While maintaining its stranglehold on the Pac-12 standings, the Oregon State baseball team had gone three straight weeks without a sweep.
The top-ranked Beavers were determined to end the mini-drought Sunday afternoon against California.
Jake Thompson allowed two runs in 6⅓ solid innings, and nine different Beavers recorded at least one hit in a 10-2 victory, completing the three-game series sweep before a sold out Goss Stadium crowd of 3,551.
OSU (38-4, 21-3), which opens the Civil War conference series at Oregon on Thursday, is 26-4 in its last 30 Pac-12 games dating back to last year.
“Every guy that we have on our team can contribute something,” said freshman infielder Tyler Malone, who went 2 for 2 with two RBIs off the bench. “No matter who it is, they have a role and they have something that they can bring to our team. This is all of us working toward Omaha. We’re all in it for one thing.”
The Beavers plated 29 runs in three games against California (21-24, 12-12) en route to their 10th straight league series win — including six sweeps — dating back to May 2016.
With Arizona State knocking off Stanford 9-6 on Sunday, OSU’s magic number to clinch the outright Pac-12 title is two. The Beavers are six-and-a-half games up on the Cardinal (30-13, 13-8) and UCLA (24-20, 13-8) in the conference standings.
Thompson (10-0) allowed just a pair of runs on nine hits with six strikeouts and a walk in 6⅓. California’s aggressive lineup collected five doubles off the redshirt junior right-hander.
“We got up to a 7-0 lead and (Andrew Vaughn) swung at the very first pitch when I came out,” Thompson said. “Very aggressive, very good hitting team.”
Batting cleanup for the first time since March 9, Adley Rutschman went 1 for 4 with two RBIs. Rutschman, a freshman catcher from Sherwood High, finished the series 3 for 11 with six RBIs.
California starter Matt Ladrech (2-2) was charged with the loss after giving up six runs on seven hits in 4⅔. The junior lefty walked three and struck out none.
Ladrech baffled the Beavers a season ago, throwing 7⅔ innings of no-hit relief in a 5-3 win.
“We had talked about what we wanted to do with him and I think our guys actually did that," coach Pat Casey said. I think last year we got a little antsy. Playing at home, we probably had a little energy.”
OSU quickly got to Ladrech this time around, taking a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first.
Nick Madrigal was hit by a pitch to open the frame, went to second on a Steven Kwan groundout and scored when Rutschman slapped the first pitch he saw into right field. Jeffrey Mitchell Jr.’s throw home beat Madrigal but was well up the third-base line, allowing the sophomore to slide in safely.
After Thompson navigated around a Tanner Dodson one-out double in the fourth, OSU plated another run in the home half.
The Beavers loaded the bases with one out on a Jack Anderson double, a Cadyn Grenier walk and an Andy Atwood single. Michael Gretler brought home Anderson with a sacrifice fly to right-center.
OSU broke it open in the fifth, sending 10 to the plate while chasing Ladrech from the game.
Madrigal led off with a single, stole second and made it to third when Kwan beat out a sac bunt attempt for a hit. KJ Harrison then roped a double to left that brought home Madrigal and Rutschman followed with a sac fly to plate Kwan.
Two batters later, Grenier tripled to the gap in right-center to score Harrison and end Ladrech’s day. A pinch-hitting Malone later drove in Grenier and Atwood, who drew a four-pitch walk, for a 7-0 lead.
Malone, who entered the day with just four hits in 21 at-bats, said he doesn’t feel pressure to perform when given opportunities.
“I’m at a point right now where I’m pretty good because we’re playing on the No. 1-ranked team in the nation, which helps,” he said. “I understand that the guys out there are amazing and I understand the role that I’m in right now.”
Cameron Eden got California on the board with a sixth-inning RBI double, but Thompson struck Korey Lee looking to escape further trouble. The Golden Bears cut it to 7-2 one inning later on another run-scoring double — this time from Mitchell Jr. — before reliever Mitchell Verburg slammed the door.
California had 10 hits on the day after belting four homers in Saturday’s game.
“You are talking about a very good offensive club,” Casey said. “Anytime you get elevated, they made you pay for it.”
Gretler led off the eighth with a single and later scored on a wild pitch. OSU added two more unearned runs for the final margin.