CORVALLIS, Ore. – Michael Conforto’s third outfield assist of the 2012 season was far and away his biggest of the year.
The freshman made a catch on Ryon Healy’s line drive and threw out Aaron Payne attempting to tag up from third to send the 23rd-ranked Oregon State baseball team to a 3-2 win over No. 5 Oregon on Saturday afternoon. The Beavers have clinched the series and go for the sweep on Sunday.
Payne led off the ninth with a double off Dan Child, making his first relief outing of the season. He moved to third on a sacrifice bunt and was in scoring position with just one out for Healy, who hit a home run in Friday’s game.
Healy hit a sinking liner to left that was narrowly caught by a running Conforto, who then threw a one-bounce strike to catcher Ryan Gorton, who made the tag for the game-ending double play.
It earned Dan Child his first save of the season after he went 1 2/3 innings, where he allowed one hit with one strikeout, throwing 22 pitches. Dylan Davis got the win after getting the final out of the seventh in relief of Jace Fry.
Nick Rulli ended the contest as the Beaver (37-18 overall, 17-12 Pac-12 Conference) with the game-winning hit. In just his fifth plate appearance of the season, he lined a one-out double down the left field line off Oregon reliever Thomas Thorpe. That enabled Kavin Keyes to score from second with the game-winning run.
Oregon (42-16, 19-10) scored first for the second consecutive game, taking a 2-0 lead in the third on runs driven in by Kyle Garlick and Brett Hambright. But the Beavers tied the game in the sixth when Danny Hayes hit a two-run home run to right, his fifth round-tripper of the season.
Fry started for the Beavers and worked 6 2/3 innings, allowing seven hits and two runs. He did not figure in the decision.
Oregon’s Jake Reed took the loss to drop to 6-4 this season. He allowed five hits and three runs in 6 1/3 innings.
Hayes led the Beavers with two hits while Aaron Jones had three to lead the Ducks.
The teams finish their three-game series and regular season Sunday at 12:30 p.m. (960 the Sports Legend).