BATON ROUGE, La. – Michael Conforto drove in four and Pat Casey improved to 12-4 all-time in elimination games in Oregon State’s 11-2 victory over Louisiana-Monroe Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.
The Beavers will now face LSU Sunday night at 4:37 p.m. PT (6:37 p.m. CT). An OSU win would force a winner-take-all championship game Monday night at 6:37 p.m. CT. An LSU win would give the Tigers the Baton Rouge Regional championship.
Sunday’s win over the Warhawks pushed the Beavers to the 40-win mark for the second consecutive season and fifth time in school history. All five seasons have come under Pat Casey, who, in his 18th season at OSU, has 618 victories.
Casey won his 40th game in the postseason; 12 have now come with the Beavers in a win-or-go-home situation. That will be the case again Sunday night against LSU.
Conforto went 3-for-4 in the win with his four RBI pushing him to 75 on the year. The freshman singled home a run in the second, doubled home two in the fourth and reached on an infield error in the fifth that gave him one RBI.
He also singled in the first but was left stranded in the scoreless inning.
Ben Wetzler was solid in his 16th start of the season. The sophomore left-hander allowed four hits over the first two innings, but was able to keep the Warhawks (32-30 overall) off the scoreboard. He eventually allowed solo runs in both the third and ninth innings that were each unearned.
Wetzler improved to 8-2 on the year after allowing eight hits in a career-long 8 2/3 innings.
The Beavers (40-19) knocked Louisiana-Monroe starter Shelby Aulds out of the game with a four-run second inning. Aulds allowed just a single in the first but OSU loaded the bases with one out in the second when John Tommasini blooped a single to left for the game’s first run.
Two batters later, and with the bases still loaded, Tyler Smith singled through the left side of the infield to drive in two more. He watched from first as Conforto put the Beavers up 4-0 with a single to right center.
Smith finished with three RBI, also driving in a run in the seventh on a triple to center to put the Beavers up 10-1. It marked the first game in double digits for OSU since the series opener at Washington State on May 18.
OSU improved to 13-0 this season when scoring 10 or more.
Smith and Kavin Keyes each had two hits in the win.
Aulds took the loss to drop to 3-3 this season. He allowed four runs – all earned – and six hits in 1 2/3 innings.
Right-hander Taylor Starr (5-2, 3.80) gets the nod for the Beavers against LSU Sunday night. Right-hander Ryan Eades (5-2, 3.36) starts for the Tigers.
Beaver Sports Radio Network affiliates carrying Sunday’s second game include the following: KICE 940-AM (Bend), KPOJ 620-AM (Portland), KEJO 1240-AM (Corvallis), KSKR 1490-AM (Roseburg), KORC 92.7 FM (Burns), KAKT 104.7 FM (Grants Pass), KLAD 960-AM (Klamath Falls) and KBZY 1490-AM (Salem).
The game will also be carried on Comcast SportsNet Northwest (channels 37 and 737).
For more information on the Oregon State baseball team, follow the club’s official Twitter account at Twitter.com/Beaver_Baseball or by Facebook at Facebook.com/OregonStateBaseball.
OREGON STATE NOTES: The matchup was the second all-time for OSU against the Sun Belt Conference after defeating Western Kentucky in 2002 … John Tommasini’s RBI in the second was his first since April 5 against Arizona State … The Beavers have scored 56 runs in the second inning of games this season after tallying four on Sunday … OSU’s biggest run-scoring inning is 59, in the seventh … Michael Conforto’s multi-RBI effort was his 22nd of the season … He’s driven in four or more in six games this season.