CORVALLIS – First the good news – Oregon State culminated its undefeated romp through its regional tournament Sunday night with an 8-1 win over Yale.
But then there are the serious questions:
Is there something wrong with second baseman Nick Madrigal? And is Drew Rasmussen going to be OK in the super regional next weekend? He's moved into the role of his team's No. 3 starter and would possibly be needed as the competition gets tougher on the way to Omaha.
Madrigal was hit on a hand while batting a couple of weeks back and has returned to the OSU lineup but there have been indications that he may still be suffering from that injury. If Madrigal, the Pac-12 player of the year and defensive player of the year, is at less than 100 percent, that’s going to handicap the Beavers.
Rasmussen, battling back from Tommy John surgery, managed only four innings Sunday before turning the game over to his bullpen. Brandon Eisert took over for Rasmussen and blanked Yale over the next three and two-thirds innings. Jake Mulholland threw an inning before Coach Pat Casey brought Max Engelbrekt in to get the final out with a runner at second.
Both teams scored single runs in the first inning and then OSU broke the game open with a five-run fifth.
Two Yale errors opened the floodgates for Michael Gretler’s towering three-run homer over the wall in left field to cap the scoring in that frame.
Rasmussen allowed a run on five hits, walked one and fanned five. He was not particularly sharp and needed a whopping 73 pitches over his four-inning outing.
"We had him to go 95 pitches," Casey said. "But he threw 26 in the first inning. I think he was a little too amped up and was overthrowing. When he got to the third inning he was tired."
Madrigal bunted for base hits his first three times to the plate, the last time with his team leading by five runs. In his fourth at bat he took a couple of full swings resulting in foul balls but ultimately walked. Then in the seventh he bunted successfully for a hit again -- four base-hit bunts in one game.
A natural conclusion to draw from the bunts is that he’s still having pain in the hand, as reported by Kerry Eggers of the Portland Tribune Sunday, that is making it difficult for him to take a full swing. The Beavers are going to need more than bunts from Madrigal as they move on.
Casey says Madrigal is still suffering from a deep bone bruise on the hand and that he allows him the freedom to do what he feels best. Sunday night the bunts were obviously the best thing for the sore hand -- but they WERE beautiful bunts.
Oregon State, now 52-4, placed Adley Rutschman, Seven Kwan, KJ Harrison, Gretler, Cadyn Grenier, Trevor Larnach and Luke Heimlich on the all-tournament team and Kwan was named the most outstanding player.
Up next for OSU is the super regional, a best-of-three affair, against either Vanderbilt or Clemson, also in Corvallis.
"We are going to have to be better next week," Casey said.