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Future Knight Gabe Clark Making Most of Chances at Oregon State.

March 13, 2013

Freshman First Baseman Seeing Spot Duty on Nationally-Ranked Beavers

Future Knight Gabe Clark Making Most of Chances at Oregon State.

One word describes Gabe Clark's (pictured) attitude about playing for the Corvallis Knights this summer.


"I've heard it's fun, a great experience," the 6-foot-1, 200-pound Oregon State freshman corner infielder said on Tuesday night following a 5-1 loss to the University of San Francisco at Goss Stadium. "Corvallis is beautiful in the summer, and the Knights always have a good team.

"So I'm excited to play, and excited to win. The fans will see I'm a hard worker."

The 18-year-old Riverside, California native is one of two Beavers presently assigned to the Knights; he'll be joined by fellow freshman Andrew Moore, a right-handed pitcher from Eugene. A third OSU signee will be announced shortly, and it's possible a fourth Beaver could join them before all is said and done.

Summer ball will give Clark a chance to establish himself as an every-day player and help him gain experience and momentum for his sophomore season, when OSU will have considerable less infield depth with the loss of shortstop Tyler Smith, first basemen Ryan Barnes and first baseman Danny Hayes to graduation.

For now, however, he's a role player for the 15-1 Beavers, who open Pacific-12 Conference play at Arizona this weekend. He's hitting .208 (5-24) in nine games, with a double, a triple and four RBIs. He grounded out with runners at the corners to end the eighth inning in his lone at-bat against the Dons on Tuesday night.

"It's frustrating, especially getting out in a big situation," he said afterward. "I wanted to get a hit; I did my best and got a pitch I wanted. I just hit it right at someone."

As one would expect, the biggest change he's seen since arriving in Corvallis for fall practice is the quality of pitching. In high school, good hitters are ahead of the pitchers; it's just the opposite in the Pac-12, where almost every staff is filled with potential major-league draftees.

"In high school I could sit on certain pitches," get a good swing, and generally square it up, he said. "In college, you don't know what's coming.

"I go up there looking for one pitch, and I might not get it. Then I'm just battling. Every single at-bat is a grind."

Clark was a four-time letterman at North High in Riverside and was the co-MVP of the Big VIII League as a senior, when he hit .511, with 11 homers, 41 RBIs, 38 runs and 18 stolen bases. He was a first-team Max Preps all-state (large schools) selection, and a Riverside Press-Enterprise newspaper Inland Empire all-star.

As a junior, Clark hit .425 as a junior, with five home runs, 13 doubles, nine stolen bases and 32 RBI in helping the North win the CIF Southern Section Division I championship at Dodger Stadium. He was also the 2011 High School GameTime Player of the Year.

A second-team Big VIII League all-star as a sophomore and junior, Gabe played for the Riverside Falcons and Colton Nighthawks in summer ball. He also started every game as a freshman, so sitting is a new experience he doesn't want to repeat as his career progresses.

"I realize it is part of being here at Oregon State," he said. "I'd love to play every single inning of every single game, but when it's my time, it's my time, and I have to show the coaches I want to be the guy.

"Everybody on our team can play. We have a great team, with so much depth. To be on the same field with some of these guys is amazing. Watching Michael Conforto hit ... it's amazing to be in the same dugout with some of these players.

"I didn't know what college baseball would be like. Then, when we started playing it just blew my mind away, how we compete, how we do everything we do, baseball-wise."