Oregon St. pulled out the win over Texas Friday afternoon, in a memorable opening game in the Dallas Regional of the 2015 NCAA Baseball Playoffs, and the Beavers got their biggest plays from elsewhere than the Longhorns might have expected them to come from.
But Kyle Nobach, Oregon St.'s 7-spot hitter, came up with a pair of RBI hits, including the double in the bottom of the 8th that delivered the game winning run, and avenged a couple of ghosts from Oregon St.'s past in the process.
Texas took the only other baseball game in the history of the programs by a 10-1 count back in the 1952 College World Series, and Beaver Nation entered the game in "Rember the Alamo" mode, after the last time they took on the Longhorns, the late loss in the 2012 Alamo Bowl.
It took a while though, as heavy overnight rains delayed the start of the game for over an hour, as extensive efforts that ranged from removing perch from the near-by river that had found their way into the outfield to employing a helicopter to help dry the outfield took all morning.
And then the first 1/3 of the game went by without any real scoring threats, as Oregon St.'s Andrew Moore and Texas' Parker French settled into the pitching duel everyone anticipated from the staff aces.
Moore was as sharp as he had been all season the first time through the Longhorn lineup, with 5 strikeouts in those first 3 innings.
But the heat and humidity would begin to catch up with Moore, and in the top of the 4th inning, so did the Texas batters. Moore left a number of pitches up, and Joe Baker led off with the first hit of the game for the Longhorns, and after advancing on a bunt, scored when Tres Barrera singled to center field.
Moore would bear down, and despite a 2 out walk, ended the inning with another strikeout.
Oregon St. immediately answered, and after K.J. Harrison was hit by a pitch, the Beavers strung together consecutive singles by Elliott Carey, Billy King, which drove in Harrison, and then Nobach delivered his first RBI of the day to take a 2-1 lead. More importantly, it bought some rest, and a lead, for Moore, who would shut down the Longhorns in their next 2 at bats.
Meanwhile, the Beavers would add another run in each of their next 2 at bats, again with uncharacteristic clutch hitting. Caleb Hamilton, Jeff Hendrix, and Harrison delivered back to back to back 2 out singles in the 5th, and then Oregon St. manufactured another run in the 6th, after King's infield single.
A sacrifice bunt and an infield grounder to 1st moved King to 3rd, and then MIchael Gretler singled down the left field line, above, to score King. That meant every Oregon St. hitter had a hit on French, and it also tied French's career high hits allowed, 11. French was done after the 6th inning.
Moore again began to feel the effects of the conditions though, and again left some pitches up. Brooks Marlow's leadoff single eventually turned into a run on Ben Johnson's sacrifice fly that cut the deficit to 4-2 in the top of the 7th.
The defensive play of the game kept the contest close when Hamilton homered to left center, only to have Texas centerfielder Zane Gurwitz go up and over the high wall and haul the ball back into the ball park. Oregon St. would eventually win the game as much as anything because of several web gems of their own, but Gurwitz's grab kept the game in question when the Beavers could have broken it open.
Travis Duke, who took over for French, couldn't throw strikes, and though Gurwitz saved him once, he walked Hendrix on 4 pitches, and then missed with his first offering to Harrison, ending his afternoon. Connor Mayes came on, and got out of the inning with a double play, the second time in the game a dp derailed Oregon St. and ended an inning.
Moore came back out for the 8th, and it looked like he might rally himself again, striking out the first batter he faced, and getting an fly ball for out #2.
But Texas used the "blooper and blast" approach, starting with a bloop single by Gurwitz.
Oregon St. pitching coach Nate Yeski decided after a conference to not pull Moore, and it backfired.
After not getting the strike call on back to back pitches replay showed to be right over the middle of the plate, the resulting 3-1 count and yet another elevated pitch to Brooks Marlow became the 2 run home run over the right field fence that was the first extra base hit of the game, and tied it at 4-4, ending Moore's afternoon, which meant yet another no decision after a long outing by Moore that should have produced a win.
Scotland Church got the Beavers out of the inning, and Oregon St. head coach went to work with his lineup card.
With yet another Texas pitcher, Kirby Bellow, out of the bullpen (the Longhorns used only 4 pitchers in the entire Big XII Tournament, which they had to win to reach the postseason, but 5 against the Beavers in less than 4 innings), Casey had Joe Gillette pinch hit for Carey.
Gillette's discipline at the plate earned him a 4 pitch walk, and then a trip to second on pinch hitter Dane Lund's sacrifice bunt, when came after a near bunt for a hit had forced another pitching change.
Gillette's next stop was the bench, and so too was it for pinch runner Joey Jantzen, who proceeded to score when Nobach deliverd the game winning RBI on a double to center.
The Beavers had a chance to open some breathing room, as they went on to load the bases with 1 out, but then couldn't put bat on the ball, suffering back to back strikeouts, though the inning K to Hamilton came on a pitch several inches off the plate.
Mitch Hickey came on and closed the deal though, despite issuing an inning opening walk in the 9th, to the 9-slot batter, with a diving catch by Hendrix in the muddy outfield, and then, fittingly, a game ending double play Hickey started, to erase the top of the Longhorn order.
Both Hickey and on multiple occasions Moore made difference making plays, with Moore covering at first on multiple critical chances.
Church got his first collegiate career win in his first decision, and Bellow the loss. Hickey picked up his 11th save of the season.
Despite the pair of inning ending double plays they hit into, and leaving the bases loaded with 1 out in the 8th inning in a 1 run game, it was still one of the best clutch performances by Beaver batters, who hammered the Longhorns for 12 hits.
Oregon St. improved to 39-16-1, and advanced to tomorrow night's second round winners' game, scheduled for 6 PM CDT (4 PM PDT), against the winner of tonight's game between regional host Dallas Baptist (43-13) and Virginia Commonwealth (37-22).
Texas slipped to 30-26, and will face tonight's loser tomorrow morning in an elimination game, with the winner having to come back Sunday morning against tomorrow night's loser.