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OSU's Wetzler scratched, could face eligibility issue

CORVALLIS — Oregon State senior left-handed pitcher Ben Wetzler was scratched from the lineup on Friday against Gonzaga, a school spokesman announced early Friday morning.

Wetzler went 10-1 last season with a 2.25 ERA as the regular Sunday starter. He was drafted in the fifth round by the Philadelphia Phillies, but chose not to sign and return to OSU for another opportunity to win a national title.

Aaron Fitt, a national college baseball writer for Baseball America, tweeted that Wetzler "won't pitch this week due to an NCAA eligibility issue stemming from draft last summer."

Apparently, Wetzler entered negotiations with the Phillies and had "an advisor" with him. Ultimately, the desire to return to school and help the Beavers return to the College World Series won out.

It has been reported the school has known about the situation since November, but without a clearance from the NCAA it has decided to hold Wetzler out.

A school official had no further comment.

Wetzler's return made the Beavers a favorite to win the Pac-12 title for a second straight year and a favorite to challenge for a national title. They enter the season at No. 2 in the Baseball America poll.

"That's huge for us as a team, especially with his leadership on and off the field," junior left-hander Jace Fry said a few weeks back about having Wetzler return for the season. "And then just knowing what he gave up to come back, what he really wants is to get back to Omaha and he wants to take it home. So to see his hunger, everyone feeds on that and seeing Ben come back was huge."

Fry will get the nod in today's 10 a.m. contest against Nebraska. The starters for Sunday's 3 p.m. game and Monday's 10 a.m. game against Pacific have not been announced.

Moore's words Tuesday may turn out to be prophetic as others will need to step up soon, much like he did last season when he was thrown into the starting lineup early and had a freshman all-American season.

"That's something I've been telling some of the freshmen, even back to when they first came in, that you never know when an injury is going to happen or whatever it may be, something's going to come where you need to be ready to go out there," he said.

"It's a crazy game and you need to be ready for whatever when your name is called."

Senior Scott Schultz, who also chose to return to the Beavers for his final season, could get a nod. He worked in relief last season and hasn't started since his freshman season when he made three appearances as a starter.

Freshmen Chandler Eden, Kevin Flemer and Jake Thompson could also find their way to the mound at some point.

In other news, outfielders Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis and pitchers Wetzler and Moore were named to the Golden Spikes Award watch list.

The four members equal the four of Cal State Fullerton as the most players from one school. There are 60 players on the list, with 10 from the Pac-12 alone. The SEC has 13.

Conforto is the reigning Pac-12 player of the year as he batted.328 and tied for the conference lead with 11 home runs. Davis led the Conference with 61 RBIs and led the Beavers with a .335 average with 22 doubles.