Dominant Kevin Abel wins game 1 in 2 years as Oregon State Baseball defeats Grand Canyon 4-0


An Oregon State Beavers baseball game ended Thursday night with something that hasn’t been seen for 727 days:

A victory for Kevin Abel.

The Beavers right-hander ace pitched five white innings and Oregon State continued their strong start to the 2021 season, beating the Grand Canyon Antelopes 4-0 in Game 1 of a four-game series at the Brazell Field of Phoenix.

Abel, who was on his second departure since returning from Operation Tommy John, was virtually untouchable Thursday night as he claimed his first victory since March 1, 2019.

He allowed just three hits and hit the side twice on the career-high 11 strikeout path, baffling the Antelopes with a three-pitched electric arsenal. The only time Abel ran into trouble was he self-inflicted, hitting a walk and hitting three Grand Canyon batters in five innings.

Abel’s biggest test came in the bottom of the fifth, when he beat No.8 hitter Josh Buckley and No.9 batter Dane Stankiewicz after scoring 0-2 on both. When second baseman Ryan Ober followed a ground hitter from head hitter Juan Colato, a college baseball preseason All-American, Abel suddenly faced the loaded bases without a strikeout.

But his affairs were so dominant that it didn’t matter.

He struck out the next three hitters on 11 shots, thwarting the threat dramatically. After fanning clean-up hitter Brock Burton on three pitches to end the inning, Abel screamed skyward and flexed both arms as he made his way to the dugout. His night ended after 86 shots, including 57 shots, as he ended an offense that entered the game with a .323 shot and a 9.0-per-game average.

Abel improved to 1-1 with a 0.93 ERA this season. In 9 2/3 innings, he allowed just four hits and recorded 18 strikeouts.

As Abel shone, Oregon State (4-1) did more than enough home plate, finishing with nine hits and producing an eighth inning of three runs. Joe Casey went 2 for 5 with a homer – his third in five games this season – and Kyler McMahan hit a two-run single in the eighth inning to give the Beavers box some breathing space.

Casey’s solo shot to the center-left was the only run in seven innings. But the Beavers – who scored 41 points in their first four games – ultimately did damage in the eighth. Jake Dukart started things off with a double with an out before Troy Claunch walked and Casey called with a single into the field to charge the goals. Two batters later, McMahan scored two runs with a center single, extending the Beavers’ lead to 3-0.

Jacob Melton, who recorded the first two-hit opener of his career, added a two-strikeout RBI single down the middle to provide another run of insurance. That was enough for relievers Jack Washburn, Nathan Burns, Chase Watkins and Bryant Salgado, who combined seven batting strikes in four clean innings to help Oregon State win their fourth straight game.

Zach Barnes (1-1) suffered the loss for the Grand Canyon (3-2), even though he allowed just four hits and a run in six innings.

Next : The teams continue their four-game streak at 5 p.m. Friday at Brazell Field, where Beavers left-hander Cooper Hjerpe (1-0, 0.00) will face Antelopes right-hander Pierson Ohl (1-0, 4.76).


– Joe Freeman | [email protected] | 503-294-5183 | @BlazerFreeman | Subscribe to The Oregonian / OregonLive newsletters and podcasts for the latest news and best stories

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