Adley Rutschman thought he got all of it.
With two outs in the bottom of the seventh, Rutschman launched what he believed to be the go-ahead home run for No. 2 Oregon State in Friday night’s home-opener against Hartford. As he rounded first base and raised his right fist in the air, Rutschman watched the ball die in the windy, chilly conditions and carom off the wall in left field.
The sophomore was more than happy to settle for a two-RBI double that lifted the Beavers to a 3-2 victory before an announced crowd of 3,174 at Goss Stadium. It was OSU’s (9-0) 18th straight win at home dating back to the 2017 season.
“I got it good off the bat,” said Rutschman, who then saw first base coach Ryan Ortiz signal for a congratulatory high-five. “And I was like ‘well, he’s probably not going to do that on a double.
“I was kind of hoping it would go out, but obviously it got the job done.”
Rutschman’s screaming line drive was the Beavers’ fifth and final hit of the evening. Hartford (1-4) finished with seven hits and stranded runners in the eighth and ninth.
Junior Dylan Pearce, a transfer from Southwestern Oregon Community College, got the final four outs to pick up his first save for OSU.
“They had a lot of fire in their dugout and I thought they pitched well,” coach Pat Casey said. “We’ve got to do a better job playing the game. They threw some good arms at us and competed like heck; I’m not sure we matched that intensity.”
The four-game nonconference series continues Saturday with a doubleheader that is scheduled to begin at 1:05 p.m.
Trailing 2-1 entering the bottom of the seventh, Rutschman’s clutch double put OSU back in front.
Steven Kwan worked a leadoff walk and was bunted to second by Cadyn Grenier. Following a Jack Anderson walk and Trevor Larnach strikeout, Rutschman lined a 1-2 pitch from reliever Drew Farkas to left for a stand-up double.
“The wind absolutely knocked that ball down,” Casey said. “It was a big, big at bat for us.”
Luke Heimlich (3-0) was solid in 7⅔ innings of work, allowing two runs on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks. The senior left-hander exited after throwing his 112th pitch.
The Beavers didn’t commit an error but were unable to turn a routine double play in the sixth that would’ve kept Hartford off the board.
“Luke always competes when he’s out there,” said Rutchman, who played first base while Zak Taylor caught. “Sometimes we don’t get a double play we need or something like that, they get a couple soft hits that could go either way. I think he did a great job today, and you know what you’re going to get every time he comes out.”
Added Casey: “(Heimlich) might be trying to pitch to perfection, and that just doesn’t happen. But he’s always going to compete.
Seth Pinkerton took the loss (0-1) after giving up two runs on two hits with four walks and a strikeout in 1⅔ innings.
Hartford starter Jake Regula kept the Beavers off balance through 4⅔ with a solid fastball and slow breaking ball. Regula, a righty, didn’t factor into the decision while getting touched for one run on four hits with three walks and two strikeouts.
OSU stranded lone runners in the first and second before a Tyler Malone RBI single made it 1-0 in the fourth. Malone knocked in Rutschman, who reached on an infield base hit.
Hartford mounted its first real threat in the sixth, loading the bases with one out on consecutive singles and a walk. Chris Sullivan’s chopper to Grenier at shortstop tied the game, and Zachary Ardito followed with an RBI double to right that gave the Hawks a 2-1 lead.
Heimlich escaped further damage with a strikeout before Rutschman put the Beavers back on top one inning later.
Casey said that Bryce Fehmel, Kevin Abel and Grant Gambrell will start the final three games against Hartford. Fehmel and Abel will probably throw Saturday with Gambrell getting the nod in Sunday’s finale.