The 2017 Oregon State baseball season was one for the history books. They won over 90% of their games and finished with a 56-6 record. They fell short of their ultimate goal of winning a national championship, but their season won’t soon be forgotten. Here at Building the Dam we compiled our top 15 moments from the 2017 season. What was your favorite moment and what did we forget?
#1 - Two separate 23 game win streaks
In 2017 the Oregon State Beavers held the nations two longest win streaks of the season. Oregon State’s ability to win close games in dramatic fashion was insane. It boggles my mind that the Beavers were able to win 20+ games twice during a 62 game season. If you extrapolate this production to a regular MLB season, the Beavers would have gone 146-16 and had two 60+ game win streaks. This level of consistency and dominance is almost never seen at any level of baseball. For more on Oregon State’s magical season check out this write-up from Kendall Rogers over at D1baseball.com.
#2 - Steven Kwan’s grand slam + Overall Kwan-ness
In a year of dominance on the baseball field, Oregon State’s Steven Kwan provided some of the most memorable moments. He’s generously listed at 5-foot-8, 169-pounds and is known for his bunting prowess. No seriously, the sophomore centerfielder cracked the rotation as a freshman based solely on his bunting abilities and earned a crucial spot in the Beavers lineup as a sophomore due largely to his ability to get on base by any means necessary.
Steven Kwan’s diminutive stature combined with his fiery personality endeared him to Beaver fans everywhere; which made the moment on May 6th against Cal even more exciting. Kwan stepped up to the plate with the bases loaded and the game tied at four, in the 6th inning. He received a low slider near his knees and quickly turned on it smashing it over the right field wall for the grand slam, giving the Beavs an 8-4 lead.
Oregon State went on to win the shootout, 11-10 meaning the Beavers needed everyone of Kwan’s RBI’s. Unsurprisingly, the home run was the first of Kwan’s career and in a weird way I kind of hope he never hits another one.
#3 - Nick Madrigals 4-for-4 bunting night (in the postseason no less)
I still laugh to myself about this at the most random of times. I can’t believe it happened! Just days after questions about Nick’s hand not being 100% and causing him issues at the plate, he goes out and lays down four bunts all for base hits against Yale in the Regional. How does that even happen? What was going through the infielders minds?
First bunt: “Ahhhh dang, that was a nice bunt he got us...”
Second bunt: “Shoot! That was the same guy I should have been more ready...”
Third bunt: “Alright that Nick guy is up to bat, I’m gonna get close enough that I can Adley Rutschman catch any bunt that he tries to put down... (He lays down another perfect bunt) HOW DID HE DO THAT??”
Fourth bunt: “Wait... Are we still playing a baseball game?”
#4 - Max Engelbrekt’s at-bat
On May 27th (Senior Day) the Beavers were imposing their will against Abilene Christian University. That’s when Pat Casey decided to throw a curve ball (pun intended) and give the senior relief pitcher a shot at the plate. It was his first official at bat since high school and it was glorious!
Just look how happy he was!
Max drilled a 1-1 pitch into left field, but the ACU outfielder made a great grab for the out. Engelbrekt ended the season with a ridiculously low ERA of .043 in 21 innings of action and struck out 20 batters. He was even drafted by the Washington Nationals in the 2017 MLB draft, but his at bat will always be remembered.
#5 - Bryce Fehmel’s masterpiece to eliminate Vandy
After Oregon State ace, Luke Heimlich removed himself from the postseason as questions swirled about his past, Oregon State looked like they might be in trouble. Jake Thompson wasn’t pitching like his dominant self and Drew Rasmussen was slowly working his way back to peak form after having Tommy-John surgery. But, when the Beavers needed a hero most, Bryce Fehmel delivered.
In the second game of the Super Regional, Bryce Fehmel took the mound opposite of potential #1 overall MLB draft Kyle Wright (he ended up going fifth). Fehmel had been pulled as the Saturday starter earlier in the season after a series of shaky starts and had seen very little action since that time. Optimism was not high to say the least, but Fehmel delivered with perhaps the greatest pitching performance of his life! He pitched all 9 innings, striking out ten (with zero walks) and only gave up 2 runs (1 earned) as the Beavers eliminated Vanderbilt.
How did Kyle Wright do? 6.2 innings, 7 earned runs, 8 strikeouts, 3 walks and 121 pitches. Fehmel used just 104 pitches the whole game.
#6 - Comebacks & Walk-offs galore
Despite all of the crazy things that happened this season for the Beavers, the 2017 season in my eyes will always be remembered for Oregon State’s ability to win games in dramatic fashion. Walk-off victories became such a common occurrence that I think I became desensitized to them. Also, on the rare occasions when the Beavers did find themselves behind on the scoreboard I always felt strangely calm that they would mount a comeback at some point. The entire Arizona series felt like one gigantic come-from-behind, walk-off win. Two of my favorite games were the 16-inning thriller on April 8th, where Oregon State topped Utah, 5-4 and also the 6-5 victory over CS-Fullerton in Omaha, after they fell behind 5-1.
#7 - Pac-12 title + 1,000 Casey wins + Making PK Park a home game
Back on May 12th, the Beavers took on the Oregon Ducks and their ace David Peterson. They held on for a dramatic 5-4 victory while clinching the Pac-12 title and securing Pat Casey’s 1,000 career win. Doing so in front of a pro-beaver crowd that chanted “OSU” for much of the night. The final game of the series came down to the bottom of the ninth with the “home” team ducks at the plate trailing 1-0. Most would expect the PK Park crowd to be rallying behind the ducks in such a pivotal moment, but much to the dismay of the Oregon dugout a loud “Let’s Go Beavers” chant began, and OSU clinched the sweep in front of a decidedly pro-Beaver crowd.
#8 - KJ Harrison’s grand slam at TD Ameritrade
The Beavers best game in Omaha was highlighted by KJ Harrison’s grand slam. It was the first CWS grand slam at TD Ameritrade ever and the Beavers ended up routing LSU, 13-1. Harrison hammered Hunter Newman’s first pitch over the left-center fence for the first CWS grand slam since 2010, the last year the event was played at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Harrison pounded his chest and yelled as his teammates celebrated with him at home plate.
Bryce Fehmel also starred in the game, mystifying LSU batters with his crafty pitches.
#9 - Adley Rutschman’s stellar defense behind the plate
Adley Rutschman was phenomenal defensively as a catcher during his freshman season. The two-sport athlete gave Oregon State everything they needed and more. He also provided two of the best plays from the College World Series when he used his cat-like reflexes and superman abilities to catch a couple of bunt attempts.
Side-note: Why do people keep trying to steal on Rutschman? It almost never works.
#10 - The Arizona series
When Oregon State took on Arizona it featured two top-10 teams and was billed as the nation’s top pitching team vs. the nation’s best hitting team. The Beavers took the first two games in dramatic walk-off fashion and ended up sweeping the Wildcats. It was dramatic baseball from start to finish and helped solidify Oregon State as national championship contenders. From that time forward, the Beavers seemed to possess a certain fearlessness and confidence, where they expected to win every time they stepped on the field.
#11 - Drew Rasmussen’s return
On April 28th against USC, Drew Rasmussen made his highly-anticipated 2017 debut. He threw just 10 pitches in 2/3 innings of work and closed-out the 3-1 victory. After getting drafted in the first round of the 2017 MLB draft, Rasmussen is off to the Majors, but not enough can be said about his willingness to work hard and return for the 2017 season. Many expected Rasmussen to take the year off completely, but he attacked his rehab, worked his way back on the field and became a crucial contributor for the Beavers.
#12 - Jake Thompson’s dominant season
Watching Jake Thompson go from an inconsistent and sometimes unreliable pitcher to one of the best aces in the nation was a joy to watch. The redshirt junior engineered one of the best pitching seasons in recent memory. He ended the year going 14-1 with a 1.96 ERA. He pitched 128.2 innings and struck out 119 batters; all while allowing opponents to hit a paltry .189 from the plate.
Not enough can be said about the improvements Jake Thompson showed. He developed into one of the premier “aces” in the nation when few expected him to do so.
Just look at his improvements:
Jake Thompson, was drafted by the Boston Red Sox with the 131st overall in the 4th of the 2017 MLB Draft and his Oregon State career is almost certainly over, but his redshirt junior season was one for the ages.
#13 - Jack Anderson’s sweet catch + doing other Jack Anderson stuff
If Kwan wasn’t so awesome, Jack Anderson would easily be my favorite outfielder. The guys a walk-on, who redshirted his first year in Corvallis and doesn’t exactly impress you with his speed, power, arm strength or athleticism; but dominates every intangible known to man like his: grit, work ethic, coach ability, mental toughness, morale boost, consistency, moxie (I could go on all day)...
According to OregonLive.com his own coach even said “Just put him on a stopwatch or grade his arm out or put his speed down, maybe he doesn't profile as a great outfielder. Then when somebody hits the ball in his direction, he generally catches it... He obviously does a great job when it matters." Pat Bailey went on to say, “Jack Anderson is as good a right fielder as we've had since I've been here.”
Jack Anderson worked his way into a steady right field role this season and made a number of memorable catches. Including the one below during the College World Series and another one were he smashed into the right field wall, but managed to hold onto the ball.
#14 - Mitch Hickey’s Proposal
One day after Max Engelbrekt’s now famous at bat, after another walk-off win (this time against Abilene Christian University, 5-4) the best moment came after the game. That’s when junior right-handed pitcher, Mitch Hickey, proposed to his girlfriend on the field surrounded by his teammates. Good thing she said yes! That would have been awkward for everyone involved.
A comeback win and then a successful proposal for Mitch Hickey! pic.twitter.com/f66FeISQmY— Oregon St. Baseball (@BeaverBaseball) May 27, 2017
#15 - Nick v Ty Madrigal & The St. Mary’s comeback
On March 29th, Oregon State took on St. Mary’s in a Tuesday night game. The Beavers found themselves down 3-1 in the 9th inning and mounted a spirited comeback victory. One of the best moments of that game came in the eighth inning when twin brothers Nick Madrigal and Ty Madrigal squared off. Ty Madrigal, a left-handed pitcher for Saint Mary's worked an 0-1 count to Nick Madrigal before the Oregon State infielder hit a single to left.