Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman (Aaron Fitt)


Rutschman, Heimlich Lift Beavers


EUGENE, Ore. — Forty-two games into his collegiate career, Adley Rutschman was back where he started: in the cleanup spot.

It’s a testament to how highly Oregon State regarded Rutschman that the coaching staff inserted him into the No. 4 hole during the very first weekend of his collegiate career. The freshman catcher arrived on campus as one of the most high-profile incoming recruits in the West, and the Beavers expected him to hit the ground running.

But Rutschman’s freshman year has been trying, and as his batting average hovered around the Mendoza line midway through the season, he found himself entrenched down in the bottom third of the lineup. He batted eighth in four straight games last week, when his bat suddenly started to come to life. He went 2-for-4 in a midweek game against Oregon on May 2, then had two more hits and three RBIs in the series opener against Cal last Friday and two more RBIs in the series finale on Sunday, in his return to the cleanup spot.

Rutschman batted fifth Thursday at Oregon and delivered one of the best games of his career to date. He broke a scoreless tie by crushing a solo homer to left-center in the fourth, then added an RBI single in the fifth. He finished with three hits and two RBIs to help lead the Beavers to a 6-1 win in the opener of a three-game weekend series against the rival Ducks.

“It felt good. It was nice just to be able to come out and help the team in whatever way I could,” Rutschman said. “Hitting’s a process, and I’ve just kind of stuck with my process. Kind of been working throughout the season, and now it’s starting to hopefully turn around.”

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