The Beavers 9-0 win over the Bears claimed the series, and Oregon St. fans that turned out in the greatest number of the season hope it was impressive enough when coupled with last night's 4-0 win to earn another weekend of baseball in Corvallis in next week's NCAA Regionals. We'll find out tomorrow, probably during the final game of the series, when the 16 first round hosts are announced.
The 3,358 fans that comprised the largest crowd of the season by 7 spent most of the afternoon watching a pitching duel that turned into a one-sided offensive show come evening.
Logan Ice and Drew Rasmussen were the key contributors in icing the Bears, who saw their shot at second place in the final Pac-12 season disappear, while the Beavers not only held onto second place, they locked it up with USC's 7-4 win today over Arizona St..
Ice went 4 for 4 sort of, going 2 for 2 with 2 walks, with 2 RBIs a 2 runs scored, and Rasmussen turned in the second complete game shutout of California, who happens to lead the Pac-12 in home runs, in as many days.
After Rasmussen and California starter Ryan Mason, arguably the Bear's best arm, engaged in a dominating pitching duel in the initial innings, it looked like Ice would break the ice, but the first scoring threat of the game ended in the bottom of the 3rd, when Oregon St. stranded Ice at 3rd.
It was the top of the 5th before anything resembling a scoring threat appeared again, and Ice was instrumental in squelching the California threat, the first of a pair of crucial defensive plays he would record on his "day of 2s".
With runners on the corners and only 1 out, KJ Harrison came home with an infield dribbler, and Ice got the tag down on Brett Cumberland on a play so close that home plate umpire Kelly Gonzalez literally had to decide which head coach he wanted to hear from.
No umpire ever wants to hear from Pat Casey, so the score remained scoreless.
In all, the teams combined for only 3 hits each in the first 5 innings. But things began to change after that.
The Bears put runners on first and second with one out in the 6th, but a 3-6-1 double play ended the threat, with Rasmussen making the cover at first, even if he did fall down afterwards.
An inning later, things ended for California with Ice gunning out Preston Grand Pre attempting to steal on a "strike em out, throw em out" double play, and it was still 0-0 going to the bottom of the 7th inning.
Oregon St. then broke through, with Michael Howard, one of 4 seniors honored before the game, leading off with a single, and moving up on a wild pitch. Kyle Nobach's infield chopper ended the day for Mason, who would eventually take the loss, and drop to 6-3 for the season, and set the table for Ice, who delivered what would turn out to be all the offense Oregon St. would need, with a 2 RBI double to left field.
Michael Gretler was not hit by a pitch as initially ruled by Gonzalez, and subsequently singled to right to move Ice up. But Gretler was subsequently thrown out on a pointless steal attempt following a strike out, which would prevent the Beavers from blowing the game open earlier than they did.
A walk to Caleb Hamilton would have loaded the bases, and Jeff Hendrix's RBI single that scored Ice to make it 3-0 Beavers would have made it 4-0.
It didn't wind up mattering, though it wasn't a given at the time.
But the Bears saw a 3rd consecutive inning end on a double play by the Beavers, this time the more traditional 4-6-3 type, and Oregon St. came looking for some insurance to allow Rasmussen a shot at the complete game win. They would find plenty.
Billy King opened the bottom of the 8th with a single, and in a move to get another of his seniors into the game, Casey pinch ran Dane Lund. Howard reached on a bunt that Cal pitcher Keaton Siomkin couldn't handle, and with Joey Jansen running for him Oregon St. pushed 2 runners into scoring position on Nobach's sacrifice bunt.
With Ice red hot, California elected to intentionally walk him, above, undoubtedly the first time in his career that has happened. It was a mistake.
Gretler made amends for his mistake an inning earlier with a 2 RBI double to left field, and Christian Donahue followed that with a single for 2 more RBIs to make it 7-0.
Caleb Hamilton walked, Hendrix hammered an RBI single up the middle, and KJ Harrison capped the scoring with an RBI sacrifice fly, as the Beavers would bat around + 1 in battering the Bears.
Hendrix caught 3 fly balls to close out the win for Rasmussen, who improved to 7-3 for the season.
Rasmussen didn't quite match Andrew Moore's Friday night 99 pitch effort, 70 of which were strikes, needing 104 pitches for his complete game shutout, and he only got 68 strikes. He also only struck out 5, compared to Moore's 13, and did allow the first walk of the weekend. The Bears also got 6 hits today, vs. only 2 yesterday.
But back to back complete games did keep the entire bullpen available for tomorrow, and keep the pie in the face exchange between Moore and Rasmussen going.
California had only been shut out once all season before the events of the last 24 hours.
Oregon St. improved to 38-15-1 for the season, and 19-9-1 in the Pac-12, while California dropped to 33-19, and 17-12 in conference.
It broke a streak of 3 consecutive series wins for California, and extended Oregon St.'s run to 6 weekend series wins in a row. The Beavers have now beat the Bears 12 games in a row, and taken 4 series in a row, as well as the 6th in a row at Goss from California.
The regular season will come to an end after tomorrow's game, which will start at 3 PM.