Welp. That one hurt.
In what could have been the biggest game of the season thus far, Oregon State was unable to hold onto the win against the Stanford Cardinal. To their credit, Stanford clawed back into this game to steal the win in extras. So how did this all go down? Let’s start from the beginning...
Game 3 started off well for the Beavs, as the team raced out to a 6-1 lead after 4 innings. Kevin Abel had been solid up throughout that point and the offense looked to be in a groove early in the game with contributions from the usual gang including Adley Rutschman, Nick Madrigal, and Trevor Larnach, just to name a few. Abel would go on to be pulled after the 4th inning, as perhaps to try and save some arm with the grueling schedule of 5 games within the next week. Yet, there was a fairly good feeling that this game was already over after this quick lead from the Beavs.
The hype would be short-lived, however. Stanford would go on to add a run in the fifth, followed by 2 runs in the sixth to pull to 6-4 in the game. Some of the damage was influenced from the bat of star shortstop Nico Hoerner, who tallied 3 hits, 3 RBI’s and 2 runs in the game 3 contest. In addition to Hoerner, Beau Branton tallied 5 hits (!!!) and 3 runs on the day for the Cardinal.
Once Oregon State stopped the bleeding, things seemed to mellow out until the eighth inning where Hoerner stepped up again for the Cardinal and drove in Branton to bring Stanford within 1 run heading to the ninth. At this point in the eighth, Oregon State turned the ball over to reliable closer Jake Mulholland to try and get the extended save and bring the sweep home for the Beavs. After the nerve-wrecking eighth inning, Oregon State managed to fill the bases in the bottom of the eighth, only to leave everyone stranded and leave the game within 1 score. That missed opportunity would go on to be crucial in Stanford’s comeback.
In the next half inning, Stanford pinch-hit Nickolas Oar in the top of the ninth with 1 out. Oar stepped up in a clutch moment for the Cardinal and delivered a game-tying home run that would ultimately extend the game to extras. The Beavs would threaten in the bottom of the ninth, but ultimately come up short after a failed hit-and-run attempt from Rutschman and Jack Anderson. Immediately afterward in the top of the 10th, Will Matthiessen delivered a go-ahead double on a bases-loaded situation that would give the Cardinal a 9-6 lead, and the eventual win.
Oof. This loss hurt without a doubt.
There is no question that the pitching ultimately doomed the Beavs today. The offense certainly missed opportunities throughout the game, but 6 runs should be enough to secure a win for most games. The Beavers went through 4 pitchers today in an effort to find someone who could provide stability, but all 4 ultimately faltered in their attempts against the Cardinal.
Now, this isn’t to say Beaver Nation should hang their heads. Does missing out on a sweep and the lead in the Pac-12 Conference Championship hurt? Yes. Absolutely.
However, being able to win the series against Stanford, one of the elite teams in the nation, and pull within 1 and a half games of the conference lead was massive for Oregon State. Both of these teams displayed that they are among the elite teams in the nation this series with standout moments from both squads over the past 3 games. Definitely look for Oregon State to jump Stanford in the national polls after this series and improve their national seeding. So don’t fret, friends. With just 8 games left in the season, the Beavers are still in prime shape to make a run as repeat Pac-12 champions.
Stay tuned as Oregon State looks to get back on track with a 2-game series against San Diego starting tomorrow at 5:35 pm PT. Stay tuned on Building the Dam for coverage on this series, as well as future Beaver baseball games.