Oregon State’s weapon, three-headed monster could turn around Beaver football

Oregon State’s weapon, three-headed monster could turn around Beaver football

In a spring game where the battle at quarterback was supposed to be the main attraction, the Oregon State football team’s receiving corps stole the show.

In front of former Beaver and current Los Angeles Rams wideout Brandin Cooks, underclassman Jesiah Irish impressed, hauling in a game-high five catches for 81 yards, including a jaw-dropping 42-yard catch from quarterback Jake Luton on the 1-yard line in front of 2,500 Beaver Nation fans.

“I think a couple of guys continued to show up like Jesiah Irish,” second-year coach Jonathan Smith says. “He’s made those types of plays all through spring and he’s definitely a weapon.”

The 5-foot-11, 172-pound receiver played in only four games last season, preserving his redshirt status. But over the next few months, Irish hopes to make an impression that will earn him more playing time come August.

“This spring, I really tried to come in and learn the offense as much as I could,” Irish said of his play. “I tried to learn the defense and the schemes and I came out with a lot more confidence.”

He’s not the only one who is vying for playing time out of the receivers. Champ Flemings, who had three receptions for 15 yards and Kolby Taylor, who caught three passes for 27 yards, also saw the field during Saturday’s scrimmage and had a chance to impress on offense.

“It’s a great receiver corps,” OSU alum Brandin Cooks said. “You are talking about guys that are playing at a high level, just continue to work hard. The more consistent that they can be, the better they’ll be off pushing each other and having a friendly competition is also amazing.”

While the receivers’ depth was on full display, fans also got to see some impactful hits on defense, as well as the QB competition between Jake Luton and Tristan Gebbia.

The sixth-year QB and Nebraska transfer may be neck-and-neck for the starting nod, but there’s no bad blood between the two players.

“Jake’s a great guy to be around all the time,” Gebbia said. “He’s got a lot of experience obviously. He gives me some pointers, I try to help him as much as I can. But you know, he’s been around the game for awhile. He’s a professional for sure.”

“I think Tristan’s a great player,” Luton said. “To come in like he has and being a scout team guy all last year is tough, that’s always a tough spot. In spring ball to be where he’s at mentally and physically too, I think he’s doing a fantastic job.”

Like last season, the Beavers running backs continue to be an asset on the ground. B.J. Baylor had a team-high 50 yards on 10 carries with two touchdowns, while senior Artavis Pierce finished the day with five carries for 30 yards.

Jermar Jefferson, who finished first among Division I FBS freshman with 1,380 yards rushing in 2018, played limited minutes, finishing with 28 yards on one carry.

“All of us bring something different to the table,” Pierce said. “We’re ready to grind…it’s gonna be a three-headed monster.”

While there’s already a lot of big changes in motion for Oregon State, coach Smith made it clear what the Beavers need to accomplish this offseason.

"They need to have the best summer of their lives," Smith said. "As a team, individually, and in the weight room. It's going to be an exciting season, and you want to put the work in to do it and the expectation is that they will."

Get to know Oregon State baseball's star catcher Adley Rutschman

Get to know Oregon State baseball's star catcher Adley Rutschman

Meet Adley Rutschman, Oregon State's star catcher who could soon be the future of Major League Baseball. The junior is coming off National College Baseball Writers Association National Player of the Month honors and could become the first pick in MLB's first-year draft in June. 

The 6-foot-2, 216 pound physical, switch-hitting backstop hit .455 over 18 games in April and recorded five doubles, seven home runs, and 23 runs batted last month. This season, he's hitting .429 with 16 home runs and 53 RBI. Rutschman holds the OSU single-season record with 59 walks and leads the nation with a .579 on-base percentage.

Let’s get to know the Beavers star. 

He has Oregon roots

Rutschman was born in Portland, Oregon and attended Sherwood High School. He chose to remain in Oregon for college and says he chose the Beavers because of "great coaching, the town and the school," according to OSU Athletics. 

Athletics run in his family

His grandfather, Ad, and father, Randy, both have ties to Linfield College in McMinville. His grandfather is a legendary football coach, who took Linfield to three NAIA national championships. His father, Randy, was also a catcher and considered one of best teachers at the position in the Pacific Northwest.

He’s a former two-sport athlete

Rutschman grew up playing football and baseball. At Sherwood, he was the star pitcher and catcher. With the football team, Rutschman kicked a state-record 63-yard field goal in 2015. In his freshman year at Oregon State, he played both football and baseball for the Beavers. Serving as a placekicker on the OSU Football team, he averaged 59.5 yards per kick and totaled 20 touchbacks. 

Did you know?

Rutschman was selected in the 40th round of the 2016 MLB First-Year Player Draft by Seattle, but he did not sign.

There's a reason fans call him "Clutchman" 

Then sophmore catcher, Rutschman, helped lead the Beavers to their third national title last season and set a tournament record with 17 hits (a new CWS record), 13 RBIs (second in CWS history) and on base percentage of .649 (second highest in CWU history).

His dominant performance earned him 2018 College World Series Most Outstanding Player of the Year honors and the nickname "Clutchman," and rightfully so. 

He's expected to be a top prospect in the draft

Rutschman is a heavy favorite to be chosen No. 1 in the 2019 MLB Draft. He's listed as the No. 1 prospect on MLB Pipeline's 2019 Draft Top 50 Prospects List and is expected to be headed to Baltimore, as the Orioles hold the top overall pick after losing 115 games in 2018.

Want to know more about Rutschman? Tune into Talkin' Beavers tonight at 7:30 p.m. as the Beavers baseball standout joins the show. 

Oregon State football: What to know about the Beavers spring game

Oregon State football: What to know about the Beavers spring game

The Oregon State football team left the 2018 season with a lot of questions.

Putting their 2-10 season behind them, the Beavers will showcase their newly-improved defense, excellent depth at the receiver position and of course, the battle for starting quarterback on Saturday at the Oregon State Spring Game. 

Beavers fans can take in the team's annual scrimmage, which concludes Oregon State's spring practice period, before the season starts on August 30.

The QB race heats up

Jake Luton has looked sharp as of late and is the obvious frontrunner for the starting quarterback nod come August. Luton, who has started nine games for the Beavers since his first season due to injuries, was granted a sixth year of eligibility by the NCAA in June. In his time with Oregon State, Luton has passed for 2,513 yards and 14 touchdowns.

Tristan Gebbia split first-team reps with Luton in the Beavers last full practice ahead of this Saturday’s game. Gebbia was the first QB to take the field, connecting on two of his first three passes to I’Shawn Stewart. Luton took more snaps in team drills than Gebbia, but must step up in order to protect his role.

The spring game should give Beaver fans a clearer idea of which of the two players will be named starting quarterback for the 2019 season. The decision could be made as soon as the conclusion of spring camp.

Deep receiver depth on display

All Pac-12 Honorable Mentions Isaiah Hodgins and Trevon Bradford were both sidelined for the Dam City Showcase, but Oregon State’s receivers didn’t miss a beat. Keep your eyes on the young Beavers, who are vying for a spot in the highly-competive receiver group. 

Underclassmen Jesiah Irish and Anthony Gould made their presence known in Saturday’s showcase and emerged as game-changers. 5-foot-11, 172-pound Irish gave Beaver fans a glimpse of the future, speeding past the cornerback to catch a 32-yard touchdown pass from Jake Luton. Irish saw the field two times last season, but didn’t exceed the maximum four games to preserve his redshirt.

Gould also stood out on Saturday, turning a long catch and run into a 75-yard touchdown play. The 5-foot-10, 180 pounder out of West Salem has the explosiveness and speed to compete for a spot in the receiver rotation.

Hodgins, who is working through a minor leg injury, and Bradford, who sported a boot to protect a broken bone in his right foot, are expected to be ready to go come preseason.

Building the dam on defense 

Oregon State's defense was statistically one of the worst in the FBS ranks in 2018. OSU allowed 45.7 points per game, approximately 12 points per game worst than any other team in the conference and they know it's time to change that. 

The Beavers are expecting some help from their incoming recruiting class, which includes three-star linebacker Omar Speights, three-star defensive lineman Evan Bennett and transfer Jordan Whittley. Sophomore Isaac Hodgins will be returning to the D-line after playing in all 12 games and making 11 starts last season. With three seasons under his belt, senior outside linebacker Andrzej Hughes-Murray, one of the squad's anticipated co-captains, will bring experience to the the table. 

Here's more information on Oregon State's Spring Game: 

Where: Reser Stadium

When: Saturday, April 20 at 11:00 a.m. in Corvallis, Oregon

More details: The scrimmage game is open to the public, and there will be an autograph session beginning at 9 a.m. on the concourse. Posters will be provided, with one autograph per person. Fans can also enter to win a $200 concession voucher for the regular season.

All eyes on Oregon State's defense, quarterbacks at Dam City Showcase

USA Today Images

All eyes on Oregon State's defense, quarterbacks at Dam City Showcase

Oregon State fans in the Portland metro area can get their first look at 2019 Beavers football team this Saturday. 

Like previous years, Oregon State wiill host the Dam City Showcase at Mountainside High School in Beaverton. The practice will take place between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. and will be open to the public. Fans will also have the opportunity to get autographs from some of their favorite players.

The Beavers are looking to build upon their 2-10 season in 2018, the team’s third last-place finish in four years. Oregon State is returning 20 of its 25 starters, including specialists. This will be the second season for coach Jonathan Smith, who played quarterback at Oregon State and led the Beavers to a No. 4 ranking during the 2000 season.

Is this the year Smith takes Oregon State to new heights? 

The quarterback race is on

Some things to keep an eye on this Saturday? Oregon State’s quarterback situation. Last season, Jake Luton and Conor Blount shared the duties, but Blount has since transferred out of the program. Luckily for the Beavers, Luton is back after petitioning for another year of eligibility and he will compete once again for the starting gig.

Some other quarterbacks to watch include junior Jack Colletto, redshirt sophomore Aidan Willard, redshirt sophomore Nick Moore, freshman Jackson Chryst and redshirt sophomore Tristan Gebbia, who performed well at OSU's spring practice at Prothro Field. Gebbia, a four-star prospect out of Calabasas High School in California, transferred to Oregon State from Nebraska last fall and recently ran the Beavers scout team. 

While it seems like Luton and Gebbia are the clear frontrunners for the starting quarterback nod, Beavs fans will get their first taste of the QB competition during Saturday’s practice.

Focus on defense

Oregon State’s defense ranked dead last in the Pac-12 last season, allowing 45.7 points per game, approximately 12 points per game worst than any other team in the conference. It will be interesting to see what strides Oregon State has made to improve its d-line from last year.

The good news is the Beavers should get some help from the incoming recruiting class, which includes three-star linebacker Omar Speights and three-star defensive lineman Evan Bennett and Jordan Whittley.

So, what's up next for Beaver football fans? The Oregon State Spring Game will be held on Saturday, April 20 at Reser Stadium in Corvallis. 

Oregon State pitcher Kevin Abel announces he will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Oregon State pitcher Kevin Abel announces he will undergo Tommy John surgery

Oregon State baseball ace Kevin Abel is out for the rest of the Beavers season, and maybe a little more too. 

The sophomore righty, who suffered an undisclosed back injury ahead of Oregon State’s three games in Seattle, has announced he will undergo Tommy John surgery to repair his right elbow. 

“Upon my return to throwing, we discovered some forearm tightness after throwing a couple bullpens,” Abel said in a press conference following Oregon State's 12-8 loss to Oregon on Wednesday. “Went and got that checked out, had an MRI and the reason why it’s taken so long to figure it out is I went and saw specialists. I really wanted to make sure I’m making the right decision as far as making sure I can play baseball as long as I can."

Abel's last outing was on March 1, when he led the Beavers to a runaway 9-2 victory over Western Virginia. In the game, Abel matched a career high with 11 strikeouts in six innings of work. Following the game against West Virginia, Abel sat out of the Seattle Baseball Showcase with a sore back. 

In three starts, Abel, who led Oregon State with a perfect four victories in the College World Series, had 25 strikeouts and nine walks in 16 1/3 innings. Oregon State was 9-0 prior to Abel’s injury, and now 23-7-1, fourth in Pac-12 standings.

Abel does not currently have a date set for his surgery, but expects to undergo the procedure in the near future. Recovery time for Tommy John surgery is approximately 12-16 months, which means Beavers fans can expect to see Abel back on the mound sometime next season. 

With Abel out, junior left-hander Brandon Eisert has stepped up.

The reliever-turned-starter has been Oregon State’s Friday night starter against California, Washington and Utah, and recently received Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honors for his performance against Washington, where he struck out nine batters and held the Huskies scoreless on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. In Friday's game against the Utes, the lefty struck out seven and allowed seven hits and two runs in six innings of work.

It was a damn good fight, but Oregon State’s postseason run is done

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It was a damn good fight, but Oregon State’s postseason run is done

If I would have said back in January that the Oregon State women’s basketball team would make it to the NCAA Sweet 16, would you have been surprised? Maybe or maybe not, but here we are in March where the madness continues to turn heads and pull at heartstrings, and the Beavers found themselves in Albany, New York vying to play one more day in black and orange. 

This season has been quite the test for Oregon State after losing their star shooter Kat Tudor to a season-ending knee injury in the first half of their Pac-12 conference opener. Tudor brought so much offensive firepower and leadership to this squad, that she now had to do so from the bench the rest of the way. That meant senior Katie McWilliams and junior Mikayla Pivec had to step up and fill the void.

These two, along with star guard Destiny Slocum, were the backbone of the Beavers that once held a No. 7 national ranking during the regular season. Come postseason, Oregon State gritted out two tough wins over Boise State and Gonzaga before running into Louisville.

Cardinal seniors Sam Fuehring and Asia Durr, who both nearly recorded double-doubles in the meeting, carried Louisville over Oregon State 61-44 on Friday evening: Fuehring with 17 points and nine rebounds and Durr with 17 points and eight rebounds. The Cardinals came out firing in the first quarter shooting 50% from the field and from three-point range. Coming into the game, Louisville was averaging 7.9 three pointers per game, and hit six alone in the first half.

Unfortunately, it was the opposite story on the other end of the court. Oregon State would finish the game hitting 2-of-22 from three-point range and scoring just 13 total points in the second and third quarters combined. 

Pivec, who head coach Scott Rueck calls one of the more underrated players in the country, lead the Beavers with 17 points, grabbed nine rebounds, and dished three assists.

It was not the way the Beavers wanted to finish their remarkable season, but the way the team overcame adversity just minutes into their conference season, is something to look back on and be proud of.

“Just really proud of this team and what we were able to accomplish this year,” said senior Katie McWilliams in her last game as a Beaver. “They always have us an underdogs and we always exceed expectations. I’m happy with what happened this year and even though we don’t want to end like this, making it to a Sweet 16 is quite the accomplishment.”

The battle is on among the Trail Blazer bigs for Nurkic's minutes

The battle is on among the Trail Blazer bigs for Nurkic's minutes

ATLANTA – Wednesday night in Chicago, the Trail Blazers had it pretty easy, playing a Bulls team that resembled an NBA Summer League squad.

It won’t be that easy for the rest of the four-game trip, which features a Friday night game against the Hawks.

But perhaps more important than the games themselves is the battle that’s being waged among the Portland big men to fill the open minutes created by the absence of injured center Jusuf Nurkic for the upcoming playoffs.

Coach Terry Stotts has already said that for the rest of the regular season he’s going to be looking at combinations and players.

That’s code for searching for his most able post-season lineups and rotations.

And replacing Nurkic is going to take more than one player. It's likely going to be a combination based on matchups and specific skills of the players.

“The next two weeks we’re going to look at different combinations,” Stotts said after the Chicago game. “Zach (Collins) played a little five out there by himself and that was good to see. I was hoping to get Skal (Labissiere) in a little bit earlier, but that front line was a little big.”

For the record, Stotts used Enes Kanter as the starter and he played 21:51. Meyers Leonard played 18:00, Zach Collins played 25:04 and Labissiere played 3:56.

It’s been apparent all along that replacing Nurkic at the defensive end is going to be much tougher – if not impossible – than finding his points at the offensive end.

At first glance it may have appeared that Portland had a good defensive effort at Chicago. The Bulls shot only 42.9 percent from the floor and scored just 98.

But there was more to it than that. The Bulls had 58 points in the paint and missed several point-blank attempts at the basket. A more talented team is going to attempt to punish Portland at the basket with Nurkic unavailable.

All of the centers can score but only Collins offers any sort of rim protection and even though he’s just a second-year player, he is probably the one who brings the best combination of offense and defense.

But the battle is on and it was hardly fair to judge Leonard off the game Wednesday with all the rust he’s accumulated over the past month.

Kanter can score off post-ups but not in a lot of other ways and is not known as a quality defender. It’s hard to imagine Labissiere, who is promising, in the picture because of his inexperience.

Certainly all the players know what is at stake for them down the stretch of the season, even though they are reluctant to talk about it.

“Right now we all need to play well,” Collins said. “We all need to come together, obviously. We’ve got to pick up the slack. Nurk, at both ends of the floor, has been tremendous for us all year and so that’s my focus, to make sure there is no dip.”

Collins mentioned what has been his biggest problem during his NBA career so far, “I’ve got to stop fouling.”

Kanter says there isn’t much of a problem for him shifting into the starting lineup.

“I’ve started and come off the bench,” Kanter said, referring to his time in the league. “When you play with a guy like Dame and the others, that’s what makes it special and I just go out there and have a good time.”

Lillard is more worried about the chain reaction of losing a starting player and the impact it has down the rotation.

“It’s not like we’re left out there naked,” he said. “We have guys who can step up. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that now they’re not in what their original role was and now they have to be something else.

“It’s not like we don’t have guys who can come in and do good things for the team, it’s just that the hole still remains. Having to step up and do more is what makes it a challenge.”

Lillard acknowledged what’s going on with his teammates right now.

“They know what’s going on,” he said. “They’ve got to step up. They’ve been doing it the last five games or so. Zach’s been playing with confidence defensively and taking shots on offense. He’s been doing what he’s been doing since he’s been on the team – give us that big presence.”

And the battle resumes Friday night against the Hawks.

Oregon State, Gonzaga meet again in the Big Dance

Oregon State Women's Basketball

Oregon State, Gonzaga meet again in the Big Dance

While the Oregon Ducks are on their way to the Sweet 16, there’s another team in Oregon still dancing.

The Oregon State women’s basketball team survived the first round of the NCAA Tournament with a five-point win in overtime over No. 13 Boise State on Saturday. While the Beavers managed to see another day in March Madness, next up they’ll face their biggest test yet: the No. 5 Gonzaga Bulldogs. 

The two teams have met just three times in program history with their last meeting coming in the NCAA Tournament in 2014, the year the Bulldogs upset the Beavers in the second round 76-64 to advance to the Sweet 16.

Beavers to keep an eye on 

Leading fourth-seeded Oregon State is guard Mikayla Pivec, who scored a clutch bucket with 17 seconds remaining to send the Beavers to overtime against Boise State. The All-Pac-12 selection finished the night with 20 points, 12 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Alongside Pivec, sharpshooter Aleah Goodman went 6-9 from the floor and was a perfect 5-for-5 from the line for 20 points. The Pac-12 Sixth Player of the Year has now scored in double digits in eight of the last 11 games.

All-Pac-12 honoree Destiny Slocum has scored at least 15 points in 19 of her last 32 games, but was held to just eight points against the Broncos.

Bulldogs to watch 

The Zags (29-4) strong inside game and red-hot three-point shooting will challenge Oregon State, who dominated the boards against Boise State.

Gonzaga is coming off a 68-51 win over No. 12 Little Rock, and a masterful performance from guard Katie Campbell. The junior was 5-of-6 from long range against the Trojans, and added seven boards, two blocks, one assist and a steal.

Senior forward Zykera Rice scored 18 points on 8-14 shooting along with six rebounds for the Zags. She scored 10 points in the final period to send Gonzaga to the round of 32.

The winner of Monday’s game will advance to the Albany Regional, where they’ll face top-seeded Louisville on Friday. Tip off for tonight's game is set for 6:00 p.m. at Gill Coliseum.

Beavers ‘run out of steam’ in Pac-12 Tournament

Beavers ‘run out of steam’ in Pac-12 Tournament

It wasn’t the result the Oregon State men’s basketball team could have hoped for, but the Beavers could still have an opportunity to finish the season on a high note.

After falling to Colorado 73-58 in Thursday’s quarterfinal game of the Pac-12 Men’s Basketball Tournament, Oregon State’s chances of making the NCAA Tournament have officially dissipated.

And their odds of making the National Invitational Tournament look slim too.

Oregon State (18-13) could accept a berth Sunday in the College Basketball Invitational to continue its season, which the Beavers last won in 2009 with then-coach Craig Robinson.

Forward Tres Tinkle seems willing to compete.

“We look back and we see that there were a handful of games we could’ve won, should’ve won, but we feel like our season is not over yet,” Tinkle said.

Listen to clip above to hear more from head coach Wayne Tinkle, junior Tres Tinkle and senior Stephen Thompson Jr., following Thursday’s loss.

The Oregon State Cinderella story vanished just as quickly as it arrived

The Oregon State Cinderella story vanished just as quickly as it arrived

LAS VEGAS - With the Pac-12 Tournament wide open, it appeared this season could be Oregon State’s chance to take the crown. The Beavers (18-13, 10-8 Pac-12) earned a coveted first round bye, finished with their best conference record since the 1989-90 season and had a veteran team full of playmakers. Alas, the Oregon State Cinderella story vanished just as quickly as it arrived, losing to Colorado, 73-58, in the quarterfinals.

Also maybe gone? Oregon State’s chances of making the NIT tournament. The Beavers were a bubble team and a win over fifth-seeded Colorado (21-11, 10-8)  would have been a good and needed resume boost. Instead, the Beavers depart Las Vegas with Selection Sunday outcome looking gloom and out of their hands. If the CBI Tournament calls, OSU could accept an invitation to the smaller postseason tournament. 

Following the loss, OSU coach Wayne Tinkle held out hope for the NIT, “We’ll see,” Tinkle said. “My take is; if it’s the right situation, these guys have had a remarkable year and have earned an opportunity… But we’ll take that as it comes down the road.” 

Seems a shame that a season full of highs should end abruptly in Las Vegas during OSU’s first game that showcased many lows. Oregon State’s 18 first half points were the lowest of the season and its five total assists were also a low. The Beavers did not make a three pointer in the first half, despite the nine attempts from beyond the arc.

Another low; Fourth-seeded OSU was the first higher seeded team to be “upset” in the conference tournament.

OSU trailed by as many as 21 points in the first half but roared out of the locker room after halftime, coming to life for a second half comeback that would eventually fall short. The Beavers cut the deficit to six points with two 10-0 runs and exciting play from Tres Tinkle, Ethan Thompson and Stephan Thompson Jr., all which reached double-digit scoring marks.

Tinkle led the Beavers with 23 points, his fifth-consecutive game scoring 20-plus.

Colorado took back the momentum, extended its winning streak to five games, and eliminated the Beavers.

"They came out and made shots, got confident and we just didn't really do much to try to stop it," Tinkle said. 

The Cinderella story quickly turned scary; The Beavers' flat start doomed them from the start and sent them packing back to Corvallis.