Of all the major sports, baseball is the most likely to have a game go completely against recent trends, and produce an outcome completely unexpected. It's why the Mariners actually win some games every year. Friday was another example of the unpredictable nature of the sport, when Oregon State hosted Washington to start their Pac-12 series.
Oregon State, though still surprisingly ranked 6th in the country, had lost 4 in a row, and looked bad doing so, before finally scrapping their way to a 9-6 win over a sub-.500 San Diego State team on Tuesday.
And then the Beavers learned they would be without their Friday starter sophomore Drew Rasmusen for the rest of the season, after he tore the UCL in his elbow.
Washington entered the weekend leading the Pac-12, and coming off a 2-0 win over Gonzaga. The Huskies had won their last 4 series.
Yet it was Oregon State that seized control early, and rolled to an easy 10-1 win.
Nick Madrigal missed a home run by inches, doubling off the top of the left field wall, and scored on Logan Ice's single in the first inning, but Oregon State got off to a 3-0 early advantage because of another of those baseball ironies.
Uncharacteristic errors were a major component in the Beavers' recent struggles, but it was the Huskies that handed over a couple of extra runs in the first inning as a result of a couple of errors.
Oregon State effectively put the game away in the second inning, when KJ Harrison and Ice delivered back to back RBI producing doubles, starting what would be a 4 run inning that produced a 7-0 advantage.
The Beavers scratched out an 8th run in the 4th inning, and extended their lead to 10-0 in the 8th, on RBI singles by both Christian Donahue and Jack Anderson.
That would and should have been it if the Pac-12 would adopt a sane 10 run rule instead of insisting that games like this should drag on for 3 1/2 hours. Instead, Washington was able to avert the shutout with a run in the top of the 9th.
After the Oregon State offense had gone dormant during their losing streak, it was reassuring to Beaver fans to see both Harrison have multi-hit days that produced 2 RBIs and 3 runs scored apiece, and the top 4 hitters in the batting order produce half the team's 14 hits, and 9 of the 10 runs.
It wasn't all good news for Oregon State though, as Travis Eckert, who was pushed up to be the Friday starter in place of the injured Rasmussen, had to leave after facing 1 batter in the 6th inning, with a possible pulled hamstring.
And the error problem persisted, though only the third of three actually hurt anything, combining with a hit by pitch to aid in Washington scoring in the at bat that shouldn't have even happened.
Eckert did get the win to improve to 3-2 for the season, and Bryce Fehmel did a solid job picking up Eckert until the somewhat sloppy 9th (the error was his). For his efforts, Fehmel was rewarded with a scorer's discretionary save, though the game was never technically in a save situation. Its Fehmel's first save of the season, or his collegiate career.
Eckert and Fehmel combined to limit Washington to just 4 hits, and stranded 9 Husky base runners.
Washington starter Noah Bremer, who was unbeaten entering the afternoon, but left after allowing the 8th Oregon State run in the 4th inning, took the loss to slide to 3-1 for the season.
The Huskies and Beavers will resume their series tomorrow at 4 PM PDT on the Pac-12 Network, in what should be half of a double header. With both the Beavers and Huskies playing in the Final Four of the Women's NCAA Basketball Tournament on Sunday, which should be both program's sole focus, the conference should have moved Sunday's game to Saturday, instead of dividing attention, in yet another example of the thoughtless scheduling that keeps the conference in niche status.
Jake Thompson will get the start tomorrow for Oregon State, and Joe DeMers will be up for Washington.