Extra special: Nevada sweeps national champ Oregon State
Keaton Smith’s walk-off homer in the 10th inning pushed Nevada past the the defending College World Series champion No. 2 Oregon State Beavers 7-6 on Tuesday.
The Wolf Pack swept the two-game series after an 8-7 victory in the 12th inning on Monday night. Dating back to 2012, Nevada’s last five games against OSU have gone to extra innings.
Smith had the scouting report from his teammates. He jumped on a first-pitch fastball, launching it into the parking lot beyond left field. He was cooled down on a 74-degree day with an ice bath crossing home plate.
“I had a lot of good input from my teammates telling me what to look at,” Smith said. “I was just ready to go and got a good pitch. It was a rush of emotions.”
Nevada is 23-18 and 10-11 in the Mountain West Conference.
The Beavers (28-10-1) from the Pac-12 Conference took a 6-4 lead heading into the ninth inning off a two-run blast from Joe Casey. Nevada knotted the contest with a two-run, three-hit inning before walking it off in the 10th.
“I credit the resilience of our team,” head coach T.J. Bruce said. “We just kept chipping away and had the resilience to be tied after the ninth. That could have really crumbled for us.”
Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman made his Reno debut, finishing 5-for-11 with a double and two RBIs in the series.
Rutschman is ranked as MLB Pipeline’s No. 1 prospect in the upcoming 2019 MLB Draft. The switch-hitting backstop is a threat at and behind the plate. He generates power from either side and comes equipped with a of an cannon arm.
The junior catcher showed the ability to hit the ball to all sides of the field. He legged out a double off a one-hopper to left in the third inning. He laced a pair singles to right field from the left side in his two next at-bats.
“He was impressive,” Bruce said. “I thought he did a good job of getting on base consistently to keep the pressure on us.”
Nevada recorded 11 hits. Daniel Perry went 2-for-4 with a homer. Weston Hatten and Connor Allard each had two RBIs.
Southpaw Dalton Gomez got the start for the Pack, pitching 4.1 innings with four earned runs and four strikeouts. Grant Ford picked up his second-straight win of the season.
“Our bullpen really has stepped up this series,” Bruce said. “Grant Ford pitched tremendously in that (10th) inning and everyone had each other’s backs on the mound.”
Oregon State jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first. Jake Harvey’s solo shot to left field put the Beavers up 3-0 in the second. Nevada stranded runners on second and third in the bottom of the third inning.
Ryan Ober’s RBI single pushed the Beavers’ lead to 4-0 in the fifth. The Wolf Pack knotted the game 4-4 with a four-run, four-hit fifth inning highlighted by Keaton Smith’s solo shot to left field.
Both teams were scoreless for the next three frames before chaos ensued in the ninth inning. Joe Casey’s two-run blast over the scoreboard in right field put the Beavers up 6-4. Nevada tied it in the bottom of the frame and RBI single from Allard. Tyler Bosetti tied with with a sacrifice fly.
Smith’s homer in the 10th sent the season-high 1,120 fans in attendance home happy.
Nevada hits the road to Colorado Springs, Colorado, to face the Air Force Falcons on Friday, April 26.
— Isaiah Burrows
ABOUT Isaiah Burrows
Tahoe Onstage sportswriter Isaiah Burrows also is a general assignment reporter for CarsonNow.org, an online news source in Carson City. He is a journalism major at the University of Nevada, Reno, where is the sports editor of the Sagebrush student newspaper. He is the Reno Aces beat writer for Tahoe Onstage.