In what was a typical Oregon State-UCLA showdown, the Beavers kept their post season hopes alive, and officially ended the Bruins', with a 1-0 win Friday afternoon at Goss Stadium.
It wouldn't have panned out for Oregon State had the Beavers not gotten Nick Madrigal back after missing the last couple of series with a shoulder strain. But the USA Baseball bound second baseman was back in prime form, first with a couple of defensive gems, including one that saved a run in the top of the 7th, when Madrigal dove far to his right to knock down a ball that few second basemen at any level would have kept from going through, and got up and threw Brett Stephens out to end the inning.
It set the stage for Madrigal to chop out what would turn into the game winning RBI in the bottom of the inning.
The win was classic "Casey ball", as Oregon State Coach Pat Casey used a gutty effort from starting pitcher Travis Eckert, solid defense, small ball, and a shutdown closeout by Max Engelbrekt to get the win.
Eckert, above, who was this week's Pac-12 pitcher of the week after last Friday's 2 hit complete game win at USC, wasn't dominant. UCLA put at least 1 runner in scoring position in 6 of the 7 innings Eckert was in, and more than one more than once. But the Bruins could never break through, as Eckert, and the Beaver defense, fought off one threat after another.
And Oregon State needed it, as UCLA coach John Savage threw the ump-teenth brilliant Bruin pitching performance of his career at the Beavers, as senior Griffin Canning delivered a complete game 4 hitter. No coach in the country, never mind the conference, wouldn't have taken that to try to beat the Beavers at Goss.
But half of those hits came on back to back singles by Kyle Nobach and Caydn Grenier in the 7th, which set the table for Madrigal's chopper that UCLA third baseman Luke Persico couldn't do anything with except throw out Madrigal, and watch Nobach sprint across the plate.
Eckert didn't even get the win for his gutty effort, as Engelbrekt had come in to get the final out in the top of the 7th.
But after the Bruins had kept almost constant pressure on Eckert, "Mad Max", above, was nearly lights out though, allowing only 1 hit the rest of the way, and no real UCLA threats.
The win improved Oregon State to 33-19, and evened their Pac-12 record at 14-14. UCLA dropped to 25-29, and will finish below .500, and at 12-16, will also finish conference play below .500.
The Beavers figured to need to finish the season with a second series win over an LA school in as many weekends, but really need to do that in the front end of the series, as the NCAA tournament field is typically set after Saturday's games.
Oregon State will take on UCLA again tomorrow afternoon at 4 PM, looking for a win that might lock up a post-season trip.