June 10, 2011; Nashville, TN, USA; Oregon State Beavers infielder Ryan Dunn (38) throws to first base for the out against the Vanderbilt Commodores during game one of the super regional of the 2011 NCAA baseball tournament at Hawkins Field. Mandatory Credit: Jim Brown-USA TODAY Sports
Any day is a great day to be a Coug.
That said, some days are better than others.
Today is one of those days for Cougar baseball fans after their team earned an improbable come-from-behind win over Oregon State by a final of 10-9 in 11-innings.
If you’re a fan of exceptional, outstanding baseball, Washington State (23-30, 9-19 Pac-12) and Oregon State (43-10, 22-6 Pac-12) provided more than enough drama and revelry on the diamond Friday night in Corvallis.
One of the appealing aspects of baseball is the unpredictability of team performance. To put it another way, there’s no such thing as an easy win in the Pac-12. Don’t be shocked if a team that has managed just 2-wins in their last 11-games going into a series beginning Friday tops the conference leader.
In the case of WSU, their head man, Coach Donnie Marbut, added to the surprises which unfolded at Goss Stadium.
If it’s a Friday night game, Coach Marbut typically hands the ball to his Friday Night Guy, sophomore Joe Pistorese, to start the contest.
With just three games left on the season, Marbut continues to manage the Cougs as though they were destined for a shot at the College World Series. He opted to rest Pistorese an extra day, which also gives sophomore Scott Simon an extra day.
Sophomore Sean Hartnett (2-2) was given the start based on pitching well of late. Count Hartnett as one of the great arms on the young Washington State pitching staff. However, he struggled through the first inning and found his team on the wrong side of a 5-0 score to begin the game.
In a regular season final series opener that looked to be easily placed in the win column for the Beavers, WSU battled and clawed their way back from a 7-0 deficit to earn the extra-innings victory.
The Coug comeback was monumental when you consider they were trailing by seven going into the top of the seventh against the No. 4 team in the nation…on their opponent’s home field!
When WSU finally plated a run in the seventh, Oregon State showed why they sit alone atop the Pac-12 standings poised to receive the guaranteed post-season invitation from the NCAA. The Beavs answered right back with a run of their own in the bottom of the seventh to push their lead over the Cougs back to seven.
OSU ace Matt Boyd showed why he is widely considered one of the top pitchers in college baseball this season by going seven strong innings grudgingly giving up just one run while striking out seven Cougs. But with his pitch count at 106 and post-season play in the near future, Beaver Coach Pat Casey made the predictable move to his bullpen in the 8th.
Here’s this game took a significant turn.
After managing just four hits off Boyd over the first seven innings, WSU put together four consecutive singles to open the top of the eighth. The Cougs plated 4-runs before the Beavs could attempt to restore some semblance of order on their home turf.
Tacking on an insurance run in the bottom of the 8th to push the Beaver advantage back to a 9-5 score, the statistics would indicate it was time to begin heading for the exits.
Here’s a phenomenal stat for you. Oregon State was a perfect 39-0 in 2013 when leading after 8-innings of play. Notice the key word in the previous sentence? Was.
Jason Monda capped a 4-run rally in the ninth sending a blast over the right field wall to tie the score at 9-9 with a 2-run homer, his 7th of the year.
Fittingly, it would be Monda who scored the game-winner in the top of the 11th when the Beaver infield committed their 4th error of the game.
Washington State not only won the game but they proved to get the best of the Beavs by playing 11-innings of flawless fielding.
The same teams take the field again Saturday afternoon at 1pm and can be viewed on the Pac-12 Network.