Home field advantage is a real thing in college baseball. Just ask Arizona’s opponents after they’ve had to spend a weekend defending that massive outfield at Hi Corbett Field.
For Oregon State, the edge comes in knowing how its turf infield plays, particularly with the short game, which it used to spark a pair of big innings in a 10-4 win over the Wildcats on Saturday afternoon in Corvallis.
The Beavers (29-13, 13-10 Pac-12) had 13 hits but three never left the infield. They also had two sacrifice bunts, one of which brought in a run, and another run came in on a bunt single. A pair of 2-run singles that made it to the outfield were the big blows in OSU scoring a combined eight runs in the third and fourth innings.
The Wildcats (23-17, 9-14) had nine hits, triple their tally from Friday night, but were 1 of 11 with runners in scoring position and 1 for 6 with the bases loaded. Arizona batters struck out 11 times, tied for most in a Pac-12 game this season.
Arizona took a 1-0 lead in the third on a bases-loaded single by Kiko Romero, who was 3 for 4 with two RBI to up his conference-leading tally to 58. It marked the 21st time in 23 Pac-12 games the Wildcats have had a lead, including all 11 road contests.
But the UA only managed one run that frame, another squandered opportunity similar to Friday when it twice had bases loaded and one out and didn’t score in the 2-1 walkoff loss.
Oregon State took the lead for good in the bottom of the third with three runs, then added five more in the fourth and chased UA starter Bradon Zastrow along the way. Zastrow (4-3) allowed eight runs, six earned, in 3.1 innings after going six scoreless last week in a win over Utah.
Anthony ‘Tonko’ Susac went the remaining 4.2 innings, his only blemish a 2-run homer with two out in the eighth. It was Susac’s longest outing since going seven as the starter against Fresno State in the second game of the season.
Down 8-1, Arizona scored single runs in the fifth, eighth and ninth but couldn’t string a few hits together. The Wildcats had the first four batters reach in the ninth, with Romero driving in a run with a bases-loaded walk, but the next three batters were retired after OSU brought in closer Ryan Brown, including two on strikeouts.
Freshman Mason White extended his hit streak to 16 with an infield single in the eighth, but Chase Davis’ 15-game streak ended despite him reaching base four times (three hit by pitches, one walk) in five plate appearances.
Arizona will try to avoid being swept for the third time in four Pac-12 road series when it faces OSU in the finale Sunday at 1 p.m. PT with right-hander Aiden May on the mound. After scoring 87 runs during a 6-game win streak, the Wildcats’ five in the past two games are their fewest since the first two games of the season when they followed a 3-1 win over Tennessee with a 5-0 loss to Fresno State.