Cougars set for toughest challenge yet as they face the Beavers Friday

WSU is 11-1 so far, Oregon State is 10-2



WSU pitcher Shane Spencer throws a pitch during an NCAA baseball game against Seattle University, March 7, 2023, in Pullman, Wash.

JAKE HULL, Evergreen reporter

WSU baseball (11-1) faces their toughest challenge of the season as they travel down to Corvallis, Oregon, to take on the Oregon State Beavers for a three-game series starting Friday. First pitch will be at 5:35 pm.

All-time the Cougs are 24-52-1 against the Beavers. Last season, the Cougs won one of three against Oregon State. WSU was on a four-game losing streak against the Beavers until the win. The first dated matchup between these teams was in 2000 when the Beavers won two games.

The Cougs are coming off a four-game winning streak in their first four home games of 2023. WSU swept Southern Indiana in three games, then defeated the Seattle U Redhawks to end the bulk of their non-conference schedule.

WSU has not really been tested yet this season. This series should see what the Cougs are made of as the Beavers are always a traditional well-respected program that has been highly successful for years and constantly produces MLB-level talent.

This season Sam Brown and Jonah Advincula lead the Cougs’ offense. Brown and Advincula both have 16 RBIs on the season. Brown has 15 hits while Advincula has 20. Brown is currently on a four-game home run streak and is hitting his stride after a solid week three of action. Advincula has been steady and consistent all season, he also leads the team in stolen bases with six.

Pitching for the Cougs has been dominated by Dakota Hawkins and Caden Kaelber. Kaelber has a Pac-12-leading 27 strikeouts in 18 innings. Kaelber has a 2-0 record and an ERA of 2.00. Hawkins has improved from last season when he was mainly a relief pitcher. This season he has taken up the Friday starting pitcher role and has been highly effective. He has pitched 13 innings so far and has allowed six runs on 16 hits with 22 strikeouts and six walks.

As a team, the Cougs have 122 hits on the season, good for fifth-best in the conference. Oregon State is second with 135. The Cougs also lead the conference in RBIs with 112, the Beavers have 100. Oregon State has 20 home runs this season compared to 15 from the Cougs.

On the season, the Beavers posted a record of 10-2. They started the season with a 7-2 loss to New Mexico in the first game of the College Baseball Classic. The Beavers then won eight games in a row, including a sweep against Coppin State and a 14-6 redemption win against New Mexico.

The Beavers’ second loss of the season came against Cal Poly last week as they lost 4-2. In the series, the Beavers won three of four. The last non-conference game the Beavers played before their matchup against the Cougs was a 9-4 win against San Diego.

The Beavers are led by Gavin Turley, Travis Bazzana and Garret Forrester. Turley has a batting average of .362 after 17 hits with 15 RBIs and five homers. Bazzana has 12 hits and 13 RBIs for a batting average of .422. Forrester has 10 hits and 10 RBIs.

Pitching-wise, the Beavers are led by Jacob Kmatz and Jaren Hunter. Kmatz has pitched 16 innings so far and has a record of 1-1 in three starts with an ERA of 2.25. Kmatz has allowed six runs on 16 hits with 13 strikeouts and three walks. Hunter has an ERA of 4.66 in three starts for a record of 1-0. In his 19.1 innings of action, Hunter has allowed 10 runs on 19 hits and has struck out 15 batters.

The strikeout leader for Oregon State is Trent Sellers. Sellers has 26 strikeouts in 11.1 innings of work in his three starts. His 26 strikeouts are second-most in the conference, trailing only Kaelber of WSU.

If the Cougs want to continue the hot start they need to rack up the hits against the Beavers and get the starting pitchers out of the game. Defensively, the Cougs need to limit the number of chances they give Oregon State to hit with runners on base.

After the series against the Beavers, the Cougs will return home for a one-game non-Conference series against San Francisco Wednesday. The first pitch will be at 4:05 pm at Bailey-Brayton Field.