Beavers tame Matadors, improve to 15-1

Travis Bazzana, March 9, 2024.
Travis Bazzana, March 9, 2024.
Morgan Barnaby

The Oregon State baseball team improved to 15-1, their best start since 2018, with a 6-9 win over the California State University, Northridge Matadors on Sunday at Goss Stadium.

The Beavers never trailed and never led by fewer than two runs against the Matadors. After the game, pitcher Bridger Holmes said he liked the Beavers’ odds in the PAC-12:

“UCLA was ranked in the preseason, they’re pretty good. Cal, Oregon, they’re good too. I don’t think anyone should compete with us if we play our game, but it’s baseball, so anything can happen.” 

Echoing his sentiment was head coach Mitch Canham who, when commenting on the Beavers’ 15-1 start said: 

“Wins and losses don’t matter. You either win the World Series or you don’t.”

Against the Matadors, Canham’s sentiments were echoed in the results: a win is a win.

The game started with Travis Bazzana getting walked. Mason Guerra then singled to first while Bazzana could not reach second base. Dallas Macias added another single, and then Jacob Krieg blasted a homer to left field, allowing Guerra and Macias to score.

Six players for the Beavers ended up with hits while seven players scored. 

After Krieg’s home run, the action quieted down with no runs until the bottom of the third when Bazzana scored on a sac fly from Macias. 

The fourth inning saw the Matadors turn the contest into a game.

When CSUN’s Kevin Fitzer was walked in the top of the fourth, he set the stage for Ben Griffin to single to right field. Nathan Barraza then drove Griffin and Fitzer home with a single to center field, and the Beavers found their lead trimmed to 4-2. 

The Matadors were unable to do more damage in the fourth, and the Beavers quickly responded when they took the field in the bottom of the fourth.

After Tanner Smith was hit by a pitch, Jabin Trosky singled to center field and Smith landed safely at second. Bazzana then singled to first, while Trosky advanced to second and Smith to third.

The Beaver bases were loaded.

Micah McDowell stepped up to the plate and hit a sac fly to right field, which allowed Smith to score and Trosky to land at third base. 

The Beavers weren’t quite done with the fourth inning, though. Guerra walked, while Bazzana shuffled along to second base. 

In what was a theme for the day, Macias was then walked while Guerra moved to second, Bazzana to third, and Trosky scored.

The walking still was not finished. Krieg returned to the plate and his walk sent Bazzana home. After this, Oregon State could not capitalize on the still-loaded bases; Gavin Turley hit a groundout to first base. The score stood at 7-2.

The top of the fifth saw CSU’s Andrew Sojka single to first, but he was left stranded when Beaver pitcher Eric Segura retired Shunsuke Sakaino.

Oregon State extended their lead to 8-3 in the bottom of the fifth when Elijah Hainline hit the Beavers’ second home run of the game.

The sixth inning saw every batter fail to notch a hit, while only CSUN’s Griffin made it to base after getting walked. 

The Matadors continued to apply pressure in the seventh and eighth innings. With runs from Trent Abel and Sojka adding to their tally, the Matadors entered the bottom of the eighth trailing 8-6. 

But the Beavers rose to the occasion, and McDowell blasted the Beavers’ third home run of the game to make the score 9-6.

In a game that finished as a nail-biter, Jakob Simons initiated the final inning with a strikeout; Andrew Gauna got onto first base for the Matadors after being walked. Griffin singled and advanced Gauna to second, while an uneasy silence fell over the Beavers’ fans. 

Gonzalez struck out.

Matthew Pena was hit by a pitch and suddenly the bases were loaded. 

Nerves may have been getting to the Beavers when Will Linberg was hit by Bridger Holmes’ pitch, allowing Gauna to score.

Bases loaded. Beavers ahead 9-7. Two outs.

As Sojka walked up to the plate, he looked to his dugout, apparently hoping to pull off the upset.

It wasn’t meant to be.

The Beavers picked up Sojka’s ground ball and ended the Matadors’ hopes for a comeback by beating Linberg to second base. 

For the game, Bazzana and McDowell led the Beavers with two hits each, while Bazzana led Oregon State with two runs scored. Krieg had four RBIs, but the most telling statistic of the game was what could have been. Oregon State left six runners stranded, while CSUN left a staggering 11. Oregon State had nine hits, the Matadors had eight.

In a season in which Beavers aim to hoist another championship trophy, it is games like this that they will hope to emulate in escaping on the winning side of close finishes.

The Beavers next play Utah on March 15. at 5:00 p.m. in Salt Lake City, Utah.

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    Meadows LynneApr 9, 2024 at 9:53 am

    The huge score difference created a memorable match.