CORVALLIS — Through four weeks of conference play, Oregon State has already forged a commanding lead in the Pac-12 baseball standings.
The Beavers (28-1, 12-0), who have won a program-record 23 straight games and are ranked No. 1 for the fourth straight week, are 4½ games up on second-place Washington (18-12, 6-3). The Huskies welcome OSU for a three-game series beginning Thursday.
But before they head to Seattle, the Beavers host Gonzaga (17-14) at 5:35 p.m. Tuesday for a nonleague game.
Will OSU overlook the Bulldogs with a massive series against its Northwest rival on the horizon?
“No,” pitcher Jake Thompson said emphatically after Sunday’s 5-1 win over Utah. “We’re looking straight at Gonzaga and getting ready for them.”
Contrary to previous reports, the Beavers are still one victory shy of matching the conference’s all-time record for consecutive wins (the Pac-12’s official record book was incorrect).
Arizona State won 24 straight to open the 2010 season before falling at Oregon. The Sun Devils went on to win the Pac-10 and reach the College World Series.
OSU can match the Sun Devils’ streak Tuesday evening.
“We don’t think too much about it,” sophomore infielder Cadyn Grenier said of the records. “It could be 24 or it could be 74 and we’re going to treat it the same way.”
Coach Pat Casey credits OSU’s veterans for keeping the team mentally sharp during the streak.
“When you have people on the field, in particular guys like Nick Madrigal, Michael Gretler, Cadyn Grenier, KJ Harrison, and I could go on and on… when you have people on the field like that, I think they are a great resource for the guys that don’t understand it, because they get it,” Casey said. “The players on the field are really showing some leadership.”
MULHOLLAD HONORED: Jake Mulholland was named Pac-12 pitcher of the week, the conference announced Monday afternoon.
Mulholland, a freshman left-hander from Snohomish, Washington, went 2-0 with a 1.68 ERA and a save in 10 2/3 innings of relief last week. He struck out nine and scattered five hits.
In Saturday’s 16-inning win over Utah, Mulholland pitched the final 6 2/3 and surrendered just one run on two hits. It was his longest outing as a Beaver.
“Jake Mulholland was unbelievable, as well as (Brandon) Eisert” Casey said after Saturday’s marathon. “You’ve got a lot of guys on the other side of the diamond that have been around for a long time, so for two freshman to come out and stack it up back to back was pretty impressive.”
Mulholland is now 4-0 with a 0.59 ERA with 29 strikeouts and five walks in 30 2/3 innings.
The 6-foot-2, 190-pounder is the fourth Beaver to be named Pac-12 pitcher of the week this season, joining Bryce Fehmel, Luke Heimlich and Thompson.
GREINER GOES DEEP: For the first time in his Oregon State career, Grenier batted third in the lineup Sunday afternoon.
Grenier, from Bishop Gorman High in Las Vegas, went 1-for-3 with a walk and a tape-measure three-run home run.
“Grenier’s been hot,” Casey said. “He’s been doing some good things, getting on base. (Trevor) Larnach was not having a great series. I just thought it was a good day to sit him down, and so now all of a sudden you’re looking at who are you going to have hit in the middle of the order. So I thought let’s put Grenier in the three hole and get some speed in the middle of our order, and he came up with a big home run.”
Among the regulars, Grenier’s .316 batting average trails only Madrigal (.392), Harrison (.345) and Jack Anderson (.328). Grenier leads the team in home runs (four), RBIs (21) and triples (four).
HICKEY'S RETURN: Junior righty Mitch Hickey got the final two outs in Sunday’s game for his first save of the year.
Hickey recorded 11 saves as a freshman in 2015 but was limited to just 13 2/3 innings last year while battling a back strain. He has made three appearances this season and has allowed three hits and one earned run in two innings.