Beavers Hold off Buckeyes in Opening Game of Knoxville Regional

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OMN Sports

Ben Pahl, Sports Contributor

In a battle of OSUs, the Oregon State Beavers held off the second-seeded Ohio State Buckeyes for a dramatic 4-3 victory in the opening game of the Knoxville, Tennessee regional on Friday.

After the Beavers took a 4-1 lead in the fifth inning, the Buckeyes made things very interesting by plating two runs in the bottom of the sixth, cutting Oregon State’s lead to just one.

The home half of the seventh inning initially looked to be a disaster for the Beavers, as the first three batters of the frame reached.  However, Oregon State freshman pitcher Sarah Haendiges was able to pitch out of a bases-loaded jam, and the third-seeded Beavers escaped with a one-run victory.

Early on, the Beavers found themselves trailing after allowing an unearned run in the top of the first inning.  After a slow offensive start, Oregon state sophomore utility-player Madison Simon pulled the visitors level with a solo home run in the top of the third, her seventh of the season.

Perhaps the most critical moment of the contest came in the top of the fourth.  With runners on first and second and two away, Oregon State sophomore infielder Grace Messmer hit a sharp group ball that got under the glove of Ohio State shortstop Kami Kortokrax, and trickled all the way to the left field wall.  Oregon State freshman outfielder Erin Mendoza and Oregon State senior pitcher Mariah Mazon both scored on the error, giving the Beavers a 3-1 lead.

After keeping the Buckeyes off the scoreboard in the fourth inning, Oregon State extended their lead in the top of the fifth when Mazon drew a bases-loaded walk, bringing home Oregon State freshman infielder Savanah Whatley and extending the Beaver’s lead to three.

Pressure started to build in the bottom of the sixth inning when Ohio State senior Kaitlyn Coffman hit a two-out double that plated two runs, narrowing the deficit to 4-3.  After holding strong defensively, the Buckeyes came up in the bottom of the seventh needing one run to tie and two to win.

The frame did not start out well for Haendiges. After giving up a lead-off single, the next two batters also found a way to reach, loading the bases with nobody out.  With the winning run standing on second base, things were not looking good for the Beavers.

But in a season where they’ve battled so much adversity, Oregon State was not going to give an inch.  After getting senior Jaycee Ruberti to fly out to second base, Haendiges struck out the next two batters she faced, and the Beavers pulled off a 4-3 upset win in the first match of the Knoxville regional.

Mazon picked up her 15th win of the season for the Beavers, giving up two earned runs and seven hits in six innings in the circle. Haendiges picked up the save after working out of a bases-loaded jam.

Offensively for the Beavers, Madison Simon went one for three with a solo home run, while freshman Kaylah Nelsen went one for two on the day.

With the result, Oregon State advances to the winners bracket of the Knoxville regional.  The Beavers will take on the winner of first-seeded Tennessee and fourth-seeded Campbell tomorrow morning at 9 a.m.