BY KERRY EGGERS/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/After slow start to his college career, Trevor Larnach emerges as a player and hitter, and shows power

CORVALLIS — In two years at Oregon State, Trevor Larnach has gone from awkward freshman to sophomore starter to one of the best players in the Pac-12 as a junior.

The 6-4, 215-pound right fielder is hitting .347 with 10 doubles, eight home runs and 36 RBIs in 26 games for the fourth-ranked Beavers (22-4 overall, 6-3 in Pac-12 play), who beat Nevada 3-2 in 11 innings Monday night at Goss Stadium.

The Pleasant Hill, California, native is among the top 10 in the conference in most hitting categories, including RBIs (second), doubles (tied for second), homers (third), slugging percentage (fourth, .731), average (seventh), on-base percentage (seventh, .478) and hits (10th, 34).

"Trevor is off to a great start for us," Oregon State coach Pat Casey says.

Larnach began the season on a high, going 8 for 9 in the Beavers' opening three games at Surprise, Arizona, earning Pac-12 and national Player of the Week laurels. OSU's clean-up hitter is anything but consumed by individual plaudits, but he does pays attention to RBIs.

"I just think about my role," says Larnach, 21. "I'm ultimately a guy who drives in runs. If I'm doing my job and driving in runs, I'm helping my team, and that's all that matters to me."

Larnach is on pace to challenge Michael Conforto's school single-season RBI record of 76 set in 2012. Not bad for a kid who had only three hits and eight RBIs his entire freshman season.

"He has come a long way in two years," Casey says.

The youngest of five children, Larnach decided on Oregon State during the summer between his sophomore and junior years in high school.

"They were my first (scholarship) offer," he says. "Once I came to Corvallis for a visit with my family, I was pretty set on it."

Larnach had arm surgery as a prep senior and played designated hitter all season. That June, the San Diego Padres tabbed him in the 40th round of the draft.

"That they still drafted me was quite the honor," he says. "I was appreciative of that. But I knew I was going to Oregon State."

Larnach broke his foot just before his freshman season and missed the first half of the campaign. He wound up hitting .157 in 51 at-bats, mostly as a pinch-hitter and DH.

"He pressed a bit after he came back," Casey says. "He was a little bit down on himself. He lost his confidence."

"I wouldn't say I had much confidence to begin with, with the injury and never having played college ball before," Larnach says. "I knew what I was capable of doing, but I got distracted by the injury."

Larnach played in the prestigious Cape Cod League that summer, though, and came back a different player. As a sophomore last season, he hit .303 with 16 doubles, three home runs and 48 RBIs in 60 games for the OSU team that went 56-6 and reached the College World Series.

This season, Larnach has taken it to another level, adding the power aspect.

"I always tell young guys that the power will come as you mature," Casey says. "He's had maturity as a hitter. His pitch recognition has been much better. His confidence is way up. He'll have even more power down the road. He's big and strong. He just needs to hit. Home runs will come."

Larnach has put on 25 pounds of muscle since arriving at OSU in the fall of 2015.

"That has helped the power — that and mechanical adjustments," he said. "I've learned how to use my whole body instead of just my upper half. That's a key part of the power. A lot of it has to do with confidence, approach and mentality."

Former Oregon State catcher Jake Rodriguez, now the program's director of operations, has observed Larnach's growth as a player.

"Trevor's progression has been fun to watch," Rodriguez says. "It's a good situation for us, because with him batting behind Adley (Rutschman), opposing pitchers have to pitch to one of those guys.

"This season, Trevor has been attacking more balls earlier in the count. Last year, he was in a lot of 0-2 and 1-2 counts.

"He is always a guy hitting after practice, putting in extra work. He watches a lot of video. He studies the game and the hitting aspect."

Larnach has also made himself into a plus defensive outfielder.

"He has done a very good job in the outfield," Casey says. "He gets a great jump (on the ball), and he throws the ball well now. I'm proud of him for that."

"During my sophomore year, I asked the coaches what I needed to do to get on the field (defensively)," Larnach says. "That's the other half of the game. I felt I was more than capable enough to play right field. They told me to work on speed and first-step reads. I worked on that for a year and it paid dividends."

Instead of being a part-time DH, Larnach is now an every-day right fielder.

"I'm trying to take advantage of it as much as I can," he says. "I'm very appreciative of the opportunity. I've worked my ass off to get to this point. I've always been a guy who feels like, if you put in a lot of work, you're going to get that much out of it. I'm doing what I can to help us get back to where we were last year, and then finish the job."

Larnach calls joining the OSU program "the best decision of my life, by far."

"The experiences I've had, learning from Coach Casey and his staff, the players I've met, going to the College World Series — I'm humbled by it, and very appreciative," he says.

Larnach was disappointed when the Beavers lost two of three games at Utah last weekend, ending a streak of 14 straight Pac-12 series victories.

The Utes "just played better than us," he says. "We shouldn't lose a series with the guys we have. I don't like losing like that. That's not how things should be going at Oregon State. We know that. The coaches know that. I'm focused on helping us get back to where we need to be."

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