CORVALLIS, Ore. — The celebration and the trip to Omaha is going to have to wait just a little while longer for Kansas State.
The Wildcats were looking to win Game 2 of the Corvallis Super Regional and advance to the College World Series for the first time in school history, but Oregon State didn’t quite read that script with a 12-4 win over the Big 12 champs.
Both teams will play tonight with a trip to Omaha on the line beginning at 9 p.m. on ESPN2.
All-American Michael Conforto belted his second homer of the series, which sparked a five-run top of the first that virtually spelled doom for K-State.
Two innings later, it was 7-1, and while no one would admit it, both teams were looking forward to Monday night and Game 3.
“I think obviously the top of the first told the story of the game,” Kansas State coach Brad Hill said. “Back-to-back home runs (from Conforto and Dylan Smith) really got the crowd involved, and you could tell the team just really fed off of that. Our freshman on the mound just got a little shell-shocked, and we couldn’t shut it down so that was pretty much it.”
That freshman on the mound was Blake McFadden, who had definitely seen better days. He lasted just two-thirds of an inning, giving up four runs on four hits.
Once Conforto and Smith blasted back-to-back homers to the same place just to the right of dead-center, the wheels came completely off. Danny Hayes laced a double down the right field line and he scored on Ryan Barnes’ single to center to make it 3-0.
Hill had seen enough and brought in Levi MaVorhis, but that didn’t stop the Beavers from bashing the ball.
With runners on second and third, Jake Rodriguez singled to left, bringing in two more runs and a 5-0 advantage.
With a huge lead, Oregon State trotted out Andrew Moore, who entered Sunday’s game at 13-1 with a 1.22 ERA. It wasn’t exactly the guy the Wildcats wanted to face down 5-0 after one and 7-0 after two.
Moore was able to relax and be aggressive in the strike zone with such a comfortable lead, and those circumstances led to him going eight innings, four runs, three earned, six hits and a career-high nine strikeouts.
“He was really good,” said Jared King, who hit a home run off of Moore. “He had command of his fastball on both sides of the plate and was flicking his off speed in there, first pitch, first strike a lot. You have to tip your cap to him because he has been it all year and he went out there and did it again tonight.”
Kansas State did have one chance to get back in the ball game down 9-1, believe it or not.
In the fourth, the Wildcats loaded the bases with no outs. Tanner Witt started the rally with a single and Shane Conlon followed up with another single. A wild pitch and a walk to King loaded the bases.
But this was where Moore was at his best.
The native Oregonian was able to do some major damage control by coaxing Austin Fisher and Jon Davis into a pair of sacrifice flies. He proceeded to strike out Mitch Meyer looking to end the frame and escape with just a pair of runs scored.
“Every time Andrew Moore goes out on the mound, I know he’s going to compete,” Beaver coach Pat Casey said. “Someone might hit one 400 miles, but that’s OK. Andrew is a competitor and that’s all you can ask for.”
With Game 3 just around the corner, it’s the Beavers who are feeling good about themselves, but according to Hill, who didn’t name a starter for Monday’s finale, his team will bounce back and be ready to go for biggest game in school history.
“Like I said, it will be interesting. Obviously, they’ve got a great team over there, too,” Hill said. “They are playing at home and have been in this situation three or four times now and have come back and won their two games. So I know they’re feeling real confident that they can do it tomorrow, too.”
Conlon might have put it best where Game 3 is concerned.
“It is always tough coming back after a loss. Our season is on the line tomorrow and both teams are trying to go to Omaha,” he said. “I am sure both teams are going to leave it all out on the line. You win or go home and that is simply said.”