The Oregon State baseball team may be ranked No. 14 in the nation still, but the Beavers are merely sixth in the Pac-12 Conference right now. Those two realities don’t jibe well, especially after OSU lost two of three games to Washington State on the road last weekend—the last-place Cougars, that is.
With a 23-9 record for the entire season, the Beavers have the best record in the conference overall. However, that doesn’t mean much you can’t take at least two of three from the worst team in the conference. The OSU bullpen, specifically, had a rough time in Pullman agains Washington State, and that group will have to recover soon—like today, as the Beavers travel to Eugene to take on the Oregon Ducks for a single-game set.
But more on that later. Here is a quick recap of how the games went down against the Cougars:
- Thursday was the only good day of the week for Oregon State. The Beavers won the opener in Pullman, 12-3, behind a solid start from Travis Eckert. The senior righty allowed just two runs in seven innings, as the OSU lineup exploded. WSU pitchers issued 10 walks on the day, and the Beavers took full advantage. Jack Anderson and Kyle Nobach each drove in three runs in the OSU victory.
- Things definitely changed on Friday, as the Beavers managed just four hits in the 7-5 loss. OSU took the lead still, though, with a three-run, seventh-inning rally. Junior righty Jake Thompson did well enough, allowing three runs in six innings, but the bullpen faltered once the Beavers had the lead. Freshman lefty Jordan Britton took it on the chin, allowing four runs in just two thirds of an inning. Just like that, the Cougars snatched the game back and went on to win.
- On Saturday, OSU had its chances to win the weekend series, but sophomore lefty Luke Heimlich surrendered eight hits and four runs in just six innings. Two relievers finished the game by giving up four more runs in the final two innings as WSU won, 8-3. The Beavers mustered only eight hits in defeat.
One other problem for the OSU squad has been giving up unearned runs, as the result of poor defense and pitching focus. In the two losses, the Beavers gave away three unearned runs, and for the season now defensively, OSU ranks just 164th in the nation with a .965 fielding percentage.
It’s easy to claim the Beavers have a talented team that just hasn’t found its sweet spot yet, but time is running out for OSU. The team has five road games coming up in a row, starting today and ending on April 27 in Eugene with single games. In the middle, the Beavers travel to first-place Utah for a three-game set starting Thursday. Clearly, that’s going to be a big moment for Oregon State.
The Beavers have 20 conference games left—and 23 contests overall—in the regular season. That is plenty of time to get things in order, but the longer OSU waits to click, the harder it will be to stay relevant in the national college-baseball conversation.