Oregon State head coach Pat Casey, outfielder Michael Conforto, outfielder Jeff Hendrix, pitcher Scott SchultzCourtesy: OSU Sports Information
CORVALLIS, Ore. – Senior Scott Schultz pitched a complete game two-hitter and Oregon State advanced to the championship game of the Corvallis Regional on Sunday with a 4-0 victory over UC Irvine before a sellout crowd at Goss Stadium.
Schultz (7-2) struck out four, walked two and retired 18 of the last 20 hitters he faced to give the Beavers (45-13) a sweep of two Sunday elimination games. They ousted UNLV 6-1 in the afternoon on a complete-game four-hitter by senior Ben Wetzler.
Monday’s championship game is set for 8:05 p.m. and will be televised by ESPNU. The victor will advance to the best-of-3 Super Regionals against Stillwater Regional champion Oklahoma State. If OSU wins, it will host the Cowboys; if Irvine (37-23) prevails, it will travel to Oklahoma.
Schultz hit three batters in the first two innings but then located his control and was almost untouchable from that point on. He allowed just one hit in the final six innings, retired 10 in a row in one stretch, and the lone Anteater to advance to third base was thrown out at home attempting to score.
It was his third complete game of the year. He also went the distance in a nine-inning victory over Indiana on Feb. 23 and in a seven-inning decision over Northern Illinois on March 8 before being moved to the bullpen when Pac-12 action began the following weekend.
Schultz threw 65 strikes in 98 pitches in an efficient two hour, five-minute performance. He and Wetzler, who each spurned professional offers to return for their senior seasons, allowed a combined six hits and one run and struck out 14 over 18 innings in winning elimination games and prolonging OSU’s season for at least one more day.
Leadoff batter Jeff Hendrix sparked the offense with two doubles, a single, a run and a walk as he reached safely in all four plate appearances. First baseman Kavin Keyes was 2-for-2 with a run, an RBI and two walks and also reached safely all four times; Gabe Clark and Michael Conforto added RBI doubles.
OSU never led in a 14-2 loss to the Anteaters on Saturday night but it wasted little time getting its offense in gear in Sunday’s rematch. The Beavers surged ahead 1-0 in the first when Conforto knocked in Andy Peterson with a booming double off the top of the fence to the left of the light tower in right-center.
They expanded the cushion to 4-0 with a three-run third. Hendrix led off with a double and scored on a single by Keyes for a 2-0 edge. Clark then chased home Conforto, who been intentionally walked with Hendrix on third, and Keyes with a double to the left-center gap to make it 4-0.
The Beavers did not score again but they protected the lead with numerous standout plays and errorless defense to support Schultz.
Keyes denied two hits in the third inning with a leaping catch of a line drive and a sprawling stop on a hard-hit ground ball to his left. Conforto threw out a runner at home to end that inning, and made a head-first, diving catch to rob Jonathan Munoz leading off the fourth. Right fielder Dylan Davis ended the fifth inning with a running, over-the-shoulder catch at the base of the fence, and Hendrix had six putouts in center field.
The crowd of 3,386 raised the season total to 78,650 in 27 openings, an average of 2,913 per date. The Beavers have drawn 2,032 or more fans to every home game.
There may be tickets available for Monday’s game, starting at 6 p.m. at Goss Stadium. Please check the OSU baseball twitter account at Twitter.com/Beaver_Baseballin the morning for more details.