Rogers Rewind: Oregon State’s Gambrell Finally Finds GrooveColumns
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PHOENIX — Grant Gambrell has never been so important to Oregon State.
For the past two seasons, we’ve waited for Gambrell to take that next step. He put together a solid 2.94 ERA as a freshman, but that was only in 15.1 innings of action. Then, last season, Gambrell tallied a 4.40 ERA in 57.1 innings, along with 57 strikeouts and 29 walks. Respectable numbers? Sure. But warranting a large role with the elite Beavers? Not exactly.
The surest sign Gambrell needed to up his game came at the College World Series as the Beavers captured the hearts of minds of the country on the way to their third national title. Gambrell was ecstatic. He celebrated with his teammates. But throughout the entire stay in Omaha, he never once touched the mound in live action.
In today’s society, some players would’ve chosen to pout in that kind of moment. But not Gambrell. He told his coaches he was going to work hard in the offseason, and he put together a fall that had the Beavers wondering what was to come. He looked the part.
Gambrell had his fair share of ups and downs earlier this season, but this past weekend, without Kevin Abel, the Omaha hero who’s out for the season after announcing he was having Tommy John surgery, the Beavers pointed to Gambrell on Sunday to guide them to a series win over the nation’s premier offensive club and dangerous hitters Spencer Torkelson and Hunter Bishop.
He had two strikeouts in the first inning, punching out Torkelson and Bishop on 94 and 95 mph fastballs, respectively, but ASU’s Carter Aldrete came up to the plate with two runners on after a single and a walk. It was an important moment for Gambrell. Would he struggle to escape with a zero, as he’s done many times before, or would this be a watershed moment?
Gambrell punched out Aldrete on an 84 mph changeup, and he proceeded to have one of the best performances of his career.
“From the second inning until the end of his outing, I thought that was the best I’ve ever seen him,” Oregon State coach Pat Bailey said about Gambrell. “In terms of everything working for him, he just seemed a lot more confident and competitive on the mound. He’s got great stuff, and I thought he showed that today.”