OSU’s Peavey Wins Duel With UCLA’s Cole
Collegebaseball360.com’s West Coast correspondent, Chase Titleman from Road2rosenblatt.com, was at Friday’s Oregon State-UCLA game and shares his thoughts.
Corvallis, OR–Coming into Friday’s PAC-10 Conference clash between # 3 UCLA and #12 Oregon State, if you had the ability to look into a magical crystal ball which would foretell a 2-hit complete game victory by a starting pitcher, you would automatically assume a victory by Bruins over the Beavers since UCLA arguably has the best pitching staff in the country.
Especially considering the Bruins entered the game with a team batting average of .347 with four starters hitting over or near the vaunted .400 benchmark level, and a pitching staff with an overall team ERA of 2.43, nearly five points ahead of its opponents average (7.13 ERA).
Opponents in 2010, after all, have a cumulative .192 average versus UCLA’s entire arsenal of power arms.
Many of the baseball experts around the country have voiced their opinion that the Beavers, with a struggling hitting line-up and a pitching staff frantically trying to stay healthy, would stand very little chance against the hot-hitting bats and powerful arms of the Bruins.
Think again folks, the experts were wrong.
RHP Greg Peavey pitched a complete game 2 hitter, with 7 strike-outs as Oregon State once again used its uncanny formula of outstanding pitching, phenomenal defense and timely hitting to shock the Bruins, 4-1 in the first game of a key PAC-10 series that could have regional and super-regional implications on the road to Omaha.
UCLA’s counter-part, RHP Gerrit Cole (2.49 ERA, 6-0) added to his league leading 61 strike-outs, garnering 9 more on the night, but after a 30 pitch first inning by Cole energized the Beaver dugout and the 2,500 rabid fans in attendance, the first inning momentum swing was an ominous sign of more misfortune to come for UCLA.
Cole started the game strong by striking out Oregon State lead off hitter Adalberto Santos on five pitches, but then proceeded to throw 9 straight balls out of the strike zone, culminating in three walks, sandwiched around a hit batter, and Gerrit forced in the first run of the game without a ball touching a Beaver bat.
Although Cole struggled in doing so, he proceeded to strike out the next two batters to end the threat, but he never really got control of his secondary pitches on the night, the slider in particular.
UCLA, the hot-hitting offensive team of the two entering the game, never had a chance to get started as Adalberto Santos ran down two deep fly balls hit by (SS) Niko Gallego and (3B) Cody Regis that were caught as he banged into the outfield wall in right-center field.
Santos, together with middle infielders Carter Bell (SS) and Keith Jennette (2B) were busy on the night recording 12 of Peavey’s 27 outs. Overall, including the 7 strikeouts, only 6 balls left the infield all night, a rather uncharacteristic effort by what has been a fantastic Bruin offense this season.
While Cole continued to struggle with his pitch count most of the evening (he threw 120 pitches in 6 complete innings) the Bruins ran themselves out of a potential game changing big-inning in the 4th as (2B) Tyler Rahmatulla walked after (CF) Beau Amaral lined out sharply to left to lead off the inning.
Left-handed hitting (1B) Justin Uribe hit a perfectly executed opposite field hit and run through the six hole as Oregon State (SS) Carter Bell was covering the bag, and with one out in the inning, the Bruins were in business.
Peavey dug himself a bigger hole when he walked the next batter, (LF) Cody Keefer to load the bases.
Then, disaster struck for UCLA, further cementing an ominous tone for the Bruins in the first game of the series.
(3B) Cody Regis hit a fairly deep fly-ball to left-center, which scored Rahmatulla from third base on the sacrifice fly, but for whatever reason, Justin Uribe failed to advance all the way to third base after initially starting out for the bag, and Keefer kept running with his head down from first, assuming Uribe was headed to third.
By the time the two realized they both occupied second base, the ball was already in the infield and Uribe was tagged out by OSU (3B) Stefen Romero.
Inning over and the wave of momentum the Beavers were steadily building through the middle part of the game would soon crest over.
From here on out, the wind went out of the Bruin’s sail as they had just one other runner on the base paths the rest of the evening as Peavey retired 15 of the next sixteen UCLA hitters, getting six of his 7 strike-outs during the span of five scoreless innings through the middle portion of the game.
Although the hard-throwing right-hander from Vancouver (WA) struggled with a 24-pitch first inning and a 20-pitch fourth inning, he never threw more than 11 pitches in innings number 2, 3, 5, 6, 7 and 8.
This in itself was the story line of the game.
In talking with OSU Associate Head Coach Marty Lees before the game, he mentioned that UCLA’s strength this year was their ability to run the count deep and work a walk, where in years past they were largely an overly aggressive first ball hitting team that could be fished in to hitting pitchers pitches.
The ability to run the count deep has improved the team batting average and on-base percentage as it has forced Bruin opponents into using their bullpen sooner than anticipated, which has helped the Bruin batting averages in the process as they force the starters off the bump and get deep into the pen.
But on this night, the tables were turned.
Oddly enough, the statement by Lee’s proved prophetical, as the Bruins let Peavey off the hook in the middle innings by reverting back to old form, swinging at the first pitch and hitting a rather large number of balls into the “Field Turf,” which plays into Oregon State’s strength.
The Beavers stole the momentum and the game in the process.
The big blow for the Beavers occurred in the seventh as light hitting (RF) Michael Miller, who was hitting a meager .193 entering the game, hit a line drive opposite field double down the right-field line and OSU had a man in scoring position to lead off the inning.
On a 1-2 pitch, (3B) Stefen Romero (.326) was plunked by LHH relief pitcher Mitchell Beacom (3.75, 1-0) on an inside fastball, which prompted Oregon State head coach Pat Casey to pinch-hit bunt specialist Andy Quiring for Danny Hayes, an odd move since Hayes was hitting .353 entering the game, but Casey obviously felt the lefty-lefty match-up with the bunt in order was not in OSU’s best interest.
However, on the first pitch to Quiring, the Beavers caught another break as Beacom drilled the second batter of the inning, this time an inside breaking ball, to load the bases.
This prompted UCLA head coach John Savage to pull Beacom after just 12 pitches, bringing in RHP Eric Goedell (3.15, 2-0)
The Beavers had the right man in the right spot as the rally train sounded its horn coming through the campus area next to the ballpark in Corvallis, and (C) Parker Berberet launched a 2-1 fastball into left center for a double, driving in all three base runners on base.
This had been a tradition at Oregon State for years and it is uncanny how many times the Beavers start a game changing rally after the rally train rolls through town, tooting its horn.
The horn was right on cue for the Beavers tonight and with a win in game two tomorrow, the Beavers can begin to toot their horn around the country in their drive to get back to the Dog pile in Omaha.