CB360 On-Site Report (Stanford-Oregon St.; 4/17)

April 18, 2010
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Beavers Offense Missing in 5-3 Loss To Cardinal … CB360 west-coast correspondent Chase Titleman checks in from another key Pac-10 series (excerpts of his Road2Rosenblatt.com report included below; edited by CB360 co-founder Pete LaFleur; front-page photo courtesy of Stanford) …

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Stanford sophomore righthander Jordan Pries, who has been magnificent his past three outings, outdueled Beavers pitcher Tanner Robles as each threw 7.1 innings, but Pries got more support from his teammates as the Cardinal (#45 in the CB360 Composite National Rankings) won Saturday at Oregon State (CNR #14) for the second day in a row, 5-3.

Longtime Stanford head coach Mark Marquess appears to have the Cardinal youth heading in the right direction.

One day after the Cardinal blasted OSU at home 14-6 in a 19-hit attack, Pries – the reining PAC-10 “Pitcher of the Week” and a recent CB360 national Primetime Pitcher of the Week honoree – gave up three runs off the bat of Oregon State third baseman Stefan Romero, who hit a towering 3-run blast off the glove of centerfielder Jake Stewart (who leaped in front of a TV camera crew in left-center, but came up empty).

Pries gave up six hits with seven Ks and only ran into trouble in the 5th, when he loaded the bases on walks – only to get out of the jam as the Beavers came up short offensively, which has really been a microcosm of the Oregon State season.

As head coach Mark Marquess (in his 34th year) will allude to in an interview after the game (see link below), Oregon State has one of the deepest pitching staffs, not only in the PAC-10 but throughout the nation.

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Despite the success of the pitching staff, the Beavers often struggle to score runs  as the offense often lacks some quality punch throughout the lineup. To compound the problem, PAC-10 opponents haven’t provided any extra outs via poor defensive play over the past two weekends, nor have the Beavers taken advantage of some baserunning situations when the opportunity presents itself.

Danny Hayes & Stefan Romero have been the only consistent “big bats” in the Beaver lineup.

In the showdown the previous week with UCLA, Oregon State second baseman Keith Jennette failed to score from third base with less than two outs when leadoff hitter Adalberto Santos hit a hard grounder at second baseman Tyler Rahmatulla (who had to range to his left) in a 1-0 game in the bottom of the 8th.

The run would have tied the game, with the Beavers later potentially winning the game 2-1 as they eventually came back to tie the game in the bottom of the 9th.

Throughout the 16-inning affair, Oregon State twice ran themselves out of winning opportunities when baserunners at second base challenged Bruin shortstop Niko Gallego, who made several diving attempts in the hole and threw out runners at third base (those runner typically should have been “freezing” to read the ball through into the outfield, before advancing).

As fate would have it, those runs would have scored later in the inning.

Those little things were the type of factors that helped Oregon State’s 2006 and 07′ teams to win back-to-back national titles … but they are elements missing this year in Corvallis. With some better baserunning execution, the Beavers would have won the series with Bruins last week and could have won today to even the series versus Stanford.

As an example, with Oregon State in a tight ballgame once again today versus the Cardinal, the Beavers failed to advance on the basepaths with heads-up baserunning, leaving another solid effort wasted by a stellar OSU pitching staff.

In the second inning, Pries wheeled for a pickoff try at second base and the ball tipped off the glove of Jake Schlander (hitting hero from game-1) – but Romero failed to advance, as he apparently didn’t realize the ball was rolling into the outfield. Centerfielder Jake Stewart was playing deep (with cleanup hitter Danny Hayes at bat), and Romero could have waltzed into third and possibly scored if the ball had been bobbled, which it wasn’t.

Not to be outdone, Hays later hit a double into left-center in the bottom of the 8th, but he also failed to advance to third when the throw from cutoff man Jake Schlander sailed over the head of trailing first baseman Jon Kaskow. The ball rolled all the way beyond the first-base foul line and was fielded by catcher Zach Jones before Hays even appeared to realize that the throw was errant. Hays seemed content with himself after hitting the double, his eyes drifting down to the dirt near second base (similar to Romero) while failing to stay with the ball (a “cardinal sin” of baserunning).

With an offense that struggles to score runs consistently, Oregon Stage must scrap for each extra base an opponent will provide, but so far the past two weekends have witnessed the Beavers asleep at the wheel on the bases.

Tanner Robles improved his season K-to-BB ratio to 55K/14 BB.

Lefthander Tanner Robles, who was masterful a week ago versus the Bruins, picked up where he left off and was in control of today’s game when the Beavers raced to a 3-0 lead in the 3rd. But that was the only punch Oregon State landed and the Cardinal slowly jabbed their way back into the game.

Robles went 7.1 innings, giving up three runs on eight hits with four K’s and one base on ball. He pitched well enough to win for the second week in a row, as he has much of the season, although his 4-3 record is nowhere near reflective of his quality performance in 2010.

With the score tied in the bottom of the 10th (3-3), and the bunt in order, Stanford second baseman Colin Walsh drilled a 2-1 fastball from closer Tyler Waldron over the grandstand in right field for the game-winning RBIs. Walsh drove in Adam Gaylord, who reached on a drag bunt when Waldron and catcher Parker Berberet collided after failing to communicate bunt coverage.

The Cardinal did the little things that the Beavers simply didn’t do to win, and – when Oregon State went quietly 1-2-3 in the 10th – the Cardinal celebrated the series, now aiming higher for a much-prized weekend sweep on Benchmark Sunday.

The little things are coming back to haunt an Oregon State program that may be at a major crossroads, with the entire season possibly hanging in the balance of a punch-less offense – amid an ocean of quality arms and a pitching staff as good as any in the nation.

Head Coach Pat Casey and associate head coach Marty Lees, possibly distraught over the team’s’performance the past three weekends, did not attend the post-game press conference. The Beavers may be in trouble, as they have lost four of their past five on a current seven-game homestand and still must face league-leading Arizona State, along with California, Arizona and the Washington schools in the closing months.

The Oregon State coaches could have their work cut out for them the rest of the way.

Although Rivals.com has the Beavers listed as hosting an NCAA regional in Corvallis, this may not be a team worthy of such high standard. They simply do not push across enough runs to support such a talented pitching staff, and if things do not turn around offensively in a hurry with the bulkhead of the PAC-10 season hanging in the balance, Oregon State could end up on the outside looking in come “Selection Sunday” in June.

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