Baseball clinches series against Ducks in front of record-breaking crowd

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Sam Misa, OMN Photographer

Oregon State sophomore left-handed pitcher Cooper Hjerpe throwing the ball to first base against the University of Oregon Ducks at Goss Stadium on May 6, 2022. Despite a 75 minute weather delay, the Beavers defeated the Ducks in the first of a three-game series, 5-1.

Ben Pahl, Sports Contributor

The Oregon State Beavers held off the Oregon Ducks for an 8-7 win on Saturday night in the second match of a three-game set in Corvallis.

Long before the first pitch was thrown, 4,026 fans were already packed into Goss stadium for a celebratory event. The previous Goss Stadium attendance record was 4,025 versus Minnesota on June 9, 2018.

Former Oregon State baseball coach and three-time national champion Pat Casey took the field with members of his family before giving a heartfelt speech to the Beaver crowd. Afterwards, a cover was removed on the right field wall unveiling the retired jersey number five, which the former Beaver baseball coach dawned for 23 years. It was a special moment at Goss stadium.

“[I was] filled with joy and memories, to see him out there getting to address everyone,” said Oregon State head baseball coach Mitch Canham, who won two national championships under Pat Casey in 2006 and 2007. “I felt it when I gave him a hug, and I know all the guys did too.  Really these last twenty four hours have been a lot of memory-sharing, reminiscent of how many people he’s impacted.”

With their eyes set on spoiling their rivals’ special night, the Oregon Ducks came out hot.  In the top of the second inning, sophomore right-fielder Anthony Hall launched a towering solo home run into right field, way out of Goss stadium.  Later that same inning, sophomore catcher Josiah Cromwick dropped one into center field with traffic on the bases, scoring sophomore Josh Kasevich and giving Oregon a 2-0 lead.

It did not take the second-ranked Beavers long to respond, however.  After Oregon State junior outfielder Greg Fuchs and Oregon State sophomore shortstop Kyle Dernedde both drew walks to start the bottom of the second,  Oregon State junior infielder/outfielder Wade Meckler lined a base hit into right field, allowing Fuchs to score.  After Oregon State sophomore outfielder/infielder Justin Boyd drew another walk in the ensuing at-bat, Oregon State junior outfielder/infielder Jacob Melton doubled down the left field line scoring Meckler and Dernedde.

After the Ducks plated a run on a sacrifice fly in the third, the Beavers kept their offensive momentum going in the bottom of the fourth.  With runners on second and third and just one out,  Melton stepped into the batter’s box.

“I’ve faced Sabia a handful of times this year, kinda had an idea how he was going to pitch me,” Melton said.  When I got ahead 2-0 I figured I was going to get a slider over the plate.”

On the 2-0 pitch, Melton drove a breaking ball high and fairly deep to left field.  On a night where both sides got some help from the wind, the ball carried all the way onto the top of the dugout out in left field, before bouncing back into the field of play.

“I got a lot of help from the second base umpire,” Melton said.  “As soon as I pulled into second he was like ‘that’s a homer,’ so I think I was the only one on the field there for a minute who knew that was a homer.”

The Ducks wouldn’t go away quietly, however, and plated two runs in the top of the fifth inning to make it a one-run game.  Later in the Beavers’ half of the same inning, perhaps the most exciting play of the night occurred.

With Dernedde standing on second base with nobody out, lead-off hitter Meckler came to the plate.

Meckler drove a 2-1 pitch deep into right field, albeit playable.  Oregon’s right fielder had trouble tracking the ball, and ended up falling on the turf off-balanced as he made the catch.  With an incredible display of heads-up base-running, Dernedde recognized he had a chance to score all the way from second base.  The Goss crowd roared as Dernedde wheeled around third and beat the throw home by half a second.

“That one was pretty exciting,” Canham said.  “Dernedde being the gamer that he is and tagging up on that one, for him to say I’m not just getting to third I’m going all the way home on this one, that’s a great mentality.”

Both defenses held strong the next few frames until the Beavers added an insurance run in the home half of the seventh.  After singling to center field and stealing second, Kyle Dernedde advanced to third before taking home on a wild pitch, giving the Beavers an 8-5 lead.

After Oregon caused some trouble in the eight inning, Oregon State freshman right-handed pitcher Ryan Brown left two runners stranded and got out of the frame.  But just as it seemed like the Beavers were on their way to taking a 2-0 series lead, the atmosphere became very tense at Goss stadium.

Oregon junior third baseman Drew Cowley led off the top of the ninth by drawing a walk.  In the ensuing at-bat, sophomore Brennan Milone launched a two-run homer off of Brown’s pitch, bringing the deficit to one.

Despite some action taking place in the bullpen, Brown remained in the game and settled in.  After Milone’s homer, Brown struck out two of the next three batters he faced and picked up his ninth save of the season.

Melton had a monster night for the Beavers, going four for five at the plate and bringing home five runs.  Meckler went two for four, and shortstop Kyle Dernedde went two for three and scored three runs on a big night.

On the mound, Oregon State junior right-hander DJ Carpenter picked up the win for the Beavers despite giving up two earned runs in two innings of work.  Oregon State  senior right-handed pitcher Reid Sebby pitched two innings and didn’t allow a run, while Brown picked up the save going 1.1 innings and allowing two earned runs.

For the visitors, sophomore starter Isaac Ayon took the loss for the Ducks, pitching 3.1 innings and surrendering five earned runs off of five hits and four walks.  Offensively for Oregon, Josh Kasevich went three for five with an RBI, while Brennan Milone and Anthony Hall both homered.

The three-game series between the second-ranked Beavers and their rival Oregon will conclude on Sunday, with first pitch time scheduled for 2 p.m.