The chants that rang out through Oregon State’s Goss Stadium on Monday night told Kansas State everything it needed to know about the end of the greatest baseball season in school history.
O-ma-ha, the 3,500-plus Oregon State fans chanted.
Oregon State defeated Kansas State 4-3 to advance to the College World Series for the first time since 2007, ending the Wildcats’ bid to make it to the CWS for the first time in school history. It was K-State’s first time playing in a super regional.
“Oregon State’s starting pitching really held us down,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “We fought back, we did what we did all year long. We didn’t quit.”
Trailing 4-1 in the eighth inning, K-State catcher Blair DeBord connected for a two-RBI double that scored Jared King and Austin Fisher to make the score 4-3. DeBord was thrown out at home by Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto, the Pac-12 player of the year, for the third out of the inning trying to score on a single by R.J. Santigate.
Hill said he almost put in a pinch runner for DeBord, one of the Wildcats’ slowest players.
"We send Blair 10 times out of 10 there .... I did think about (pinch running) for Blair, but it's hard to take him out in that situation," Hill said. "That's on me. Blair is kind of the heart and soul of our team, I just couldn't pull him out. That’s my decision.”
The Wildcats put two runners on base in the first inning, but stranded them both when Shane Conlon was thrown out at third by Oregon State catcher Jake Rodriguez trying to advance on a passed ball.
Oregon State took a 2-0 lead in the second as the Beavers got their first runs on a home run for the third straight game — this time as Danny Hayes took a Jake Matthys pitch over the 2007 national championship sign in center field, scoring Dylan Davis.
“I got lucky with two strikes that he threw one right down the middle with a fastball,” Hayes said. “Great pitch to hit and I hit it.”
Matthys, the Big 12 freshman of the year and an All-Big 12 relief pitcher, was making his first start of the season. He was the winning pitcher in Saturday’s game one win for K-State, coming on to pitch the ninth and 10th innings.
“We had to think about who is going to handle a big-game situation right there,” Hill said. “Other than a couple of mistakes, I thought he did really well.”
Matthys bounced back in the third inning Monday, striking out the side for Oregon State, including Pac-12 player of the year Michael Conforto for the third out, but the Beavers plated another run in the fourth inning when designated hitter Ryan Barnes scored on a double by Kevin Keyes. Barnes reached base on an error by K-State third baseman RJ Santigate which was Santigate’s team-leading 15th error of the season.
Matthys was pulled for Gerardo Esquivel in the fifth inning after hitting the leadoff batter, Jake Rodriguez. Esquivel then gave up a single to Andy Peterson that scored Rodriguez and pushed Oregon State’s lead to 4-0. Esquivel struck out Conforto to end the the fifth and struck out Keyes to end the sixth.
The Wildcats finally got a run across in the sixth on an RBI single from King that scored Ross Kivett that made the score 4-1, but the Wildcats weren’t happy with what appeared to be a missed call that may have cost them a run.
After Kivett led off the inning with a single, Tanner Witt followed with another single off of Oregon State starter Ben Wetzler. The next K-State batter, Shane Conlon, hit a grounder to Oregon State second baseman Andy Peterson, who appeared to miss Witt on the tag but got Conlon out on the throw to first. The second-base umpire, Scott Erby, called Witt out, triggering the double play.
King delivered his single in the next at-bat.
“I didn’t see a missed call,” Hill said. “I don’t know anything about that.”
There were more missed opportunities for the Wildcats in the seventh inning after DeBord and Santigate led off with singles, but K-State couldn’t muster any runs as Lance Miles, Kivett and Witt grounded out in order.
K-State had the tying run on base in the ninth inning when Kivett legged out an infield single with one out, but Witt flew out to right field and Conlon popped out in foul territory to end the game. Wetzler got the win for Oregon State, going 7.2 innings, giving up nine hits, three earned runs and striking out five. Game one starter Matt Boyd picked up the save.
“Wetzler was good at the beginning, he shut us down,” King said. “He left a couple of pitches up late and we were able to start a little bit of a rally, but they brought (Boyd) in and finished us off.”
The Wildcats came from behind to beat the Beavers on Saturday night, 6-2 in the series opener, but were blown out 12-4 on Sunday in the second game.
“I’ve had 35 brothers since August 25,” Kivett said. “The hardest-working people I’ve ever been with. Beautiful people. They play the game the right way. They don’t quit ... I’d take them in an alley fight every day of the week. Give credit to Oregon State, they’re a good team.”
The Beavers were playing for their first trip to the CWS since winning the national title in 2007, their second straight title. K-State finished the season with a record of 45-19.