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It's one for all the marbles for Wetzler, Beavers Monday night


by: TRIBUNE PHOTO: JAIME VALDEZ - Oregon State freshman pitcher Andrew Moore cheers as the defense makes an out in Sunday's win over Kansas State.CORVALLIS -- It was only one win, and Oregon State and Kansas State are tied at 1-1 going into Monday's 7 p.m. rubber match of their best-of-three super regional at Goss Stadium.

But the momentum seems in the Beavers' favor as they play host to the Wildcats in a winner-take-all showdown for the right to play in the College World Series.

Oregon State (49-11) got after it at the plate like a band of famished street persons Sunday night, banging out 21 hits in a 12-4 elimination-game victory that erased the sting of Saturday's opening loss.

That one was a 6-2, 10-inning loss in which the Beavers were within a strike of winning it in the ninth.

On Sunday night, they took no chances, putting a five-spot on the scoreboard before the rattled Wildcats (45-18) came to bat.

"We wanted to throw the first punch," said OSU right fielder Dylan Davis, who hit the second of-back-to-back solo jacks in the first, following Michael Conforto's blast over the center-field fence. "You want to put the other team on their heels."

Oregon State did all its damage after the first two hitters, Tyler Smith and Andy Peterson, popped out. Conforto sent a blast over the 400-foot sign in center to get things started; then Davis hit one in nearly the same spot, with a sellout throng of 3,602 going pretty much bananas.

Before they were through, the Beavers had batted around while knocking out six hits -- one fewer than they managed in 10 innings on Saturday -- ending K-State right-hander Blake McFadden's night almost before it started.

"The top of the first pretty much told the story of the game," K-State coach Brad Hill said. "Back-to-back home runs really got the crowd involved, and you could tell the (Beavers) fed off of that. Our freshman on the mound got shellshocked. We couldn't shut it down, and that was pretty much it."

The Beavers didn't let up on the throttle, scoring a pair of runs in the second and third innings to go on top 9-1. By the second inning, every starter had a hit except No. 9 hitter Max Gordon. When the dust settled three hours later, Smith and Kavin Keyes had four hits apiece, and every starter other than Gordon had two safeties.

For a team that has at times struggled to score runs this season, the 12 runs were a good sign. The 21 hits -- coming off six K-State pitchers -- are one short of the school postseason record set against St. John's in 2005.

"It was nice to get some runs," OSU coach Pat Casey said. "Our guys did a good job of showing up ready to play, and it took off a lot of pressure."

Patience at the plate was the message Casey sent to his players after Saturday's game.

"We talked about how we wanted to approach the hitting part," he said. "We were more patient tonight. We allowed ourselves to get deeper in the count to get better pitches to hit."

The five-run first-inning cushion was a bonus for Oregon State pitcher Andrew Moore, who tied the school single-season record with his 14th victory.

"Having that lead was huge," said the freshman right-hander (14-1), who allowed six hits and three earned runs in eight innings while notching season highs in strikeouts (nine) and pitches (124). "It allowed me to relax and just get that energy going early. I wasn't too jittery. I was just excited to get out there and perform for the crowd."

"Every time I give him the baseball, I know I'll get a competitive effort," Casey said. "I know what I'll get out of Andrew Moore. He will compete every time he takes the mound."

Moore had the Wildcat hitters off-balance most of the way.

"He was really good," said K-State center fielder Jared King, who launched a solo shot off Moore to deep right for his team's first run in the second. "He had command of his fastball on both sides of the plate and was flicking his off-speed pitch in there, first-pitch strike a lot. He has been like that all year, and he went out and did it again tonight."

Moore said he used all five pitches in his repertoire -- fastball, curve, slider, sinker and changeup.

"It's the best all five pitches I've had this season," he said. Pitching coach Nate "Yeskie did a great job of mixing them up, not falling into patterns, making it hard on their guys not knowing what was happened. And the lead helped. It relaxed me a little bit."

Oregon State will start junior left-hander Ben Wetzler (8-1, 1.98 ERA) Monday night. Word late Sunday was the Wildcats will send out junior right-hander Gerardo Esquivel (2-2, 4.39), who hasn't started a game all season. Esquivel came on in relief and threw 4 1/3 innings of one-hit, no-run ball in the Wildcats' 4-3 victory over Arkansas on June 9 to wrap up the Manhattan regional.

"We can't think about Omaha right now," Keyes said. "We need to go out and get that win (Monday) with the same energy we came out with today."

Wetzler hasn't lost since March 30. He's a money pitcher who will be ready to throw as many pitches as necessary for victory.

It's doubtful closer Max Englebrekt, who left Saturday's game with back spasms, will be available. He took an MRI that was negative on Sunday, but the best-case scenario would seem to be that he might be ready should the Beavers advance to Omaha.

The Wildcats spoke bravely after Sunday's loss.

"We are going to flush this one quickly because there is a lot of fight in this team," first baseman Shane Conlon said.

"Our season comes down to one game," King said. "It's win or go home. Both teams are going to come out and give it everything. It's going to be an emotional game. We have been in this situation before and will be ready for it."

Neither team has been in this situation before, certainly not with a CWS berth at stake.

Sunday's outcome was K-State's most one-sided defeat since a 13-2 drubbing by West Virginia on March 15. How will the Wildcats respond Monday night?

"It's been awhile since we've been kicked like that," Hill said, "so we will find out."

The Beavers are quietly confident. If they can muster half the offensive firepower they put together Sunday night, I'm thinking they're moving on to Omaha.

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