CORVALLIS, Ore. – Second-ranked Oregon State broke a 2-2 tie with two bases-loaded walks in the eighth inning and held on to edge UCLA 4-2 at Goss Stadium on Friday night to capture the opener of their Pacific-12 Conference series.
Senior lefty Ben Wetzler earned his school-record 33rd career win with eight solid innings. He allowed eight hits, two runs, struck out eight and did not issue a walk. He retired the final eight Bruins he faced in order to improve his career home record to 17-2. He is 6-0 with an 0.75 ERA and has averaged eight innings in six home starts this season.
Senior closer Scott Schultz fanned two of the three Bruins he faced in a perfect ninth for his fifth save. Schultz already has a win and a save this week; he pitched 4 1/3 scoreless innings and got the decision in Tuesday’s 4-3, 12-inning nonconference triumph at Oregon.
It was the ninth consecutive win overall and the ninth straight Pacific-12 Conference victory for the Beavers (36-8, 18-4), who extended their lead over second-place Washington to .026 percentage points in their bid to repeat as Pac-12 champions. They are 11-1 in their last 12 and 16-2 in their last 18.
All four runs came with two outs as the Beavers erased a 2-0 lead to defeat the defending NCAA champions for the third time in row over the past two seasons. UCLA (23-23-1, 10-12) lost its fourth game in a row.
The bases were empty with two outs in the home eighth when five straight Beavers reached safely to break open a tense 2-2 game. Dylan Davis and Michael Howard singled to put runners at the corners; Gabe Clark walked to load the bases and UCLA starter James Kaprielian then walked Logan Ice on five pitches to force in the go-ahead run.
Jake Ehret relieved Kaprielian and walked Caleb Hamilton on four straight pitches to force in a second run, doubling OSU’s advantage to 4-2.
UCLA took a 2-0 lead in the third inning on two singles and a two-out, two-run, opposite-field double by Brett Stephens. It was only the second time in 10 starts that Wetzler had allowed more than one run.
The Beavers cut that in half in the fifth on a walk to Clark and Trever Morrison’s two-out RBI triple to the base of the fence in right-center field. They pulled even in the sixth on a leadoff walk to Michael Conforto and Clark’s two-out RBI double; it stayed deadlocked until OSU’s decisive eighth-inning rally.
Davis was 2-for-4 and was the only Beaver with more than one hit. Andy Peterson went 0-for-4 to snap his 10-game hitting streak, but he saved a run by in the fourth inning by throwing out Aaron Weimer at first base after a diving stop of a grounder destined for right field with a runner on second base and two outs.
The crowd of 2,813 raised the season total to 48,888 in 18 openings, an average of 2,716 per date. The Beavers have drawn 2,032 or more fans to every game.
The series resumes at 7:05 p.m. Saturday. The scheduled starters are lefty Grant Watson (4-7, 3.81) for the Bruins and righty Andrew Moore (4-3, 2.81) for the Beavers. The series concludes at 3:05 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 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.