After The USC Trojans went up 4-0 after three innings, it looked like Oregon State was headed towards another series opening loss. A big sixth inning changed all of that, sparking a Beaver comeback to give Oregon State a 5-4 win and improve their record to 30-14, and 12-7 in conference play.
USC started doing damage early. A double and a wild pitch from starter Kevin Abel got the Trojans a runner on third in the top of the first, allowing USC to score on a fly out for a 1-0 lead. In the top of the second USC added another run with a solo homer, and then a walk and a single put another runner on third base. That set up another scoring fly out for the Trojans, giving them a 3-0 lead after just two innings.
A triple to start the top of the third gave the Trojans another runner in scoring position, and he reached home quickly with a ground ball. Through 3 innings the Trojans had four runs, while the Beavers had yet to manage a single hit.
That hitless streak lasted until the sixth inning. In the meantime, the Beaver defense managed to staunch the bleeding, holding the Trojans scoreless over the next three innings. The bottom of the sixth started with a Kyler McMahan walk. That was followed by a Preston Jones strikeout, but another walk, this time from Andy Armstrong, put McMahan in scoring position. A Ryan Ober ground out advanced the runners, but put Oregon State on their final out of the frame.
Joe Casey was up to bat, and hit a ground ball right back to pitcher Isaac Esqueda. It looked like another wasted inning for the Beavers, but an error from Esqueda allowed Casey to reach first, and more importantly, allowed McMahan to reach home plate, giving OSU their first run.
That’s right, after six innings, the Beavers grabbed their first run before their first hit. Following that, Garret Forrester walked to load the bases, and then Troy Claunch came to the plate to end this hitless nonsense. Claunch launch his first pitch to deep left for a double that scored Armstrong and Casey, and trimmed the USC lead to 4-3.
After a quick seventh inning the Beavers were back in business in the eighth. A throwing error let lead off hitter Andy Armstrong reach base, and then a big triple from Ryan Ober tied the game 4-4. After a Joe Casey strikeout, a big fly ball from Garret Forrester gave Ober just enough time to tag up and reach home to give the Beavers the lead. Closer Jake Mulholland came to put down the Trojan side three up three down in the top of the ninth and give OSU the win, 5-4.
Starter Kevin Abel had a rough day, striking out just 4 while allowing 6 hits and 2 walks, with 4 earned runs over 6.0 innings. Chase Watkins picked up the win, giving him a 2-2 record, while pitching just 0.1 inning. Nathan Washburn handled the bulk of the relief, pitching 1.2 innings and allowing 2 hits, no runs and no walks. Jake Mulholland picked up his 12th save of the year for his work in the ninth inning.
Game 2 between Oregon State and USC is set for tomorrow, with first pitch scheduled for 6:30 PM PT. The game will be aired by the Pac-12 Networks.