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OSU tops Cal, wins series

CORVALLIS — Oregon State got four innings of one-run relief pitching from Anton Maxwell as the ninth-ranked Beavers beat California, 5-3, in Pacific-10 baseball Sunday afternoon at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field. Drew George's two-run homer in the bottom of the second inning started the scoring for OSU (28-8 overall, 4-5 Pacific-10), which won the weekend series from the Golden Bears (18-19, 3-6).

The Beavers now play host to Nevada-Las Vegas in a non-conference series next weekend.

On Sunday, the Beavers fell behind 2-0 in the top of the first inning. George's homer — the first in his OSU career — evened the score in the bottom of the second inning and ended a string of 13 straight scoreless innings for the Beavers at the plate. Oregon State finally edged into the lead for good at 4-3 in the bottom of the fourth inning, and then it was up to Maxwell and fellow relievers Mark Grbavac and Eddie Kunz to hold the lead.

"It was a pitch at a time this weekend," Casey said. "The Pac-10 is brutal. It's just a good conference, and if you do anything wrong, somebody is going to capitalize on it. We just haven't swung the bat well enough to separate ourselves by enough runs to be comfortable. I think our kids are pressing a little bit."

The Beavers had scored just one run in the first 18 innings of the series, winning 1-0 on Friday night and then losing 4-0 on Saturday afternoon. In the bottom of the second, George came to the plate and with two out and Jordan Lennerton at first base; on a one-ball, two-strike count, he drove a pitch from Cal righthander Nick Nunez high over the rightfield fence to tie the game.

"I was just trying to make contact with a guy at third base," George said. "I didn't want to end the inning without getting that run in. The guy hung a curveball, and I just hit it well. It's my first home run at Oregon State, so it was pretty cool."

George had been struggling in Pac-10 play, batting just .138 in conference games, but Sunday he was 2-for-2 and also walked twice. His homer started three straight innings in which the Beavers scored.

"Any time you hit a home run — anybody on the team — it's going to lift the team," George said. "It got the bats going a little bit. I definitely needed that boost for myself; I've been struggling a little bit and just trying to stay confident and get my hacks when I'm in there."

Cal tied the game 3-3 in the top of the third inning, but the Beavers went back in front in the bottom of the inning when Chris Hopkins reached on an error and eventually scored on Mike Lissman's two-out infield single to the right side. Oregon State tacked on its final run in the bottom of the fourth when Scott Santschi led off with a double, was sacrificed to second and scored on Hopkins' groundout to make it 5-3.

Maxwell came on to start the fourth inning for OSU after starter Daniel Turpen gave up two runs on six hits and a walk in the first three innings. Maxwell improved his record to 3-0 this season; in his four innings, he allowed one run on two hits and no walks while striking out three.

"I felt like I had good stuff," Maxwell said. "I've been working hard trying to get my velocity back up, and it's been coming back and coming around. I feel good, my body feels good, and that's the main thing — as long as my body is feeling good, mentally, it helps."

Maxwell surrendered the run that tied the game 3-3 in the top of the third on a single, wild pitch, sacrifice and run-scoring groundout. After hitting the next batter, he retired 10 of the final 11 hitters he faced.

"I was prepared for anything," Maxwell said. "I thought maybe I was only going to go three, but I felt good and I could have gone more. But they brought in Grby, and everybody is good on this team "¦ I was just going an inning at a time, and in my head I was just playing it one pitch at a time. I didn't want to get ahead of myself, I had really good concentration."

Grbavac and Kunz finished things with a perfect inning apiece, with Kunz earning his second save of the weekend and sixth of the season. The Beavers completed an errorless weekend; they have played errorless defense in half their 36 games this season and have committed one or fewer errors in 27 games.

OSU has held opponents to three or fewer runs in 20 of 36 games this season. The Beavers are 8-2 in games decided by two or fewer runs this spring.