A season of hard work, dedication, commitment and goal achieving standards have brought the Oregon State Beaver baseball team to the place they were planning on being all along. A national seed, home field advantage (should they continue to win) in the regional and super-regionals and remain on track towards the College World Series in Nebraska.
After a few shaky moments in last weekend’s series win over the Washington State Cougars, the Beavers captured the Pacific 12 Conference title. No backing in either, despite the Oregon Ducks losing on Sunday, clinching the title for OSU. In game three against WSU, the Beavers scored twice in the eighth inning on two home runs (by Dylan Davis and Danny Hayes) to tie the game at six, and then capped the comeback by scoring the winning run in the bottom of the ninth when Davis scored from second on a Ryan Barnes single to finish taking two of three from the Cougars.
Oregon State finished the regular season with an overall record of 45-10 and 24-6 in league play. From the rankings they finished at #5 in the RPI and ESPN/USA Today Coaches poll, #4 by Baseball America and landed the #3 seed in the NCAA Tournament. North Carolina and Vanderbilt received the #1 and #2 seeds respectively, while LSU, Cal State Fullerton, Virginia, Florida State and Oregon are the seeds behind the Beavers.
The accolades for a brilliant season are pouring in. Seven Beavers made All Conference First Team selections: Davis, Michael Conforto, Tyler Smith, Jake Rodriquez, Andrew Moore, Ben Wetzler and Matt Boyd. And Pat Casey took Coach of the Year honors. Furthermore, Conforto took Player of the Year and Moore was named Freshman Pitcher of the Year.
Soak it in Beaver nation, for now. The best attribute to this year’s squad? They know it’s not over. Translation: they still have work to do and they understand that. The team surely appreciates their accomplishments. However they realize there are other goals to attain. Up next is the regional in Corvallis, at the friendly confines of Goss Stadium where OSU was 22-4 this season.
Included in the Corvallis regional will be Texas A&M (32-27), UC Santa Barbara (34-23) and University of Texas San Antonio (35-23). This round of play, as well as the consequent rounds following (super-regionals and CWS), are double elimination. Lose twice and you’re done. A&M will begin against UCSB and OSU will face UTSA in their first game. Outside of the Beavers, A&M looks to be the strongest of the group having played in the SEC and defeating Vanderbilt and Florida in their conference tournament. Of note, former Oregon State player Andrew Checketts now coaches Santa Barbara.
What is eerie, in a good way; this Beaver team is scary similar to the CWS championship teams. Each has/had a strong catcher (presently Rodriquez, then Mitch Canham), superior pitching staff (Boyd/Moore/Wetzler today, then Dallas Buck/Jonah Nickerson/Kevin Gunderson) and both squads consistently manufactured runs with two outs. Of course, with Casey leading the way then and now, OSU is extremely well coached.
Naturally Oregon State is favored to advance. As we all know, you still must play the games. The close calls (losing Game 1 in extra innings after two seven run leads) against the Cougars hopefully will benefit the Beavers. After playing WSU, who heading into last weekend was hovering near the bottom of the league, it won’t take any extra motivation or inspirational speeches for Beavers players to see anyone can win on any given day.