UPDATED WITH QUOTES
CORVALLIS – Right-hander Jake Thompson, thrust into the role of No. 1 starter, ran his season record to 14-0 Friday night as the Beavers defeated Vanderbilt 8-4 in Goss Stadium. It was the 53-4 Beavers' 20th consecutive win.
"Thompson was really, really good," OSU Coach Pat Casey said afterward. "If we catch a ball there for him he gives up only one run and that's a really good team there."
Oregon State took a 1-0 lead in the best-of-three series with the win. The series continues Saturday night at 6 o'clock.
The Beavers struck first, getting on the board in the first inning on K.J. Harrison’s three-run homer to left field. But the Commodores bounced right back for three of their own in the top of the second, aided by a misjudged fly ball in left field by Christian Donohue.
"It was nice to get off to that good start," Casey said. "I thought we played with a lot of energy tonight."
Oregon State came back in the bottom of that inning, tallying two runs on Nick Madrigal’s two-out double down the left-field line.
"My hand is fine," said Madrigal, who had been bothered with a painful bone bruise after being hit by a pitch in conference play. "I'm good. No worries."
The Beavers added another run in the fifth when Trevor Larnach singled home Steven Kwan to make the score 6-3. Will Toffey got that run back for Vandy with a towering solo homer in the seventh.
Oregon State scored two more in the eighth on a single by Cadyn Grenier and a sacrifice fly by Kwan.
Thompson allowed four runs, seven hits, fanned seven and walked two before departing with two outs in the eighth. Sam Tweedt came on with a runner at second in the ninth and shut the Commodores down to seal the win.
OSU left-hander Luke Heimlich, the Beavers' ace all season, was originally expected to be the starting pitcher but, following the disclosure of his admission of guilt in a child molestation case as a 15-year-old, his participation has become a hot-button issue. Heimlich was required to register as a sex offender because of that incident.
Casey would not name a starting pitcher for Saturday's game and offered Drew Rasmussen and Bryce Fehmel as possibilities, as well as most of his bullpen.When asked about the availability of Heimlich through the rest of the series Casey said, "That's his decision. He's a team guy and he said he didn't want to be a distraction. I can just tell you that he's a fine young man and for every second he's been on this campus, on and off the field, he's been a first-class individual -- someone that his family should be proud of, the community should be proud of and our team is proud of him. I believe in Luke."
Heimlich was in uniform and introduced with the rest of his teammates prior to the game He issued this statement Friday:
STATEMENT OF LUKE HEIMLICH
I have taken responsibility for my conduct when I was a teenager . As a 16 year old, I was placed on juvenile court probation and ordered to participate in an individual counseling program.
I’m grateful for the counseling I received, and since then, I realized that the only way forward was to work each day on becoming the best person, community member and student I can possibly be.
I understand that many people now see me differently, but I hope that I can eventually be judged for the person I am today.
I’m so proud of our team’s accomplishment and don’t want to be a distraction. Therefore, I’ve respectfully requested to be excused from playing.