Usually when my favorite sports team comes up short in their quest for a title, depression sets in. So when the Oregon State Beavers concluded their season with a 4-1 loss to Mississippi State, I was worried of falling in the sinkhole. Luckily I was calm and collective in my disappointment. Unfortunately, the team flamed out offensively when they needed it most.
Although Andrew Moore may have given up the three run homer in the final game, he can hardly be pointed at for taking the loss. As much so for Matt Boyd giving up the 2-run double in the first loss to the Bulldogs. After all, the pitching staff is what put the Beavers on the map this year. Now Mississippi State will face UCLA for the championship. It is no coincidence those two teams are both 3-0 to this point in the proceedings at the College World Series.
If anything, the dagger for Beaver Nation was losing the first game in the CWS. Momentum is key in any sport. Had Oregon State won Game 1, who knows what would have happened. The Beavers team of 2006 is one of only a handful of teams to head home with the trophy after losing their first game. It shows you how hard it is to win the whole enchilada, which is why I have always said OSU winning back to back titles was so remarkable. Win your conference (or at least finish in the top four), play a decent non-conference schedule for RPI purposes, win three games against teams you never play (Regional), then win two of three against another team you have not seen (Super Regional), then travel on the road (Omaha) to win two mini double elimination stages with worlds of pressure. All the teams in Omaha are more than capable to get on a roll and beat anyone (see Bulldogs). Oh by the way, these are just college kids.
Where I get flummoxed, is how the Beavers were unable to muster up any run production. The Bulldogs’ Kendall Graveman certainly had their number as he kept OSU at bay in both of their games. Had it not been for Boyd, Indiana might have eliminated OSU with their ace, Aaron Slegers. This was perflexing, considering they beat Stanford’s Mark Appel during the year (Appel was the number one overall pick in this year’s draft) and also faced UCLA’s Adam Plutko (where OSU did lose 3-2). Hence, facing strong pitching should not have been to disconcerting. Sometimes things happen, sometimes they don’t. For OSU, getting runs across the plate just failed to materialize.
In the end, Oregon State did not overachieve or underachieve. Ironically, this team was in the top four in rankings all year, which is where they finished. Everyone believed this team could climb the mountain and grab the prize. Outside of not scoring enough runs in their final two games, these Beavers took their fans on a great ride. A 15-game winning streak to begin the season, taking two of three in Eugene against the Ducks, winning two elimination games in Corvallis (Super Regional) and two in Omaha. A fantastic run to the CWS. Kudos for the wonderful effort by Pat Casey and the entire squad. While it did not end as we all wanted, it certainly provides hope for next year. Still believing, go Beavs.