CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State senior left-hander Ben Wetzler set the school record for career wins on Friday night as the Beavers edged Oregon 3-1 at Goss Stadium in the opener of their Pac-12 Conference Civil War series.
Wetzler (7-1) allowed one run and five hits over 8 1/3 innings to record his 31st career victory; he had shared the record with Ken Noble, who won 30 games between 1975 and 1978. Wetzler struck out seven and walked one to improve to 16-2 all-time at Goss Stadium.
OSU (29-8 overall, 12-4 Pac-12) scored single runs in the first, fifth and sixth innings and reliever Scott Schultz stymied an Oregon (31-11, 10-6) comeback in the ninth in OSU’s third straight conference win. Schultz came on with one out and the bases loaded in the ninth and got the final two outs to preserve Wetzler’s milestone win with his third save of the season.
The Beavers assumed first place in the Pac-12 title race by .014 percentage points over Washington (14-5 Pac-12), which fell 6-4 to Washington State in Seattle. OSU’s winning percentage is .750; Washington’s dropped to .736. OSU also won its seventh consecutive home conference game against the Ducks.
Center fielder Jeff Hendrix singled three times and scored twice, left fielder Michael Conforto doubled twice and drove in a run and third baseman Caleb Hamilton slammed his first career homer to spark OSU’s offense. Conforto raised his average to a team-best .420; Hendrix bumped his 26 points to .389.
Wetzler scattered three hits over the first eight innings and pitched out of several jams. He stranded Ducks at second and third in the second inning; in the fifth he stranded a runner at third base by fanning leadoff hitter Aaron Payne and retiring A.J. Balata on a fly ball to center.
Wetzler breezed through the eighth inning but Oregon did not go quietly in the ninth as a single by Kyle Garlick and a double by Nick Catalano put runners at second and third with no outs. Wetzler fanned Shawn Chase for the first out, but was replaced by Zack Reser after throwing a ball to Austin Grebeck.
Reser completed the walk to Grebeck to load the bases, and was replaced by Schultz. One run scored on pinch-hitter J.B. Bryant’s soft ground out to second and Schultz then retired Payne on a fly ball to left to end the game.
The Beavers jumped ahead 1-0 in the first on a bases-loaded sacrifice fly by Dylan Davis, his team-leading 45th RBI. Conforto doubled in Hendrix to make it 2-0 in the fifth and Hamilton made it 3-0 with a long homer over the left-field fence in the sixth.
The season-high crowd of 3,121raised the season total to 39,646in 15 openings, an average of 2,643per date. The Beavers have drawn 2,032 or more fans to every game.
The series resumes at 7:35 p.m. Saturday. The projected starters are right-handers Jeff Gold (9-0, 2.54) for Oregon and Andrew Moore (3-3, 2.96) for the Beavers; the series concludes at 1:03 p.m. Sunday.
Tickets can be purchased via BeaverTickets.com, by calling 1-800-GOBEAVS or visiting the ticket office at Goss Stadium, which opens at 5:35 p.m. on Saturday.
For more information on the Oregon State baseball team, follow the club’s official Twitter account at Twitter.com/Beaver_Baseball or by Facebook at Facebook.com/OregonStateBaseball.