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Beavs sweep the Sun Devils in conference opener

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It was not as warm and dry, and it was not quite the dominating win we saw Saturday, but fourth ranked Oregon State Beavers sweep Arizona State in the opening Pac-12 series of the 2016 season with a 7 to 3 win.

Travis Eckert goes eight solid innings as Oregon State sweeps Arizona State in the opening Pac-12 series
Travis Eckert goes eight solid innings as Oregon State sweeps Arizona State in the opening Pac-12 series
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After an opening one run, 3-2, win Friday night and then a 12 to 2 thrashing win Saturday, #4 Oregon State (14-2, 2-0) squared off again against Arizona State (13-5, 0-2) for the teams' opening Pac-12 series finale.   The Beavs went with their Sunday starter RHP Travis Eckert (1-1, 3.71) and the Beavs' batters went up against the Sun Devils' LHP Reagan Todd (1-1, 1.16).

The game did not start quickly on a rainy Sunday afternoon, indeed the first pitch ended up being slightly delayed because of the wet weather.  Once the grounds crew had the mound ready Eckert took fairly quick care of the first three Arizona State batters.

Oregon State's first inning may not have been as spectacular as Saturday's six run first, but the Beavs took nice advantage of a Christian Donahue lead off single.  Donahue was able to move himself over to third on a steal and then a passed ball, and then was driven home by KJ Harrison's double off the left field wall.  Logan Ice then returned the favor for Harrison as Ice's RBI single sent KJ home, which gave the Beavers a 2 to 0 early lead.

Oregon State was not quite done though getting at Reagan Todd in the first.  Logan Ice was picked off at first by the ASU catcher Brian Serven, but back to back walks forced another ASU starter to exit a game early as Todd was replaced by RHP Eder Erives (2-0, 2.60, and three saves).  Erives did his job as Caleb Hamilton drove a long inning ending out to center field.

A rain delay stopped play at the end of the first.   Coming out of the break the game did settle down a bit more, Eckert on the Oregon State side was solid striking out multiple batters and getting easy ground outs to help himself through the early innings of the game. On the other side the Beavs made contact off of Erives, but not quite solid enough to get the balls to drop early on.

Arizona State was able to get their first base hit with a David Greer one out single in the top of the fourth.  Then a Colby Woodmansee double down the left field line led to the Sun Devils first run of the game on a Brian Serven long sacrifice fly, which cut the Beavers' lead to 2 to 1.  Eckert and the Beavers though got out of the inning on a crisply played back-handed grab and throw out by Nick Madrigal stealing what looked to be a sure base hit up the center.

Eckert fought through rain and ASU base runners to keep the score 2 to 1 in OSU's advantage as the game went into the middle innings.  This allowed Oregon State to take advantage of a four pitch Cadyn Grenier walk in the bottom of the fifth as the next batter Christian Donahue blasted the ball to the wall for a RBI triple to put the Beavs up 3 to 1.  Donahue was promptly scored with a Nick Madrigal single to put Oregon State's lead up to 4 to 1.  KJ Harrison kept the inning going by hitting a single to put Beavs runners on the corners with only one out.  Madrigal's sharp base running paid off as Logan Ice is able to score the fifth Beavers' run of the game on a sacrifice fly.  All-Pac-12 Arizona State catcher, Brian Serven was able to throw out another OSU steal attempt to get ASU out of the inning, but still a three run inning gave the Beavs a nice bit of breathing room as they went into the final innings of the game.

In their last defensive inning Arizona State went with RHP Grant Schneider (0-0, 7.71), then LHP Zach Dixon (1-0, 0.00), and finally RHP Eric Melbostad (0-0, 1.12) to close out the pitching for the Sun Devils; all three combined to give up two more runs in the bottom of the eighth (a bases loaded walk to Caleb Hamilton and a Trever Morrison sac fly).

The six run spread was more than enough for Travis Eckert to earn his second win of the season.   Travis pitched 8 solid innings in which he struck out six batters, walked three, and only gave up one run on two hits.

The Oregon State relievers did make things a little more interesting in the final inning as LHP Luke Heimlich (3-0, 1.42) came in the ninth, but he again struggled and after walking the first two ASU batters was replaced by RHP Bryce Fehmel (4-0, 0.82).  Fehmel though did not improve the situation with his initial batter giving up a single to load the bases with no outs, which was followed by an ASU two run single to cut the OSU lead to 7 to 3.  Having those two runs in and runners at third and second with only one out was enough for Nate Yeskie to finally go to closer LHP Max Engelbrekt (0-0, 2.61, and seven saves).  Engelbrekt then took care of the last two outs of the game to close out the Sun Devils for a rare OSU sweep over ASU.

Christian Donahue had a great game at the plate that included a two out double in the bottom of the seventh, and Donahue ended up hitting 3 for 5 with one RBI (a single, a double, and a triple).  KJ Harrison went 2 for 4 with one RBI and Logan Ice finished the game at the plate 1 for 2 and Ice added two more RBIs to his 2016 season resume.  Jack Anderson also had a solid day going 2 for 3.

Oregon State will next take on the Portland Pilots (11-8) up in Portland this Tuesday, weather permitting, for a 6:00 first pitch.

Go Beavs!