Virginia Commonwealth was uncommonly good Sunday, beating Oregon St. 5-1 to become just the 5th 4-seed ever in the NCAA Baseball Tournament to start 2-0.
The Rams did all of their damage in the 4th and 5th innings, but out-played the Beavers all afternoon in the day delayed by weather second game of the Dallas Regional, sending second seed Oregon St. into tonight's 8 PM CDT (6 PM PDT) elimination game, against regional host Dallas Baptist, who sent Texas home in the day's first game with an 8-1 win.
VCU got their leadoff hitter on in every inning after the first until Luke Heimlich, the 7th pitcher Oregon St. used, finally got a second 1-2-3 inning.
The Rams couldn't capitalize on all of those opportunities, but kept the pressure on the Beaver pitching staff as a result. And in the 4th and 5th innings, that paid off.
VCU followed up their leadoff hitter Matt Davis being hit by a pitch in the 4th (the Rams lead the country in being hit by a pitch), with a single bu Vima Machin, and RBI single by Darian Carpenter, an RBI sacrifice fly by Brett Hileman, and then an RBI double by Jimmy Kerrigan.
An inning later, Machin, missed a 3 run homer by 3 inches with his 3rd hit of the game off the right field wall, but his 2 RBI double was plenty of insurance for Rams starter Heath Dwyer, who 1 hit Oregon St. until into the 7th inning.
Dane Lund became only Oregon St.'s second base runner with a lead off walk, and Jeff Hendrix followed with a single to put Beavers on the corner logs. But they only plated 1 run, on a sacrifice fly by KJ Harrison.
Joe Gillette chased Dwyer with a single, but VCU brought on their closer Daniel Conception, who got a double play to end the only threat the Rams would face all afternoon.
Oregon St. would get a runner on in both the 8th and the 9th innings, on a successful bunt by Trevor Morrison, who made his return to action for the first time since breaking a bone in his hand in late April, and a leadoff single by Michael Howard in the Beavers' last at bat.
But Conception cancelled out Morrison with 2 fly balls, and closed the game with a double play and a fly to left.
Dwyer, who is VCU's ace, despite normally pitching second in their rotation, improved to 10-2 with the win.
Oregon St.'s Drew Rasmussen was gone before Machin's near miss double, having just given up a double down the right field line to Davis, and given the ball over to Mak Fox, who in turn was gone as soon as his pitch to Machin was nearly gone.
Rasmussen dropped to 7-4 for the season.
Oregon St. pitching coach Nate Yeski went deep into the pen, but kept pitch counts down to each reliever, and all should be available again this evening, and/or tomorrow, as the Beavers face the daunting task of needing to win 3 games in about 24 hours time to keep their season going.
The Beavers begin the gauntlet 39-17-1, while the Rams will relax and scout the game with a 39-22 record.
Tonight's winner will have to beat VCU twice tomorrow to advance to the Super Regionals, with the first try coming at noon CDT (10 AM PDT). IF the Rams can't win that one, they get another chance in what would be a regional deciding game at 5 PM CDT (3 PM PDT).