Home Sports Top-ranked Oregon State maneuvers past No. 15 Stanford behind ace Luke Heimlich

Top-ranked Oregon State maneuvers past No. 15 Stanford behind ace Luke Heimlich

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STANFORD — History was delayed by at least one night at Sunken Diamond on Friday.

It wasn’t a choke job by No. 15 Stanford in any way, but top-ranked Oregon State pulled off a 3-1 victory behind a complete-game effort from ace Luke Heimlich.

This kept Stanford coach Mark Marquess, who will retire at the end of the season, from reaching career victory No. 1,600.

“Hopefully I can get it done with about 40 games left,” Marquess said. “We’ll see.”

The Cardinal (14-7, 2-2 Pac-12) trailed by a run entering the bottom of the eighth, when senior centerfielder legged out a leadoff double, deftly managing to evade the tag at second base after an accurate throw by the left fielder.

A sacrifice moved him over to third base, but Oregon State (22-1, 7-0) pulled its infield in and Stanford sophomore Nico Hoerner hit the ball directly at the second baseman for a groundout for the second out.

“That’s part of the game,” Marquess said. “That happens. He made contact and hit it right at the guy. Got the big leadoff double by Klein, which is a big hit, and got him to third on a good sac bunt. It’s just one of those things, just couldn’t finish it off.”

The Beavers didn’t get out of the jam until retiring Stanford junior Quinn Brodey, who leads the Cardinal with four home runs and 22 RBI.

That’s why Oregon State coach Pat Casey came out of the dugout for a conference with his 6-foot junior southpaw.

“He just wanted to slow the game down,” Heimlich said. “It was big at-bat before that to hold the runner at third, so he didn’t want me to get too ahead of myself and try to get too energized before another big at-bat. So he slowed things down and we discussed just how we were going to pitch him.”

Heimlich (5-0) neutralized the threat with another ground to second, with a backhanded stab and accurate throw to first for the third out.

Oregon State added an insurance run in the top of the ninth on a sacrifice fly by sophomore Elliott Cary, then Stanford went down in order in the bottom of the frame, caught looking on strike three for the final out.

“It’s a great way to end the game,” Heimlich said.

It was only the third strikeout for Heimlich, who also caught the Cardinal looking with the bases loaded in the bottom of the fourth for the third out. He tossed a four-hitter and walk a pair, requiring 114 pitches to go the distance.

The only run he allowed came in the bottom of the fifth, when he walked Stanford junior Mikey Diekroeger, a graduate of nearby Menlo School, as the leadoff hitter. He came around to score on a sacrifice fly by another junior, Matt Winaker, for only his third earned run allowed so far.

It raised his ERA from 0.42 a full tenth of a decimal point to 0.52.

“I try not to pay attention to the stats,” said Heimlich, whose repertoire consists of a fastball, slider and changeup. “It’s fun to have good stats, but ultimately coming out Friday night I just try to go deep in games and put my team in a position to win, and today I was able to go the distance.”

The Beavers, currently on a 17-game winning streak, suffered its only loss on Feb. 24.

A year ago, not only did Oregon State miss out on the College World Series, it wasn’t even selected for the NCAA Tournament.

“I think we’re really focused on what we want to do and what we want to accomplish,” Heimlich said. “Nothing is getting sidetracked. We lost a game early on and we were able to get right back where we wanted it. And not making it last year kind of fueled some of us returners to really prove we deserve to be in the postseason.”

One of the main reasons Stanford had a chance to tie the game late was the gutty performance of Friday night starter Kris Bubic, a 6-foot-3 sophomore who escaped multiple jams in the early going.

The lefty allowed a run in the top of the first and another in the fifth, but stranded the bases loaded after a leadoff double in the third inning to keep crooked numbers off the scoreboard.

“We were fortunate,” Marquess said. “We were in a couple of big spots where they had a chance to break it open a couple of times early in the game. So we were fortunate to stay close and had a chance in the eighth to tie it, but just couldn’t get a hit.”

Bubic (2-4) was pulled with two outs in the top of the sixth after throwing a career-high 118 pitches, scattering five hits and four walks, while striking out six.

“He didn’t have his best stuff,” Marquess said. “His command wasn’t as good as it usually is, but he hung in there. Gave us a chance to stay close.”

Stanford freshman Will Matthiessen came out of the bullpen and allowed just two hits the rest of the way, inducing a lineout right at Hoerner to strand the runner he inherited, with the shortstop taking a small hop to stab at the ball.

But, in the end, the Cardinal was unable to maneuver its way by Heimlich.

“He did a great job, obviously,” said Marquess, who continues his search for win No. 1,600 on Saturday at 2 p.m.

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