New Oregon State baseball coach Mitch Canham returned to familiar territory this weekend. The Beavers made their home debut at Goss stadium before a sell-out crowd, and Canham managed his first game in the stadium he previously played in from 2004-07.
“It’s home. This is the most amazing place,” Canham said of Goss Stadium. “From a personal standpoint, I get to see my wife and kids and people that helped transform me into the person that I am today. It also means an incredible amount to be out there and compete in front of Beaver Nation.”
While the Beavers received a warm reception in their first home series, the on-field action did not match the initial off-field excitement.
The team made their home debut in an unfamiliar position with a losing record. After posting a 5-6 record in the 11 road games of the season, the Beavers began their first home series with two consecutive losses to UC Santa Barbara.
Despite a great start Friday night by junior right-handed pitcher Christian Chamberlain, the team suffered their first home-opening loss since 2003 and fell 6-0 to the Gauchos. Though UC Santa Barbra scored only one hit, a series of nine walks and four errors by Oregon State allowed them to clinch 11th victory of the season.
Saturday’s game was another shutout for the Beavers, who lost 4-0. But the Beavers did show signs of success in game two. Junior Kyler McMahan’s single in the fifth inning extended his hit streak to six consecutive games, and freshman Micah McDowell went 2-4 with singles in the fifth and seventh innings. Sophomore Jake Pfennings also pitched a career high 6 innings, allowing three hits and one run.
“Tonight was a good adjustment, we didn’t allow a ton of free bases from the pitching perspective. We only had three walks and a hit batter,” Canham said. “It was good to see Pfennings go out there and fill up the zone for six innings. I anticipate us getting better each and every day.”
While Canham remained optimistic regarding the team’s success moving forward, he acknowledged that losing at home is never an easy feeling.
“It makes it extremely tough on these kinds of nights when we don’t perform like we know we can. You don’t want to let everyone down,” Canham said. “You want to go out there and do the job that you know you can do and our fans deserve to see.”
Canham also said that the players also hate losing streaks because they feel that they’re not performing at the level the program stands for, and compared losing to “getting punched in the gut.” Still, he believes his players have what it takes to return to the winning ways normally associated with the program.
“I love how these guys work together and I love how they hold each other accountable,” Canham said. “More of that is going to be coming, and hopefully in the right direction.”
The Beavers will play a three-game series at Arizona from March 13-15. The team’s next home series takes place from March 20-22 versus Arizona State.