Poor communication on defense and offensive inconsistencies had Oregon State Beaver Baseball unable to hold onto their early lead over the Auburn Tigers, losing 7-5 in game 1 of the Corvallis Super Regional on June 11.
With the loss Saturday night, Oregon State must win the next two games in a row in the best two-of-three series to avoid elimination in the Corvallis Super Regional. Game 2 of the Corvallis Super Regional is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sunday.
Auburn senior infielder Sonny Dichara put up the first points of the game for the Tigers and launched a two-run home run in the top of the inning to give the Tigers an early 2-0 lead in the top of the 1st inning.
The Beavers would answer right back in the bottom of the first inning with a three-run home run to centerfield, from sophomore infielder Garret Forrester making the score 3-2. Oregon State would tack on one more run scored by sophomore infielder/outfielder Kyle Dernedde, who was walked with the bases loaded extending the lead 4-2.
However, Auburn would even the lead, scoring two runs making the score 4-4 in the top of the 2nd inning. Sophomore infielder Cole Foster would give the Tigers the lead right back, scoring on a sacrifice fly from teammate senior infielder Brody Moore making the score 5-4 in the 3rd inning.
The Tigers once again added to their lead with a solo home run into left-center field from redshirt-junior Bobby Pierce making the score 6-4 in the top of the 5th inning. Auburn would score their final run of the evening off a throwing error by the Beavers making the score 7-4 headed into the 9th inning.
“At the end giving them an extra-run right there, not turning a double play when we get a ground ball back to the pitcher,” said Oregon State Head Baseball Coach Mitch Canham. “Poor communication, giving them an extra one right there, not something you need, but that ball should go to Dernedde and be turned for a double play”
Down by three runs in the bottom of the 9th inning, the Beavers looked to spark a comeback and pulled within two runs on an RBI double from junior infielder/outfielder Jacob Melton making the score 7-5. The Tigers ended the late rally in the 9th inning by the Beavers on a strikeout, leaving Melton stranded at second base.
“You know how we operate, we come back, show a lot of fight. Obviously, no one is happy about dropping the first game. But that’s just the way we roll. We’re going to fight back tomorrow. There’s no doubt about it,” said Canham after Saturday’s loss. “It happened, it’s time to move on and make sure we’re ready to fight tomorrow.”
Sophomore left-handed pitcher Cooper Hjerpe was the projected starter for game 1 against Auburn but was unavailable for the Beavers due to an undisclosed illness. Instead, Junior right-handed pitcher Jacob Pfennigs took the mound for the Beavers, and pitched 2.2 innings. Pfennigs gave up four hits and five runs, taking the loss and his record is 4-1.
“[Hjerpe] wasn’t feeling good, had a little bug,” said Canham of Hjerpe’s availability. “Figured the best thing would be to hold off another day, let him feel a little bit better and roll so, we’ll see how he feels tomorrow.”
Junior right-handed pitcher Brock Townsend relieved Pfennigs in the third inning, pitching 2.1 innings and giving up one run. Redshirt-senior right-handed pitcher Mitchell Verburg relieved Townsend in the 6th inning pitching 2.0 innings and giving up two hits. Junior right-handed pitcher DJ Carpenter and sophomore right-handed pitcher AJ Lattery each pitched one inning and both pitchers gave up one hit.
For the Tigers, graduate student left-handed pitcher Tommy Sheehan took the win, and his record is now (2-0). Sheehan pitched 3.1 innings allowing just three hits before being relieved in the 6th inning by senior left-handed pitcher Carson Skipper, who pitched 3.0 innings.
Junior right-handed pitcher Trace Bright started for the tigers and pitched 0.2 innings, giving up 3 hits and 4 runs in the 1st inning. Freshman pitcher John Armstrong pitched one inning and junior right-handed pitcher Blake Burkhalter pitched one inning and gave up 2 hits and 1 run.
“No one is going to hand it to you, you look back at the championship teams that have run through elimination games [06’, 07’] you got to go out there and earn it, you got to go out there and grab it. I love what Melton said, ‘it’s not a challenge, it’s an opportunity to go out there, do something special and catapult you into Omaha,” Verburg said on playing elimination games.