Playing in the visiting dugout for the first time all season, starting pitcher Andrew Moore noticed a trail of blood leading to the dugout. Then he realized the blood was from Jake Rodriguez – the first-team all-Pac-12 catcher who had just finished warming up Moore.
“It’s just something that happens,” Moore said. “I had a bloody nose in basketball last season right before a game and you just have to wait for it to stop bleeding.”
Rodriguez – who was not made available after the game – started out with cotton stuffing his left nostril as the Beavers faced a team modelled in many ways after themselves: Cal Santa Barbara.
UCSB coach Andrew Checketts is an OSU alum, a former all-American pitcher at OSU, and a guy who has his team in the NCAA tournament in his second season because of pitching and defense.
So it was little surprise that the game came down to pitching and defense, even though the Beavers pounded out 10 hits. One of those was Ryan Barnes’ towering solo homer to left center in the second inning. That gave the Beavers a lead for the second time in the Corvallis Regional. (The first time was on Dylan Davis’ two-run double in the bottom of the ninth against UT San Antonio in OSU’s opener.)
They wouldn’t lead again until Danny Hayes was hit by a pitch on a 3-2 count with the bases loaded and two outs in the top of the ninth, giving them a 3-2 victory after freshman Max Engelbrekt earned his fifth save with a three-batter ninth.
The win means OSU (47-10) will face either UCSB or Texas A&M for the regional title at 5 p.m. PDT Sunday. A loss in that game puts the Beavers into a winner-take-all game at 5 on Monday.
Both OSU and UCSB had opportunities to break the game open with one timely hit. Neither was able to get it against an array of effective and poised pitchers.
Moore (13-1) earned his first postseason victory a day shy of his 19th birthday. UCSB got solid efforts from starter Justin Jacome and reliever Greg Mahle, while closer Dylan Hecht was one pitch away from extending the game.
Moore and OSU coach Pat Casey both credited Rodriguez for his work behind the plate, all-conference shortstop Tyler Smith and the performance of the entire defense, which was error-free.
UC Santa Barbara had two errors, though neither resulted in a run.
“There were some young pitchers getting after it pretty good, I thought, out there,” Checketts said. “Matching each other pitch for pitch, pitch for pitch, pitch for pitch. We just weren’t able to make that final last pitch to stay in the game.
“We’re not as deep on the backside as (Oregon State), so it makes some of my decisions for me.”
It may not have looked like a No. 3 national seed-worthy win, but for the Beavers it was just that.
“It is breeding some energy, as we are not attempting to make them this close,” Casey said. “Again, why is San Antonio here, why is Santa Barbara here, why is A&M here? Because they are very good ball clubs. We love the challenge, as every team in this tournament has played really well.”