Sixth-inning explosion leads Oregon State over Ducks, sweep season series
Oregon State entered the top of the sixth inning with a 1-0 lead over the Ducks. At that same moment, hypothetically speaking, someone got in their car in Eugene and hit the highway, heading north on their way to Corvallis. They turned on the radio to listen to the broadcast, and the half-inning lasted them the entire 45 minute drive, because by the end of it, the Beavers had a 9-0 lead.
“When a good team gets it rolling, and you give them extra opportunities, it ends up being a crooked number,” Oregon head coach George Horton said.
The No. 3 Oregon State offense was unstoppable in the sixth inning. The Beavers scored eight runs on nine hits, blasting three of the four Oregon pitchers they faced that inning on their way to a 10-0 win on Tuesday night at PK Park. A fitting scoreline against the Ducks, as the Beavers sweep the season series for the second year in a row.
Freshman Cullen Kafka started on the mound for the Ducks. He did well, allowing only four hits and one run in 4.2 innings pitched. But the game went downhill when he was pulled after allowing one run in the fifth inning.
“Cafka was really good,” Horton said, but stated he gave the Beavers some freebies to some of the best hitters in the country to give them the 1-0 lead.
In the infamous sixth inning, right-hander Nico Tellache allowed two earned runs. Fellow right-hander James Acuna replaced Tellache but faired worse, giving up six runs while getting no outs. After the bullpen struggled last weekend against UC Irvine, there is no rest for the weary as they faced the team with the fourth-highest batting average in college baseball. Not easy for young arms.
“They’re not real confident right now,” Horton said. “They’re young guys that don’t have command of all their stuff and consequently, when they cross the line, it magnifies itself. … There is no question they are in a mental funk right now.
“They became one-pitch pitchers, and good teams don’t let you off the hook when you don’t locate it very well.”
Meanwhile, Oregon’s offense was quiet. The Ducks only mustered three hits and two walks, with two hits coming from third baseman Gabe Mathews. Right fielder Jakob Goldfarb was the only other Duck to record a hit.
The Beavers have dominated the series as of late. They swept Oregon the past two season series on their way to postseason trips, while the Ducks can’t get there.
“It’s extremely frustrating,” Horton said. “Looks like we have another very mediocre year and we haven’t been able to beat our rival, or the other team in Oregon — Portland. I hold myself accountable and responsible for that.”
The guys in the other dugout were hitting balls in the gaps and commanding their pitches, and Horton hopes whatever Oregon State is doing just 45 minutes up the highway inspires Oregon, especially facing a hitter like Nick Madrigal, who is batting .458 this season.
“The advantages of watching a guy and competing against a guy like that is that maybe it rubs off on you,” Horton said. “You hate to look for contagious positive things from the opposition, but there wasn’t a lot of other things to be real proud of tonight.”
Follow Jack Butler on Twitter @Butler917
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