SURPRISE, Ariz. — Nick Madrigal was a triple shy of the cycle Friday afternoon as the Oregon State baseball team opened the 2018 season with a 5-2 victory over New Mexico.
Madrigal, a junior middle infielder, finished 3 for 4 with three RBIs, including a powerful two-run home run that gave the second-ranked Beavers (1-0) an early 2-0 lead.
Fellow junior Trevor Larnach also homered for OSU, which has its last nine season-openers. The Beavers return to action at noon Saturday against Gonzaga at Surprise Stadium.
Luke Heimlich received the start and was relatively sharp in six strong innings. The reigning Pac-12 pitcher of the year gave up two runs — both in his final inning of work — on four hits with four strikeouts and one walk.
Heimlich faced just one over the minimum through five innings before allowing two runs on two hits in the sixth. Fifty four of the senior left-hander’s 87 pitches went for strikes.
Brandon Eisert picked up the save with three perfect innings of relief. The sophomore lefty fanned three New Mexico (0-1) batters.
Justin Slaten took the loss, allowing five runs on six hits with three strikeouts and two walks in 4⅔.
On a balmy, overcast day with little wind, OSU nearly had several more homers in the desert. Cadyn Grenier, Adley Rutschman, Zak Taylor and Michael Gretler all had long drives caught near the fence.
Larnach was able to get one out and finished 2 for 3 with a double and a run scored.
OSU struck first with a three-run bottom of the fourth.
Grenier drew a leadoff walk before Madrigal turned on an 0-1 changeup from Slaten for a home run to straight away left. It was the sixth career round-tripper for Madrigal, the 2017 Pac-12 player of the year.
Larnach followed with a solo shot to straight away center that made it 3-0. It was the slugger’s fourth bomb in a Beavers uniform.
Madrigal and Larnach were the first OSU players to hit back-to-back homers since KJ Harrison and Jeff Hendrix accomplished the feat against Portland in 2015.
The Beavers added to their lead one inning later when Madrigal singled home Grenier, who reached on a two-out double. After Larnach walked, Tyler Malone slapped a base hit up the middle to drive in Madrigal for a 5-0 advantage.
New Mexico finally got to Heimlich in the sixth, scoring a pair of runs on a Hayden Schilling fielder’s choice and a Jared Ming single. Heimlich avoided further damage with an inning-ending strikeout of Jeff Deimling.