NCAA baseball super regionals: OSU cruises past the 'Cats, forces decisive third game
Saturday's series opener, which the Wildcats stole 6-2 on the fuel of ninth and tenth inning rallies, took 10 innings to decide. Oregon State's Sunday rebuttal, on the other hand, was virtually over before it really even began. Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis blasted back-to-back homers to dead center field in the first inning, igniting a five-run rally that would knock Kansas State starter Blake McFadden out of the game only two outs into it. Beavers' starter Andrew Moore immediately benefited from a 5-0 lead, and he responded by holding the Wildcats at bay over the course of eight-plus innings to earn the win.
Moore's 124-pitch outing, which featured a career-high nine strikeouts, earned the freshman his 14th win of the year, good for a tie of the Beavers' school record. It also bought Pat Casey the luxury of not wearing out his bullpen ahead of tomorrow's winner-take-all game. Kansas State will be forced to circle its pitching wagons after taking abuse to the tune of 21 hits (Tyler Smith: 4-5, 3 RBI), an Oregon State offensive record in the super regional round.
Tomorrow's winner will punch a ticket to Omaha; the loser's season will be over. Kansas State has never been to college baseball's promised land, while the Pac-12 champions are trying to return for the first time since their 2007 national title run.
Casey will give the ball to junior lefty Ben Wetzler tomorrow, a fifth-round draft pick, whose sparkling 1.98 ERA and .224 opposing batting average has certainly earned the coaching staff's confidence. Kansas State's pitching strategy, meanwhile, remains a mystery: the Wildcats used their projected third starter, Levi MaVorhis, out of the bullpen Sunday. Oregon State has a distinct advantage when it comes to mound depth in this series, and that makes them the favorites moving forward.
A Goss Stadium-record 3,602 fans saw Sunday's game. Fasten your seatbelts: that record is not likely to last more than 24 hours.
David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.