March 20, 1999
YAKIMA, Wash. - It was a day where the Washington State baseball team made some untimely errors and found themselves trailing to Oregon State in the late innings, but in the end it was true freshman Evan Hecker and Yakima's own hometown hero Dusty Edler who came up with the clutch game winning hits to defeat Beavers in both ends of a doubleheader played Saturday at Yakima County Baseball Park.
The Cougars scored three runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to beat OSU 10-9 in the morning game and then came from behind to inch out a 6-5 victory in the second game to complete the three-game sweep of the Beavers. With the wins Washington State is now 15-5 and currently in the midst of a six-game winning streak as they begin Pac-10 play next weekend against defending the National Champions USC Trojans. Oregon State's season record fell to 10-16 as they suffered their second consecutive sweep at the hands of a Pac-10 opponent.
The Cougars jumped out to an early 1-0 lead after scoring a single tally in the first when Zach Bode (Issaquah, Wash.) scored Hecker (Seattle, Wash.) on a fielder's choice. OSU battled back in the fourth and fifth innings to take a 3-1 lead off the heels of two crucial WSU errors. WSU starter Todd Meldahl pitched well in his outing despite picking up the no-decision. The junior lefty from Butte, Mont., gave up three earned runs off seven hits in seven innings on the mound.
The see-saw battle continued when the Cougars jumped back into the lead scoring four runs in the sixth. Ray Hattenburg (Spokane, Wash.) accounted for two of the runs with a Texas-league single to center field and Shawn Stevenson (Everett, Wash.) tabbed a run-scoring single to push WSU into a 5-3 lead.
Oregon State threw WSU a back-breaker in the eighth frame scoring six runs to forge into a 9-7 lead. OSU's Rob Colley had the big hit with a two-run double down the left field line. Colley finished the game 3-for-4 with two runs scored.
The Cougs went down silently in the eighth, setting the table for a dramatic ninth inning. With Oregon State ace Mark Newell (8.0 IP, 8 R, 15 H) departed from the game the Cougs got back on the comeback trail one more time.
Steve Curran (Belleveue, Wash.) completed a 3-for-5 day with a sharp single to left field and hot-hitting Boyd Robertson (Richland, Wash.) recorded his third hit of the morning game to start the inning off reliever Hal Ranstad.
After a sacrifice bunt by Steve Gleason (Spokane, Wash.), Stevenson hit a two-run triple off the right field fence to tie the game. Hecker then stepped to the plate with the infield drawn in and slapped the first offering from Ranstad (0-1) into right field to clinch the 10-9 come-from-behind victory.
Matt O'Brien (Seattle, Wash.) pitched one and two-thirds innings of perfect ball to record his fourth victory of the year out of the bullpen. Sean Donlin (Woodinville, Wash.) and Justin Nakaishi (Syracuse, Utah) also saw relief duty.
In the afternoon game WSU fell behind quickly with the Beavers scoring four quick runs off Lanakila Niles (Pearl City, Hawai'i). Jamaal Gaines (Antioch, Calif.) entered the game out of the bullpen in the third and dominated the Beaver lineup. Over the course of his six inning outing Gaines gave up only two hits and one run as he evened his season record at 2-2.
"This is a big game for me because I had struggled earlier in the season," said Gaines who at one point retired 16-of-17 batters in a row. "Even more important though is that this win gives us a lot of confidence going into Pac-10 play."
Oregon State starter Craig Hays (Kennewick, Wash.) gave a valiant effort in his fourth start of the year giving up five hits in four innings. Reliever Don Stykel picked up the loss while giving up the game-winning run
With the Cougs down 4-0 in the fourth inning, WSU once again jumped back on the comeback trail tying the game with three runs in the fourth. After a Troy Schader home run once again giving Oregon State a one-run advantage, WSU knotted the game at five when Stevenson scored Bode on a double.
In the seventh with the Cougars second series sweep of the season on the line, it was only fitting that Yakima native Dusty Edler put the game out of reach with the game winning hit. Edler capped off a 2-for-3 day when he connected on a line-drive double to the left-center field gap scoring Bookie Gates (Seattle, Wash.)
"This was awesome to come back to my hometown and come up with the game winning hit," a grinning Edler said after the game. "It is almost like a storybook ending. It just doesn't get any better than this."
On the afternoon several Cougs swung a hot bat with Hattenburg's 5-for-9 day and Robertson's 4-for-7 with three doubles leading the way. Bode extended his hitting streak to eight games and Stevenson raised his season average to .275 with a 3-for-9 performance at the plate.
"These were some huge wins for us and sweeping a high-caliber team like Oregon State is not easy," said WSU Head Coach Steve Farrington.
WSU will next play regional rivals Gonzaga and Lewis-Clark State Tuesday and Wednesday on the road before hosting USC next Friday, Saturday, and Sunday at Bailey Field in Pullman.