Oregon State is still waiting for its first postseason test.
Coming off an authoritative performance at last weekend’s Corvallis Regional, the third-seeded Beavers jumped all over No. 14 Minnesota on a drizzly mid-valley Friday afternoon. The rain eventually let up, but OSU’s bats never did.
Six of the Beavers’ 11 hits went for extra bases — including back-to-back first-inning home runs from Trevor Larnach and Adley Rutschman — while Luke Heimlich dominated in his final start at Goss Stadium. The defense was equally spectacular as OSU opened the Corvallis Super Regional with an 8-1 victory.
“It was an uphill climb after it was 3-0 for us against a great pitcher,” Minnesota (44-14) coach John Anderson said. “Give him a lead like that in their ballpark …”
The Beavers (48-10-1), who are one victory away from a return trip to the College World Series, have won their four postseason games by a combined score of 43-5. The best-of-3 Corvallis Super Regional continues at 6:30 p.m. Saturday.
After going undrafted for the second straight year, Heimlich was sharp against the Big Ten regular-season and tournament champions. Heimlich struck out nine and didn’t walk anyone, giving up just one run — a Toby Hanson solo homer to lead off the eighth — on seven hits in 8⅔ innings.
Heimlich allowed a one-out single in the ninth and needed 10 pitches to fan Alex Boxwell for the second out. Sitting on 124 pitches for the game, Heimlich began hugging members of OSU’s infield as pitching coach Nate Yeskie made his way to the mound.
The senior left-hander tipped his cap to the crowd of 3,960 while slowly exiting the field. His teammates shoved him out of the dugout for a curtain call a few moments later.
“I’ve been here for a long time and this place has been great to me,” said Heimlich (16-1), OSU’s career leader in strikeouts and innings pitched. “I’ve loved my time here and it’s definitely helped me a lot in becoming who I want to be as a person. So it was a little bit emotional there at the end as I was coming out of the game, just giving everybody hugs and saying I love them.”
Heimlich has won nine straight starts and leads the country with 16 wins. His 36 career victories are tied with Ben Wetzler atop OSU’s all-time list.
“Luke is always a competitor out there,” Rutschman said. “It’s just fun for me to be able to catch him and for me to get to experience this while he goes on to the pros.”
Heimlich downplayed any distractions associated with this week’s Major League Baseball draft. All 30 teams passed on selecting the two-time Pac-12 pitcher of the year due to concerns over his now-sealed juvenile record.
Instead, Heimlich is concentrating on what’s left of his senior season.
“I’ve got more games to play here, they’re not taking the jersey off my back yet,” Heimlich said. “So I’m focused on the games I still get to play.
“I was excited for my teammates and the opportunities they were given (in the draft), and I’ve had tremendous support from my teammates and my family.”
Steven Kwan, Michael Gretler, Larnach and Rutschman had two hits apiece for the Beavers, who are trying to win their sixth home super regional in six tries. Kwan, Larnach and Rutschman tallied two RBIs apiece.
Rutschman leads the team with 68 RBIs while Larnach is sitting on 67. Only Michael Conforto (76) has more in a single season in program history.
Larnach also made a nice running catch in right-center to end the third, robbing Terrin Vavra of an RBI double. The Beavers led 4-0 at the time.
“That was our chance to get back into the game,” Anderson said. “Credit to (Larnach) and Oregon State. The played outstanding and made some plays on defense.”
Vavra, a third-round pick of the Colorado Rockies, lined a 1-1 pitch from Heimlich to the gap in right-center. Larnach was shaded over and tracked it down for the final out near the warning track.
“It looked like it took off once he hit it,” said Larnach, who was selected 20th overall by the Minnesota Twins. “So I just got on my giddy-up and started running.”
Minnesota ace Reggie Meyer recorded the first two outs of the opening inning before Nick Madrigal singled up the middle. Larnach followed with a two-run shot — his team-leading 18th of the year — and Rutschman then belted another long ball for a 3-0 lead, causing a disgusted Meyer to slam the rosin bag behind the mound as Rutschman rounded the bases.
Both homers were hit to the same spot in left-center. It was the third time Larnach and Rutschman have gone back-to-back this spring.
The Beavers have belted 59 homers for the year, one shy of the 1998 team’s school record of 60.
Kwan bunted home Kyle Nobach, who drew a leadoff walk, to make it 4-0 in the second. Two more runners crossed home plate in the fourth as the bottom of OSU’s lineup erupted.
Jack Anderson and Zak Taylor, the Beavers’ eight- and- nine-hole hitters, ripped consecutive one-out doubles to left. Kwan then singled home Taylor for a 6-0 lead.
Meyer (8-4), a junior righty, lasted six innings and surrendered six runs on nine hits with three strikeouts and two walks. Meyer was a 38th-round selection by the Texas Rangers.
Run-scoring hits from Rutschman (double) and Gretler (triple) extended it to 8-0 in the seventh. Gretler has hit safely in 12 straight games.
OSU is expected to go with junior righty Bryce Fehmel (10-1, 2.77 ERA) Saturday night. Minnesota is throwing righty Patrick Fredrickson (9-0, 1.76), the Big Ten pitcher and freshman of the year.
The Golden Gophers will be the designated home team.