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Corvallis Regional Preview: Oregon State

The Beavers have a score to settle

NCAA Baseball: College World Series-LSU vs Oregon State Bruce Thorson-USA TODAY Sports

Last season, LSU accounted for 33% of Oregon State’s losses. The two losses to end the Beavers’ 2017 was somewhat shocking after the Beavers romped though regular season to a 49-4 record. Five blowout wins later, OSU was on pace to finish off the greatest season in college baseball history. It didn’t end up like that.

But Oregon State returns eight of the nine starters from that 2017 team and the results have largely been the same. They haven’t quite matched the Dragonforce-esque tempo they set in 2017 but you cannot fault them for that. They bring a 44-10-1 record into the tournament, and do so with Nick Madrigal only playing 26 games this season.

If anything, it’s going to be harder for LSU to beat Oregon State in Corvallis this year than it was in Omaha last year.

The Season

Oregon State hasn’t been as dominant as Florida has, but they have been consistent. The Beavers bring an RPI of 7 into the postseason (the PAC-12 does not have a conference tournament) with a SOS of 68 and a non-conference SOS of 62 according to D1Baseball’s numbers.

The hosts have gone 9-4 against the RPI top 50 and are 5-3 against teams 26-50, which is the window that LSU resides in. So there’s that.

Oregon State spent the first two weeks of the season in Arizona and flew back to Corvallis with a perfect 8-0 record before winning five at home then dropping their first game to Cal State Fullerton. In the last weekend of March the Beavers dropped a series to Utah, their first regular season series loss since May of 2016. Eyebrows were raised when they followed that up with a series loss to Arizona, but OSU bounced back and won the rest of their series including a huge victory over eventual conference champion Stanford.

Oregon State has outscored opponents 414-215, averaging 7.4 runs a game while allowing 3.8. The Beavers have plenty of 4-1 and 6-2 type games down the results sheet, so if LSU is going to knock off the Beavers they’ll need to be opportunistic in addition to having a lights out pitching performance.

The Players

Not really sure what to do here. They’re all good, end of story. Oregon State has six (6) batters with over 100 ABs batting over .300. Three of them are batting above .350. Every batter with 100+ ABs is batting above .250.

Infielder Nick Madrigal has only played in 29 games but he has been impressive as ever, posting a slash of .395/.563/.459. Because that’s a thing that naturally happens to injured baseball players.

It’s easy to say that Oregon State is a small ball baseball team, and there is some truth to that. They are ruthlessly efficient once they get runners on base and have three players with over 40 walks, but they can also rake. Five Beavers have double digit doubles and Steven Kwan (.353/.448/.465) has five triples. For a frame of reference, our precious Swedish son Twonnie has six.

But if you add LSU’s two home run leaders Daniel Cabrera and Beau Jordan’s totals together, you’ll still fall short of Trevor Larnach’s mark of 17. Oh, and he has 13 doubles on the season and 64 RBI. They get on, he brings them in. Like most power hitters, he does strike out a lot (50 times this season).

And we haven’t even touched on the team’s most proven hitter, Adley Rutschman. Rutschman is batting an obscene .391/.594/.494 with 16 doubles, three triples, and six homers and 63 RBI. The threat of his pure contact hitting has earned him 44 walks. The good news is once on base, he isn’t a threat to advance by his own devices. The bad news is once he gets on base, you have to pitch to the rest of the lineup. He does strike out a bit with 30 Ks on the season.

The Pitchers

The following are facts.

Luke Heimlich has a 2.49 ERA in 104.2 IP, posting a 6.61 K/BB (139/21) with 29 ER allowed on 78 hits and has a .208 BAA. He has allowed 14 extra base hits and three home runs.

These have been facts. This concludes the Luke Heimlich portion of the preview.

Bryce Fehmel has been great for Oregon State, posting a 2.81 ERA in 89.2 innings of work. Fehmel isn’t a great power pitcher but he pitches to contact well and keeps his walks down, holding a K/BB of 2.25 (45/20). Fehmel has allowed 28 runs off 74 hits, with 14 extra base hits nine home runs with a .224 BAA.

Jake Mulholland is a rock at the end of the bullpen, with 14 saves in 25 apperances and an ERA of 2.50 in 36 IP. Mulholland has a K/BB you want out of a closer: 4.71 (33/7). Mulholland has only allowed one extra base hit and four home runs while holding batters to a .205 BAA. If he’s in the game, it’s probably not going to go well for the other team.

Brandon Eisert is salty as well, with a 2.81 ERA in 41.2 IP and a K/BB of 3.6 (36/10) with a .226 BAA. Eisert is a bullpen guy, but he’s also the last really impressive guy in the Beaver bullpen with significant innings.