The glorious Oregon State baseball season ended in very disappointing fashion Saturday. But it wasn't a disappointing season.
It was still a season to be proud of -- a regular season that likely will never be matched at that school or any other. Baseball isn't the kind of game that leads to such seasons. Anybody can beat anybody on a given day. And we saw that in the College World Series, when a whole lot of things went wrong at the same time for the Beavers.
On Friday, OSU could have put away LSU had an umpire not mistakenly called a foul ball on a long drive off the left-field wall by Stephen Kwan. Yes, Pat Casey should have asked for a replay of it, but managing a game is tough enough without having to umpire it, too. I still cannot understand how an umpire, standing on the foul line, could have possibly missed that call. It couldn't happen one in a hundred times. Seemingly the entire CWS went downhill after that for Oregon State.
On Saturday, the Beavers allowed the Tigers too many runs early in what was an elimination game. Getting down by a couple of runs is one thing, but any more than that in a pressurized game is too difficult to overcome. And yes, there was the umpiring again. The plate umpire had no idea where the outside corner of the plate was and LSU took much more advantage of his poor eyesight than did the Beavers. Constantly, the OSU hitters were called out on third strikes that challenged the batter's box on the other side of the plate. Even in the ninth inning, when the first two players reached base and it appeared Oregon State -- if any team in the country could do it -- was poised for a miracle rally, the umpire's urge to make the dramatic "strike three" call popped up again.
I'm seeing Oregon State fans rising up in anger at everyone over their team's elimination but I'd advise them to calm down a bit. Remember, this team didn't show up in Omaha with the same squad that was responsible for the sparkling regular-season record. The coaching staff did a remarkable job of juggling its pitching staff and lineup to make up for absences. And there is no doubt this program has a real chance to have an even better team next season.
Not a better record, though. That just can't happen again. But it could be a better team and I'm sure Casey will have a terrific recruiting year built on this season's success.
It was an incredible season and should be remembered that way -- regardless of the ending.