Oregon St. and Kansas St. renewed their rivalry from the 2013 Super Regionals with today's game in the Pac-12 - Big 12 Tournament in Surprise, AZ, and it came with no shortage of surprises.
The Beavers eventually won a 10-9 shootout, on a 2 out RBI single by pinch hitter Billy King that drove in Christian Donahue, who was pinch running for Gabe Clark. But only after the teams combined for 27 hits, 13 substitutions, including 9 pitching changes, and 5 multi-run innings that kept an impressive crowd of 2,301 interested for well over 3 hours.
Oregon St. gave an indications of things to come in the first inning, but came up scoreless after leaving 2 runners in scoring position.
The Beavers would leave 2 on again in the 2nd inning, though only one was in scoring position. The difference was before then, Oregon St. had pushed 6 runs across, after sending 11 batters to the plate. Trevor Morrison's 2 RBI triple to left and K.J. Harrison's 2 run home run to left were the highlights.
The Wildcats immediately answered, with a pair of runs in the top of the 3rd, all built on a lead-off double to left center by Clayton Dalrymple.
"We had a guy on the mound who was lights out for a couple of innings, and then he got his lights punched out in one inning," Oregon St. coach Pat Casey commented.
Starter Travis Eckert had a temperature of 103 in the morning, and though he reported feeling ok to start, seemed to run out of steam after a while.
Kansas St. exploded in the 5th to take the lead, blowing up the Beaver bullpen in the process, scoring 5 runs by batting around, after the first 5 Wildcats that came up got hits. It could have been worse for Oregon St. but for getting out of the inning when Scotland Church cut down Danny Krause at the plate when Krause was sent home from second on Wildcat 9-spot hitter Jake Wodtke's single.
The 6th inning looked like it might be when things turned in favor of Oregon St., when Austin Woodward came on as the 5th pitcher of the afternoon for the Beavers. The junior transfer from Cove, Oregon (a 2A size school) via Linn-Benton Community College retired 8 straight Wildcats, an unheard-of pitching performance by an OSU bullpen arm, but a response desperately needed given that Oregon St. had been set down in order offensively 3 straight innings before that.
In the bottom half of the inning, Oregon St. took the lead back, going up 8-7 when Jeff Hendrix scored on a sacrifice fly, after having delivered an RBI triple.
With Woodward cruising, a 7th inning run by Gabe Clark, who scored on Logan Ice's single after leading off with a triple off the wall in right center, looked like an insurance run.
But Mitch Hickey, the should still be in high school freshman who had been perfect as a closer in Thursday's 5-3 Oregon St. win over Oklahoma St., couldn't hold the lead. Hickey hit Kansas St. leadoff hitter Carter Yagi, who scored on Max Brown's single, his 3rd hit and 3rd RBI of the game, and Brown followed him home to tie the game when Alex Bee doubled for his second RBI hit of the game to make it 9-9 going to the bottom of the 9th.
Though Hickey did not get his first career save, he improved to 2-0 as a Beaver when Ice and Caleb Hamilton delivered back to back sacrifices to move Donahue to 3rd, in perfect position to score when King squared up the 2nd pitch he saw from Kyle Halbohn, who had come on after Clark had driven the first pitch he saw to left off of Jordan Floyd, who took the loss and dropped to 1-2.
Kansas St. slipped to 3-3, while Oregon St. improved to 4-2 with their 3rd walk off win of the Surprise start to the season. The Beavers will look to stay in first place in the Big XII tomorrow when they take on Oklahoma at 1 PM AST, noon PST.
Hendrix had a big day, going 3 of 4 at the plate, with 2 RBIs and 2 runs scored, and KJ Harrison continued to be red hot, with a 2 of 5 day that LOWERED his batting average to .462, but provided 2 more RBIs.
Notably, the Beavers only struck out 5 times, 2 by Harrison, and also played error-free defense, contrasted to 3 errors committed by the Wildcats. But pitching is clearly going to be an adventure, and will probably cause pitching coach Nate Yeski to wear out a pair of shoes before Pac-12 play even starts.
But the best day of the season so far at the plate by the Beavers was certainly a plus.