Thanks to an offensive explosion, and stellar pitching from Bryce Fehmel, the Beavers are now just one win away from the championship series of the CWS.
If there was a chip on the shoulder of Oregon State heading into this game against LSU, I’d say it was more like a meteor the size Texas. The Beavers combined timely hitting with superb pitching to get a little closer to their ultimate goal. A National Championship.
After knocking LSU (49-18) all around TD Ameritrade, the Beavers (56-4) now find themselves just win away from the championship round of the College World Series.
Thanks to the blowout win, the Beavers won their 23rd straight game, tying their streak from earlier this season.
We played pretty good tonight. The situation was big. So it even made it bigger,” Pat Casey said. “But they've handled almost everything that we've thrown at them.”
The scoring onslaught started for the Beavers in the 1st when Steven Kwan opened the game with a bunt single. He advanced to second via a fielders choice for Nick Madrigal. Trevor Larnach brought Kwan home via a single up the middle to make it 1-0.
After the first run for OSU, it appeared these teams were destined to play a tight game, as neither team scored in the 2nd, 3rd, or 4th inning. But the Beavers were about to have an offensive explosion in the latter innings that would raise some eyebrows.
Larnach was far from done there as he singled in the top of the 5th inning to score Cadyn Grenier and Madrigal to give the Beavers a 3-0 lead.
The 6th inning is where the Beavers took the reigns of this game and never looked back. Madrigal grounded out to the pitcher with the bases loaded to score Adley Rutschman from third, and then LSU made a pitching change.
Todd Peterson came in with the Beavers leading 4-0 with runners on 2nd and 3rd. He proceeded to walk Larnach to load the bases for OSU’s best power hitter KJ Harrison.
What Harrison did next is forever going to be stitched in CWS and TD Ameritrade Park history. He sat on a fastball down the middle from Peterson and slammed it beyond the left-field bleachers for the first grand slam in the ballpark since it’s opening in 2011.
"It was amazing. I'm very thankful and blessed to be able to do something like that," Harrison said. "And, I mean, that's the kind of stuff you dream of growing up as a little kid, and for it to come true and at such a big stage, it was an amazing feeling."
After Harrison’s four run blast, the Beavers were leading 8-0, but were far from done adding more runs to their already inflated total. OSU added three more runs in the 7th via sacrifice fly from Grenier to score Tyler Malone and then Madrigal laced a double down the left field line to score Kwan and Michael Gretler. After 7 ½ innings, the Beavers held a 11-0 lead and were just padding their resume with hit after hit.
The scoring finally came to an end for the Beavers in the top of the 8th inning as Grenier singled through the left side to score Gretler and Malone to cap the Beavers run total for the night at 13.
The Beavers got timely hitting from most everyone who played, but Harrison (4), Larnach (3), Madrigal (3) and Grenier (3) had all 13 of OSU’s RBI. All in all the Beavers scored 13 runs which was the program high for a game in the CWS.
The Tigers were able to break up the shutout in the 8th inning thanks to a solo home run off the bat of centerfielder Zach Watson. Other than the dinger, LSU was unable to get anything else across against OSU’s swarming defense.
Bryce Fehmel earned the win for the Beavers to improve to 6-2 on the year. It was Fehmel’s second straight stupendous performance against a top-tier SEC team as he pitched a gem against Vanderbilt last week. The story of Fehmel is like a fine wine, as it just gets better with age. Here is a kid who fell out of the rotation with the return of Drew Rasmussen back in April, and hardly pitched before his start against Vandy last week.
Now he has started in two of the most important games of the season for the Beavs. The win against Vandy sent OSU to the CWS, and the win against LSU sent OSU to 2-0 in Omaha and put the Beavers in the driver's seat to make the championship round.
Fehmel was in command of pitches from the start, and had a 1-0 lead before he even threw a pitch. He worked eight full innings allowing just two hits and one earned run while striking out three before giving way to Sam Tweedt who came in the 9th to shut the door on the Tigers.
The main thing was to keep them off balance as best I could,” Fehmel said. “Mix all three pitches for strikes. And I did that for eight innings to the best of my ability, and it worked out.”
Freshman right-hander Eric Walker took the loss for the Tigers to fall to 8-2 on the season. Walker worked just two innings before leaving the game with arm-tightness. It was the same injury that plagued him late this season. Once Walker left the game, the Tigers lost their edge and they weren’t the same team. They started to crack inning by inning and pitch by pitch.
LSU was never able to settle down on the mound with any pitcher, and once OSU had control of the game, it was time for LSU coach Paul Mainieri to get experience for his young guys.
It was a day to forget for the LSU pitching staff as they used a eight pitchers, tying the CWS record for most used in a single game. Let’s take a quick peek at the overall stats for the LSU staff.
11 H, 13 R, 12 BB
Rough numbers for a team who was the class of the SEC this year, and came into Monday’s matchup riding a 17 game winning streak. Despite the poor loss, I expect LSU to bounce back in a big way moving forward. They are a really good baseball team and this one performance doesn’t define them. I expect them to defeat Florida State and take another crack at OSU on Friday.
Players of the game
Bryce Fehmel: 8 IP, 2 H, 1ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 107 TP
Fehmel’s performance was slightly lost in the midst of the Beavers’ scoring output which is a shame because this kid is big time. Don’t get me wrong, OSU’s offense won them this game late, but Fehmel’s cool hand has steadied the Beavers over his last two starts.
In the wake of some unsettling news with Luke Heimlich, the Beavers could have panicked and packed up their bags, but the soft-spoken Fehmel put OSU players, fans, and coaches at ease. When OSU needed someone to step up and deliver he did just that and more against two very good SEC teams in Vanderbilt and LSU. He doesn’t have the flashy arm strength, or velocity as some of the top-tier pitchers in Omaha, but he makes every one of his pitches count.
If you would have told me one month ago that Fehmel would be the OSU’s best and most consistent starting pitcher in the Super Regionals and College World Series, I would have not only called you a liar, I would have called you insane.
I guess it’s me who’s insane, because I didn’t see this performance coming from him. And now because of Fehmel, the Beavers are just three wins away from a national championship, and Fehmel is a big reason why.
KJ Harrison: 1 H, 4 RBI, 1 HR, 1 BB
What can be said about KJ Harrison that hasn’t been said already? The kid is big time. Harrison made history in TD Ameritrade.
The Beavers will now have three full days off before taking on the winner of LSU/Florida State Friday at 12:00. The Beavers will most likely give the ball to Jake Thompson or Drew Rasmussen with a spot to the championship round on the line.