The first two games of the series between the two postseason bound teams saw stunning pitching performances by Andrew Moore and Drew Rasmussen, who both pitched complete game shut outs, but RHP Travis Eckert (6-0, 3.64) came out a bit more shaky allowing the Cal bats to heat up in a more offensive focused game.
The first inning was a bit of a harbinger for the Beavs' as Eckert gave up first pitch single on his opening pitch of the game, which then was followed by another single and walk to load the bases. Eckert though is able to pitch his way out of the inning with just giving up one run on a sac-fly. On the other side Cal's LHP Matt Ladrech (6-4, 2.67) made quicker work of the Oregon State batters and sent down the first three in order.
The next couple of innings settled down a bit more for Oregon State, but Eckert struggled with hitting the proper spots and had to rely on solid OSU defense. Christian Donahue struck for Oregon State's first base hit in the third inning, but was caught stealing to end the inning for the Beavs.
The fourth inning opened up on offense for both teams as Preston Grand Pre's double scored another California run to up the lead to 2 to 0. Eckert was able to again limit the damage by striking out the next two batters to end the inning, which allowed the Oregon State bats to go up to bad and even up the game at 2 to 2. The Beavers were able to even the score up with two outs as Jeff Hendrix walked that was followed by a KJ Harrison single, which then led to a Joe Gillette triple that went by the diving Cal left fielder.
The more back-and-forth offensive affair continued as Lucas Erceg's two run home run put Cal back up, 4 to 2, and also chased Eckert from the game, who was replaced by LHP Zach Reser (0-1, 7.71). Reser though came in to give up a triple to his first batter, Chris Paul. Second base Christian Donahue was able to help out his pitcher by making a tough and then a routine play to get the Beavs out of the inning only down two runs.
Scotland Church continued the hitting parade of the game with a lead off single up the middle in the home part of the fifth, but Michael Gretler hit into a double play to put the Beavs down two outs for the inning. Donahue followed up the double play with an infield single, but Cal's third baseman Erceg demonstrated he was not only hot at bat but also was playing defense with a fire as he put out Caleb Hamilton on another well played grab and throw.
OSU's Reser got in trouble right off the bat in the top of the sixth giving up a lead off single, which was sacrificed over to second to be then hit in for the fifth California run of the game. Kevin Felmer (RHP, 2.93, 1-1) came in as relief and was able to get the next two Cal hitters to pop out to end the inning.
In the bottom of sixth Cal went to their ERA leading RHP Erik Martinez (2-1, 1.50) and in the top of the seventh OSU brought in LHP Luke Heimlich (2-5, 3.68) and the game settled back down into a more pitching and defense affair as both teams retire the other side in order. Oregon State got a run in the seventh after Gillette led off with a walk, then a Kyle Nobach double advanced two runners into scoring position. Billy King came in to pinch hit and scored Gillette, which cut the Cal lead to 5 to 3, but the Bear's go to LHP Chris Muse-Fisher (3-1, 2.36) who held the Beavs to the just one run for the inning.
The top of the eighth saw an unusual defensive line up as King came in to play first and that shifted KJ Harrison over to third. After one fly-out Oregon State called in RHP Sam Tweedt (8-1, 2.49) from the pen. Tweedt then hit a batter with two outs, which translated to a run as a Robbie Tenerowicz triple put Cal up 6 to 3. The triple also brought in LHP Ryan Mets (0-0, 4.50) for his fifth appearance of the season, replacing Tweedt. Cal's Aaron Knapp then laid down a beautiful dying bunt to score Tenerowicz, which upped the Cal lead 7 to 3.
LHP Mak Fox (0-0, 1.04) and RHP Mitch Hickey (4-1, 2.10) both took over in the ninth to close out Cal, and Cal brought in their closer Dylan Nelson (RHP,2-1, 3.60), but the Golden Bears' 13 hits and 7 runs for the game were more than enough to overcome OSU's 6 hits and 3 runs.
In the end it was not the sweep one may have wanted to see, but the Oregon State baseball team finished the regular season strong and took care of business in a key Pac-12 series. The series win gave OSU sole possession of second place in the conference. The Beavers go to 38-16-1 overall and 19-10-1 in conference play. All of which was an impressive step up from most of the preseason predictions for a team that lost many key starters and was playing a large number of first-year players.
The more disappointing news is that the team will move on to the postseason on the road, as the announcement came through during the game that for the West Coast UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, and UC Santa Barbara will be the host teams for the 2015 Regionals. We will find out the placement of Oregon State early Monday morning as the placements will be announced starting at 9:00am on ESPNU.