Oregon State Baseball Notebook: Beavers move up to No. 2
The No. 2 Oregon State baseball team took care of business on the road against a very good Arizona State team this past weekend as the Beavers (25-8-1, 11-4 Pac-12) clinched the series with Saturday and Sunday wins over the No. 13 Sun Devils (27-7, 10-5).
With the Beavers moving up to No. 2 in the D1Baseball.com poll and a home series with Arizona on deck for this weekend, BeaversEdge.com dives into the latest with the Beavers as they continue their march through the regular season.
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A difficult week ends in triumph
It's safe to say that it's been whirlwind of a week for the No. 2 Oregon State baseball team. A week ago, the Beavers were coming off a sweep of Utah and had a midweek contest with Oregon before traveling to face No. 13 Arizona State for a three-game series.
The Beavers' crazy week started with doses of bad news on Tuesday as a 12-8 loss to Oregon at home and ace Kevin Abel's announcement that he was having season-ending Tommy John surgery left the Beavers in a difficult spot heading into a very important series against the Sun Devils in Phoenix.
Somehow, none of that seemed to matter to OSU, who went into Phoenix and took two of three from an Arizona State team that had lost just one game at home prior to facing the Beavers.
The Sun Devils bested the Beavers in game one, as offense was hard to come by as Sun Devil ace Alec Marsh held OSU to just one run, a solo home run from Alex McGarry. Marsh struck out nine and held Oregon State to three hits and a walk in a complete-game effort.
Brandon Eisert, who had been rock solid for the Beavers this season (7-0 prior to ASU), started for the Beavers and took his first loss after allowing 11 hits and three runs.
The switch flipped for the Beavers from Friday night on as the Beavers rallied and took the next two games in rather dramatic fashion. After the Sun Devils essentially held the Beavers at bay in the opener, the next two games were tight contests that had a little postseason intensity to it.
The weekend "flipped" to positive on Saturday as Joe Casey battled off three straight 3-2 pitches from Arizona State reliever Brady Corrigan in the top of the eighth inning Saturday at Phoenix Municipal Stadium. Casey drilled the 10th pitch of the at bat, a 3-2 offering from Corrigan past the diving Spencer Torkelson at first base, driving in two and sending Oregon State to a 6-4 victory over Arizona State.
Casey finished the day 2-for-4 and helped pace an Oregon State offense that tallied 12 hits off three ASU pitchers. Ryan Ober led the Beavers with three hits, while George Mendazona, Adley Rutschman and McGarry all chipped in with two. With starter Bryce Fehmel not figuring in the decision after allowing four runs on five hits with four strikeouts, Christian Chamberlain worked two scoreless innings to improve to 3-3. Jake Mulholland closed for the Beavers, en-route to his fifth save of the season.
Saturday's momentum carried into Sunday as the Beavers closed the weekend series against ASU with a decisive 4-3 victory. Mitchell Verberg had perhaps the biggest strike out of his career as he tied up one of the nations best hitters in Torkelson with the winning run on first to clinch the series win.
Verburg's save helped send Grant Gambrell to his second win of the season. The junior was sharp over 5 2/3 innings, striking out 10 while limiting the Sun Devils to five hits and two runs. The Beavers scored all their runs in a four-run fifth. McGarry drove in the game's first run on a single, then watched as Ober came in from third on a passed ball. Dukart then made it a 4-0 game with a two-run single to right.
Oregon State returns to Goss Stadium at Coleman Field to open a three-game series with Arizona starting Thursday night. With Easter on Sunday, the Pac-12 shifts all baseball series this week to a Thursday-Saturday format. The biggest takeaway from this is that all of Oregon State's (as well as Arizona's) pitching staff will be going on a days less rest.
The Beavers return to your TV screen as well this weekend as all three games will start at 7 p.m. PT and will be televised. The first two will be pm Pac-12 Network with Saturday's finale available on ESPNU.
With Arizona (18-6, 6-9) being a hit or miss team on any given day this season and a sub .500 team on the road (3-9) the Beavers figure to have an even bigger edge than Goss Stadium already provides. The Wildcats are much better at home than on the road and haven't won a Pac-12 road game in six tries. However, Arizona is a very good offensive team that should provide a good test for the Beavers. UA boasts the second-best batting average in the Pac-12 (.307) have hit the third most home runs (34) and lead the conference in on-base percentage (.420).
I like the Beavers to continue their momentum this weekend against the Wildcats and earn another series win. While I also like OSU's chances to sweep at home, Arizona and OSU always seem to play each other very close and the matchups are usually can't miss. I expect a competitive series that the Beavers should win.
- Former Oregon State quarterback and now Beaver baseball infielder Jake Dukart started for the fifth time this season, and first at second base. The start was his first since Feb. 21 versus Nebraska in Surprise.
- Rutschman is second in the Pac-12 and 13th nationally in batting average (.413), third in RBI's (40) and second in home runs (12).
- Eisert leads the Pac-12 with a 1.30 ERA and that's good for 14th best in the nation. He's also fourth in the conference in strikeouts with 54 on the year.
- The OSU pitching staff boasts a 2.78 ERA, fifth best in the country.
- Offensively, the Beavers are still feeling the effect of having new players in new roles as OSU is 11th in the conference in batting average (.257). Luckily, the Beavers are offsetting the subpar average with on-base percentage (.370, sixth best), slugging percentage (.383, sixth), and home runs (28, sixth).
- Oregon State Rankings: Baseball America: 5, Collegiate Baseball: 5, D1Baseball.com: 2, NCBWA: 4, Perfect Game: 3 USA Today: 4.
- Verburg earned his second save of the season and gave Oregon State a series victory over Arizona State for the fifth time in the last seven seasons.
- UCLA hosts Cal in L.A. this weekend and a series win by the Bears coupled with a Beaver sweep would mean OSU would move up to second in the conference. While UCLA is firmly en-trenched as the No. 1 team in the country, Cal is a very good team led by top-five MLB Draft pick Andrew Vaughn and I expect them to give UCLA all they can handle.
- Stanford plays at Oregon this week... With the Cardinal essentially having a two-game lead on first place in the conference, any losses that Stanford gets at this point only helps OSU. Oregon has been an up and down team this season but have shown signs of being able to win games consistently... Will the Cardinal slip up in Eugene this weekend?