With the first of two early-season tournaments in Surprise, AZ, in the books, the Oregon State baseball team posted a 3-1 record with big wins over the Big Ten’s Minnesota and Pac-12 rival Utah in the process. The team next plays four more games in Surprise this weekend, two each against the Big XII’s Kansas and Kansas State.
While the team’s starting pitching wasn’t consistently good, the Beavers offense was sure rolling, scoring 34 runs in four games. Three different hitters started all four games and are hitting over .400, currently: Trever Morrison (.563), Cadyn Grenier (.455) and Nick Madrigal (.421). Meanwhile, closer Max Engelbrekt notched two key saves in the tournament.
In the season opener on Friday, OSU downed Ball State, 7-6, behind four hits from Madrigal and 2.1 shutout innings from the back end of the bullpen. Drew Rasmussen got the win, although he gave up three runs in 5.2 innings. Six walks from Beavers pitchers gave the Cardinals hope, as Ball State managed only seven hits on the day. Three runs in the seventh inning of OSU relievers made the game closer than it needed to be.
The Beavers dropped their second game, this one against Utah Valley, by a 12-9 score, on Saturday. It’s never good losing to a school most fans have never heard of, but OSU starter Jake Thompson gave up seven hits and six runs in just 2.1 innings of work. The Beavers gave up 11 walks in this game, and despite a six-run sixth inning from the offense, Oregon State couldn’t close the gap.
In the third game, OSU recovered to beat the Golden Gophers on Sunday: The Beavers broke a 7-7 tie in the bottom of the eighth inning to escape with the 8-7 victory. Starter Travis Eckert went six innings, but he surrendered 12 hits and six runs in the process. Meanwhile, Morrison’s three hits and Madrigal’s three RBI made the difference for the offense as the latter drove in the game-winning run with a single.
The tournament finale for the Beavers happened on Monday, and it was a good finish as OSU dropped the Utes, 10-2. This is the kind of game we will be more accustomed to seeing from the No. 5 Beavers in 2016: over six innings from starter Luke Heimlich and only two runs. With the bats, five different Oregon State hitters got at least two hits a piece. That is some balance and a team effort overall.
For his efforts, Madrigal was named Pac-12 Player of the Week: According to OSU, Madrigal’s honor is the 67th Player of the Week award earned by a Beavers player since 1986. That’s the third-best total in the conference, trailing only Arizona State and Stanford. Considering Madrigal is a freshman, this bodes well for the OSU squad’s chances at reaching Omaha this season.
The Beavers’ first home game of the season will be on March 11.