With the series being lost for Oregon State (10-10, 29-14) after two lackluster scoring games against Arizona (13-10, 30-16), the Beavers needed to find a spark and bounce back to keep pace in the Pac-12 conference standings. It was a big game three for both teams in that the Wildcats found themselves only half a game out of first place and the Beavers still were only two games back coming into the final game of the series.
In this important conference standings game RHP Jake Thompson (3-2, 4.25) went up against RHP Michael Flynn (1-0, 5.84). Additionally of note Coach Pat Casey added in a couple starter changes to seemingly try and capture a spark missing from the first two games of the series. Both starting lineup changes were in the outfield with two freshman Trevor Larnach and Steven Kwan starting in right and center field.
The top of the first inning did not start out well for Oregon State's offense as Arizona made quick work of the first three OSU batters. Arizona's first at bat started out what seemed to be more of the same for the series as Cody Ramer continued his solid series hitting with a lead off single, which then saw the first run of the game as Ramer was driven home on the one out JJ Matijevic double. Jake Thompson though was able to get out of what looked like a very promising inning for Arizona limiting the damage to only one run.
Arizona and Michael Flynn continued to take advantage of the cold OSU bats through the first two innings. Things finally changed for OSU in the top of the third. it all started with the one out Larnach walk, which was followed by a throwing error on what should have been a fielder's choice by Cadyn Grenier. This series of events led to a quick pitching change as Flynn was replaced by LHP Alfonso Rivas III (2-1, 4.40).
The OSU runners then were able to advance on a wild pitch, which led to the Beavs finally taking advantage with a Christian Donahue single that drove in both runs that gave Oregon State a 2 to 1 lead (which also matched their run total from the first two games of the series). Steven Kwan next made his bunting presence known with a bunt single, then something we have been waiting for all series KJ Harrison opened up the game with a bases loaded two RBI single.
Even with a 4 to 1 lead Jake Thompson still was not able to fully settle down and find his command. All of which led to OSU going to RHP Bryce Fehmel (8-1, 2.98) after Thompson walked the first two batters in the bottom of the third. Arizona looked poised to get back into the game with a single bunt that loaded the bases with no outs. Fehmel though did an escape artist impression by getting out of the inning giving up only one run on a sacrifice fly.
In the top of the fourth Arizona went to another pitching change and LHP Cameron Ming (1-1, 4.98) came in and was able to strike out the side. Fehmel had to do his escape artist deal again in the bottom of the fourth as he got out of an inning in which he retired three batters in a row after giving up two singles.
Logan Ice also finally broke out of his series 'slump' with a solo shot over the left field fence that gave the Beavs a 5 to 2 lead in the top of the sixth. On defense Nick Madrigal showed why he has been named to USA Collegiate National Team by making all three outs of the bottom of the sixth, all of which were sharply hit balls.
Fehmel ran into more trouble in the bottom of the seventh and this time he was not able to get out of the inning without any runs scored on him as Arizona was able to cut into the lead 5 to 3. This time around it led to pitching coach Nate Yeskie making the call to LHP Max Engelbrekt (2-2, 3.54, 10 saves). Another misplayed ball by Christian Donahue in deep left field gave another run to Wildcats, who had now closed the lead to one run, and then a sacrifice fly with bases loaded tied the game at five runs a piece.
Engelbrekt in the seventh could not get Oregon State out of the jam until after Arizona took a 6 to 5 lead. And to add insult to injury at the mound meeting Pat Casey was thrown out for saying something to his pitcher that home plate umpire Kendall Snyder did not like. In appearances it was a strange ejection since Casey did not seem to be directing any of his comments directly at Snyder, and even normally restrained Logan Ice was on the umpires about the situation.
In the end though it was not enough of a spark and the Beavers came up short in an important game standings wise. Oregon State finished with five runs on four hits and had one error. Arizona had six runs on eight hits and two errors.
Oregon State will next play the Portland Pilots (16-28) this Tuesday in Keizer for a 5:35PM midweek game. The Beavers will then host the regular conference Civil War series against Oregon this upcoming weekend.