Beavers have found offensive success in late innings

By Steve Gress / The (Corvallis) Gazette-Times

Report says Wetzler will pitch this weekend

According to a report by Kendall Rodgers of the amateur baseball website Perfect Game, Oregon State senior left-hander Ben Wetzler will pitch this weekend when the Beavers host Washington in a three-game Pac-12 series in Corvallis that could determine the conference title.

Wetzler was arrested early Saturday morning when he was reported to have broken a window of a residence while heavily intoxicated.

If Wetzler does pitch this weekend, it does not necessarily mean he will not be disciplined at a later date. Those involved in the decision may be waiting for more information on the situation.

— The (Corvallis) Gazette-Times

If you look at the scores from Oregon State’s last three baseball games, it seems like the Beavers have had a relatively easy time of it.

They defeated Pac-12 foe UCLA 9-3 on Saturday and 11-2 on Sunday, and knocked off Portland in a nonconference game, 8-4, at Volcanoes Stadium in Keizer on Tuesday.

But those final scores by no means indicate how close the games were heading into the seventh inning.

In each game, the Beavers were either tied or up by a single run.

But after going through the seventh-inning stretch, Oregon State broke the games open.

Against UCLA on Saturday, the Beavers used a five-run seventh to turn a 4-3 lead into 9-3. On Sunday, OSU was tied at 2-2 before scoring six runs in the seventh and three more in the eighth for the 11-2 win.

Then on Tuesday, with the game once again knotted at 2-2, Dylan Davis belted a two-out grand slam in the seventh and the Beavers tacked on two more runs in the eighth for the 8-4 win.

Even going back to Friday’s 4-2 win over UCLA, the Beavers scored twice on bases-loaded walks in the eighth inning to break a 2-2 tie and post a win.

It can be maddening for a coach to watch his team wait so long, but the Beavers have been able to pull through in the later innings.

“That’s big for us,” junior left fielder Michael Conforto said. “Sometimes it just takes a little while to get the offense going. Sometimes we need to get into the bullpen and that’s why we grind out at-bats against a starter and drive his pitch count up and do whatever we need to do.

“I think that’s what we did most of (the UCLA) series, we had good at-bats. It was such a great team series for us. It seemed like everybody had a part in it and so that’s a great thing, a great success for us for this weekend, something we can really take moving into this week.”

Conforto said that earlier in the year that the Beavers would press a little later in tight games and they failed to deliver. But the confidence level is higher now.

“Whether it’s one, two, three, four or five, six, seven, eight runs, we never feel out of the game,” freshman catcher Logan Ice said. “With our offense, it’s been pretty obvious how good our offense is and we never feel out of it.

“It’s when you feel out of it you can’t do anything,” Ice continued. “We just keep positive and we know something’s going to happen at some point if we just keep having good at-bats.”

Ice and fellow freshmen Caleb Hamilton and Trever Morrison have had some big hits in those later innings recently. Ice said the freshmen have adjusted to the Pac-12 level and are now more confident.

“It’s nice to have 35 guys and eight or so coaches really know each other and have a connection where we feel comfortable with each other,” he said. “It’s been really good.”

The Beavers will carry a 12-game winning streak into this weekend’s crucial Pac-12 series with Washington. OSU (20-4) holds a one-game lead over the Huskies (19-5) and can clinch the Pac-12 title outright with a sweep.

Oregon State is 11-2 at home in conference games and has swept the last three Pac-12 series — against Stanford, Oregon and UCLA.

The games today and Saturday are set for 4:05 p.m. first pitches, while Sunday’s game is at 3:05 p.m.

“I think we’re feeling pretty good as a team,” said sophomore center fielder Jeff Hendrix, who was named the conference’s player of the week on Monday. “I think we’re hitting our stride and now is a perfect time to do that.”