PHOENIX – Kevin Abel tied a career-high with 11 strikeouts to send the Oregon State baseball team to a 4-0 series-opening win over Grand Canyon Thursday night at Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark.
Joe Casey hit a second-inning home run and Kyler McMahan paced a three-run eighth inning with a two-run single as the offense totaled nine hits in support of Abel and four relievers.
Abel worked five innings, scattering three hits and a walk with three hit batters. He struck out three in an inning twice – the third and fifth innings.
Abel ended his outing with five strikeouts in his final two innings, including three to get out of a jam in the fifth. He hit the first two batters of the inning and an infield single loaded the bases. Abel proceeded to pick up his ninth, 10th and 11th strikeouts of the night to preserve a one-run lead.
He picked up the win to improve to 1-0 this season.
Abel was backed by Jack Washburn, Nathan Burns, Chase Watkins and Bryant Salgado, who all worked one inning apiece. They combined with Abel to strike out 18.
Casey got the Beavers (4-1 overall) on the board early, hitting a solo home run over the left center fence off GCU starter Zach Barnes. His third home run of the season proved to be Oregon State’s only run of the game until the eighth.
OSU loaded the bases in the eighth, and McMahan extended his hit streak to 12 games with a two-run single to center. He then watched as Jacob Melton, who recorded his first career two-hit game, hit a single back up the middle for his second career Oregon State RBI.
Barnes, who tossed a quality start for Grand Canyon (3-2), was charged with the loss to drop to 1-1 this season. He allowed four hits and a run in six innings.
Melton and Casey each had two hits to lead Oregon State.
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Oregon State and Grand Canyon continue their four-game series Friday at Brazell Field at GCU Ballpark. First pitch Friday is slated for 5 p.m. PT (6 p.m. in Arizona).
Follow The Game
Follow Friday’s game via TuneIn radio on the Beaver Sports Network as well on a live stream produced by Grand Canyon. Both links can be found by visiting the schedule page on osubeavers.com.
On The Hill
Oregon State is slated to start left-handed pitcher Cooper Hjerpe (1-0, 0.00 ERA) to the mound Friday. Grand Canyon will counter with right-handed pitcher Pierson Ohl (1-0, 4.76 ERA).
Kevin Abel has been sharp in his first two outings this season. The righty has 18 strikeouts in just 9 2/3 innings, while allowing four hits and two runs – one unearned – with three walks. Thursday’s outing lowered his season ERA to 0.93.
Kevin Abel previously struck out 11 against Washington State in 2018 and West Virginia in 2019.
Kevin Abel’s outing Thursday gave the Oregon State starting pitchers 34 strikeouts on the season in just 24 1/3 innings. The starters have combined to walk four and have a 2.63 ERA.
First Meeting Since 1994
Thursday’s series opener marked the first game between the teams since 1994 in Honolulu. It was also just the sixth all-time meeting between the clubs and the third in Phoenix. Grand Canyon has never played in Corvallis.