Oregon State's bowl dreams will become reality in Gary Andersen's third year

Oregon State's bowl dreams will become reality in Gary Andersen's third year

HOLLYWOOD, Calif. - This time, fantasy will become bowl game reality for Oregon State. 

OSU players invited to take part in Pac-12 Media Days the past two seasons under coach Gary Andersen talked openly about their goals of reaching a bowl game.  It didn't happen. Not even close. Instead, the Beavers went 2-10 in 2015 (zero wins in the Pac-12) in Andersen's first season after replacing Mike Riley, and then 4-8 last season (3-6 Pac-12). 

To be fair, the players' beliefs were largely based on competitiveness, hope, bravado and perhaps some innocent delusion. This time around, however, the Beavers truly have good reason to believe that the program could realistically return to a bowl game for the first time since winning the Hawaii Bowl in 2014. 

Junior running back Ryan Nall and senior linebacker Manase Hungalu expressed such sentiments during today's media session. For the first time in three years, such talk didn't sound like a misguided pipe dream.  That's because for the first time during the Andersen era, the Beavers might actually have both the physicality and mental toughness to get it done. 

"This is a part of a process," Hungalu said. "It's just a process that we're building upon. Coach A is doing a great job with that. And we all understand that in order for what we want, we just have to continue to keep working and continue to keep playing and the results will show for itself."

Oregon State will likely never be a place where high-end recruits flock. Nor will it ever have the resources that nearby Oregon and Washington possess. But that doesn't mean the Beavers can't win. It just means that they have to be more calculating and deliberate to get it done. 

Unheralded recruits must be developed through patience and great coaching. Both physically and mentally. Last year, Andersen said here that the Beavers had to become more physical after getting pushed around by opponents in 2014. 

The Beavers were certainly tougher last season, improving by about a touchdown in both points scored and points allowed, moving from 19 points scored per game in 2015 with 37 allowed to 26 and 30. . That allowed the Beavers to play in more close games.

"At the end of the day we played physically with every team in this league," Andersen said. "That is very, very important."

That progression continued this summer with 50 players, Andersen said, who can now squat 500 pounds or more. 

However, mentally the Beavers simply weren't ready to win enough of those games to become bowl eligible. 

OSU lost three games by seven points or less: 30-23 at Minnesota, 19-14 vs. Utah and 35-31 vs. Washington State. Three other losses came by 14 or less, meaning OSU was at least in those contests. 

Losing close contests stuck with Nall all offseason. Especially the Washington State game in which the Beavers led 24-6 at halftime only to see WSU scored 22 points in the third quarter and ultimately win, 35-31.

"Our execution," Nall said. "It comes down to that. Whether it's on offense or defense, make sure we do our assignment instead of doing too much If we do the little things. If we execute. We will have a chance to win every single game."

Hungalu agrees. 

"I go back to being consistent and disciplined," he said. "Those games slipped away from us from little mistakes. Mistakes that shouldn't have happened."

So, while the team focused last year on becoming stronger and tougher, this offseason they worked as much on their mental approach. 

Andersen spent part of the offseason going through different situations and scenarios from last season that went south to try and pinpoint areas of concern. 

Andersen said mistakes and silly penalties cost the team and must be cleaned up this season. That endeavor will include some simplification to improve coaching and teaching and overall team-wide communication. 

"I think that naturally happens in three years," Andersen said. "But now it needs to be automatic."

Could a dramatic turnaround be in store for the Beavers?

Why not? Colorado did it. Buffaloes coach Mike MacIntyre won a total of 10 games during his first three seasons before going 10-4 (8-1). Colorado hadn't reached a bowl game since 2007 before taking the Pac-12 by surprise to win the South and reach the conference title game where the Buffaloes lose to Washington. 

Nall said the Beavers hope to duplicate Colorado's sudden success.

"I definitely see ourselves doing that," Nall said. "I have confidence in our team. I trust the process with Coach A and our staff. I believe we're going to have a successful year."

For the first time in years, such talk shouldn't be dismissed. 

Beavers, Titans open CWS on Saturday

Beavers, Titans open CWS on Saturday

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State and Cal State Fullerton will open the College World Series Saturday with a 2 p.m. CT (12 p.m. in Oregon) start at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.
 
The game will air on ESPN and is also available online at WatchESPN.com for subscribers.
 
It will mark the first matchup between the teams since the 2007 College World Series, a game won by the Beavers en route to their second consecutive national championship.
 
Oregon State takes a 54-4 overall record into the game, while Cal State Fullerton is 39-22 after winning at Long Beach State in an NCAA Super Regional.
 
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A statement from Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich

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A statement from Oregon State pitcher Luke Heimlich

Below is Oregon State Beavers pitcher Luke Heimlich's full statement:

I have taken responsibility for my conduct when I was a teenager. As a 16 year old, I was placed on juvenile court probation and ordered to participate in an individual counseling program. I'm grateful for the counseling I received, and since then, I realized that the only way forward was to work each day on becoming the best person, community member and student I can possibly be. I understand that many people now see me differently, but I hope that I can eventually be judged for the person I am today.

I'm so proud of our team's accomplishment and don't want to be a distraction. Therefore, I've respectfully requested to be excused from playing at this time. 

Heimlich is currently leading the nation with the lowest era (.76).

The Beavers open up NCAA Baseball Super Regionals play this weekend vs. Vanderbilt in a best-of-three series, the winner of which advances to the College World Series in Omaha, NE, June 17-27/28.

No. 1 Oregon State pours in 11 runs, 16 hits in 11-0 win over Yale

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No. 1 Oregon State pours in 11 runs, 16 hits in 11-0 win over Yale

How Oregon State won: Didn't take long for the No. 1 overall seed Oregon State Beavers to get their first run across the board. It only took seven minutes and the third Beaver in the lineup, redshirt junior Jack Anderson, to cash in a home run deep into right-center field to give OSU an early 1-0 lead and all the momentum. But it didn't end there. Next up to the plate was sophomore Trevor Larnach who doubled to left-center, and freshman Adley Rutschman brought him home on an RBI single. What a way to start off round two in this regional. The bats kept coming for Oregon State the whole night and of those 16 total Beavers hits, eight differenet Beavers contributed demonstrating the Beavers impressive offensive prowess anywhere in their lineup. 

A sold out crowd of Beavers fans were out of their seats in no time cheering on their No. 1 team to a 11-0 NCAA Corvallis Regionals round two victory over Yale.

"I thought we played a lot better tonight," Beavers head coach Pat Casey said following the game. "Obviously big home run from Jack [Anderson] got us very excited in the first inning. Thought we played much, much better, and obviously Luke [Heimlich] was good, real good. We made some really good plays, boy we defended for him. Like I sais we got going early and that really helped us out today."

What it means: Oregon State is in control of this NCAA Corvallis Regional with a record of 2-0. One more win and the Beavers cash in their spot in the Super Regionals, likely to host once again. Oregon State will play the winner of Holy Cross vs. Yale (1:04 PM Sunday afternoon) at 7 PM Sunday evening.

Oregon State pitching: Starting tonight on the mound was junior Luke Heimlich, who extends his record to 11-1 on the season, leads the nation with the lowest ERA of .81. Not bad at all. Heimlich sure proved that number correct and finished allowing zero runs, zero earned runs, two hits, one walks, and eight strikeouts. His night ended having pitched seven innings and was relieved by sophomore right-handed pitcher Sam Tweedt (2.78 ERA).

It wasn't just Beavers head coach Pat Casey who was impressed with Heimlich's performance, but the pitcher turned the head of Yale head coach John Stuper as well:

"I'm sure this joke has been used before, but I feel I need a 'Heimlich Manuever' right now. The kid is liegitimate. I think he is, I've been here 25 years, I've pitched in the big leagues, he is the best pitcher I've seen in college baseball. I think he is the kind of kid to be a first round pick without question.... I said on the air that he repeats his delivery, his breaking ball is outstanding, he has great composure, great stuff, clearly."

"Getting the lead early really helped," said Heimlich. "I was able to pitch off my fastball then and really be aggressive in the zone. You know, you don't really have to pick around. And then late in the game I was able to, they were being aggressive, so I was able to throw some change-up and then my slider was pretty good for the most part."

When told about Stuper's comments, Heimlich responded, "Yeah that's cool to hear. There's always something to improve on. Tonight, I felt like I didn't necessarily command my glove-side of the plate very well, so there's always that to improve on. But like I said I was able to pitch of my fastball and kind of stay ahead in the count."

Oregon State defense: Just as solid as Heimlich's pitching performace, the Beavers defense laid down a secure foundation for Heimlich allowing him to trust his defense and get creative with his pitches. The defense finished with just one error on the game. Not just the infield, but it was a complete, all-around effort from this Beavers defense that included two incredible, leaping grabs at the warning track from the outfield to compliment Heimlich's game. 

Oregon State offense: Junior infielder KJ Harrison added another home run to the firery Beavers bats as well, to extend Oregon State's lead to 4-0 early in the third. An interesting element to this Beavers offensive success, is that the first four runs for the Beavers all came with two outs already on the board, proving that this offense can catch fire at any moment. There were hits all over the Beavers lineup, but starting this hitting train off right was sophomore Steven Kwan who went four-for-five with four hits and one RBI. The only Beaver, in the starting lineup, to not get a hit tonight was sophomore shortstop Nick Madrigal, but then again he did have two RBI's.

"We jsut came ready to play," said Beavers outfielder Jack Anderson. "We had a good game plan coming in... it was pretty crazy, pretty cool way to start the game. I mean, I think once that kind of thing happened we were kind of ready to go." 

A flaw in the Oregon State dynamic offense, however, was leaving 10 runners stranded on the game.

Up next: No. 1 Oregon State awaits the winner of Yale-Holy Cross and will play next at 7 PM tomorrow night in the NCAA Corvallis Regionals final.

No. 1 Oregon State cruises to 8-2 NCAA Corvallis Regionals round 1 victory over Holy Cross

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No. 1 Oregon State cruises to 8-2 NCAA Corvallis Regionals round 1 victory over Holy Cross

How Oregon State won: Under the Friday night lights at Goss Stadium, the No. 1 Oregon State Beavers took care of business on their home turf but this time under different circumstances. The Beavers, with their outright 49-4 season record, earned the hosting spot of the NCAA Corvallis Regionals. Lead on the mound by redshirt junior pitcher Jake Thompson with 10 strikeouts and on the plate from All-PAC-12 team sophomore short stop Cadyn Grenier going 2-for-2 on a double and an RBI sacrifice fly, the Beavers cruised to a 8-2 Corvallis Regionals round one victory over Holy Cross and will advance to the winners bracket in this double-elimination style tournament. 

"I think that first game is always tough for everybody," said Oregon State head coach Pat Casey following the game. "Seems like we've had a lot of tight games, Holy Cross played very well. I thought we did some things well, I thought we could've done some things better. I thought Jake [Thompson] was real good. Obviously early in the game when we tried to get on the board, we didn't get that done, but Jake kept us there and we stayed with it and were able to get on the board. So, like I said, I'm always excited to get out of the first game, it's a tough one."

With this win, Oregon State earns its 50th win of the season and currently is sitting on a 17-game win streak.

What it means: Oregon State now faces Yale (33-16), who defeated the Nebraska Cornhuskers earlier in the day 5-1, in game two of the NCAA Corvallis Regionals.

"Nebraska is a good team, I thought Yale was really aggressive, thought they were confident," said Casey. "Their pitcher was really good. He flipped sides of the plate pretty good, was able to subtract whenever he wanted to. I look around the country and I see all the time people that may not get recognition or maybe playing well at the right time, I just think that coaches do a really good job of getting their guys to believe that 'this is what it's all about.'"

Oregon State pitching: Redshirt junior Jake Thompson regained his confidence from last week's four earned-run game vs. Abilene Christian. Thompson bounced back huge for the Beavers with back-to-back innings ending in looking-strikeouts to prevent Oregon State from deep trouble. In both the fifth and sixth innings, as Holy Cross was threatening with runners in scoring positions, Thompson showed no fear and why he is 12-0 on the season so far. Thompson finished allowing one runs, one earned run, four hits, three walks, 10 strikeouts, and moves onto 13-0 as a starter. Thompson's night finished after seven and two-thirds innings pitched and relieved by freshman Jake Mulholland.

Oregon State defense: The top of the fifth inning presented some trouble for the Beavers defense. With Holy Cross runners on first and second, Crusaders freshman stepped up to the plate a drilled a single, RBI out to left field bringing one runner home. The throw from Beavers junior left fielder Christian Donahue slipped wide right of the catcher. The throwing error allowed the Crusaders to put two in scoring position on second and third. But that added pressure did not fault Thompson on the mound and calmly struck out the next Crusader looking. The Beavers finished with two total team errors.

Oregon State offense: The Beavers started the game not quite the same way they finished: both in the first and second innings, Oregon State struggled to bring runners home in scoring positions and hit its way into two double-play groundouts to end both innings. But the numbers say it all for Oregon State and just how much depth the Beavers have this season. A total of eight runs on 13 hits with seven RBI's is how a No. 1 nationally ranked team should represent. Those seven RBI's came from seven different Beavers displaying their depth and talent at any spot in the lineup.

"It's just one of those things where, you know, like coach Casey said, 'every single one of us comes to the field every single day from September 'til now and just works our butts off,' said Grenier. "It doesn't matter if your starter or if you're a pinch hit guy... then bench guys prepare just like the starters if not even harder. To be able to put together a lineup one through nine that is equal to anybody in the country or probably better than any other one through nine, but even the bench guys are phenomenal and they don't get down for not playing so they're ready to come in. I think that's why we've had such a good year so far is that it's not just one or two guys contributing all the RBI's and the hits and whatnot, it's the entire lineup..."

Up next: Oregon State (50-4) will face Yale (33-16), who defeated Nebraska 5-1 in the earlier Corvallis regional game, at 7 PM on Saturday, June 3rd at Goss Stadium.

Select Oregon and Oregon State football game times released

Select Oregon and Oregon State football game times released

College football is near!

The early-season Pac-12 schedule has been released. Check out the times for Oregon Football's non-conference games:

Here is Oregon State's first four games: 

More kickoff times will be announced closer to each game.

Top-seeded Beavers meet Holy Cross in NCAA opener

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OSUBeavers.com

Top-seeded Beavers meet Holy Cross in NCAA opener

Oregon State, No. 1-ranked most of the season, was named Monday the top seed in the 64-team NCAA baseball tournament and thus will play host to a regional, which begins in Corvallis Friday.

The Pac-12 champions racked up a 49-4 overall record and will meet Holy Cross (23-27) in their tourney opener Friday night at 8 o'clock, in a game tentatively scheduled to be telecast by ESPNU. In the other game of the Corvallis regional, Nebraska (35-20) will meet Yale (32-16) at 1 p.m.

If Pat Casey's Beavers win the regional, they will be matched in a super regional against the winner of the Clemson regional, which includes UNC-Greensboro, St. John's and Vanderbilt. That super regional, a best-of-three affair, would also be in Corvallis.

Related: A recent podcast with Pat Casey

Historic season for OSU could end with a trip to Omaha

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Oregon State Athletics

Historic season for OSU could end with a trip to Omaha

It has been nearly a month since the Oregon State Beavers dropped a game on the diamond (an April 29 loss to USC), and with the regular season ending this weekend they look to keep it that way.

Oregon State, the consensus number one team in the country, plays host to Abilene Christian in a four-game set to end the season. The Beavers have already clinched the conference title, and even if second place Stanford wins it’s remaining three games, the Beavers will end the season with a six-game cushion. The last time a Pac-12 team won by six games or more was in 1985, when Stanford won the then Pac-10 South with a six-game lead. So let's just say it has been awhile since a Pac-12 team has taken home a conference title with such ease. 

While the Beavers have locked up a spot in the field of 64 for the NCAA Tournament, there is still plenty on the line this weekend. A series sweep of the Wildcats will all but guarantee the Beavers the No.1 overall seed (if they haven’t locked it in already), and will also cement the 2017 Beavers in the record books.

OSU needs to win its final four games to finish the season at 49-4, which would net them a .925 winning percentage, passing the .914 of the 1972 Arizona State Sun Devils for the highest single-season winning percentage of all-time and put a cap on an incredible regular season.

So how did the Beavers get here? With perhaps the greatest season in program history.  To this point the Beavers have won 45 games, tying the program record for single-season victories set in 2013. They won 27 conference games, breaking the league record 26 wins Arizona State amassed in 1981. And their .900 winning percentage in conference play; the best since the league expanded to the Pac-10 in 1979.

A quick look at the some of their team stats, and you will continue to be amazed. Oregon State leads the nation in ERA (1.87), shutouts (11), WHIP (.98), WL percentage (.918) and hits allowed per nine innings (6.27). LHP Luke Heimlich leads the nation with a .87 ERA, while RHP Jake Thompson has the nation's third lowest ERA at 1.01.

Put this all together and it’s no wonder the Beavers have been ranked the No.1 team in the country for nine straight weeks. Head coach Pat Casey has said all season that the Beavers only goal was to win the Pac-12. They did that, quite easily, so now it’s time to focus on the road to Omaha and seeing if they can repeat the magic of 2006 and 2007 and bring a championship to Corvallis.

It is obvious that only time will tell if the Beavers will win it all. It is also more than obvious that OSU is the best team in baseball and most certainly the favorite to do so.

The only question remaining is which teams will the Beavers have to get through to book a trip to Nebraska? We will find out on Monday, May 29 when the Division I Baseball Committee unveils its selections for the field of 64.

Former Oregon RB Thomas Tyner making comeback with Oregon State

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USA Today

Former Oregon RB Thomas Tyner making comeback with Oregon State

Former Oregon running back Thomas Tyner, who left the Ducks' program following the 2015 season, will return to football with Oregon State, his father, John Tyner confirmed today.

The news was first reported by The Oregonian

Tyner, who according to his father is two credits shy of graduating from Oregon, will have one year of eligibility remaining. He played for Oregon in 2013 and 2014 before undergoing season-ending shoulder surgery prior to the 2015 season. Rather than return to the Ducks in 2016, Tyner elected to retire. 

Now 100 percent healthy and still possessing the speed that made him a state track champion and a five-star recruit coming out of Aloha High School, Tyner, 22, has decided to return to football. 

John Tyner said that the way Oregon wrote the medical retirement paper work made it so that Thomas could not return to Oregon. The irony of him landing with OSU is that Tyner flirted with the idea of going to Oregon State coming out of high school before ultimately honoring his oral commitment to the Ducks. 

"I've wanted to be a Beaver my whole life," Thomas Tyner told The Oregonian.

Tyner last played football during Oregon's 42-20 loss to Ohio State in the national championship game on Jan. 12, 2015.  He was still recovering from a serious shoulder injury suffered on Oct. 18, 2014 against Washington. Tyner returned three weeks later and played well the rest of the season, peaking with a 124-yard, two-touchdown performance during Oregon's 59-20 win over Florida State in the Rose Bowl. Tyner finished that season with 573 yards and five touchdowns. He rushed for 711 and nine scores as a freshman in 2013. 

Tyner's shoulder never healed properly and surgery ended his 2015 season before it began. Six months later, it appeared that his football career had also ended. Now he is back with rival Oregon State. 

The Beavers could have one of the best backfields in the Pac-12 with Tyner and junior Ryan Nall, who last season rushed for 951 yards and 13 touchdowns.

Tyner, a speed back with size at about 210 pounds, will provide the perfect compliment to the bruising style of Nall, who is 6-2, 234 pounds. Nall is hard-charging freight train of a back that rolled over the Ducks for 155 yards and four scores during last season's Civil War victory for the Beavers. 

Nall and Tyner going up against UO running back Royce Freeman and company would make for quite the show during this season's Civil War. 

"He got better and started thinking about returning," John Tyner said about his son. "Thomas basically dances to the beat of his own drummer. He isn't in it for the glory. He just wanted to see what it would be like to finish up his career."

 

Red-hot Michael Conforto flourishes wherever he bats in New York Mets' order

Red-hot Michael Conforto flourishes wherever he bats in New York Mets' order

PHOENIX -- All Michael Conforto needed to hear was, "How 'bout those Beavers?"

With wide eyes and big smile, he started talking about what one New York Mets beat writer said is his favorite subject -- his college baseball team.

"What a season," he said. "Forty-one and four? I remember when I was there we were ranked No. 1 and I think we lost 13 or 14 games and it seemed like we never lost. I don't know what just four losses would feel like."

Conforto is proud of his alma mater and its coach, Pat Casey. "He's just what everyone says he is -- someone who cares about you on and off the field. He transformed me as a player and a person."

Conforto broke in with the Mets in 2015 after a meteoric rise through their farm system. He made an immediate impact at the age of 22, hitting .270 with nine home runs in 56 games. And when he followed that by hitting .333 with two homers in the World Series, the New York hype machine kicked into high gear. He came into the following season as a rising star. In New York, which is a bigger deal than anywhere else.

But the 2016 season was anything but easy for Conforto. He hit just .220 and found himself back in Triple-A.

"I learned a lot," he said. "I think I was trying to do too much. Then I started pressing. But I went back to the minor leagues and played well. I think some of that was good for me."

Evidently it was because he's off to a terrific start this season. He went to spring training knowing he was going to have to scrap just to get into the team's starting lineup. With Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce making big money in the New York outfield, Conforto seemed a good bet to be the odd man out.

"I knew I would have to battle to play," he said Monday before the Mets' game against the Diamondbacks.

And battle he did. He's hitting .343 (sixth-best in the National League) with nine home runs, a .686 slugging percentage and a whopping 1.116 OPS. A big part of that story is his move to the leadoff spot in the batting order. And this from a player who has always projected as more of a power hitter, a No. 3-4-5 hitter in the order. Well, actually, he still is a power hitter, as his slugging percentage proves.

Conforto has started 19 games in the leadoff spot this season and has hit three leadoff homers. He's hitting .471 with four homers, six RBI and 10 runs scored just in the first inning!

"It doesn't really matter where I hit," he said. "I'm just trying to be patient."

He moved to the No. 3 slot in the batting order Sunday and responded with a double, triple and home run at Milwaukee, missing the cycle by the easiest of the four hits. But Monday night he was right back in the leadoff spot.

"It doesn't matter," he said. "I haven't changed my approach at the plate much."

And while acknowledging that living in New York is nothing like living anywhere else, he's made the adjustment.

"It's nothing like Corvallis," he said with a laugh. "All the media and everything. But I've grown to like it. I like New York."

And he still loves his Beavers.

"I try to keep up with what's going on," he said. "There's only one player left there who I played with but I know a lot of the guys there now. We were recruiting them while I was there. They have some really good players."