Oregon State pitching returns to dominance as the Beavers defeat Oregon 4-0 and come inches closer to the Pac-12 baseball title

Oregon State pitching returns to dominance as the Beavers defeat Oregon 4-0 and come inches closer to the Pac-12 baseball title

CORVALLIS – The Pac-12’s hottest pitching staff made sure there was a day off for just that. A day off.

Oregon State’s pitching trio, consisting of Jake Pfennigs, Braden Boisvert and Brock Townsend, had four hits combined, and two-shot homers from Matthew Gretler and Jacob Melton provided ample offensive support as the No. 2 Beavers Sunday at Goss Stadium Beat Oregon 4-0.

The win allowed OSU (38-9, 18-6 Pac-12) to beat Oregon 5-0 this season, including a win in this weekend’s three-game conference series.

A day after giving up 13 hits and seven runs for the Ducks, the OSU pitchers returned to dominance. The four hits were all singles. Oregon (28-19, 13-11) had just six baserunners overall and only one duck reached second base. The Beavers’ pitching trio combined for 10 strikeouts.

Recently, this type of pitching has become a given. In the last 10 games, Oregon State has not given up more than two runs nine times, the exception being Saturday’s 8-7 win over the Ducks. Sunday’s shutout was OSU’s third in its last 10 games.

Half of those 10 games were against Oregon, one of the Pac-12’s best offensive clubs. In five games against the Ducks, the Beavers pitchers gave up 10 carries — including seven in Saturday’s game — and 36 hits while striking out 50 and walking just 11. Two of the five games were shutouts.

“They go out and compete. They do a great job when things don’t go right…they turn corners very quickly,” said OSU coach Mitch Canham.

With the postseason game in two weeks, Pfennigs’ progress as Oregon State’s third starter is encouraging. In his fourth start since returning from a six-week absence due to a back injury, Pfennigs threw five clean innings on Sunday. The 6-foot-7 junior gave up two hits and knocked out six. Pfennigs put down the last eight Ducks hitters he faced. It was his longest stint since returning from injury.

“I feel good all around. I stick to the routine. I just need to build up and get stronger. I feel better every week,” Pfennigs said.

With Oregon State pitchers on a baton-wide heater, the Beavers are getting closer to their first Pac-12 title since 2017. The Beavers have a three-game lead over second-place Stanford with six games to go. OSU ends the season with a three-game series at Arizona and then at home against UCLA.

When a championship happens, it happens, Canham said.

“It’s really not part of our conversation,” he said. “It can be difficult to keep that out of the conversation, but we’ve been practicing it for a long time. You start worrying about the past or the future, which can get you and put you in a doldrums.”

Ditto the possibility of OSU becoming the nation’s No. 1 team. Tennessee, the highest-ranked team in multiple college baseball polls, lost two of three games to Kentucky last week.

“It’s cool. But again, we just want to get into the postseason and see who we’re going to play against and who we’re going to beat,” Pfennigs said.

Oregon’s Sunday pitching quartet was nearly as effective as Oregon State’s, with two huge exceptions. The first came in the fourth when Gretler hit a two-run homer down the middle to give OSU a 2-0 lead. An inning later, Melton launched a 430-foot shot down the right field stand to give the Beavers a 4-0 lead.

Melton had a weekend against the Ducks, going 7 for 11 with two homers and seven RBIs. The South Medford High graduate didn’t mind leaving it to the Ducks, either.

“Oregon is a school that really didn’t give me a chance after high school. Your former head coach (George Horton) told me I would never play DI baseball,” Melton said. “So I’ve had that as a chip on my shoulder playing against them for the last two years.”

It didn’t deter Oregon State’s motivation that most players’ mothers attended Sunday’s game. Before the game, the mothers lined up along the third baseline, received flowers from their sons, and then stood with them for the national anthem.

“With Mother’s Day, I think that gave a little extra energy,” Canham said. “Even in pregame you could see there was a lot going on there.”

— Nick Daschel | ndaschel@oregonian.com | @nickdaschel

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.