CORVALLIS, Ore. – Ben Wetzler gave up a run in the first inning, then shut Texas A&M out the remainder of the game as Oregon State wore the Aggies out to take a 6-1 victory and the Corvallis Regional title on Sunday night.
A Friday night starter in 2012, Wetzler has been the Beavers’ Sunday starter since returning from a sore back part way through the nonconference season. He delivered an all-Pac-12 worthy season, earning first team accolades along with OSU’s other weekend starters. Against A&M, he might have been better than ever.
“He was pretty good,” Beavers coach Pat Casey said. “He threw 92, 94 in the ninth and I was wondering who he was going to hit first, me or (pitching coach Nate Yeskie) if we pulled him in the ninth.”
Wetzler threw 121 pitches, struck out 10, scattered four hits and walked four. He did hit a batter, but in the end the positives he delivered included the only complete-game effort of the regional. It punctuated the superior nature of OSU’s rotation over the rest of the field. Wetzler and Saturday’s starter, Andrew Moore, were named to the all-regional team.
“It started off pretty rough, but as soon as I got the ball down, things started to change a little bit for me,” Wetzler said. “And then Max (Gordon) goes out there and makes a SportsCenter Top 10 type of catch again, so it is just a team effort. Everybody made plays and I just tried to do my part.”
OSU’s other regional selections were outfielder Dylan Davis, catcher Jake Rodriguez and designated hitter Ryan Barnes. Davis was named the regional’s Most Outstanding Player.
A&M was well represented on the regional team: first baseman Cole Lankford, shortstop Mikey Reynolds and third baseman Hunter Melton represented the Aggies, who finished 2-2 in the tourney.
Lankford gave the Aggies (34-29) a 1-0 lead with an RBI triple in the first inning, scoring Reynolds, who had drawn a walk and stolen second, but that was the best A&M could manage against Wetzler.
As was the case throughout the regional, the Beavers (48-10) started slowly on offense.
They tied the game in the fifth despite having a runner thrown out at the plate for the first out. Jake Rodriguez led off with a single under Melton’s glove, moved to second on a sac bunt and took third on Tyler Smith’s single. Rodriguez was thrown out trying to score on the play. However, with two outs, the Beavers were far from finished. Andy Peterson was hit by a pitch and Michael Conforto reached base on an error that also scored Smith.
“We were playing big there in the fifth inning with two outs and tried to make the flip with the second baseman playing deep, that was first mistake,” A&M coach Rob Childress said. “Then a ball gets down the line, we don’t make a play in the seventh inning and just like that they’ve got the lead and we weren’t able to answer back.”
A&M tried to answer back, getting a leadoff double from Jonathan Moroney, but he wound up stranded on third. Gordon, the only Beaver without a hit in the game, made a highlight reel catch in center field for the final out of the fifth.
“We definitely feed off of each other,” Wetzler said. “When someone does something extraordinary it kind of gives us a little bit of energy and that kind of spring loads us into our offense and that is what we try to do.”
OSU’s seventh began with A&M going to closer Jason Jester, who had pitched 2 1/3 earlier in the day to save A&M’s 5-4 win over UC Santa Barbara.
Smith and Peterson promptly singled, Conforto struck out and Dylan Davis had an RBI hit taken away when Melton snared the line drive in one of his spectacular plays at third. With two out, Danny Hayes took a 3-2 pitch up the right field line for a two-run double.
The Beavers would add three more runs in the ninth and they finished with 14 hits – three by Barnes, two each by Smith, Conforto, Hayes and Rodriguez.
A&M got two doubles from Moroney and the triple from Lankford, while Jace Statum had a single for the fourth hit.
OSU will host its fourth Super Regional in school history. It advanced to the College World Series in 2005, ’06 and ’07 after hosting Super Regionals. The Beavers won the CWS in ’06 and ’07.