Beavers, Conforto slam Ducks to take series

Steve Gress / Corvallis Gazette-Times /


EUGENE — There are times when Oregon State sophomore Michael Conforto admits he goes to the plate thinking he might hit a home run.

That wasn't the case in the second inning Sunday.

“I was thinking just put a good swing on the ball,” Conforto said.

Conforto was looking for a changeup from Oregon starter Jake Reed and he got one. In a flash, the ball easily cleared the fence in right field for a grand slam that put the Beavers up 6-0.

“I put a good swing on it and the ball went out of the yard,” he said. “It was pretty cool.”

His second grand slam of the season, and second home run in as many days, was the spark the Beavers needed as they went on to post a 12-2 victory over the Ducks to win the crucial Pac-12 series, 2-1.

The Beavers (43-9, 22-5 Pac-12) now hold a two-game lead over the Ducks (43-13, 20-7) and UCLA for the conference lead with three games left.

Conforto tacked on two more hits, including a double, and drove in six total runs on Sunday. He was 5-for-9 the last two games of the series after going 0-for-3 on Friday.

“I think I got a little frustrated after that first Friday game,” Conforto said. “I was a little quiet. I think I was a little tentative in the field and at the plate. After that game I talked to my family, I talked to some coaches and I just realized I have nothing to be afraid of, nothing to be tentative about, go out there and be aggressive. I think that mindset really changed for me. I think it brought a little energy to the team and got us going.”

After dropping the series opener and collecting just two hits on Friday, the Beavers responded with 21 runs in the final 13 innings of the series.

“We got beat by a really good pitcher and he threw three pitches for strikes and he just flat out beat us and we we're a little ticked off about it,” Conforto said about Friday's loss to Oregon starter Tommy Thorpe. “I think that's what happened, we just flipped the switch and so hopefully it doesn't take that to happen. I think we've got that in our heads now that we've got to play like that all the time and not let anyone beat us.”

OSU starter Ben Wetzler went 6 1⁄3 innings, allowing two runs — one earned — on six hits and a walk. He struck out six.

Scott Heineman led Oregon offensively, going 2-for-4 with an RBI, while Tyler Baumgartner also drove in a run.

The Beavers and Ducks meet again on Tuesday in a nonconference game at Goss Stadium. First pitch is set for 5:35 p.m.