Coming off a massive series victory over Pac-12-leading Stanford, there was no letdown for the Oregon State baseball team Monday evening against San Diego.
The Beavers surpassed the 20-run barrier for the first time all season en route to a 23-6, seven-inning victory before an announced crowd of 3,318 at Goss Stadium. The two-game nonconference series will conclude at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday.
“The midweek games are tough for everybody,” coach Pat Casey said. “They put everybody in a difficult situation and we probably never should’ve scheduled two. … Both teams have to use pitching that maybe doesn’t get to pitch as much as it should, so anything can happen. Fortunately we scored enough runs to separate.”
It’s the most runs OSU (39-8-1) has tallied since a 25-3 victory over Grambling State in 2015.
During OSU’s 11-run bottom of the sixth, lightly-used reserves Joe Casey, Elliot Willy and Kyler McMahan all received at-bats. Zach Clayton got to play right field in the seventh.
“They go through workouts with us, they go through practice with us, they go through everything with us and they don’t get a chance as often as they should,” starting center fielder Steven Kwan said. “So seeing them succeed, that’s everything right there.”
OSU moved up to second in Monday’s D1Baseball.com top 25 after taking two of three from then-No. 2 Stanford. The Cardinal, which lead the Pac-12 by a game and a half over OSU, fell to third in the poll.
Despite the drop in competition, the Beavers were anything but flat against the Toreros (23-31).
“You’ve got a beautiful day like this, you’re wearing a Beaver uniform,” Trevor Larnach said. “Every game is really important to us at this point, so we came out ready to go.”
Larnach finished 1 for 3 with five RBIs, including a two-run homer in the bottom of the first. It was Larnach’s 16th round-tripper of the season, the second-most in program history behind Jim Wilson’s 21 in 1982.
His 61 RBIs lead the team and are tied with Mike Lissman (2007) and Dylan Davis (2013) for the sixth-most in a season at OSU.
Cadyn Grenier went 4 for 6 with five RBIs to extend his hitting streak to 24 games, the second-longest for an OSU player since 1977. Jeff Brauning hit safely in 31 straight games in 1989.
Dakota Donovan pitched the final 3⅔ innings to get his first career save. The freshman right-hander struck out three with two walks, giving up one run on two hits.
“We were really scuffling to try and find somebody that was around the zone, and he did a really good job,” coach Casey said. “I was proud of him.”
Fellow freshman righty Nathan Burns (1-0) received the win after allowing one earned run in two innings.
The Beavers answered Brhet Bewley’s first-inning solo homer with two long balls of their own.
Kwan extended his hitting streak to 14 games with a leadoff single and came around to score on Grenier’s double to the gap in right-center. Following a Nick Madrigal groundout, Larnach sent a 2-0 pitch from San Diego starter Louie Crow (0-1) into the bleachers in right-center.
Adley Rutschman made it back-to-back homers with an opposite-field shot to straight away left, putting the Beavers up 4-1 after one inning.
“Ballpark was playing crazy today,” Casey said. “The ball was really jumping with the wind blowing, so that increased some runs, too.”
The Toreros got two back in the second while chasing OSU starter Grant Gambrell, who gave up three runs on four hits with a walk in 1⅓ innings. Gambrell had been the Beavers’ Sunday starter for most of Pac-12 play but was replaced by Kevin Abel for the Stanford series.
OSU extended its lead to 8-3 in the second on a Larnach sacrifice fly and RBI singles from Grenier, Rutschman and Michael Gretler. Crow, a former Corvallis Knight, gave up all eight runs and exited after 1⅔.
San Diego scored three runs in the fourth, but OSU came right back with two of its own. Larnach scored on a fielder’s choice and Tyler Malone singled home Rutschman, who reached on a two-out walk, to make it 10-6.
Grenier had another RBI single in the fifth as the Beavers plated two more runs. Larnach drew a bases-loaded walk later in the inning for a 12-6 lead.
OSU put it away with an 11-run sixth that included six hits, four walks, four wild pitches, a passed ball and two San Diego errors.
Heimlich honored again
For the seventh time in his career, Oregon State ace Luke Heimlich was named Pac-12 pitcher of the week Monday afternoon.
Heimlich, a senior left-hander, struck out a career-high 14 in eight innings Friday against Stanford. It was Heimlich’s nation-leading 12th win of the season.
Heimlich is OSU’s all-time strikeouts leader with 341. His 32 career wins rank second in program history behind Ben Wetzler’s 36.
The honor is Heimlich’s third of the season. He needs one more to tie Andrew Checketts for the most in program history.