By Andy / PNW Sports Fans
Here we are. After a historic run through the regular season, Oregon State Baseball finally gets the opportunity to play for keeps. As great as this season has been thus far, things are just getting started. Tomorrow night we will get to see what kind of team Oregon State really has as pressure and expectations reach an all time high.
Monday it was announced that the Beavers would be the number 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and as such, would host a regional in Corvallis. Both of these things were a bit of a forgone conclusion, but now they’ve officially been cemented in reality.
The Beavers will play host to Nebraska, Yale, and Holy Cross for the weekend. Following Nebraska and Yale at 1pm on Friday, Oregon State will get its postseason started by matching up with Holy Cross for an 8pm nightcap on ESPNU.
On paper, OSU looks well equipped to handle this regional. Even so, we know that seeding and talent means very little at this point in the season. It was just three short years ago that Oregon State found itself in this exact same position but ended up getting bounced from their own regional. This should serve as a reminder to this year’s squad of how things can get away from you in a hurry.
One night you’re up on the parking garage with your buddies and some banquets watching the Beavs win, and the next you’re getting your heart ripped out at the hands of UC Irvine. Sometimes Summer dreams can be crushed before they even have a chance to be realized. But that’s enough of my sob story. Let’s take a look at the gauntlet the Beavers will have to survive this time around.
Nebraska was a team OSU saw down in Arizona in February and frankly dominated, winning the first game 10-1 and the second 5-2. However, February was a long time ago and this Nebraska team has only gotten better. Yale is a pesky team and is riding the momentum of their first postseason appearance since 1993. Timely hitting and solid play in the field makes them a tough out. Similarly, Holy Cross is excited to end a postseason drought of their own as they qualified for the tournament for the first time since 1978. Though they have a losing record overall, they played good enough ball to win their conference tournament and feel as if they have nothing to lose. As we know, teams with nothing to lose are pretty scary.
They say history tends to repeat itself. While that may be true I think Oregon State will head into the weekend better prepared than in 2014. This year’s team certainly shouldn’t take anything for granted and I’m sure the coaching staff will have them locked in well before the first pitch. I think the Beavers will show up ready to play Friday night.
The team has played with a sense of urgency all year long and I don’t see that changing. Aside from that, they’ve proven they can perform well under pressure. Don’t let the 49-4 record fool you, this team had its share of adversity. There were several games that had to be pulled from the fire in the waning moments throughout the season. The Beavers continually found ways to win whether it be with hitting, pitching or fielding. Look at the best teams in any sport. They usually aren’t great because they steamroll every opponent (though OSU has done plenty of that too) but rather they are great because they have incredible resolve and find ways to win games even when it’s not their best day. The Beavers have shown that quality time and time again this season and that’s why I think they really have a chance to make a run.
At the end of the day, Oregon State has a pitching staff that has more talent and depth than any other team in this regional or the country for that matter. This is a starting rotation and bullpen that gives the team a great back bone when it comes to tournament time. OSU has 6 or 7 guys that are starter quality. If that doesn’t give you confidence the Beavers also possess fantastic position players and appear to be looking close to 100 percent healthy heading into the postseason. This team isn’t just built around one or two great players. They have incredible depth and that’s what often leads teams to Omaha.
Yes, nothing is given at this point in the journey. But this weekend the Beavers will have the opportunity to go out and prove why they are the top seed. Corvallis will be buzzing, and if all goes right, they’ll stay right at home in the Willamette Valley for the Super Regional.
I’m looking forward to tomorrow.
Until then, crack a cold one, and Go Beavs!