OMAHA, Neb. — It was only fitting that a pair of Washingtonians delivered the knock-out punch to the Huskies’ first College World Series run.
Locked in a 5-5 tie after six innings, Michael Gretler and Kyle Nobach came through with consecutive game-changing hits that opened the floodgates for No. 3 Oregon State and demoralized Pac-12 rival Washington.
The Beavers didn’t let up on a marathon Monday at the College World Series, pouring it on for a 14-5 victory before a TD Ameritrade Park crowd of 16,881.
“Crazy game, long day,” coach Pat Casey said. “I thought our guys came out really prepared after the rain delay when we were kind of scuffling coming out of the chute.”
OSU (50-11-1), which has won 50 games for the fourth time in program history, is scheduled to face Mississippi State or No. 6 North Carolina in another elimination game at 4 p.m. Wednesday. The Bulldogs and Tar Heels had their matchup postponed to 8 a.m. Tuesday due to a 4 hour, 31 minute lightning delay in the sixth inning of OSU’s win.
The Huskies (35-26) finished 0-2 in their first CWS appearance.
With two down in the top of the seventh, Washington intentionally walked Adley Rutschman to bring up Gretler. The senior third baseman from Bonney Lake, Washington, ripped an RBI double down the left-field line that plated Nick Madrigal for a 6-5 lead.
“They obviously wanted the matchup,” Gretler said. “He’s got the name Clutchman for a reason, so good baseball move by them and I was just trying to stay as relaxed as possible and help the team win.”
One batter later, Nobach smashed a pitch from UW closer Alex Hardy over the wall in right-center that put OSU up 9-5. It was the sixth home run of the year for Nobach, a senior outfielder from Marysville, Washington.
“I took a pretty big swing at one of the pitches and kind of pulled off of it,” Nobach said. “The same thing happened in the (Corvallis Regional), and Casey told me to stay inside the ball. I got a pitch out over the plate and I tried to stay through it … and luckily the wind wasn’t blowing like it had been.”
Nobach’s blast, which felt like a game-ender, sent OSU’s dugout into pandemonium.
“He’s something special,” Gretler said of Nobach. “He’s an incredible teammate, an incredible guy. I honestly didn’t think it was going out off the bat, and when I was rounding third I think I gave a little jump for joy there coming towards home.”
The Beavers added five insurance runs in the eighth, including a solo shot from Tyler Malone. It was the Beavers’ 61st homer of the season, breaking the school record of 60 set in 1998.
Rutschman and Gretler also had RBI singles in the inning while Jack Anderson plated two more with a double.
“Backs against the wall, rain delay for I don’t even know how long, and we stayed with it,” Gretler said. “And the offense just exploded.”
Freshman Kevin Abel (5-1) picked up the win, giving up just one run on one hit with five strikeouts and two walks in four innings of relief. The right-hander threw 17 pitches before the delay and was sharper after the break.
Slated to start Wednesday, Abel was pressed into duty when Bryce Fehmel issued a leadoff walk in the fifth.
“If we didn’t win, we were going home,” Casey said. “So he was the best option, and he was outstanding.”
Casey did not name a starting pitcher for the Beavers’ next elimination game.
Neither of Monday’s starters factored into the decision as UW’s Jordan Jones (4⅔ innings, two runs) and Fehmel (four-plus innings, four runs) were both pulled early. Hardy (5-4) took the loss after giving up four runs on three hits with two strikeouts and two walks in one inning of work.
Gretler and Madrigal each had three of OSU’s 16 hits. Nobach and Malone led the way with three RBIs apiece while Preston Jones, Gretler and Anderson all had two.
Stuck in a 3-0 hole after four innings, the Beavers scored the game’s final 10 runs and were 13 for 21 with two outs.
OSU loaded the bases before the delay on two walks and a Gretler single. With a cross-country flight’s time to think about his at-bat, Malone drew a five-pitch walk against Hardy to force in Gretler and tie the game at 5.
Madrigal initially wondered if the delay might kill the Beavers’ momentum. The 2017 Pac-12 player of the year ended up being wrong as OSU dominated Washington after the lengthy break.
“I did think that at first,” Madrigal said. “I was kind of jokingly saying that we were just going to break it open, but I think that was a good thing. It helped us relax and kind of zone in on our game.”
The Huskies struck first with a three-run bottom of the third.
Jonathan Schiffer and Mason Cerrillo got aboard via consecutive one-out singles and came home on a Nick Kahle double to left. Kahle then scored on a Joe Wainhouse blooper for a 3-0 lead.
After four lifeless innings, OSU finally mounted a threat in the fifth.
Jordan Jones recorded the first two outs before Nobach and Anderson reached on consecutive singles. Pinch-hitting for Zak Taylor, Malone ripped a base hit up the middle off reliever Josh Burgmann that scored Nobach to get OSU on the board.
Preston Jones, who took over for an injured Steven Kwan, then doubled past Christian Jones in right to tie the game. The sophomore later scored on a passed ball to put the Beavers up 4-3.
UW answered with two runs in its next at-bat, including a Levi Jordan RBI single that made it 5-4. That score held until the storm rolled in.
Kwan exited the game after grounding into a double play to end the third. The junior center fielder said he tweaked his hamstring on defense and could no longer run.
Kwan’s status moving forward is unknown.
OSU is now 7-6 all-time against current Pac-12 foes in the NCAA tournament, including a 2-0 mark at the CWS.