SALT LAKE CITY – Dan Child struck out 11 and Nate Esposito walked with the bases loaded in the 10th inning to send the 23rd-ranked Oregon State baseball team to a 5-4 win over Utah Sunday at Spring Mobile Ballpark.
Esposito, who was a defensive replacement at catcher in the ninth, walked on four straight pitches from Utah reliever Josh Chapman. It scored Ryan Dunn, who had doubled to lead off the inning, and was the Beavers’ third consecutive walk in the inning.
The loss was charged to Nick Green, who gave up Dunn’s double. He dropped to 1-1.
Child became the first Beaver to reach double figure strikeouts in a game this season. He scattered four runs – all solo coming in the second, third, fifth and sixth innings – and nine hits in working all 10 innings. He walked just one and improved to 5-3 on the year.
The 11 strikeouts set a career-high for the right-handed sophomore.
The Beavers (32-17 overall, 13-11 Pac-12) tied the game at four in the ninth when Michael Conforto drove a 1-0 pitch through the middle with two down. It drove in Ryan Dettman, who was pinch running, from second.
Conforto had a big day overall for the Beavers. He finished with three hits, including a two-run home run in the Beavers’ three-run third. On the year, he has 11 home runs – tied for the Pac-12 Conference lead – and has 63 runs driven in. The 63 RBI is second-best at OSU in a single-season, four shy of Joe Gerber’s (2000) program-record 67.
Conforto ended the series at Utah with seven hits, three home runs and eight RBI over three games.
Utah’s (13-35, 7-20) starter, Mitch Watrous, went six innings, throwing 97 pitches, and allowed nine hits and three runs. He struck out three, walked one and did not figure in the decision after the Beavers tied the game in the ninth.
Shaun Cooper, James Brooks and Trey Nielsen had two hits apiece to lead Utah. Danny Hayes also had three hits for the Beavers to tie Conforto for the team lead while Jake Rodriguez and Ryan Dunn had two apiece.
Oregon State set a season-high with six doubles in the game, amounting to nearly half of the team’s 14 hits overall. Three of Utah’s nine hits were doubles, with Brooks posting two.
Oregon State returns home Tuesday for a non-conference game with Portland at Goss Stadium. The broadcast starts at 5 p.m. on 960 the Sports Legend.