EUGENE — Pat Bailey felt his Oregon State baseball team did a great job Sunday in all but one phase of the game — delivering with runners in scoring position.
The Beavers left 15 runners on base a day after leaving on 14, and dropped a tough 3-2 Pac-12 decision to Oregon in the Civil War series finale at PK Park.
“We left 15 guys on base and that’s the difference in the game,” Bailey said. “We had 12 hits and only scored two runs (which) is crazy.
“I told them after don’t hang your heads, we’re playing great defense, we came back and had a chance both in the eighth and the ninth innings to tie or win a game. We had a chance, all we needed was a hit. That’s baseball.”
The Beavers (33-15-1, 19-5) fell into a three-way tie with both Stanford and UCLA atop the Pac-12 standings. OSU is at Stanford for a crucial three-game set beginning Friday night.
Oregon State trailed 3-1 heading to the eighth on Sunday before Alex McGarry deposited the first pitch he saw from Ryne Nelson over the fence in right field to make it 3-2.
“Just trying to get something over the plate,” said McGarry, who was 3 for 5 hitting. “He’d been locating so well I was hoping he would throw a mistake and I think he did. Just being ready to hit. That’s not a guy you want to go deep into counts with because he’s got good breaker stuff. Just trying to be aggressive, mostly.”
George Mendazona then singled up the middle and Jake Dukart sacrificed him to second. After Kyler McMahan was called out on strikes, the Ducks intentionally walked Beau Philip before pinch hitter Zack Zalesky worked a walk to load the bases.
But Nelson got Adley Rutschman on a check swing to leave the bases loaded. Rutschman questioned a strike call a pitch earlier.
“There’s nobody else you want at the plate right there,” McGarry said. “It almost felt like we won the game when he came up with the bases loaded. He knows that we’ve got his back and nobody’s really worried about Adley, that’s for sure.”
McGarry started the ninth-inning rally with a two-out single before Andy Armstrong followed with a bloop single to right that sent McGarry to third.
After Armstrong took second, Dukart was called out on strikes to end the game.
Nelson worked 6⅓ innings of relief and scattered eight hits while giving up two runs. He walked four and struck out 12.
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“Obviously Nelson was on today, he made it tough for us,” McGarry said. “But definitely proud of the way the guys battled. It’s not easy when a guy is 95-98 (mph) and I think he even ran up a 100. A tough one, but there’s a lot of good things that came from today.”
The Ducks jumped out to their first lead of the series in the bottom of the first. Tanner Smith drew a one-out walk and Spencer Steer doubled in Smith, who slid in safely at the plate for a 1-0 lead.
Jonny DeLuca then singled to left to drive in Steer for a 2-0 lead. A walk and infield single loaded the bases before Christian Chamberlain escaped the jam with back-to-back strikeouts.
In the second, Smith had a two-out single and went to third on a wild pitch that Rutschman couldn’t find. Steer then drew a walk. DeLuca followed with a single to right and a 3-0 lead.
Joe Casey and Rutschman had one-out singles in the third, but Tyler Malone lined out to short and Ryan Ober flew out on the first pitch he saw from Nelson, who had just entered the game, to end the inning.
Andrew Walling started the third on the mound and walked the first two batters he faced before leaving. Joey Mundt came on and got a pop up and two strikeouts to keep the Ducks’ lead at 3-0.
Mundt went 3⅔ innings, allowing one hit while striking out five and walking three.
“There’s going to be moments where we need those guys to have big performances like he did tonight,” McGarry said of Mundt, a freshman righty. “His growth and the way he has come along has been a lot of fun to watch. He’s going to be a stud for sure.”
In the fifth, the umpires, at the request of Oregon State, made a visit to the mound to check on a possible foreign substance on Nelson’s hat. After he was cleared, the righty struck out Philip, Casey and Rutschman.
Bailey said it appeared it might be pine tar.
“Obviously it wasn’t or the umpires would have said something about it,” he said. “It was black so that’s why we asked.”
Malone worked a leadoff walk in the sixth and went to second on a one-out bloop single to left by McGarry. After Mendazona was called out on strikes, Dukart ripped a single to right and Malone beat the throw home to make it 3-1.
Rutschman had a two-out single up the middle in the seventh before Malone’s sinking liner to right was trapped to put runners on the corners. But, once again, Ober was unable to deliver and the Beavers stranded both.