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CORVALLIS — For a weekend, at least, Dane Lund was Cinderfella in baseball cleats.


The redshirt senior catcher from Astoria was a driving force as Oregon State took the final two games to win its Pac-12 series with 10th-ranked Southern Cal at Goss Stadium.

In Sunday's 9-6 victory, the 5-7, 180-pound fireplug went 1 for 2 with a pair of sacrifice bunts, a walk, two RBIs and a blast to deep left-field that would have gone for extra bases without a circus catch by SC's Garrett Stubbs. Lund also gunned down the only runner who attempted a steal for the run-happy Trojans (30-12 overall, 11-7 in Pac-12 action), who lead the conference by a wide margin with 68 stolen bases.LUND

In Saturday's 3-2 win, Lund went 3 for 3 and scored the winning run in the ninth inning while again keeping SC runners from stealing a base.

"Dane had a great weekend," OSU coach Pat Casey said. "He helped us as much as anybody. We don't win without him (on Saturday), that's for sure."

Lund, finally healthy after dealing with back issues much of the season, got his opportunity in part because regular catcher Logan Ice is hitting only .238.

"Logie has caught a lot of games, so we decide to start Dane against a left-hander (Kyle Twomey) Saturday night," Casey said. After Lund's performance in that game, "he deserved to get back in there today."

Lund is in his first and only season with the Beavers (27-13, 10-8) after a baseball odyssey that began at Astoria, where he was a star catcher and running back/linebacker, a year in school behind former OSU All-America safety Jordan Poyer. The Fishermen won Class 4A championships in football and baseball during Lund's junior year.

He played two years at Mount Hood Community College before transferring to San Jose State, where he hit .241 as a part-time starter for the Spartans in 2013. Lund was also playing summer ball for the Corvallis Knights of the West Coast League, and OSU assistant Andy Jenkins was on the coaching staff.

"I had a relationship with the coaches and have always wanted to play here," Lund said.

So he transferred to OSU and joined the team as a walk-on. But his appeal to the NCAA for instant eligibility was denied, so he redshirted last season in Corvallis. He was allowed to practice with the Beavers until their first game, then sat and watched the entire season.

"One of the hardest things I've ever done," Lund said. "Going a whole year without playing? Man, that was tough."

"It was frustrating for Dane," Casey said, "but I told him, 'This is the best thing for you, to sit for a year, see what this program is about, get stronger, get your academics together and come back next year.' "

Lund has had 11 starts this season, working Drew Rasmussen's perfect game against Washington State on March 21. But his first back-to-back starts of the season came against the mighty Trojans, and Lund -- now hitting a team-high .371 in 35 at-bats -- made the most of them.

"We were looking for a spark," Casey said, "and the guy sure brought energy to us this weekend."

How does it feel?

"I don't have any words for it," said Lund, who turns 24 in September. "It's a blast. This is the chance I've been waiting for a long time. I'm the oldest guy on the team, a fifth-year senior. It's nice to get hot at a good time."

Casey said San Jose State coaches told him, "If Dane Lund can play for you, you don't have very good catching.' I thought, that's exactly what somebody told me about Billy Rowe."

Rowe was an Ashland native who transferred to Oregon State after three seasons at Cal-Santa Barbara in 2006. He wound up as OSU's starting first baseman, hitting .419 in the postseason and helping the Beavers to the first of two consecutive College World Series titles.

Cal-Santa Barbara coaches told Casey, "If Billy Rowe's your first baseman, you're going to have a long season," the OSU coach said. "And we did -- all the way to June 26."

"I like those stories," Casey said. "It's an inspiration to me that Dane was overlooked at San Jose State. Sometimes kids like that who are battlers are better off close to home.

"I love his makeup. I love what he brings to a team. The guy is going to be a baseball coach somewhere some day. He's one of those tough kids from a small town who epitomizes what college baseball should be."

On Sunday, the Beavers wore the look of great Oregon State teams of the past, ripping SC pitchers for 11 hits while working them for nine walks and two hit-by-pitch.

"The key was we managed the strike zone a lot better today," Casey said.

And won the biggest series of the season so far.

"USC is the best team we've played all year," Casey said. "We beat a good damn good club in a tough series."

After SC's 11-3 romp over OSU on Friday night, the Trojans were ranked No. 8 on the Boyd's World pseudo-RPI list, the Beavers 48th. Those rankings should be adjusted considerably after the Beavers took only their sixth series in the last 17 three-game sets with the Trojans.

"I believe we're one of the top 25 teams in the country right now," Casey said. "There's no doubt about it."

Oregon State was in great position to win Pac-12 series at Arizona State, UCLA and Oregon but lost two of three games in all of them.

"Have we lost some games we should have won? Absolutely," Casey said. "We're not a team that can make mistakes and win."

The Beavers did Sunday, though, overcoming three errors and two early base-running gaffes to claim the series. Now they're in fifth place in the Pac-12, a game behind SC and a game and a half back of third-place California (13-8), with series against the teams at the bottom of the standings -- Washington, Utah and Stanford -- and Cal yet to play.

Casey has a dozen freshmen on this year's team, and most of them are playing key roles.

"We're young," he said. "It's (the coaches') job to get them ready. They've been here six months now. They should be ready to play. It's nice to see them do well in big games.

"I just hope our club builds some confidence. Sometimes when you're young, every little thing becomes a big thing."

A little guy -- Lund -- was a big thing in the Beavers' lineup against the Trojans. The slipper fit perfectly.

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