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Beavers still standing -- barely -- as unbeaten in regional

by: COURTESY OF ETHAN ERICKSON - Andrew Moore's pitching helped Oregon State get past Cal Santa Barbara 3-2 on Saturday in the NCAA baseball regionals.CORVALLIS -- Nobody said it would be easy.

But truth be told, few would have guessed Oregon State would have been as hard-pressed to pull out back-to-back victories to open the NCAA regional at Corvallis this weekend.

The Beavers (47-10) scored a ninth-inning run on a bunt single, a hit-by-pitch and a pair of walks to beat Cal Santa Barbara 3-2 Saturday night at Goss Stadium.

It was the second straight night the nation's No. 3 seed needed a run in the final frame to pull out a one-run win. On Friday night, Dylan Davis' two-run double became the walkoff blow that beat Texas-San Antonio 5-4.

"We're not attempting to make them so close," OSU Pat Casey said after his team's second consecutive spine-tingling finish. "We'd love to separate a little bit. But this tournament is loaded with good clubs. That's a good club we played tonight, I can tell you that."

The Pac-12 champions are now in superb position to move on to next weekend's super regional, which it would host. UCSB (35-24) faces Texas A&M (33-28) at noon Sunday, with the winner advancing to a 5 p.m. game with the Beavers. If the Beavers lose that game, the teams would go at it again Monday at 5 p.m. for a spot in the super regional.

"I'm losing years off my life," quipped Oregon State's senior designated hitter, Ryan Barnes, about the dramatic finishes. "It's climactic, that's all I can say. Hopefully, we can make an adjustment (Sunday) and get ahead early one time."

Barnes was forgetting that he gave his team a 1-0 lead Sunday with a home run to left in the top of the second inning off of UCSB starter Justin Jacome.

"I threw a slider, and it came in too slow and too high," Jacome said. Barnes "saw it all the way."

"It caught a little too much plate and I got a decent barrel on it," said Barnes, who had two hits and two RBIs. "But it surprised me that it left the yard. I had my head down and was heading for second, going for a double, when I looked up and saw it go out."

The Beavers had 10 hits but never really got to Jacome, a freshman left-hander, or relievers Greg Mahle or Dylan Hect, though "we had our opportunities," Casey noted. They left 13 runners on base, and seven in scoring position. Many times, that equates to defeat.

But OSU's freshman phenom, Andrew Moore, put together another in a string of quality outings this season after a shaky start, running his record to 13-1. The Pac-12 freshman of the year yielded single runs in the second and third but settled down to give up five hits with two walks -- one intentional -- and six strikeouts in eight innings.

"Andrew pitched great for, what, the 15th time this year?" Barnes said. "He gave up two runs and his ERA went up. That speaks to it right there."

The Gauchos led 2-1 until Oregon State tied it in the sixth. It remained deadlocked until the top of the ninth, when the Beavers -- the designated visiting team -- got a run on a one-out bunt single by Andy Peterson, a hit-by-pitch and walks to Barnes and Danny Hayes.

Then Casey turned it over to freshman left-hander Max Englebrekt, who closed the win with a perfect ninth.

"Andrew wanted to go back out (for the ninth), but he was out of gas," Casey said. "He pitched another good ballgame. We've never had a freshman with the numbers he's had. He's unique. So competitive."

"I felt like the adrenalin was pumping a little too much early," Moore said. "I was leading my slider up too much. (The Gauchos) beat me on a few fastballs. I had to battle every pitch of the game. I had to trust my defense."

Casey and Moore both noted the defensive play of the game, made with UCSB at the plate and the score tied at 2-2, with two outs and the bases loaded in the bottom of the eighth. Robby Neserovic's one-hop smash was backhanded by OSU shortstop Tyler Smith, who threw to second for the force out to end the inning.

"That was a game-changer," Casey said. "That ball gets through, it's pretty tough to come back."

Said Moore: "I thought that was a hit for sure, and (Smith) took it away."

"We had our chances," said UCSB coach Andrew Checketts, the former Oregon State pitcher and Oregon pitching coach. "We had runners on third with less than two out a couple of times, and Moore made pitches to get out of trouble. He sure does a nice job of throwing that fastball for strikes, and that breaking ball looks like it has two speeds on it."

"He's a very talented pitcher," said Gaucho left fielder Joey Epperson, who had two of his team's five hits. "He made some good pitches when he had to. Oregon State's a pretty good club. But we were a couple hits away from taking a win there. If we'd capitalized with runners in scoring position, maybe it would have been a different story."

So the Beavers advance. It doesn't matter how many runs you win by. Just win, baby. But those type of games have a way of evening out.

"Our guys competed," Casey said. "It's not as easy as you sometimes want it to be. I'd like to score more runs. absolutely. We could have scored some more runs. We didn't.

"It's not lack of effort or anything other than the game of baseball will leave everybody standing there naked at some point in time -- more times than not."

Nobody has pantsed the Beavers yet. Not for lack of trying.

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