CORVALLIS — It’s not as if Michael Conforto is having a terrible season or anything, but when you lead the Pac-12 with 73 RBIs as a freshman, expectations tend to rise.
Entering Saturday’s doubleheader opener with Bryant, Conforto had just four RBIs in nine games.
He more than doubled it by the end of the day.
Conforto blasted a no-doubt two-run home run in the fifth inning of the opener, a shot that nearly cleared the bleachers in right field. He also added a run-scoring single in the seventh as the sixth-ranked Beavers went on to a 7-2 victory.
For good measure, Conforto started the second game with another two-run homer, this time to left field, to get the Beavers off to a quick 2-0 lead.
That was all freshman starter Andrew Moore needed as the Beavers completed the sweep with a 3-1 victory before a doubleheader crowd of 2,025 at Goss Stadium.
The Beavers are off to an 11-0 start for just the fourth time in program history. They also went 4-0 in 1951, 1959 and 1962.
OSU will look to complete the sweep today.
“It’s about time, I think is the best way to explain it,” Conforto said. “I’m going to be honest I feel good about the way I’ve been swinging the bat all season so far.
“You know, baseball’s funny like that. Sometimes balls just don’t fall and sometimes you get cheap little hits every once in a while too.”
Conforto went 4 for 7 in the twinbill, including belting his first two homers of the season after hitting 13 as a freshman, and drove in five runs.
“It’s good to get that out of the way,” he said. “A little relief just to get that first one out of the way and you play a little relaxed after that.”
It was a good sign for the Beavers, who have struggled most of the early season at the plate.
“We are obviously not anywhere near where we need to be offensively to compete in the league we’re going to be in,” coach Pat Casey said. “Hopefully he’ll get going a bit. He swung the bat really well tonight.”
The Beavers needed Conforto’s homer in the nightcap as they failed to collect a hit in the second through fifth innings.
In the sixth, Dylan Davis opened with a single and reached third after a sacrifice bunt and groundout. Gabe Clark laced a sinking liner down the right field line that got past the fielder for a triple and a 3-0 lead.
Moore went eight-plus innings, allowing four hits while striking out seven. He left with runners at first and second with no outs.
“Today I was a lot more down in the zone,” Moore said. “My fastball, when it’s down there, gets up to 92 whereas when I’m up it gets slower. I’m not sure why. I had more 92 because I was down in the zone and that just sets up my slider and curveball well. I was locating my fastball and worked off that.”
Max Engelbrekt came on and got a strikeout before John Mullen delivered an RBI single to make it 3-1. But Engelbrekt struck out the final two batters to secure the win.
(Moore) and Max are two pretty good freshmen,” Casey said. “I said this a couple weeks ago that Max reminds me of Kevin Gunderson, he has that feel to him. Moore fits in the mold of Jonah Nickerson, a guy who can throw three pitches for strikes. He’s getting the opportunity to do it a lot quicker because of our injuries. But he’s proven he’s going to be real good.”
In the opener, Bryant opened the scoring with an unearned run in the first off Dan Child.
The Beavers quickly answered in their half of the first. Andy Peterson singled to right and went to second when Tyler Smith’s sacrifice bunt was misplayed. Conforto singled to right and Peterson came on to score when the right fielder bobbled the ball.
With the outfield playing shallow and the wind blowing out a bit, Davis found the gap in right-center to drive home Smith and Conforto for a 3-1 lead.
Bryant took advantage of a single, errant pickoff and passed ball to make it 3-2 in the third.
It stayed that way until the fifth when Conforto made it 5-2 with a blast that nearly cleared the right-field bleachers.
Conforto’s single to center in the seventh drove in Peterson, and Smith scored when Jerad Casper drew a bases-loaded walk.
Child went seven innings, allowing just three hits while walking two and striking out three. He gave up two runs but both were unearned as he improved to 3-0.
Oregon State 7, Bryant 2
BRYANT 101 000 000 – 2 4 2
OREGON STATE 300 020 20x — 7 10 2
Schlitter, Cohen (7), Hayward (7), Wilcox (8) and Scott. Child, Bryant (8) and Rodriguez. WP: Child (3-0). LP: Schlitter (0-2). 2B: Davis (OSU). HR: Conforto (OSU)
Hits: Bryant 4 (Brown 3, Mullen). OSU 10 (Peterson 2, Smith, Conforto 3, Davis 2, Keyes, Hendrix)
RBIs: Bryant 2 (Mullen, Mountford). OSU 6 (Conforto 3, Davis 2, Casper)
Oregon State 3, Bryant 0
BRYANT 000 000 001 – 1 5 0
OREGON STATE 200 001 00x — 3 5 1
McAvoy, Healy (7) and Gavitt. Moore, Engelbrekt (9) and Esposito. WP: Moore (3-0). LP: McAvoy (0-1). S: Engelbrekt (2). 2B: Mountford (B), Mullen (B). 3B: Clark (OSU). HR: Conforto (OSU)
Hits: Bryant 5 (Brown, Mountford, Mullen 2, Anderson). OSU 5 (Smith, Conforto, Davis 2, Clark)
RBIs: Bryant 1 (Mullen). OSU 3 (Conforto 2, Clark)