by Rob Moseley
All season long, frustration had been mounting for the UO baseball team against Oregon State.
There was a Friday night loss in Corvallis in which Oregon had the tying run on second when the game ended. A day later the Ducks surrendered a lead, and again had the tying run on second when the final out was recorded. That three-game Pac-12 series ended with a dominant Sunday for the Beavers, and OSU made it four straight over the Ducks with a nonconference win at PK Park in early May.
That's how the stage was set when the Willamette Valley rivals met for one more nonconference tilt, Tuesday in Eugene. Through five innings, Oregon State had a one-run lead and Oregon had left the bases loaded twice. Finally, in the seventh inning, the Ducks put a season's worth of frustrations behind them.
Oregon rallied for five runs in the seventh Tuesday, the last three coming home on Shaun Chase's second home run of the night as the Ducks beat the Beavers 6-2. It was Oregon State's first game since being ranked No. 1 unanimously by college baseball's polls.
"I think we all wanted to compete with them one more time, and see if we were worthy," UO coach George Horton said. "That wasn't an easy one, either."
The Ducks (41-10) extended their winning streak to five games, on the heels of a weekend sweep at defending national champion UCLA. Oregon remains at home to close out the regular season later this week against California, a three-game series starting Thursday with all three games televised by Pac-12 Networks at 7 p.m.
On Sunday, host sites for the first round of the postseason will be announced. Oregon's hope will be that a potential eight-game win streak to close out the regular season — including an RPI-boosting win over the top-ranked Beavers — could get the Ducks into the conversation.
"We've been playing pretty good lately," infielder Mitchell Tolman said. "We're going to try to keep it going."
Tolman had the game-winning RBI on Tuesday, with a run-scoring double prior to Chase's second homer. Tolman's previous three at-bats all ended in strikeouts, but he came through in the seventh with a double to score Tyler Baumgartner, whose bunt drove in Aaron Payne and tied the score 2-2.
"I was frustrated, but I needed to get over it," Tolman said. "In the dugout talking with teammates, they helped me just get over the hump of, no matter what's happened, I've got another at-bat. It just happened to come up where it was a big at-bat."
Chase followed with a game-within-the-game: working a full count, nearly being hit by a slider and fouling off multiple pitches from OSU reliever Jake Thompson. The right-hander then went back to his slider, which Chase sent sailing over the fence in left-center field for his conference-leading 12th home run.
At UCLA, Chase had been retired on strikes six times in seven at-bats. That was on his mind in the seventh inning Tuesday.
"I just didn't want to strike out," Chase said. "I was just trying to put the ball in play and get a run in."
The two-homer game was Chase's third of the year, and second in eight days. He'd earlier staked Oregon to a 1-0 lead with a shot to left-center in the fourth.
At that point, the Ducks had gotten three shutout innings from starter Jack Karraker — normally a reliever — and saw lefty Porter Clayton wriggle out of trouble after the first two men reached in the fourth. Clayton walked the first two hitters of the fifth, and again looked like he'd work out of the jam after striking out two, including OSU slugger Michael Conforto.
But Dylan Davis singled to tie it 1-1, and Gabe Clark followed with another run-scoring single for a 2-1 lead.