Beavers take series against Cardinal

Brian Rathbone Sports Contributor

Oregon State offense erupts for 11 runs en-route to series victory

Less than 24 hours after being shut out for only the third time all season, the Oregon State baseball team exploded for 11 runs on 14 hits in the 11-4 series-clinching win over the Stanford Cardinal.

After only scoring three runs in the first two games in the series, the Beavers (28-12, 10-8 Pac-12) shuffled up the lineup. Head coach Pat Casey swapped sophomore first basemen KJ Harrison and catcher Logan in batting order, having Harrison bat fourth and moving Ice into the three-hole.

Casey also moved usual second basemen Nick Madrigal to shortstop replacing junior Trever Morrison, playing junior Caleb Hamilton at second and playing freshman Andy Atwood in right field against the Cardinal (20-18, 8-10)

“The baseball gods said we need to do something different,” Casey said. “We were kinda standing around playing the same guys and (we decided) to shake things up a bit.”

The move paid off. Madrigal started the first-inning rally with a stand-up triple, his fourth of the season. Junior catcher Logan Ice drove home Madrigal for with a bloop single to give the Beavers their first run since the ninth inning on Friday’s series opening game.

The next batter, Harrison launched his second homerun of the series and seventh of the season to bring home Ice and give the Beavers a 3-0 lead.

“It was a curveball and it just hung,” Harrison said. “I was able to put a good swing on it, (Stanford) was trying to throw me backwards the whole weekend.”

Stanford’s starting pitcher Ander Summerville would not escape the inning, it was fifth time this season that the Beavers have chased the opponents starter before the end of the first inning.

The Beavers led 5-0 after one.

“For the whole line up to get going and everyone starts to get hot in the first inning, you start the day off on a strong note and it gives some pitchers some breathing room,” Harrison said. “It just loosens up the whole atmosphere. It was great to start off that way.”

In the first two games of the series, Stanford had jumped out to early leads, scoring in the opening frame. Sunday, the Beavers flipped the script, scoring five runs–more than they had in the previous 18 innings of the series.

Jake Thompson started the game off strong on the mound. Through the first four innings, the junior right-hander had allowed one hit and had retired eight consecutive batters. Thompson was effective getting Stanford hitters to hit the ball on the ground, seven of the 13 batters he faces grounded out.

“His slider was working early,” said Harrison. “He’s been continuing to make improvement, it was great to see do what he did today.”

Thompson ran into trouble in the fourth inning when a throwing error from Madrigal ended Thompson streak of retired batters.

Following the error, Thompson walked three of the next four batters he faced before surrendering a two-run single to sophomore first basemen Matt Winaker cut the lead Beaver lead to 5-3. Thompson’s day was done after that.

“I thought that he let (Madrigal’s error) bother him and he shouldn’t have,” said Casey. “His stuff was really, really good.

“We were letting him get out of the game, but when it get’s to the point where you aren’t throwing the ball in the zone, we have to make a change.”

Clinging to a two-run lead, the Beavers went to freshman Bryce Fehmel, who has become a reliable source out of the bullpen with the limited number of arms in OSU’s pitching staff.

The infielder turned pitcher provided 4 1/3 innings of relief allowing one run on three hits while striking out six. Fehmel picked up his second win of the series and eighth of the season.

“My fastball was working, I felt like I could throw it where I wanted, which allowed me to throw my other pitches as well,” said Fehmel. “The changeup was working well, and the slider was stealing strikes early in the count.”

With the series win, the Beavers keep pace is the tight Pac-12 race that has 10 teams within striking distance of claiming the Pac-12 crown.

“It’s a tight Pac this year so we have to keep winning, maybe sweep some series,” said Fehmel.

On Twitter: @brathbone3

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