SALT LAKE CITY – Michael Conforto hit two home runs in a game for the second time this season to power the 23rd-ranked Oregon State baseball team to an 11-10 series-opening win over Utah Friday at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Conforto hit a two-run shot in the first and a three-run home run in the fourth to give him 10 on the season. Conforto’s last two home run game was also his last game with a round-tripper – April 10 at Nevada.
His two home runs gave him five RBI on the day, pushing him into fifth in OSU single-season history with 60 this season. He’s one shy of tying Mike Lissman (2007) for fourth-most and seven behind all-time leader Joe Gerber, who tallied 67 in 2000.
Seven of Oregon State’s nine starters recorded at least one hit in the win as the Beavers tallied 15 overall. Conforto and Tyler Smith led the team with three hits apiece; Smith for his 18th multi-hit effort of the season and Conforto posted his 15th. Danny Hayes, Kavin Keyes and Jake Rodriguez, meanwhile, all had two hits apiece.
Utah, down 9-0 after three-and-a-half innings, scored 10 of the game’s last 12 runs to pull within two in the eighth. However, Oregon State closer Tony Bryant got Shaun Cooper, the tying run, to strike out for the final out of the eighth and held Utah to one run – on an inside the park home run - in the ninth.
Jo Jo Sharrar doubled in the ninth for his third hit of the game, but was gunned out at third by Conforto when trying to stretch it into a triple. Bryant proceeded to get the last two outs to close out the win.
Conforto’s two-run home run keyed the Beavers’ six-run first, which saw OSU (31-16 overall, 12-10 Pac-12 Conference) send 11 to the plate. Ryan Dunn homered immediately after Conforto’s first blast for the senior’s seventh homer of the year.
Joey Matthews drove in the first inning’s fourth run on a fielder’s choice while Rodriguez and Ryan Barnes also had run-scoring singles.
Utah (12-34, 6-19) managed five hits off Oregon State starter Ben Wetzler to score four runs in the fifth – sending nine to the plate – to pull within five, 9-4, after Conforto gave the Beavers a nine-run advantage in the top half of the inning. OSU, however, scored runs in each of the next two innings.
Wetzler went five innings for the Beavers, scattering four runs on nine hits. He walked two and struck out two to improve to 6-2 on the year, including 4-1 in true road contests.
Brock Duke started for Utah and lasted 3 1/3 innings. He was touched for 10 hits and nine runs to drop to 2-5 this season.
The teams play the second game of the series Saturday at noon MT (11 a.m. PT).
OREGON STATE NOTES: Oregon State sent 11 to the plate in the first … The Beavers batted around for the first time since the series against Arkansas-Pine Bluff and the first time in league since the series finale at California … The first inning took 23 minutes and saw Utah starter Brock Duke throw 40 pitches … Michael Conforto and Ryan Dunn’s back-to-back home runs were OSU’s first since Dunn did so with Dylan Davis March 11 against Oklahoma …