This time, it was a much bigger stage – with the bright TV lights of ESPN in the first inning of the second game of the Corvallis Super Regional – and the best friends ignited a hitting display of awe-inspiring proportions, belting back-to-back two-out home runs to right center field. Oregon State turned that into a five-run outburst and the Beavers never glanced back en route to a 12-4 victory that evened the best-of-three series at a game each.
“The top of the first really told the story of the game,” Kansas State coach Brad Hill said. “Back-to-back home runs really got the crowd involved and you could tell the team just really fed off of that.
“Our freshman on the mound (Blake McFadden) just got a little shell-shocked and we couldn’t shut it down, so that was pretty much it.”
OSU (49-11) didn’t ease up. The Beavers rolled to a 9-1 lead through three innings – K-State’s 1 coming on a solo homer to right by Jared King that felt like an afterthought – and were never truly threatened.
“It set the tone – it was nice – but I thought we were going to play well regardless if we scored in the first inning,” OSU coach Pat Casey said. “I thought our players would come and respond. Somebody mentioned it last night – I think Conforto talked about the fact that we had lost to UCLA Friday night, we lost to Washington State and we lost to Oregon. We thought we would respond.”
Andrew Moore threw a career-high 124 pitches, struck out a career-high nine and improved to 14-1 in a phenomenal all-American freshman season. He loaded the bases in the ninth before giving way to Scott Schultz, who got the final three outs while allowing just one inherited runner to score.
“It was definitely huge coming out with Michael and Dylan getting the first two home runs,” Moore said. “That was huge because it allowed me to kind of relax and just get that energy going early on. I think we definitely fed off of that the entire game.”
For the Wildcats (45-18), it was the worst loss since a 13-2 loss to West Virginia in the Big XII Conference opener.
“It’s been a while since we’ve been kicked like that,” Hill said. “It will be interesting. Obviously they’ve got a great team over there, too. They are playing at home, and have been in this situation three or four times now.”