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Not all perfect but Beavs break out of losing slump

Oregon State baseball breaks out of their four game losing slump behind a seven run fifth inning to defeat the San Diego State Aztecs 9 to 6.

Christian Donahue's three run home run helps the Beavs break out of their losing slump
Christian Donahue's three run home run helps the Beavs break out of their losing slump

After the Monday evening debacle 5 to 6 loss the #6 Oregon State Beavers (16-6, 3-3) took on the San Diego State Aztecs (6-16, 2-5) again.

"Obviously, it’s a little frustrating.  Things have been happening that haven’t gone our way so far, but it’s baseball and sometimes it happens and the only way to get out of it is to keep going at it and keep on playing. Sooner or later, things are going to change." - KJ Harrison commenting on the fourth in a row loss Monday night.

It was a sunny evening at Goss Stadium and the Beavers were hoping to find the warmth would help warm themselves out of their team slump.  On the mound it was freshman LHP Jordan Britton (0-0,  2.89) going up against RHP Cody Thompson (0-4, 7.66).

The top of the first was more of the same as the Aztecs were able to get two base runners in scoring position with one out, and Britton loaded the bases with two outs to then give up a bases clearing double by Tyler Adkison.  All of which put the Beavs in a 3 to 0 hole at the very start of the game.  It was only a leaping Jack Anderson play at the fence in right field that finally got the Beavers out of their first inning dilemma.

A Trever Morrison lead off single did pick up a bit on the spark Anderson gave the team with his catch, but the Beavs behind Madrigal, Ice, and Harrison were not able to take advantage and went into the second inning still down 3 to 0.

The second inning saw the Beavs settle down behind solid pitching and crisp defensive plays to get the three Aztecs quickly out.   Christian Donahue again got the Beavers a lead off batter on base with a single to center field.  But again in what looked like an instant reply of the first OSU was not able to take advantage of the runner on base.  This time we saw another fly out, another fielder's choice that again got the Aztecs' coach out of the dugout, and the only difference was instead of an inning ending fly out we had a ground out to first base.

The Beavs continued their flat play at the plate throughout the early innings, but on the positive side of things the defense shored up it is error prone ways of late.  Additionally Nate Yeskie went to freshman RHP Tommy Paul (0-0, 10.12) in top of the fifth, who replaced the starter Jordan Britton.   Britton after a very shaky first inning was able to retire the nine in the row Aztec hitters through the second to fourth innings.  Paul also did well in the fifth, retiring the side in order (with the help of a sliding catch by Donahue in left field).

As Oregon State went up to bat in the middle part of the game the pressure of whether or not the team would get out of their slump started to bubble and boil as Kyle Nobach pushed a bunt single up the first base line to move over Jack Anderson to second base with no outs (the first OSU runner in scoring position).  After some bunting weirdness that put Billy King into a 0 and 2 count, King was able to single up the middle to score the Beavers' first run of the game.

As the bottom fifth inning moved on Cadyn Grenier did his small-ball job and moved the runners over to scoring positions on a sacrifice bunt.  The OSU brain-cramp bug hit again as the Beavs made a base running mistake to get San Diego State closer to getting out of the inning, an inning that looked ready to explode in OSU's favor. And indeed it looked to be more of the same when Nick Madrigal got himself down in the count, but Nick was able to punch the ball past the second baseman into right field to score Nobach and Morrison to tie up the game.  After a wild pitch advanced Madrigal to second with Logan Ice up to bat the Aztecs went to the bullpen and brought in LHP Dominic Purpura (0-1, 5.27).  Purpura promptly advanced Madrigal over to third on a balk, and then walked Ice with two outs.  KJ Harrison then broke the tie with a RBI single off a wonderful at bat where KJ worked from being down in the count to a 3 and 2 advantage.

Finally the Beavs' offense boiled over and exploded behind a Christian Donahue three run home run to right field (his first Oregon State home run). After Donahue's shot over the fence San Diego State finally got out of the inning, but not before the Beavers scored a whooping seven runs in the bottom of the fifth.

In the sixth Oregon State looked ready to make more noise with a lead off Kyle Nobach triple, which both had the Beavers looking ready to roll again and sent Purpura to the dugout.  Purpura was replaced by RHP Chris Collins (1-0, 1.35) in the bottom of the sixth.   Nobach though made another OSU base running mistake breaking for home on a ground ball to the shortstop, and was run down for the first out of the inning.  This play seemed to take the air out of the inning for the Beavs, and even a Trever Morrison two out single could not get things going again and the Beavers were not able add to their lead.

Tommy Paul pitched well, but after giving up an one out walk Paul gave way to sophomore LHP Luke Heimlich (3-0, 3.76) in the top of the seventh inning.  Heimlich put himself into a bit of trouble on a throwing error he had trying to throw out the runner at first; this put runners on the corners with two outs, but Luke was able to get out of the inning without any damage done on the scoreboard.

San Diego State made a couple more pitching changes going to RHP Adrian Orozco (1-0, 4.38) in the seventh, and LHP Jacob Erickson (2-2, 3.00) and RHP Zack Oakley (1-0, 0.00) both saw action in the eighth.  The Aztecs also were able to get at Luke Heimlich too and a throwing error by Trever Morrison to open the eighth set the tone as Heimlich struggled to find a controlling rhythm.  This all led to Beavs giving up another couple of runs to San Diego State that cut the lead 7 to 5.

It took going to the closer LHP Max Engelbrekt (0-1, 2.57) to put the Aztecs away finally, but only after giving up another San Diego State run in the ninth.  Engelbrekt was able to get himself out of the jam that looked to be going back in favor of the Aztecs, including a long to the track fly out in right field that initially looked close to being a game tying shot off the bat.  As such Max squeaked out his 9th save of the season by getting a bit of revenge with a game ending strike out of the batter, Alan Trejo, who took him out of the yard for the winning run Monday night.

It was not the most dominating of wins, but when the Beavers weathered through their first and eighth inning issues the freshman pitching was very solid and the defense played sharp at times.  Still it was far from perfect as OSU gave up two errors in the later innings, one leading to an unearned run.   The offense took awhile to find itself, but the seven runs in the fifth inning were just more than enough as the Beavs were able to add 2 more runs in the bottom of the eighth with a Trever Morrison two out two run triple.  Oregon State's bats ended up with a total of 9 runs on 10 hits.  Even though it was not a totally perfect game, the end result was very important as it was finally a win after four stinging losses.

Oregon State again won't have much time to rest up as they will hit the field again Friday against the tied for first place in the Pac-12 Washington Huskies (12-8, 4-2).  It will finally be a televised OSU baseball game as it will be televised on the Pac-12 Networks, but the twist of irony on our viewing fate is that it will be at a time most of us working will not be able to watch--3:00 PST. That is no April Fool's joke.

Go Beavs!