It had been three years since the Oregon State baseball team had dropped four straight games, but that’s what happened this past week.
The week began with a 6-3 nonconference loss to Gonzaga and was followed by 1-0 and 5-2 losses to Oklahoma State in the first two games of a three-game nonconference series. It ended with a tough 8-7 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.
“We’re facing a little adversity,” interim coach Pat Bailey said after Sunday’s loss. “Adversity is either going to make you tougher, or it’s going to destroy you. And it’s going to be our team’s choice on what that does.”
Bailey wasn’t displeased with the way his team competed in Sunday’s loss and said he wasn’t going to read the players the riot act.
“What am I going to do? Go in there and destroy them?” he said. “They’re hurting enough as it is. I’m not going to do anything negative. ... Adversity is good and it helps you be a man. We’ve got to fight through this and we’ll be better because of it.”
While the feeling may not be all that positive at the moment, the Beavers do enter the final three weeks of the regular season with their destiny in their own hands.
Oregon State is 17-4 in the Pac-12, tied with Stanford for first. UCLA is a game back at 16-5. Both Stanford (4-2 at USC) and UCLA (8-7 at Arizona State) lost on Sunday.
The Beavers head to Eugene this weekend to take on an Oregon team that was swept at Arizona and lost 28-7 on Sunday in a game ended early because of travel.
Then comes a trip to Stanford where the Pac-12 title will likely be decided. Oregon State closes the season at home against USC.
The players say they haven’t lost confidence but know they must play better.
“This team doesn’t really take losses lightly,” Alex McGarry said, “especially with the legacy of this program. But it’s OK. I think we’ll be fine. Just staying the course right now.”
The offense was certainly better on Sunday. In the five previous games, the Beavers had scored four, two, three, zero and three runs. The four runs came in 16 innings.
Bailey credited Oklahoma State pitching for making a number of quality pitches to stymie the Beavers the first two games. He definitely wants to see the players find a way to compete better “when we’re in a situation when a guy is dealing.”
Beau Philip, who returned to the lineup on Saturday and had four hits on Sunday, said the last game was a good start.
“We’re going to take this game as a positive,” he said. “We got the bats going and I’m proud of our team for that. I think that’s just kind of a step in the right direction. You’ve got to take your small victories sometimes. I think we’re going in the right direction.”
McGarry said if the bats can heat back up, the Beavers will be just fine.
“We know our pitching staff has been good all year and they will continue to do so,” he said. “Not too worried, just kind of one of those stay the course moments and just kind of wear it and move on.”
Adley Rutschman had an impressive month of April, batting .455 with seven homers, five doubles and 23 RBIs while reaching base in 17 of 18 games. He also had 19 walks for a .563 on-base percentage.
On Monday, Rutschman was named the national player of the month by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA).