Oregon St. finally won a Pac-12 road series Saturday night, downing Washington 4-1.
The Beavers managed to get the minimum amount possible out of their opportunities yet again, but that still wins when they get season or career best pitching performances, and that's what they got from junior righty Travis Eckert.
Eckert went 2 outs into the 8th inning, allowing only 3 hits and 6 base runners, and setting the Huskies down in order 4 times in the first 6 innings, to pick up his 5th win of the season, with no losses.
Caleb Hamilton put Oregon St. on the board in the 3rd inning, with a leadoff home run to left field. It was his 3rd round trip of the year. Dane Lund drew a 1 out walk, and scored on Jeff Hendrix' triple, for what would turn out to be the winning run, as Hendrix extended his hitting streak to double digits. Hendrix had a strong night at the plate, going 2 of 3 plus 2 walks.
But Hendrix was left stranded at third, and Oregon St. missed another opportunity to blow the game open 2 innings later. The Beavers did plate a run, after Christian Donahue doubled, advanced to third on a wild pitch, and scored on K.J. Harrison's sacrifice fly.
But Oregon St. subsequently loaded the bases, only to leave them loaded.
Another opportunity to open a commanding margin got away in the 7th, when the Beavers put runners on the corners with no one out, on singles by Lund and Hendrix, but got only 1 run on what should have been a double play ball by Harrison. More ineffective sacrifices squandered the opportunity for more.
The only fans more frustrated than the Washington fans that turned out in Husky Ball Park record numbers, 2,360 in all, that saw the Huskies handcuffed most of the night had to be the Oregon St. contingent, which once again witnessed countless opportunities for a comfortable win get squandered.
Oregon St. got only 4 runs out of 10 hits plus 4 walks, stranding a stunning 9 runners. The cause of the problem again was an inability to hit in the clutch.
The Beavers were only 3 of 15 (.200) with runners on base, an indefensible 2 of 13 (.154) with runners in scoring position, and an even worse 1 of 10 (.100) with 2 outs.
This failure to put the Huskies away almost caught up with the Beavers in the 8th inning.
A finally tiring Eckert hit Josh Cushing, the Huskies' 9-spot hitter, with a pitch, and walked Jack Meggs. With his pitch count at 116, and the game still not safely out of reach, Oregon St. pitching coach Nate Yeski was forced to pull Eckert, calling on closer Mitch Hickey.
Hickey walked Austin Rey, who had 3 home runs in the last 2 games against Oregon St. pitching (after going yard only 2 times previously all season), but had been held hitless by Eckert, to load the bases, but then struck out Husky cleanup hitter Brandon Barry, who could have tied the game with a shot toward Montlake.
Hickey had a bit of trouble in the 9th, uncorking a wild pitch and a ball that Lund couldn't handle for a passed ball after Chris Baker had singled. An infield ground out scored Baker, and cost what would have been just the 3rd shutout of the season for Oregon St. pitching (contrast that with 15 shutouts last season to better understand how the Beavers count on outlandish pitching performances to cover up their offensive ineptitude).
But that was the extent of it, as Hickey recovered to close out his 8th save of the season.
Josh Fredendall, a last minute starter decision for Washington, went his season average 4 innings, before being pulled despite pitching well, got the loss, his first of the year in 9 outings, and dropped to 3-1 for the season.
Oregon St. improved to 29-14, and 12-9 in the Pac-12, with the win, and remain in 5th place in the conference race.
Washington dropped to 24-21, and 9-15 in conference.
It was the 3rd series rubber game in a row that the Beavers have won, and their first road series win of the year. The series win over the Huskies ended a string of 3 consecutive series wins by Washington in series played in Seattle.
Oregon St. will return home in the morning, and face Oregon Tuesday evening at Goss Stadium, in the first of 2 non-conference Civil War games remaining on the schedule, beginning a 4 game home stand that will also include a visit from Utah for next weekend's Pac-12 series.