Following its first loss of 2018, the Oregon State baseball team returned to the win column.
The second-ranked Beavers racked up 13 hits and got solid relief appearances from Dylan Pearce and Jake Mulholland Saturday afternoon to even their three-game nonconference series with Cal State Fullerton. An energized crowd of 3,608 — the fifth-highest total in Goss Stadium history — witnessed OSU’s 6-4 victory.
Sunday’s rubber match is scheduled for a 12:05 p.m. first pitch.
“I thought this was up there with one of our most complete games of the year,” senior third baseman Michael Gretler said. “Pitching, defense and just being competitive at the plate. After last night I think that was one of the big things we stressed upon each other, and we did a good job with that.”
The Beavers (14-1) struggled in all phases during Friday’s opener, a 5-3 Fullerton (4-8) victory that snapped OSU’s 22-game winning streak at Goss Stadium. Three fielding errors, two wild pitches and a poor hitting approach highlighted by 12 strikeouts doomed the Beavers.
OSU struck out just five times on Saturday while drawing six walks. The Beavers were also clean defensively.
“Yesterday we played our worst game of the year, not even close,” said OSU associate head coach Pat Bailey. “And today we showed up and played the way we are capable of playing.”
Bailey ran the show for coach Pat Casey, who was ejected in the seventh inning of Friday’s loss while arguing a check-swing call with umpire Mark Buchanan. Casey is alleged to have made contact with an umpire and was suspended for Saturday’s game.
According to the NCAA rulebook, contacting an umpire triggers a four-game ban. The length of Casey’s suspension is to-be-announced.
“It’s a little weird,” Gretler said of not having Casey in the dugout. “You definitely like seeing him in there and he definitely brings a lot of energy and all that. But all the coaches do a great job of being prepared, and it’s our team. That’s what the coaches always tell us, it’s our team, and we are just finding ways to get it done.”
Added Bailey: “I love Case. He’s one of my good friends and I look forward to having him back.”
Gretler finished 3 for 5 at the plate to pace OSU’s offense. Adley Rutschman, Jack Anderson, Zak Taylor and Tyler Malone had two hits apiece.
Pearce (1-0), a junior right-hander, pitched two innings of scoreless relief to pick up his first Division I victory. The Crater High graduate and Southwestern Oregon Community College transfer gave up two hits and struck out one with no walks.
“I had real good command of all my stuff,” Pearce said. “Just threw fastball, sinker and curveball today and they were able to stay off of it. So it felt nice to get out there and really have command of every part of the zone.”
Tanner Bibee (0-2) took the loss and was charged for two runs on five hits in three innings.
After Fullerton erased a four-run deficit in the sixth against Bryce Fehmel, the Beavers regained the lead in the home half.
With two on and two out, third baseman Brett Borgogno made a nice stop on a Gretler grounder. Borgogno bobbled the ball and threw wildly to first base, allowing Steven Kwan to score with ease.
One batter later, Anderson singled up the middle to bring home Rutschman for a 6-4 lead.
Fullerton loaded the bases with two outs in the eighth, but Mulholland froze pinch-hitter Zach Weller with an 0-2 fastball for a called-third strike. Mulholland worked around a one-out single in the ninth for his fifth save of the year.
Fehmel was nearly flawless through five innings before running into trouble with two outs in the sixth. The junior righty surrendered four runs on six hits while striking out three with no walks in 5⅔.
OSU jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the second against Fullerton starter Andrew Quezada.
Andy Armstrong poked a bases-loaded double down the right-field line to drive in Taylor and Anderson. Following a Kwan walk, Malone scored when Cadyn Grenier beat out a potential 6-4-3 inning-ending double play.
Taylor made it 4-0 in the fifth with a two-out single under the glove of Borgogno that scored Gretler, who reached on a double high off the 14-foot wall in left.
Quezada exited after 4⅔ innings, giving up four runs (two earned) on eight hits with three strikeouts and three walks. Like Fehmel, he did not factor into the decision.
Fullerton notched four two-out runs in the sixth to tie the game.
Fehmel, who had retired 14 of the last 15 batters he’d faced, plunked Ruben Cardenas to open the door. Tyler Lasch plated Cardenas with a double down the right-field line before Chris Prescott delivered the big blow, a three-run run homer to the bleachers in right.
But Pearce, Mulholland and the OSU offense took care of business down the stretch.