Logan Ice coming up big for the Beavers

Logan Ice 1

Brian Rathbone Sports Contributor

Logan Ice was a popular man following the Beavers 5-4 walk-off win over Seattle University Tuesday evening.

The junior catcher was mobbed by his teammates following the walk-off double to the left-field wall in the 11th inning, propelling Oregon State to victory.

Then a simple “thank you, Logan” was given at the entrance of the clubhouse from junior closer Max Engelbrekt—who had blown the lead in the ninth inning, then earned the victory thanks to Ice’s hit.

It has been that kind of year for the team captain.

Ice has been the starting catcher since he arrived on campus in 2014. He has always been a big contributor behind the plate, but in his junior season he has started to do damage at the plate.

Hitting in the middle of the order in 2016, Ice has seen his batting average jump a whole percentage point from the .276 he hit as a sophomore to the .386 he is hitting right now. He ranks in the top-5 in the Pac-12 in batting average, slugging, on base percentage, runs batted in and walks.

On the heels of coming up with the biggest hits in two of the three OSU victories, head coach Pat Casey offered high praise to his third-year starting catcher.

“One of the best players in the country,” Casey said. “That’s all there is to it.”

Coming through with runners on:

On Friday the Beavers open a critical three-game series against the Arizona Wildcats in Tucson, Ariz, the Wildcats are one of the few teams in the conference that could make the argument that their offense is every bit as potent as the Beavers.

Despite leading the conference in several offensive categories, the OSU has been in a bit of a slump at the plate. Outside of the of the 11-run outburst on Sunday against Stanford, the Beavers are averaging just two runs over their past four games.

Against Seattle on Tuesday, the Beavers lineup hit .341 as a team in the 11-inning affair, but only managed to hit .250 with runners on base. Casey is left searching for answers to break out of the team-wide slump with runners on base.

“We talk about getting pitches to hit,” Casey said. “We talk about staying relaxed. We talk about making sure we get a ball that’s elevated. We talk about everything. We just haven’t executed in that area of the game.”

Improving on the defense:

While the bats have been quiet and the pitching staff continues to sort itself out, the Beaver’s defense has picked up the slack, only committing three errors in the past 79 innings.

Tuesday night, sophomore left fielder Christian Donahue and junior shortstop Trever Morrison flashed the leather, robbing hits from the Seattle batters. The improvement has stemmed from players settling into their new roles defensively.

“I think pound-for-pound us and a couple other teams are the best defensively, ability-wise” Ice said. “We got players top-to-bottom that run around out there, and it’s absolutely unbelievable some of the plays that they make.

“I think early on there was a little bit of tension, a little bit of pressing, some back luck, some bad hops…baseball happens. Guys are starting to play with a little more swag, knowing they can make those plays.”

In the Beavers’ one-run victory over the Red Hawks, they were able to get two runners out at third for the final out in the fourth and sixth inning by way of relay throws from the outfield. The final out in the sixth saved a run as the out at third was made before the runner could touch home.

Tedious relay drills being practiced since fall ball turned out to be the difference between winning and losing.

“The ball goes in the gap, the guy didn’t run very hard to the plate and it cost them a run because we did a good job of relaying the ball—it’s just the little things of baseball,” Ice said. “Especially in one-run ball games, it comes down to little things, and that was one of those things that was something that you can look back on and say ‘that changed the game.’”