It’s hard to believe that less than two months ago, Corvallis and the Portland area was receiving record snowfall and now midway through February the college baseball season has quickly begun.
The Oregon State baseball team began their 2017 season on Friday to kick off the four-game Sanderson Ford Classic from Surprise, Arizona.
The Beavers finished weekend play unscratched with a 4-0 record led by lockdown pitching and a veteran looking, youthful roster.
Sanderson Ford Classic Results
Feb. 17 (Doubleheader) - W vs Indiana 1-0 ... W vs Duke 6-3
Feb. 19 - W vs Duke 11-2
Feb. 20 - W vs Indiana 4-1
3 things we learned from this weekend
1. Oregon State pitching looked dominant
During the four games combined, the Beavers gave up only six runs on 23 hits. A total of 11 different pitchers made an appearance this weekend behind strong closing by Max Engelbrekt, Mitchell Verburg and Grant Gambrell, who already have four saves this season.
The positive first impression from the pitching staff provides added relief if the offense struggles. Anytime a club can lean on its pitching when their offense may be sluggish, gives the club an advantage early in the season while the offense is still coming together.
2. Beavers made a strong opening statement
The answer as to how the Beavers would handle any increased, heightened expectations was answered this weekend. It is important to not overlook the Beavers top seven ranking or the quick 4-0 start to the season.
With increased expectations surrounding the team this season, OSU took care of business on the road, avoiding any chatter of an early season upset.
Now with any pre-season jitters out of the way, the Beavers can look confidently forward to their next slate of upcoming games.
3. Triples are still in full effect
The Beavers are no strangers to being able to hit and capitalize on triples. Last season, behind heavy hitting, OSU led the nation in most triples with 32. Already off to a hot start, the Beavers tripled once on Thursday behind Cadyn Grenier and tripled twice on Monday from Christian Donahue and Grenier once again.
1. Will the young roster continue to shine?
During Friday’s doubleheader, four Beavers made their freshman debut including Jake Mulholland, Adley Rutschman, Andy Armstrong, and Brandon Eisert. On Saturday, Oregon State had a starting lineup consisting of only two upperclassmen, seven of which who are in their sophomore season.
Despite the youthful starting lineup, the Beavers managed 11 runs on 14 hits en route to an impressive scoring day against Duke beating the Blue Devils 11-2.
Through the first four games, youth has favored the Beavers well. Can the Beavers continue utilizing their young roster for a big impact next weekend?
2. Does the current roster have enough offensive firepower?
While it is still early in the season and many more lineup changes will take place throughout the season, it is important to note that the Beavers scored a combined 22 runs - 12 less than at this point in the season last year. For the Beavers to compete with the top-rated teams in the country, they’re going to need to continue their standout pitching along with complimentary slugging when needed. Look to see if the Beavers can respond by increasing their margin of victory in the next series.
The strong opening weekend will lead Beavers to a perfect 8-0 start
The Beavers made an impressive opening statement in their first four games led by near perfect pitching and breakout play from young players. Having three days of rest will give coach Casey enough time to re-strategize and plan ahead of the Big-10 Pac-12 challenge. Arizona has been kind to the Beavers thus far and so look for Oregon State to sweep another weekend of play.
The Beavers are off until Thursday when they will face Big-10 opponent Nebraska, in game one of the four-game series held once again in Surprise Stadium from Arizona.