By Jose Saldana
When the 2018 schedule was announced, many fans of college baseball circled their proverbial calendars the date of this weekend’s series.
It’s not every week that the second-ranked team in the nation battles it out for baseball supremacy against the third-ranked team.
No. 2 Stanford baseball (38-6, 17-4 Pac-12) is travelling to Corvallis to play No. 3 Oregon State (36-7-1, 14-6-1) in a three-game series at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field.
The Cardinal have won seven straight and 15 of the last 16 games. In that span, Stanford’s offense has been on another level, averaging 8.56 runs per game.
However, doing that against the Beavers is probably too much to ask for. After losing series to Arizona and Utah, Oregon State has gone 12-1-1 and climbed back up the D1Baseball rankings.
The Cardinal and the Beavers have nearly played themselves equal with Stanford owning a 41-42 all-time record against Oregon State.
Oregon State’s pitching staff hasn’t performed up to its preseason expectations, but the Beavers are still led by Luke Heimlich, who had a complete-game victory over Stanford in Oregon State’s sweep over the Cardinal last season.
Offense is what has kept the Beavers afloat in the standings. Their batting average ranks fourth in the nation (.324) and their runs per game ranks 10th (7.4). Reigning Pac-12 Player of the Year shortstop Nick Madrigal is back with the team after sitting out the first couple of months due to injury.
Madrigal, who is a consensus top pick in this year’s MLB Draft, has only aggrandized the Beavers formidable lineup.
The Cardinal pitching staff ranks first in the country in ERA (2.54), but they could have trouble against of the best offenses in college baseball, especially in the environment of Goss Stadium.
Junior pitcher Tristan Beck, who didn’t pitch against Oregon State last season due to injury, has not allowed more than two runs in a game in four straight games.
Sophomore Will Matthiessen has elevated his game after sitting out the first month due to a tender elbow. Matthiessen was named Perfect Game national player of the week after hitting his first four career home runs last week. He knocked out another one in Tuesday’s 9-0 victory over Santa Clara.
Oregon State right fielder Trevor Larnach and Stanford first baseman Andrew Daschbach have been battling it out for third-place in the home run tally at 14 each. Daschbach has the most home runs since Brent Milleville had 14 in 2009.
The three-game series begins on Friday at 7 p.m. PT and every game will be broadcast by the Pac-12 Networks.
Contact Jose Saldana at jsaldana ‘at’ stanford.edu.