It would be like the Oregon State Beavers baseball squad to not settle for 'just' a 22nd straight win. Of course, they had to add a dramatic flare to spice up their extension of their program-record win streak. And their win on Saturday did just that. For the second straight day, the top-ranked team in the country defeated the Utah Utes in walk-off fashion, using a two-run rally in the bottom of the sixteenth to walk off winners, 5-4.
The win pushed the Beavers to 11-0 in Pac-12 play, as they eye a fourth consecutive sweep to open up their conference schedule. Overall, the Beavers improved to a stunning 27-1 record with their 22nd straight victory. The only blemish on their record is a February 24th loss to Ohio State. Jake Mulholland got the win for the Beavers on Saturday, tossing 6 1/3 innings of relief, allowing just two hits and one run.
He was the third Beaver hurler of the day, following up starter Bryce Fehmel (6.1 IP) and first reliever Brandon Eisert (3.0 IP). For Utah, it was Chase Bauerle saddled with the loss after 4 2/3 innings of relief work. He followed up seven innings of work from starter Riley Ottesen and four from Tanner Thomas.
Offensively, the Beavers got two hits apiece from Nick Madrigal and Christian Donahue, the top two men in the order. Dallas Carroll led the Utes with three hits and 2 RBI, while DaShawn Keirsey Jr. and Josh Rose chipped in with a pair of hits each.
Utah strikes first, Oregon State battles back
The Utes, fresh off a painful 5-4 walk-off loss to the Beavers the night before, jumped on uncharacteristic wildness from Fehmel to start the game. Fehmel walked three of the first four batters to set up a RBI ground out from Wade Gulden. However, Fehmel settled down to avoid further damage, enabling Oregon State to rebound in the bottom half of the frame.
Madrigal slapped a triple down the third base line to start the game, and he scored on Donahue's subsequent double to tie the score at one run apiece. Both pitchers settled down after that. Neither hurler evaded a lot of bats, with Fehmel whiffing four men, and Ottesen just two. However, both induced weak contact to avoid any serious threats, keeping the game 1-1 through four innings.
Carroll picked up his first of three RBI in the fifth inning for Utah, giving the Utes a lead with a RBI ground out.
Donahue played a central role in the Beavers' next rally, coming in the sixth inning. He led off the inning with a double into the gap, coming home when KJ Harrison rapped out a seeing-eye single through the hole. The Beavers kept the momentum rolling into the seventh to take the lead.
The surge was sparked by Ottesen making one of the biggest mistakes a pitcher can make - walking the #9 hitter with two outs. However, Ottesen did just that, and Madrigal made him pay, drilling a double down the right field line to score Adley Rutschman, who beat the throw home with a headfirst slide.
Utah's 9th-inning tally forces extra innings
A pair of singles from the Utes put Eisert, attempting to close out the game for the Beavers, in a tight spot. He almost wiggled out of the jam, inducing a one-out pop out with runners on the corners. However, Eisert shot himself in the foot by uncorking a wild pitch that scored the tying run, saddling him with a blown save. Oregon State failed to rally in the ninth, and the game went to extra innings.
Both teams had chances to score but ultimately stranded many potential game-winning runs on the base paths. The Utes stranded 15 runners, while the Beavers left 11 runners on the bases.
Utah finally broke through in the 16th frame, and it looked like they might end Oregon State's lengthy winning streak. Carroll did the honors for the Utes, blasting a solo shot to put the Utes into the lead, 4-3. However, it was not enough to dethrone the magical Beavers, as they came up with another rally to win yet again.
Two bunts opened the rally, one for a hit, the other for a sacrifice, opened the frame. Pinch hitter Jack Anderson entered the game and promptly knotted the score once more, roping a full-count offering from Bauerle deep into right field for the game-tying triple. After a pair of intentional walks to set up a potential double play, Rutschman drilled a deep line drive to center field for the walk-off sacrifice fly.
The Beavers and Utes play again at 4 pm eastern time, on Sunday, as the Beavers look to match the Pac-12 record of 23 consecutive wins.