Notebook: Bryce Fehmel continues to deliver for Beavers’ pitching staff

Joshua Lucas Daily Barometer
Bryce Fehmel

Brian Rathbone Senior Beat Reporter

In arguably the biggest game of the season, Bryce Fehmel made his first career start against a Pac-12 opponent. Not only was it his first career start, but he was facing a daunting USC offense that had tagged OSU pitchers for 10 runs the day before.

None of that phased the unflappable freshman right-hander.

“Nothing really bothers me,” Fehmel said. “I got two older brothers who always made fun of me, made me strong physically and mentally so I just learned to not let anything bother me or get to me.”

With a personal cheering section of over 20 friends and family members who made the hour drive from Fehmel’s hometown of Agoura, Calif., to the USC campus, the So-Cal kid delivered a big performance when the team needed it most.

In Sunday’s rubber-match against the Pac-12’s top-rated offense, Fehmel allowed only one run on six hits while striking out five Trojan batters over 7 1/3 innings of work.

“I was throwing a lot of sliders first pitch to get ahead and then I was spotting up my fastball pretty well,” Fehmel said. “Then throwing the slider when I was ahead, (USC) was either swinging through it or grounding out. Everything was working pretty well.”

Fehmel’s performance is no surprise, he has already worn many different hats early in his college career. He started as a position player before being moved to the bullpen where he quickly made an impact, even getting the reputation amongst his fellow pitchers for stealing wins.

In his freshman campaign, Fehmel leads the team in wins (nine) and has the lowest earned run average (2.66). Head coach Pat Casey said that the plan is to keep Fehmel penciled in as the Sunday starter against UCLA.

However, should the Beavers find themselves in a close game on either Friday or Saturday’s game against the Bruins, Casey could turn to Fehmel out of the bullpen similar how he was utilized in the Beavers’ Game 2 win over Oregon two weeks ago.

“Friday and Saturday are pretty important as far how things go,” Casey said.

Grenier comes through

The Beavers got another boost from a freshman against the Trojans. Cadyn Grenier filled in for fellow freshman Nick Madrigal at second base.

Up until Friday’s game, Grenier had not played the position this season. Although he had taken reps during fall ball and days leading up to the series, the position switch brought on its own challenges.

“You are on a totally different side of the field and it’s a much different angle because you are a lot closer to the line (at third) and you are more central at second,” Grenier said. “You see the ball and pitches different, you have a couple more responsibilities at second—talking with the outfielders, commuting with (shortstop Trever Morrison) a lot more than I was when I was playing third.”

In the ninth inning of Friday’s game, Grenier came up with two key defensive plays to preserve the 3-1 victory over USC.

“He made some big plays,” Casey said. “It was impressive to see him play, I know what kind of athlete he is and what kind of defender he is, but it’s hard to put a guy in a position he hasn’t ever played, and he played it tremendously.”

Grenier also delivered in the batter’s box. Having made 43 starts this season, Grenier struggled with the bat—hitting .177 during conference play—to the point where he was scratched from the starting lineup.

It was the first time that Grenier remembers sitting out consecutive games in his baseball career. During the time off he was able to refocus on his game.

“I’ve been making a couple of adjustments everyday with my swing that really helped” Grenier said. “Just clearing my mind, I started to feel a little more like myself again.”

In the Beavers series win against USC, Grenier found his rhythm in the batter’s box, contributed two runs and two RBIs.

“I just wanted to play well,” said Grenier. “I felt like I played one of my best series of the season.”

Madrigal Injury Update

Nick Madrigal did not start a game against USC, pushing the number of missed games to six. The freshman second baseman did however make an appearance in Sunday’s game when he was brought in as a defensive replacement in the ninth inning.

“He looked great, he didn’t have plays.” Casey said with a laugh. “We didn’t have to worry.”

Since injuring his shoulder against Portland, Madrigal has been slowly working his way back to health. Last week he was just doing field work, this week he was taking batting practice leading up to the series against UCLA.

It is still uncertain if Madrigal, hitting a team high .314 in conference play, will be back in the lineup on Friday.

“Those decisions are made by people other than me,” Casey said. “(Madrigal) is part of it, the doctor is part of it, the trainer is part of it. Nick knows how he feels more than anybody.”

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