Rathbone: Stealing signs can’t stop OSU Baseball

Brian Rathbone, News/Sports Chief

Steven Kwan drove home the winning run in the bottom on the ninth inning to give the Beavers a 5-4 walk-off win over the Utah Utes.

It was No. 1 Oregon State’s 21st straight win of the year.

Twenty One.

The wins keep rolling in, even when they are off their game—like they were against Utah Friday night—they can find ways to win. The Beavers gave up a three-run lead, then had to score two runs late in the game after the Utes took the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning.

Utah has been an annoyance for the Oregon State baseball team dating back to 2015. It started when poor travel plans forced a pivotal game to end in a tie because Utah had a plane to catch—OSU narrowly missed out on hosting a regional round in the NCAA tournament.

Then, in 2016, Utah—who finished with a sub-.500 overall record—won the Pac-12 and kept the Beavers out of postseason play.

So it was no surprise that the game turned heated in the fourth inning when Utah’s third base coach was accused by the Oregon State coaches in the dugout of stealing signs.

Now this isn’t the first time that’s happened to Oregon State, two weeks ago against Arizona, the Wildcats tried the same gimmick.

Of course, it didn’t work for them either, OSU silenced the then ninth-ranked Arizona and their loud bats in a three-game sweep.   

Still, two times feels like a high number for stealing signs–especially in a three week period. In my two-plus years of covering the team I haven’t seen it happen once. Somewhere the late Al Davis is smiling for what Arizona and Utah have tried to pull off.

But it hasn’t mattered, stealing signs or not, this Beaver team is putting up absurd numbers, starting with the 21-game win streak.

So here you have it, crazy Beaver Baseball stats through 27 games versus the number of times opposing coaches have tried to steal OSU’s signs.

We will start with Friday’s starter Luke Heimlich, the junior right-hander went gave up two (TWO!) runs in  6 1/3 innings, giving up six hits while striking out eight Utah batters. It was Heimlich’s worst outing of the year, but has still been putting up video game-like numbers through the season.

The number of extra base hit that Heimlich has given in 58 2/3 innings: Four

The number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

The number of walks Heimlich has given up this season: 14

The number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

The number of games Heimlich has given up more than one run: One—he gave up two runs tonight against the Utes.

The number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

Those numbers should not be that close. Have you heard about Nick Madrigal? He’s good too.

The number of times the sophomore shortstop has struck out this year: six—in 114 at bats.

The number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

The number of games Madrigal has been held without a hit: Four, getting hits in 23 of last 25 games.

The number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

But wait, there’s more.

The number of runs freshman left-hander Jake Mulholland has given up in 25 1/3 innings of relief: Two. It was zero entering tonight, but still impressive.

The number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

The number of hits closer Max Engelbrekt has given up this year:4

The number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

The number of walk-off wins for OSU this year: Three. Two in Pac-12 games.

The number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

And finally, the one that matters the most.

Number of times OSU has lost this year: One

Number of times opposing teams have tried stealing OSU’s signs: Two

It’s been 21 up, 21 down for Oregon State since Feb. 21 when Oregon State last lost. Maybe their signs are worth stealing.