After dropping the first 2 game of their series against 14th ranked Oregon State, including the first game of the day's double header 7-2, Utah had to salvage a win in the nightcap of the double header to beat the weather (the Beavers and Utes played 2 today to avoid predicted thunderstorms on Saturday) to stay ahead of Oregon State in the Pac-12, and hold onto a share of the conference lead.
And they had to overcome Michael Gretler's first career homer, which capped a 4 run 4th inning by the Beavers. But a 2 RBI double in the 5th inning by Andre Jackson that was a harsh welcome to the game to Mitch Hickey did exactly that, and Utah went on to hold on to a 7-6 lead and win.
Utah jumped ahead early, with a bases loaded bases clearing double by Max Schuman in the first inning to take a 3-0 lead, but Oregon State struck back for 2 runs in the top of the second, when Trevor Morrison singled to drive in Andy Atwood, who had doubled, and KJ Harrison singled to push Morrison across the plate.
The Utes chased Beaver starter Jake Thompson in the bottom of the 2nd, with a single and a walk. Jordan Britton struggled out of the Oregon State pen, first issuing another walk, and then a 2 RBI single to Dallas Carroll, before getting a double play ball to get out of the inning, with the Beavers now down 5-2.
The 4th inning got off to a good start for Oregon State, when Nick Madrigal tripled to score Christian Donahue, and then scored on Ice's sacrifice that did't wind up sacrificing anything, when Jackson mis-played it.
Beaver fans doubtless expected more after Gretler's homer with Ice in front of him to go up 6-5, but after Ute starter Josh Lapina walked Caleb Hamilton, Utah made the move of the game, inserting Dylan Drachler, and Oregon State wouldn't score again.
Jackson's 2 RBI double produced the eventual final score, but the story of the game was Drachler's ability to frustrate Oregon State the rest of the way. Drachler set the Beavers, who had 11 hits to that point, down in order in the 6th, 7th, and 8 innings. before Cayden Grenier walked with 1 out in the top of the 9th, and Donahue followed with a single.
But Madrigal hit into a game ending double play, and the Utes had averted being swept.
The other big issue for the Beavers prior to Drachler's appearance was once again not capitalizing on opportunities by not hitting in the clutch. Oregon State stranded 14 runners, more than their 12 total hits.
Drachler got the win to improve to 2-0, while Bryce Femmel got the loss for Oregon State, and slipped to 6-1 for the season.
Oregon State dropped to 26-10 for the season, and 8-10 in the Pac-12, 1 game behind Utah, who is atop the conference with a 9-6 mark, but is well below .500 overall, at 14-22.
The Beavers will next venture to PK Park in Eugene, the sight of last Monday's 11-10 win over Oregon, on next Wednesday for their second and final non-conference contest with the Ducks, before hosting Stanford next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.