For Beavers, the end was disappointing but the season certainly wasn't

For Beavers, the end was disappointing but the season certainly wasn't

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.

College World Series: Beavers the favorites, but the road isn't easy

College World Series: Beavers the favorites, but the road isn't easy

Pac-12 Championship. Check.

No.1 overall national seed. Check .

Advance through the Regionals. Check.

Sweep the Super Regionals, punch ticket to Omaha. Check.

Win the College World Series. To be determined.

The Oregon State Beavers (54-4) arrive in Omaha this week riding a 21-game win streak, and as heavy favorites to win the College World Series (CWS) Championship. Joining them in Nebraska will be Florida, LSU, Cal State Fullerton, Florida State, Louisville, Texas A&M, and TCU.

-- A full schedule can be found here --

The Beavers’ road to another title starts on Saturday when they take on Cal State Fullerton (39-22).  In six postseason games the Titans have outscored their opponents 35-9, and have allowed just one run over their last 25 innings. The Titans have one of the better pitching staffs in the country with a 3.57 ERA, the 23rd best in the nation. However, it pales in comparison to the incredible numbers Oregon State has put up. The Beavers lead the nation with an amazing 1.80 ERA. That’s nearly two runs better than Fullerton’s, and a full run better than Louisville’s 2.85, which is the third best in the country.

It still remains to be seen if Oregon State’s Luke Heimlich will pitch in the CWS. Heimlich holds the best ERA of any pitcher in the nation, at 0.76, but is dealing with off-the-field issues stemming from a sexual molestation charge prior to his arrival at Oregon State.

With or without Heimlich, the Oregon State pitching staff is a force to be reckoned with. Fellow starting pitcher Jake Thompson has the nation’s fifth best ERA at 1.58, and Bryce Fehmel showed he can be leaned on in Omaha after a great spot start against Vanderbilt; a complete game victory where he allowed just one earned run on five hits.

As Eric Sorenson of D1Baseball.com pointed out on Monday’s edition of Talkin’ Ball, this early matchup with the Titans holds a lot of intrigue. These are two teams that could match up in the finals if they were in opposite brackets. So right out of the gate Oregon State will be tested. 

As noted above, Oregon State by far has the better pitching staff, and as Sorenson notes, they also are the better hitting team. All things on paper point to Oregon State getting past Fullerton, but as we all know, games aren’t played on paper, they are played on a diamond.

Depending on if they win or lose, Oregon State will play either LSU (48-17) or Florida State (45-21).

LSU is riding an Oregon State-esque hot streak. The Tigers have won 16 games in a row, outscoring opponents 136-45 in that stretch, and overall has won 21 of its last 23. LSU reminds you a lot of this Beavers squad: Great pitching (3.53 team ERA), great hitting (2.94 team batting average), and lots of grit. Could the Tigers be the ones to take out OSU?

Facing off againt LSU: The Florida State Seminoles. Florida State falls in line with many of the teams heading to Omaha in that they got their on the backs of their pitching staff. Returning to the CWS for the first time since 2012, the Seminoles have the 36th best ERA in the nation at 3.72. The team has allowed 18 runs this postseason, with their starters allowing just nine runs in 48 innings pitched. Strong pitching is definitely a theme this year in Omaha.

On the other side of the CWS bracket are Florida (47-18), Louisville (52-10), Texas A&M (41-21), and TCU (47-16).

Florida returns to Omaha for the third season in a row, but is still looking for that elusive championship.  Could this be the year for the Gators? Florida leads the nation in one run victories, with 18, and has already played three extra inning games this postseason. The Gators have a flair for the dramatic and like to keep things interesting to say the least.  Their team 3.22 ERA, the 22nd best in the country, helps them out, but they will need a little more from their offense for the Gators fan base to breath a little.

Their first opponent, TCU, has quickly become one of the best programs in the nation. The Horned Frogs are appearing in their fourth straight College Worlds Series, and fifth in program history. Their pitching staff has the worst ERA of any team in the CWS (3.99), but their .272 team batting average is one of the best in the CWS. Their solid hitters should make for some good matchups with the better pitching staffs in Omaha.

Moving on, we have Texas A&M. The Aggies return to the CWS for the first time since 2011, and behind some solid arms could make it all the way. A&M has the 15th best ERA in the nation at 3.42, and starting pitcher Brigham Hill has been a stud this postseason. The Aggies have a good baseball team, however, their first game is against a very tough Louisville team. It will be a great chance to see if A&M will sink or swim.

Speaking of Louisville, the Cardinals, like Oregon State, are heavy favorites to get through their bracket and play in the championship. Much like the Beavers, the Cardinals are extremely balanced both in the batter's box and on the mound. They have the third best ERA in the country (2.85), and the 67th best batting average (.289). The 67th best average may not sound like much, but that is the third best average of the eight teams in the CWS.

Louisville vs. Oregon State in the CWS championship seems like a good bet. Not only would it be the matchup we all want to see, it would make for some of the best baseball games you can imagine. But this is Omaha. This is the College World Series. You never know what will happen at TD Ameritrade Park.

--Schedule update per the press release from the NCAA--

 “The first game this Saturday is scheduled to begin at 2 p.m. CT, and will feature Cal State Fullerton (39-22) against No. 1 national seed Oregon State (54-4). Saturday’s second game features No. 4 national seed LSU (48-17) against Florida State (45-21), and is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. CT.

The Sunday doubleheader features the No. 7 national seed Louisville (52-10) vs. Texas A&M (41-21) at 1 p.m. CT. In the evening game starting at 6 p.m. CT, No. 6 national seed TCU (47-16) will be squaring off against No. 3 national seed Florida (47-18).

The losers of Saturday’s two games will play at 1 p.m. CT Monday, June 19. While Saturday’s winners face off at 6 p.m. CT Monday, June 19.

The losers of Sunday’s games will play each other at 1 p.m. CT Tuesday, June 20. Sunday’s winners will meet Tuesday, June 20 at 6 p.m. CT. The winners of the two brackets will play a best-of-three College World Series Finals, with the first game set for 6 p.m. CT Monday, June 26. The second game is scheduled for 7 p.m. CT Tuesday, June 27, while the third and deciding game (if necessary) is slated for 7 p.m. CT Wednesday, June 28.”

For more information visit ncca.com

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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Unlikely walk-off homer sends UCSB and Andrew Checketts to CWS

Unlikely walk-off homer sends UCSB and Andrew Checketts to CWS

If you haven't seen this highlight yet, you need to check it out immediately. Third-string catcher Sam Cohen, a freshman, batting with his team trailing 3-0, two strikes, one out and the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth inning Sunday against No. 2 national seed Louisville, hammered a grand slam home run to win the game and send his team to the College World Series.

Cohen was batting for just the 27th time this season against a closer who had been taken in the first round of the recent June draft. It was one of the most shocking walk-off homers I've ever seen and it was obviously a big moment for Gaucho Coach Andrew Checketts.

If that name sounds familiar, it should. Checketts was an all-state pitcher at West Linn High School and pitched three seasons at Oregon State. He later served as George Horton's first pitching coach and recruiting coordinator at Oregon and I think his loss has been difficult for the Ducks to overcome. It was obvious when he was with Oregon that he had a bright future as a head coach and he's been sensational at UC Santa Barbara.

On a personal level, I was doing some television work on Duck baseball games for a couple of seasons and found him to be as open and helpful as just about any coach I've ever worked with. I wish him all the luck in the world as UCSB heads to Omaha and its first-ever College World Series.