As the postseason journey continues for the Oregon State University baseball team, one thing is certain. No one wants it to end any time soon. If a picture is worth a thousand words, or close to that amount, the Beavers deliver frame worthy games for Beaver nation to converse over for days. Whether Michael Conforto or Dylan Davis is standing at the plate, Max Gordon diving in center field, or Matt Boyd, Andrew Moore or Ben Wetzler on the mound, flat out, the images or outcomes have fans relishing in victory.
Okay, not always glamorous. Even Picasso probably tossed up a few duds people were still proud to see.
Last weekend’s games, a trio of regional games in which OSU won in the ninth or sealed it in the last inning, had fans puzzled yet pleased. Each was tighter than expected, as well as hair-raising. However the team arrived in the win column now is of no consequence. They deserved to move on. In the regional round, you are asked to win three games. It is irrelevant how you get there, just get there.
Now, OSU plays a Kansas State team which has no problems scoring runs. In their regional competition, the Wildcats tallied up 31 runs in three games along with 34 hits. Granted, 20 plated batters came in the first game against Wichita State, along with 19 hits. If they get it going at the plate, baseball life could get dicey for Beaver nation.
Enough of this crazy talk, let’s not digress. This path is about moving forward. OSU has shown it can win despite the offense not being on the ’A’ game when productivity is a premium. In the field against UTSA last weekend, a couple of errors might have derailed the outcome. But time and again, the pitching staff comes to the rescue keeping opponents in check just enough to get the team to victory. They rarely get down by a margin so insurmountable, it would have been difficult to come back. Of their ten losses, only two were more than four runs. Yes, this can be attributed to the pitchers. But for the Beavers, from day one, this unit has shown it is always a team effort.
Catcher Jake Rodriguez throwing out base runners. Danny Hayes drawing a walk for the winning run. Freshman pitcher Max Engelbrekt coming in late to close out wins. Tyler Smith and Andy Peterson defending the infield middle. If you asked any member of the Oregon State baseball team, surely each would tell you they could not excel without all of the above intangibles and others not mentioned. Pitching, hitting or defense, everyone contributes.
After regional action completed Monday night, the final two Super Regional spots were taken by North Carolina and Rice. What impact did this have on OSU? Perhaps quite a bit. The Tar Heels are the number one overall seed. Their tightrope win over Florida Atlantic in the 13th inning is still a main topic of conversation on internet baseball circles. As is Rice getting by number eight national seed Oregon in Eugene. Significance? Attention is good for baseball in the Northwest, but so is staying under the radar on the trek to the College World Series. The Beavers are cruising along in an unheralded fashion. Going unnoticed? Nothing wrong with that.
Loudly or softly, getting through this round is the task at hand. Orange and black all the way. Still believing.