Beavers drop weekend series to visiting Stanford

Sophomore+Infielder%2C+Garret+Forrester%2C+takes+his+batting+stance+against+the+Stanford+Cardinal+on+April+3+inside+of+Goss+Stadium.+Forrester+has++been+hitting+at+an+.277+average+for+this+2022+season.+

Lily Middleton: OMN Photographer

Sophomore Infielder, Garret Forrester, takes his batting stance against the Stanford Cardinal on April 3 inside of Goss Stadium. Forrester has been hitting at an .277 average for this 2022 season.

Ben Pahl, Sports Contributor

The Oregon State baseball team suffered their first series loss of the season on Sunday at the hands of the Stanford Cardinal, dropping two out of a three-game set over the weekend.

In Friday’s series opener, Oregon State wasted a masterful pitching performance from sophomore Cooper Hjerpe, who struck out seventeen hitters against one walk and didn’t allow a single run.  Despite out-hitting the Cardinal 9-5 the Beavers couldn’t get a run across the plate, and a 10th-inning double from freshman Braden Montgomery gave Stanford a 1-0 win in that contest.  Four out of the Beavers’ five hits came from designated hitter Wade Meckler, who went four for five at the plate on Friday.

Despite this setback, Oregon State responded with an extra-innings victory of their own on Saturday.  After a defensive battle all afternoon, the game headed into the eleventh where sophomore Right Fielder Justin Boyd singled to right, driving in Wade Meckler for the walk-off victory.  Stanford was able to force Oregon State’s freshman starter Jacob Kmatz out of the game by putting up two runs in the fifth, however, the Beaver bullpen delivered with junior Ben Ferrer pitching five shutout innings.  Something else of note from this game is that all nine Oregon State hits came from the top five of their batting lineup, and Wade Meckler stayed hot, going three for five and scoring the winning run.  After splitting a pair of extra-inning contests, the stage was set for a Sunday rubber match.

In the early innings on Sunday afternoon, it certainly looked like the third-ranked Beavers were on their way to another series win.  After forcing Cardinal starter Drew Dowd to be pulled in the third inning, Oregon State took advantage of a bases-loaded situation to build an early lead.  Stanford relief pitcher Quinn Mathews struggled mightily at first, walking three straight batters with the bases loaded, then throwing a wild pitch that put the Beavers up 5-0.

From that point on, however, it was all downhill for the third-ranked Beavers.  The Cardinal plated three runs in the fourth inning to get right back in the game, and then took the lead with two more in the sixth.  After an explosive third inning, the Beavers’ bats went cold, and Quinn Mathews rebounded from a nightmarish start to pitch the remaining six innings and closed it out for the Cardinal.

After losing a home series to an unranked opponent, there are always questions that need to be answered.  However, it seems that the obvious problem this weekend would be Oregon State’s lack of offense.  After combining for 36 runs in their previous three contests at Cal and Nevada(twice), the Beavers mustered just three runs in their first two games against Stanford, both of those games going over nine innings.  After a phenomenal offensive start in the series finale, the Beavers’ bats went quiet and put up just two hits and no runs after the third inning.

While it’s easy to blame a lack of hitting for the series loss, we can’t completely ignore the pitching side either, especially in Sunday’s rubber match.  After Oregon State starter AJ Lattery got lit up for five hits and three runs in the fourth and fifth innings, relief pitcher Mitchell Verburg faced just three batters and gave up the lead.  After taking the hill in the eight, junior Brock Townsend coughed up two more insurance runs to extend Stanford’s lead.  The Beaver defense also committed two errors on the afternoon.

Despite the series result, there are still upsides to take away from this weekend, most notably being the dominance of sophomore Left-Handed Pitcher Cooper Hjerpe.  Hjerpe tied the Oregon State strikeout record by fanning seventeen batters on Friday night, and he now holds a sub-two ERA of 1.94 in 42 innings pitched this season.  Also on the hill, Ryan Brown looked solid in Saturday’s relief performance and didn’t allow a run en route to picking up the win.

At the plate, there is admittedly not as much to talk about after a cold-hitting series.  However, Left Fielder Wade Meckler was a bright spot this weekend, going a phenomenal eight for ten in the first two games against Stanford.

The Beavers will have little time to reminisce on the series loss, as they travel to Portland to take on the Pilots for a single game on Tuesday.  After that, they will head to Southern California to take on the USC Trojans in a three-game conference set.