Originally Published: June 19, 2018 12:08 a.m.
OMAHA, Neb. — Oregon State kept things loose in the clubhouse during a weather delay that stretched to 4 ½ hours at the College World Series. Reserve outfielder Joe Casey entertained teammates by stuffing 30 pieces of gum into his mouth, a party game known as “Mafia” broke out and the tunes were cranked up.
When it was time to return to the field, the Beavers were all business.
Kyle Nobach hit a three-run homer to put Oregon State in control in the seventh inning, Kevin Abel pitched four strong innings of relief and Oregon State sent Pac-12 rival Washington home from the College World Series with a 14-5 win on Monday night.
“Crazy game. Long day,” Beavers coach Pat Casey said. “I thought our guys came out really prepared after the rain delay. We were kind of scuffling out of the chute. Really appreciate the way they hung with it and got themselves a win.”
The Beavers erased early deficits, starting their comeback just before the teams were pulled off the field because of lightning near TD Ameritrade Park. Before play resumed, star second baseman Nick Madrigal gave a talk to emphasize the stakes.
“It’s win or go home at this point, and there are a lot of guys that will never put this uniform on again,” Nobach said. “It means a lot to us, and a lot of people don’t really understand it until you play here and you’re around ‘Case’ and this program. That’s motivating for us. And that’s what his message was, just to strictly compete.”
Oregon State (50-11-1), the No. 3 national seed, was coming off a loss to North Carolina in its CWS opener and still must win three more games to reach the best-of-three finals. Washington (35-26) went two games and out in its first CWS.
“A lot of people expected us to roll over halfway through the season,” Huskies shortstop Levi Jordan said.
“Instead, we went the other direction and brought this program to its first College World Series. To hang our heads about our performance in the College World Series... it shouldn’t be a reflection of our season. Obviously, a tough loss. But the program is moving in a great direction.”
Washington had leads of 3-0 and 5-4 before the delay in the top of the sixth inning. The Beavers had bases loaded with two outs when play was stopped. Washington sent out closer Alex Hardy (5-4), the fourth of seven Huskies pitchers, after the delay and he walked in the tying run.
The Huskies elected to intentionally walk Adley Rutschman to set up forces on the bases with two outs in the seventh. Michael Gretler smashed a ball down the left-field line for the tie-breaking double, and Nobach hit a 2-2 pitch that barely cleared the wall in right center for his sixth homer of the season and a 9-5 lead.
Oregon State scored all but one of its runs with two outs. The Beavers were 13 for 21 with two outs and 7 for 10 with runners in scoring position.
Tyler Malone homered to start a five-run eighth inning that finished off the Huskies.
Beavers starter Bryce Fehmel turned the game over Kevin Abel after giving up a single to start the fifth. Abel (5-1) threw 17 pitches before the delay, and Casey opted to have him go back to the mound when play resumed. Abel allowed one run on one hit and two walks. He struck out five.
Oregon State avoided going 0-2 at a CWS for the first time in five appearances since 2005.
Oregon State lost All-Pac-12 center fielder Steven Kwan to a hamstring injury at the end of the third inning. Kwan, who came into the game batting .363 and reached base four times in the loss to North Carolina, pulled up as he was running to first base on a double play ending the third inning. Preston Jones replaced him and was 1 for 4 with a two-run double. Casey said he didn’t know if Kwan would play Wednesday.
Oregon State will play another elimination game Wednesday against the North Carolina-Mississippi State loser. That game was postponed until Tuesday morning because of the long delay in the Beavers’ game and the threat of more rain Monday night.
Washington made a big late-season push to get to Omaha after being picked seventh in the Pac-12 preseason coaches’ poll. The Huskies were just 18-18 after an April loss to Texas-Rio Grande Valley. They closed the regular season with a series win over Stanford to finish third in the conference and secure an at-large NCAA bid. They traveled across the country to sweep through the Conway (South Carolina) Regional and won a three-game super regional at Cal State Fullerton.