BATON ROUGE -- Oregon State left fielder Michael Conforto went 3-for-4 with four RBI to lead the Beavers into the NCAA Regional final, 11-2, over fourth-seeded Louisiana-Monroe on Sunday afternoon at Alex Box Stadium.
Oregon State (40-19) took a 4-0 lead in the bottom of the second on an RBI single by Corforto, and the Beavers never looked back. They will face off with homestanding, top seed LSU at 6:30 p.m. CT to stay alive in the double-elimination tournament. The Beavers must beat the Tigers twice to advance to next weekend's Super Regional series. Oregon State will be the home team on Sunday against LSU.
Starting pitcher Ben Wetzler (8-2) was solid for Oregon State, as the righthander tossed 8 2/3 innings. He allowed one run on eight hits with eight strikeouts a three walks.
ULM (32-30), which saw its season come to an end, led off five innings with hits but was 0-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
The Warhawks' first run came in the top of the third and was unearned, as Jeremy Sy scored on a fielding error by second baseman John Tommasini. However, Wetzler struck out Corben Green with two aboard to end the threat.
The Warhawks gave up three runs in the fourth and two in the fifth to fall behind 9-1 and seal their fate. Conforto drove in three of these runs with a double and an RBI groundout.
Shelby Aulds (3-3), the first of six ULM pitchers, took the loss. He was pulled after 1 2/3 innings and charged with four runs on six hits.
Caleb Clowers and Joey Rapp each had two hits for ULM.
2012 NCAA Baseball Championship
Baton Rouge Regional
Game 5: Oregon State vs. ULM
June 3, 2012
OREGON STATE HEAD COACH PAT CASEY
On Ben Weltzer's performance...
"He struggled early, but he was able to get through that and just kept getting better and better. We tried to get him out in the eighth inning, but he didn't want to come out, and you're always in that area where if you bring somebody in who hasn't thrown very much, it could create a problem. Then you have to bring somebody else in to fix the problem, so it worked out very well for us."
On why he took Weltzer out with two outs in the ninth inning...
"Pitch count. We've got a kid out there who hasn't thrown very much. We told [Ben Weltzer] that we'd give him 120 pitches and he got to 128."
OREGON STATE PITCHER BEN WELTZER
On his performance...
"I wanted to go out there and give as many innings as I could to keep as many arms as we could for tonight and see if we could extend our season a little bit, and that's the goal."
On his struggles early in the game and how he overcame them...
"I went through a lot of battles last year and my mind always got to the negative thoughts. But pitching in the super regionals last year at Vanderbilt and then the confidence that the coaches have in me, I should have the same confidence in myself. So I know it takes just one pitch to get out of a big inning and you just have to dig down and try to make that pitch."
On the coaches' decision to pitch him in their third game...
"It's their decision and they know how to do this. I trust everything our coaches do. And we're still in the hunt, so they know what to do."
On what was working for him today...
"Early, I didn't have very good command of my fastball, and it all starts with that. And late, I just kind of let the mechanics of the ball sink in, and I found the changeup in the fourth or fifth inning, which helped."
ULM HEAD COACH JOHN SCHEXNAIDER
On the game...
"I know our guys are disappointed. I told them that of all the 64 teams, only one is going to win the last one. I was extremely proud of our seniors and the whole team for what they have done. Our whole community came together this week. How the city of Monroe and the ULM family showed up to watch these boys was very fitting for the season they had. These guys raised the bar for our program. I am proud of them for that."
On the personality of this year's team...
"When these guys became seniors after our last game last year it started then. Usually your team is a direct reflection of your team and they carry your personality. This group of seniors wasn't very vocal. They were more blue collar and hardworking. Everybody had to follow along. They set the tone and established a good base. They taught the underclassmen how to work hard."
SECOND BASEMAN CALEB CLOWERS
"(Oregon State P Ben Wetzler) was good. He kept us off balance all day. With me getting those two hits, I was trying to get on base. I attacked the fastball because I knew his off-speed stuff was really good. He kept us off balance and pitched really well. He stayed in the strike zone. When he had 0-2 pitch counts he buried them in the dirt. He was breaking balls well. Big ups to him. He threw a great game."
PITCHER WIL BROWNING
On his performance...
"All year, Coach Schexnaider put me in the situation that he really needed me in. Today, he told me to come in and hold them where they were. They are a really good hitting club. They really battled up there. They didn't swing at pitches outside the strike zone. They got pitches to him and hit them where they needed to."