Dallas regional host Dallas Baptist dominated Oregon St., ending the season for the 2-seed Beavers and earning themselves a rematch tomorrow with VCU, the 4-seed with the upper hand in tomorrow's finals. Having beat Oregon St. 5-1 in the middle game of the day's triple header, the Rams have 2 chances to win the regional if they need it, whereas the Patriots have to take 2 tomorrow to advance to meet the winner of tomorrow's Miami-Columbia game.
Dallas Baptist looked like a #1 seed all day, first demolishing Texas 8-1, and then going wire to wire for a 7-1 win, 4-hitting Oregon St.
The Patriots went with junior left hander Sean Stutzman, who came in with a 7-1 record, and a 4.59 ERA. Both numbers were improved by the time the evening was over.
Oregon St. coach Pat Casey shook up his lineup after an awful overall performance in the afternoon game against VCU, and in an effort to better deal with lefty pitching, which has been especially a problem for the Beavers this season.
Casey inserted Trevor Morrison, who had returned to action in the latter portion of the VCU game, after missing more than a month with a broken hand, and had a hit in his first plate appearance. But the long layoff left too much rust, and Morrison struck out all 3 at bats as the leadoff hitter he had before being pulled.
Casey also moved Joe Gillette up into the 2 spot, and that backfired as well, as Gillette went 0-4.
Dallas Baptist had no such difficulty offensively, getting at least 1 hit from every Patriot in the batting order.
The Patriots also continued a problem that had plagued Oregon St. in the VCU loss, and got their lead-off batter on base in the first 6 innings, and in 7 of 8 at bats. The Beavers by contrast got only 1 leadoff batter on base against Dallas Baptist.
The Patriots got on the board quickly, using a walk, a wild pitch, and an infield chopper to put themselves in position to take a 1-0 lead on a double play ball. That was a serious storm cloud on the Oregon St. horizon, as Dallas Baptist entered he game 31-3 when they score first.
But it was the second inning when Dallas Baptist took control, starting with a leadoff triple by Daniel Sweet, his 8th hit in the regional. Sweet scored on an infield single by David Martinelli, who in turn scored to make it 3-0 on an RBI single by Drew Turbin. At that point, after going 7 of 10 against Texas with runners in scoring position, the Patriots were already 3 of 5 against Oregon St. in similar situations.
Even when Oregon St. did do something right, they promptly shot themselves in the foot, as happened in the 3rd inning. Michael Howard and Caleb Hamilton drew back to back walks to open the inning, as Stutzman, who had started the game brilliantly, suddenly struggled to find he strike zone.
But Howard promptly got himself picked off, taking a foolishly large lead off of second base. Consecutive strikes outs, one on a pitch out of the zone, and one looking, turned an opportunity to get back into the game into nothing.
Furious, Casey benched both Howard, ending the senior's career, and Oregon St. starting pitcher junior Travis Eckert.
Luke Heimlich came on, and on balance, turned in another strong outing, this on the heels of the best pitching by an Oregon St. arm against VCU, throwing over 100 pitches and working into the 8th inning.
Dallas Baptist got 2 runners on on infield singles, but got out of the inning with back to back strikeouts, the first one that was actually a foul ball that was missed, and then a no doubter.
Oregon St. finally got their first hit in the 4th, a single by Jeff Hendrix, but the Beavers couldn't do anything with it, as the 4 and 5 spots in the batting order went a combined 0-8 for the game.
The Patriots didn't miss their chance in their half of the 4th though. Elliott Cary, who replaced Howard, misplayed a ball twice in left, on a still challenging outfield that had suffered days of rain that had delayed Friday's games, and wiped out Saturday alltogether. Chane Lynch went to second on the second misplay of what should have been just a single, and 3rd on a sacrifice, then scored to make it 4-0 on an RBI single by Camden Duzenack, on what was his 7th consecutive time reaching base on the day.
Nobach redeemed himself with a double down the left field line in the 5th, and scored when Hamilton followed up with a double of his own.
But Hamilton for some reason tried to stretch the play into a triple, and was thrown out. This, like Howard's unforced baserunning error in scoring position, were indefensible, given the opposition.
It's critical that you play from ahead against Dallas Baptist and their dominant bullpen, and Oregon St. had already messed that up, falling behind multiple runs. Especially a poor offensive team like Oregon St. absolutely has to value all base runners in scoring position, and can not under any circumstances run themselves into outs.
"They are playing hard, just not playing very well right now," Casey said.
Having just made the play on Hamilton, Dallas Baptist third baseman Nash Knight celebrated with a diving catch in foul territory to terminate the last Oregon St. scoring threat of the game.
Heimlich kept Oregon St. in the game though, and Cary, one of the few Beavers who had a solid regional, got a nice footnote, becoming the first, and so far only, baserunner to record a steal in the regional, in the 6th inning, after singling. But in typical Oregon St. fashion, the Beavers could not hit with a runner in scoring position.
Dallas Baptist finally blew the game open in the 8th inning.
Knight added to his big evening, with a double to right field, and scored to make it 5-1 on an RBI single by Lynch, the Patriot's 9-slot hitter, capping his 4 for 7 with 2 walks day.
Heimlich got an out on a bunt by getting the lead-runner, but Oregon St. pitching coach Nate Yeski pulled Heimlich in favor of closer Mitch Hickey.
Hickey got some support in the form of a Sports Center Top 10 play nominee diving and rolling catch by Hendrix, but subsequently gave up a 2 run homer to Justin Wall to make it 7-1, capping the scoring, and a 2 homer day for Wall, who also had a 3 run homer earlier against Texas, and had 5 hits and 8 RBI's for the day.
Interestingly, Oregon St. repeatedly got clobbered by pitching to hot hitters who should have been pitched around.
Oregon St. conceded, sending in senior Zach Reser to finish his career, which at least ended by recording a strikeout.
The Beavers never got the ball out of the infield on their last at bat, despite having their 3-4-5 slots up, with their season ending with sometimes pitcher Scotland Church pinch hitting as the DH.
Oregon St. wound up with only 7 runs scored in the regional, and 2 in 2 games today, whereas Dallas Baptist had a 15 run day.
The Beavers lost their last 2 games, 3 of their last 4, and 4 of their last 7, and wound up 39-18-1 for the year, falling shy of the 40 win mark, after achieving that the last 3 seasons.
The Patriots improved to 45-14.
Eckert took the loss, losing his last 2 outings, after being unbeaten going into the last game of the regular season.
Ironically, one of Casey's best coaching jobs ended with one of his worst, in which everything went wrong, but moreso again underscored the consistent primary problem with Casey's teams for some time now.
For the 5th year in a row, Oregon St. has bowed out of the postseason earlier than expected, all a direct result of substandard offensive production to a colossally bad level, which squandered pitching performances that were good enough to if not win, at least compete in every case, and defense that sprinkled brilliant plays in an otherwise decent enough effort, tonight's drop of a popup by Christian Donahue not withstanding.
It's a problem that arises time and again throughout the season, but submerges again until Oregon St. runs into more elite competition in the post-season. And hasn't been addressed.
The Beavers have the young pieces in place aplenty to make a serious run next season, especially if Hendrix and Andrew Moore elect to defer their professional careers for a senior season that should provide a run at Omaha.
But a change of approach at the plate will have to happen.