Oregon State (26-11, 8-7) opened up its important Pac-12 series against Stanford (19-16, 7-8) this Friday night. The Beavs find themselves gearing up for the second half of the 2016 season and within striking distance of first place. But Oregon State is not the only team primed to make their final conference push, with nine of eleven conference teams currently finding themselves, at the least, only two games out of first. The Beavs coming into this series were only one game off the pace. On the other side, the Stanford Cardinal are also one of these teams looking towards a strong finish to propel themselves into the postseason.
In the crucial Friday first game opener Oregon State went with RHP Travis Eckert (5-2, 3.36) who matched up against Stanford's RHP Tristan Beck (4-4, 2.19).
The game's first three and half innings saw Stanford take a 2 to 0 advantage in which the Cardinal were able to score on a fielder's choice and sacrifice fly. Oregon State's offense only had one hit through the first three innings, and just overall lacked any spark of energy at the plate.
The Beavs did find some fire in the bottom of the fourth behind a KJ Harrison solo HR over the left field fence, and behind a clearly fired up Pat Casey who came out to have a un-Casey like argument with the field ump about what looked to be a play where Kyle Nobach beat out the throw. This then was followed by a quick 1-2-3 and six pitch inning by Travis Eckert in the top of the fifth.
Things settled down as both teams' pitching and fielding were able to make quick work of the opposing offenses.
With 107 pitches going into the bottom of the eighth Tristan Beck was replaced by RHP Colton Hock (3-3, 2.04) who got out of what looked like a golden opportunity for Oregon State when Christian Donahue forced a lead off walk. Donahue was moved over on a sacrifice bunt by Nick Madrigal, but neither Jack Anderson nor KJ Harrison could hit in the tying run.
Travis Eckert started the ninth inning by giving up a lead off single and then gave way to RHP Bryce Fehmel (6-1, 3.03). Fehmel did his job in relief retiring the three batters he faced, all of which kept the game within striking distance for OSU's bats. A Logan Ice lead off single on a great at bat was followed up with a fielder's choice throwing error by Stanford on a Terver Morrison hit put the tying run at third.
In a great coaching call Pat Casey changed out going with Billy King after the Cardinal error to Steven Kwan who laid down a beautiful bunt that just stayed fair down the first base line for a single, which even more importantly scored Ice from third to tie the game. Kyle Nobach then advanced the runners into scoring position with an one out sac bunt. Billy King still got his chance and King forced a walk to load the bases to bring Christian Donahue to the plate. All of which then led to Donahue going bit unconventional in forcing a walk-off game winning walk.
After the bottom of the ninth dust settled the Beavs finished the game with 3 runs on 6 hits, and had no errors. Stanford had had 2 runs on 7 hits, and committed 2 errors. It was also the 12th straight Oregon State win over Stanford in baseball.
The two teams will match up again for a 1:35 p.m. game two. It was a big win for the Beavers but they will need to find their bats in game two and not wait to the last inning to make noise on offense. In the end though OSU claims game one of a big conference series.