprise tomorrow with a game at 3 PM against New Mexico.