PROVO For the BYU baseball program, playing a team like two-time defending national champion Oregon State serves as a measuring stick of sorts.
The Cougars learned they still have a ways to go to reach the College World Series as the No. 25 Beavers seized a 15-7 victory Monday before a season-high crowd of 2,110 at Larry H. Miller Field.
Yet BYU, which saw its five-game winning streak snapped, walked away feeling like it can compete with the likes of OSU. After all, the Cougars squandered several opportunities, leaving the bases loaded in an inning four times. They collected 11 hits, compared to 15 for the Beavers.
"I like to think we're making progress," said Cougar coach Vance Law. "The guys can see they have a chance to compete."
Shaky pitching by BYU allowed Oregon State to build a large lead in the early innings. "It's one to put behind us," Law said. "Our consistency on the mound wasn't what we've come to expect."
"It all comes down to execution," said BYU shortstop Dan Vargas, who pointed to his team giving up six walks and committing two errors. "When you have those, you lose momentum. We know we can play with any team as long as we concentrate."
Law said the biggest difference he noticed between his team and OSU was the Beavers' patience at the plate.
BYU and Oregon State conclude their two-game series today at 1. Jake Wortham (2-1, 5.71) takes the mound today for the Cougars.
On his first two pitches of the game, BYU starter Nelson Castleberry gave up a triple to Garrett Nash a freshman out of Jordan High and a single as the Beavers took an early 2-0 lead after one inning.
The Cougars tied the game in the bottom half of that frame after Sean McNaughton singled and Vargas singled him home. Vargas scored on a passed ball.
But the Oregon State offense chased Castleberry in the second after he surrendered three straight singles, then walked Ryan Ortiz. In all, Castleberry faced eight batters and gave up six hits and six earned runs.
An RBI double by Jason Ogata propelled the Beavers to a 7-2 lead, and Joey Wong made it 9-2 after a two-run homer in the fourth.
In the fifth inning, Vargas recorded an RBI double and, later in that frame, Kasey Ko blasted a three-run homer to cut the deficit to 9-6.
Trailing 10-6 in the sixth, the Cougars had the game-tying run in Ko, who stepped to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Ko belted a pitch deep, but it sailed foul. On the next pitch, he struck out to extinguish the threat.
The Beavers responded quickly, as pinch hitter Chris Hopkins crushed a leadoff homer to lift them to an 11-6 advantage. OSU added four more runs in the eighth.
Nash went 2-for-4 and scored four times for OSU, while Ogata had three hits in four at-bats. For BYU, the first three hitters in the order went a combined 8-for-14 as McNaughton had two hits, Vargas three and Kent Walton three. But the rest of the Cougar lineup could muster only three hits, including Ko's home run.
Oregon State starter Jorge Reyes earned the win. He yielded five earned runs, struck out three and walked five in 4 1/3 innings.With the win, Beavers improved to 10-7 overall while the Cougars fell to 12-11.