After the Oregon State baseball team closed out the Super Regional by defeating Kansas State in three games, obvious exhilaration followed for Beaver nation. Facing two elimination games in the series, tense feelings were felt by one and all Oregon State fans. Understandably so, however, while the final game had everyone’s nerves on edge, a certain feeling can be taken from all of the postseason so far. We have yet to see the Beavers at peak level.
Sure, in Game 2, the OSU offense rolled in 21 hits. But after scraping by the final season series against Washington State and muddling through the regional round, the odds rallied for the Beaver bats. That being said, it feels like the best is yet to come. The starting rotation has done their part and the Beavers have not come close to going hitless. Unfortunately, other than the second game rout of the Wildcats, stringing together multiple games of timely hitting have been hard to come by.
Now in the College World Series, things won’t get any easier. All the other seven teams (Mississippi State, Louisville, Indiana, NC State, North Carolina, UCLA and LSU) did not arrive by accident. Each was a number one seed in their regional and didn’t only hit their way to Omaha. While no team might be able to match Oregon State’s rotation of three solid starters (wins/losses and ERA), these teams’ pitchers don’t offer up 10 or 12-run fiestas for their opponents. Miss. St., Louisville and Indiana are on OSU’s side of the bracket. Each one of those knocked off a national seed in their respective super regional (all on the road). Hence, fear of facing another national seed won’t even come in to play.
The Beavers didn’t’ “luck” their way to the CWS either. All things considered, OSU has traversed through the first two rounds and done what is necessary. They have performed well enough to this point to advance. It’s a different level now and things are progressing in crescendo format for the Beavers. Climbing the mountain one rock at a time. Ben Wetzler, Andrew Moore and Matt Boyd have been solid as usual. But my gut feeling tells me OSU has yet to arrive. In a good way. The statement game where all the pieces come together that says the Beavers are the team to beat. To accomplish the season long goal of the title, OSU will definitely need to find a way to match their hit production to their run support. This would clearly benefit the starters on the mound leaving them with less stress in tight ball games.
Where OSU has a clear advantage is in coaching. Coach Pat Casey and his staff have won and lost in Omaha (North Carolina‘s Mike Fox has been there numerous times, but has never won; only LSU‘s Paul Mainieri has also won in 2009). Despite going out in two games in 2005, it was a valuable learning experience. Casey’s teams have faced a plethora of elimination games over the years, so panic won’t settle in too easily. Of course, winning back to back in 2006-2007 is a tremendous boost. He has seen both sides of such a postseason trip. Knowledge he will put to use in preparation for the atmosphere there. It will be normal game preparations surely, but knowing Casey can get the team focused is an immense relief.
Let’s put it another way. Bias aside and taking CWS championships in to consideration, wouldn’t you want the guy who won it back-to-back? Yeah, me too.