CORVALLIS, Ore.—The baseball version of the Civil War lacks the history of South Carolina-Clemson, Florida State-Miami, Oklahoma-Oklahoma State and the rest of college baseball’s great rivalries. After all, Oregon did not even have a baseball team six years ago.
But this feud has quickly become one of the sport’s best rivalries because of the intensity in the stands, in the dugouts and on the field, because of the white-knuckle drama, because of the quality of the two teams and the two coaching staffs. The first two games of the Oregon-Oregon State series have been worthy of the rivalry, delivering late-inning drama in an emotionally charged atmosphere. Steady rain Saturday night couldn’t put a damper on another classic battle, and the atmosphere was electric until the final out was recorded. When it was over, Oregon State had clinched the series with a riveting 4-2 win in front of 3,307 fans, the seventh-largest crowd in Goss Stadium history, and the second-largest in a regular-season game.
“Growing up, playing (in weather) like this, it’s nothing new,” OSU outfielder Dylan Davis said. “But it was fun. Give credit to Goss, and Beaver Nation coming out and sticking with it, that was incredible. We really fed off them, and that was huge. It’s real special. I can’t believe they were still here, to be honest. It was incredible.”
The orange-clad fans—most of whom remained in attendance and stayed boisterous until the end—had plenty to cheer about in the eighth inning, when the Beavers erased a 1-0 deficit with a four-run outburst, keyed by Davis’ two-run double to right-center with the bases loaded. Three batters later, Caleb Hamilton blooped a two-run single into shallow center field to give the Beavers some breathing room. The rally came against Oregon lefthander Garrett Cleavinger, who finally stopped the bleeding after getting Logan Ice to pop up a bunt back to the pitcher. Cleavinger then spiked the ball into the ground and hollered something at the Oregon State dugout, prompting the home-plate umpire to follow him nearly all the way to the dugout, then issue a warning. Oregon coach George Horton expressed displeasure with his team’s lack of composure, which included “slamming things around” in the dugout during the game.
“It’s probably as disappointed as I’ve been in a Duck baseball team in the last two and a half years,” Horton said. “Not because of the loss of where we’re at. It’s the behavioral part of it. They’ve shown bad behavior and weakness . . . Hopefully we’ll choose a different route of how to show competitive toughness and mental toughness tomorrow and for the rest of the year.”
OSU coach Pat Casey, who earned his 700th career Division I win, had said Friday that he has come to expect every game against the Ducks to be a grueling pitcher’s duel, and Saturday was no exception. Oregon’s Jeff Gold was dynamite, blanking the Beavers on four hits over seven innings of work. He showed outstanding feel for his big-breaking curveball and kept the Beavers off balance by commanding four pitches.
“I’ve got to give the credit to Gold, he pitched really well, mixing up speeds, mixing up pitches, doing what he could to keep us off balance,” Davis said. “He did a great job, and that’s a great team. The eighth inning came around, we just finally put our foot down, and let’s play our brand of baseball, and I think it showed.”
Oregon State starter Andrew Moore outlasted Gold, allowing two runs on four hits over eight-plus innings, striking out seven and walking three. Moore, a Eugene native who has allowed just one run and six hits in 17 career innings against the Ducks, located his 88-90 fastball well and had his own quality four-pitch mix going, having particular success with his 79-81 slider.
“Playing one of the best teams we’ve played all year right there, I’m really proud of our guys for staying with it,” Casey said. “(Moore) was just, I thought, really, really good. And once again, he forced our hand, said, ‘I want to go back out,’ and he did. Fortunately (Scott) Schultz came in and got it done.”
Moore returned to the mound in the ninth with a three-run lead and allowed a leadoff single to Steven Packard, then gave way to Zack Reser, who walked Austin Grebeck to give the Ducks two baserunners with no outs. Then the Beavers called upon Schultz in a tough situation for the second straight night, and once again he delivered.
After recording two outs, Schultz hit Aaron Payne to load the bases, then walked pinch-hitter J.B. Bryant to force in a run. The Ducks had No. 3 hitter Tyler Baumgartner up with the tying run at second base, but Schultz got him to ground out to end the game.
After Saturday’s soggy slog, the Beavers find themselves in first place in the Pacific-12 Conference, percentage points ahead of Washington and three games ahead of Oregon. OSU has won three straight series against the Ducks, going 7-1 in their last eight games against Oregon. The wins never come easy, but they’re not supposed to. It’s a rivalry, after all—and a darn good one.