Nick Madrigal

Fifth-inning nightmare dooms Beavers in CWS

Fifth-inning nightmare dooms Beavers in CWS

OMAHA –  Just one inning -- one nightmare inning -- and Oregon State has its back to the wall again after losing Game 1 of the College World Series championship round to Arkansas Tuesday night in front of 25,321 fans in TD Ameritrade Park.

The Beavers scored first but only once and lost 4-1 in the opener of the best-of-three series.

Trevor Larnach hit the first pitch of the bottom of the second on a line to right field for a double, the first hit of the game for either side. After Adley Rutschman struck out, Tyler Malone reached base on a slow grounder to short that moved Larnach to third. Michael Grettler followed with a hump-back liner over shortstop to drive in the game’s first run and stake Luke Heimlich to a 1-0 lead.

The Beavers ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth when they had runners at first and third and none out. Malone hit a one-hopper to first and Rutschman was charged with interference on a play at second. That meant Malone was also called out and the runner had to return to third base. It cost the Beavers a run and they didn’t score in the inning.

Then in the top of the fifth, disaster struck. Heimlich got the first out of the inning and couldn’t get another one. A couple of hits, an error by Madrigal and a couple of hit batters chased him before Christian Chamberlain came on to walk a run in with four straight balls.

Chamberlain snuffed out the rally with a pair of strikeouts but the Razorbacks got four runs in the inning. At that point Arkansas led 4-1 and Oregon State had outhit the Razorbacks 5-3. Chamberlain did a sensational job of finishing the game off for OSU, going the rest of the way while not allowing a run and fanning 11 over the final four and two-thirds innings.

The Beavers were involved in another controversial situation in the fifth when Cadyn Grenier’s liner down the right-field line was called foul but reversed upon review. The umpires were then put in a position where they had to place runners where they should have been had the ball been called fair. Then placed Steven Kwan at third, which was probably correct, but Grenier was sent to first when he should have been at second.

But Madrigal lined out to second to end that inning.

Oregon State faces its fifth must-win game of the Series Wednesday night at 4 o'clock (PDT) and right-hander Bryce Fehmel is the anticipated OSU starter.



Beavers face big challenge vs. Razorbacks in CWS

Beavers face big challenge vs. Razorbacks in CWS

OMAHA – Oregon State finally has that elimination-game monkey off its back as it opens the best-of-three championship round in the College World Series Monday (4 p.m.) against Arkansas.

But it’s not going to be easy to avoid defeat against the Razorbacks.

Arkansas survived the Southeastern Conference and won three out of five from defending national champ Florida, including eliminating the Gators last week.

Arkansas is deep, dangerous and rested – having had to play just three games to get to this point and with its talented pitching staff rested and rotated back around to the top.

The Beavers are expected to face the Arkansas ace, unbeaten right-hander Blaine Knight (13-0, 2.88 ERA) in the first game of the series. The Razorbacks have a 3.55 team earned run average that’s 29th in the country.

On top of that, it’s going to be difficult to keep their hitters in the ballpark. Arkansas was third nationally in home runs with 98, paced by sophomore outfielder Dominic Fletcher, who is 8 for 14 with two homers and eight RBIs in three games here. He is the only California recruit on the Razorback roster.

It could be an interesting series because the high-powered OSU offense is likely going to have to get a little more help from its starting pitchers in order to win.

The ‘Backs are 33-3 when they score six or more runs in a game but only 14-16 when they tally fewer than that.

The Beavers had to win four straight elimination games to make it this far and their pitching staff is showing signs of stress – especially the top two starters, Luke Heimlich (16-2) and Bryce Fehmel (10-1).

The Beavers have yet to get anything close to a quality start in the CWS and need at least one to give the over-used bullpen a rest.

So far, Coach Pat Casey has been coy about who will be his Game 1 starter but he needs someone to step up and give him at least five innings.

“Now we haven’t got one quality start out of our two best guys in four starts for them,” he said. “And so therefore – I’m being up front – that’s puzzling to me. I’m not positive how we got to that point to where we can continue to play when the freshman gives us the big start we’ve had.”

The way the Beavers have been scoring, the pitching hasn’t had to be flawless – but it’s going to have to be adequate in the final series.

And expect OSU to continue to score, especially if second baseman Nick Madrigal can snap out of a mild slump. The No. 4 pick in the recent big-league draft is hitting only .257 here – far below his season average of .395.

But don’t expect the Beavers to be the darlings of the home crowd. Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn coached at Nebraska for five seasons and is still very popular in these parts.

GAME NOTES: Casey will likely choose between Heimlich, Brandon Eisert and Christian Chamberlain on the mound in the opener of the series. … Centerfielder Steven Kwan, who has been out with hamstring strain, got an at bat and played an inning in the field in the Saturday game vs. Mississippi State but Casey would not pronounce him ready to go Monday. “You know, last night I probably allowed my trust in the players to get to me,” Casey said Sunday. “He wanted to get an at bat and go into the game and he was 100 percent and it was probably against my better judgment that I allowed that to happen. And so thank God nothing was hit to him.”

Beavers sweep through regional... But are Madrigal and Rasmussen OK?

Beavers sweep through regional... But are Madrigal and Rasmussen OK?

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.


Pac-12 honors: Beavers, Beavers everywhere

Pac-12 honors: Beavers, Beavers everywhere

It has been a busy day in Beaver Nation, as a record-setting season was rewarded with numerous individual accolades.

The Pac-12 conference announced its season awards today, and it was littered with Beavers.

Oregon led the conference with six players named to the All-Pac-12 Team: RJr. OF Jack Anderson, So. SS Cadyn Grenier, Jr. 1B KJ Harrison, Jr. LHP Luke Heimlich, So. 2B Nick Madrigal, and RJr. RHP Jake Thompson. Arizona had the second most selections, with five players making the team.

Oregon State also was one of only two schools, Utah being the other, to have multiple players named to the Pac-12 All-Defensive Team: So. 2B Nick Madrigal and So. OF Steven Kwan.

Oh, but the Beavers weren’t done. Oregon State also won four of the six individual awards.

Madrigal added to his accomplishments this season by being named both the Pac-12 Defensive Player of the Year, and the Pac-12 Player of the Year. Madrigal batted .377, with 77 hits, four home runs, and 31 RBIs this season.

Madrigal was among the top five in the conference in multiple offensive statistics including batting average, slugging percentage, on base percentage, hits, doubles, and stolen bases.

Defensively Madrigal committed just four errors on the season, good for a .981 fielding percentage, and was named to the All-Defensive team for the second year in a row.

Moving to the mound, star Pitcher Luke Heimlich was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year. Not only is Heimlich the best pitcher in the conference, he is one of the best in the entire nation. His .81 earned run average is the best in the country, he boasts the fourth best WHIP (.80), and his 10 victories tie him for third most on the season. He is also one of five finalists for the College Baseball Hall of Fame’s National Pitcher of the Year award.

The final individual award the program took home went to a very deserving Pat Casey, who was named Pac-12 Coach of Year.  The man who helped put OSU baseball on the map takes the award for the fifth time in his career, first winning it in 2005. Behind Casey the Beavers set a Pac-12 record with 27 conference wins, and are on pace for the greatest single-season winning percentage in history.

But wait, there’s still more.

Heimlich and fellow pitcher Jake Thompson were named First-Team All-Americans, and Madrigal was named a Third-Team All-American. The All-American selections are a first for all three players.

The future may bring some more hardware the Beavers’ way. Both Heimlich and Madrigal have been named semifinalist for the 2017 Golden Spikes Award, an award given annually to the top amateur player in the nation. The finalists for the award will be announced on June 14.

The Beavers get to put all this talent to good use on Friday when they host Holy Cross in the first game of the NCAA Regionals. First pitch is set for 8:00 at Goss Stadium.