Dwight Jaynes

A bewildering interference call hurt the Beavers

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USATI

A bewildering interference call hurt the Beavers

OMAHA – At the center of Oregon State’s 4-1 College World Series loss to Arkansas Tuesday night, there was a very strange, game-turning call in the bottom of the fourth inning that left OSU coaches and players befuddled.

As well they should have been.

The Beavers had Trevor Larnach at third and Adley Rutschman at first with nobody out when Tyler Malone scorched a hot one-hopper at Arkansas first baseman Jared Gates. Gates made a fine play on the ball and threw to second to try to start a double play.

He got Rutschman at second but there was no chance to get Malone at first, with Larnach trotting across the plate to give Oregon State a 2-0 lead.

But hold on – second base umpire Chris Coskey called interference on Rutschman, ruling not only him out but Malone, too. And on interference, the rule is Larnach had to return to third. It was almost like giving the 'Backs a triple play.

The Beavers didn’t end up scoring in the inning.

An argument ensued and OSU Coach Pat Casey was told by Coskey that Rutschman made contact with the infielder at second.

Except he didn’t. Replay showed no contact.

“He (Caskey) said he made contact with him and (Rutschman) wasn’t anywhere near him,” Casey said afterward. “All he was trying to do was duck and get out of the way. There were a couple of feet of separation.”

It was a ridiculous call made worse by the Razorbacks storming back for four runs in the top of the next inning.

Asked if the call was a gut punch to his team, Casey said, “You’re ahead 2-0 with a guy at first base. Pretty good momentum swing.

“(But) We had opportunities later in the game and didn’t take advantage of them.”

They had another chance later when Cadyn Grenier’s liner down the right-field line with Steven Kwan on first was originally called foul, only to be reversed on replay.

The umpires had no choice but to place the base runners where they thought they would be on a fair ball.

They put Kwan at third and Grenier on first. Grenier insisted later that he had an easy double on the ball and Kwan said, “I truly believe I would have scored on it.”

But that didn’t go OSU’s way either as Nick Madrigal lined out to end the inning.

On the other hand, the Beavers had plenty of blame to take for themselves.

“The key to the game is we put 10 runners on base,” Casey said  We walked seven guys and hit three. Pretty tough to win a game when you put 10 runners on base.”

 

 

Fifth-inning nightmare dooms Beavers in CWS

Fifth-inning nightmare dooms Beavers in CWS

OMAHA –  Just one inning -- one nightmare inning -- and Oregon State has its back to the wall again after losing Game 1 of the College World Series championship round to Arkansas Tuesday night in front of 25,321 fans in TD Ameritrade Park.

The Beavers scored first but only once and lost 4-1 in the opener of the best-of-three series.

Trevor Larnach hit the first pitch of the bottom of the second on a line to right field for a double, the first hit of the game for either side. After Adley Rutschman struck out, Tyler Malone reached base on a slow grounder to short that moved Larnach to third. Michael Grettler followed with a hump-back liner over shortstop to drive in the game’s first run and stake Luke Heimlich to a 1-0 lead.

The Beavers ran into trouble in the bottom of the fourth when they had runners at first and third and none out. Malone hit a one-hopper to first and Rutschman was charged with interference on a play at second. That meant Malone was also called out and the runner had to return to third base. It cost the Beavers a run and they didn’t score in the inning.

Then in the top of the fifth, disaster struck. Heimlich got the first out of the inning and couldn’t get another one. A couple of hits, an error by Madrigal and a couple of hit batters chased him before Christian Chamberlain came on to walk a run in with four straight balls.

Chamberlain snuffed out the rally with a pair of strikeouts but the Razorbacks got four runs in the inning. At that point Arkansas led 4-1 and Oregon State had outhit the Razorbacks 5-3. Chamberlain did a sensational job of finishing the game off for OSU, going the rest of the way while not allowing a run and fanning 11 over the final four and two-thirds innings.

The Beavers were involved in another controversial situation in the fifth when Cadyn Grenier’s liner down the right-field line was called foul but reversed upon review. The umpires were then put in a position where they had to place runners where they should have been had the ball been called fair. Then placed Steven Kwan at third, which was probably correct, but Grenier was sent to first when he should have been at second.

But Madrigal lined out to second to end that inning.

Oregon State faces its fifth must-win game of the Series Wednesday night at 4 o'clock (PDT) and right-hander Bryce Fehmel is the anticipated OSU starter.

 

 

Some sights and sounds from the College World Series

Some sights and sounds from the College World Series

OMAHA – A few of the sights and sounds from the College World Series…

  • TD Ameritrade Park, the CWS venue, is a beautiful downtown minor-league ballpark. But no minor-league team plays in it. The Triple-A Omaha Storm Chasers have their own 9,100-seat venue called Werner Park outside of town. TD Ameritrade is the home park for the CWS and Creighton Blue Jays and seats 24,000. See how important the CWS is to Omaha?
  • TD Ameritrade was a sea of red Monday night as fans got ready for the game that was eventually postponed between Arkansas and Oregon State. With just a six-hour drive to Omaha, the Razorbacks are going to make this series look like a homestand.
  • And make no mistake, the Arkansas fans are proud to be pigs. That “Sooey Pig” thing can be heard wherever a group of three or four of their fans are hanging out.
  • That doesn’t mean the Beavers don’t have a large contingent of fans on hand, too. Oregon State baseball fans travel well.
  • The area around the ballpark in downtown Omaha is alive. And busy. This town goes out of its way to be supportive of the event and the people who attend it. The hospitality is generous and genuine.
  • Oregon State will be the home team in Game 1 of the series and also Game 3, if necessary.
  • On the lineup card OSU Coach Pat Casey turned in for the postponed game Monday, he had Steven Kwan playing center field and batting leadoff and Luke Heimlich listed as the starting pitcher. Kwan is apparently recovered from a hamstring tweak and Heimlich ready for his third start in the CWS. There is no reason to doubt it will be the same lineup Tuesday night.
  • The weather forecast for Omaha looks fine through Wednesday but showing possible thunderstorms again Thursday. I’m thinking there are some messed up trip itineraries already for OSU fans because of Monday’s rainout.

 

The rain steps up to provide the Beavers a needed CWS day off

The rain steps up to provide the Beavers a needed CWS day off

OMAHA -- Throughout the College World Series, the best friend and biggest ally of the Oregon State Beavers has been the rain.

In the Beavers’ first win here, over Washington, it was a long rain delay that got OSU’s bats going. In the win over North Carolina, a late-game mist seemed to ignite the Oregon State offense.

And now, when needed most, the rain has stepped up and given the Beavers their biggest break yet. Of course it took a long time to get here as Game 1 of the championship round of the CWS was delayed for a couple of hours before finally postponed.

A rainout – another day off for this team’s tired pitching staff -- should be a huge break for OSU as it moves into its best-of-three national championship series against Arkansas.

It began raining early Monday and didn’t stop until a couple of hours prior to gametime. The teams took infield practice under mostly clear skies and the grounds crew actually watered the infield but the smart guys who run the tournament had their eyes glued to the local radar. And it didn’t look good.

When the rain hit, it brought thunder and lightning with it and it became apparent that the weather wasn’t going to allow a Monday night start to the series.

And thus beleaguered OSU starting pitchers Luke Heimlich and Bryce Fehmel will get an extra day’s rest. So will the OSU bullpen, which has had to work overtime because of the team’s lack of quality starts from its Big Two.

Heimlich will now get another day of rest before being the expected starter Tuesday night at 4 o'clock, PDT.

The forecast is bright for at least the next three days here and the rain has certainly done enough for the Beavers. The rest will be up to them.

 

Beavers face big challenge vs. Razorbacks in CWS

Beavers face big challenge vs. Razorbacks in CWS

OMAHA – Oregon State finally has that elimination-game monkey off its back as it opens the best-of-three championship round in the College World Series Monday (4 p.m.) against Arkansas.

But it’s not going to be easy to avoid defeat against the Razorbacks.

Arkansas survived the Southeastern Conference and won three out of five from defending national champ Florida, including eliminating the Gators last week.

Arkansas is deep, dangerous and rested – having had to play just three games to get to this point and with its talented pitching staff rested and rotated back around to the top.

The Beavers are expected to face the Arkansas ace, unbeaten right-hander Blaine Knight (13-0, 2.88 ERA) in the first game of the series. The Razorbacks have a 3.55 team earned run average that’s 29th in the country.

On top of that, it’s going to be difficult to keep their hitters in the ballpark. Arkansas was third nationally in home runs with 98, paced by sophomore outfielder Dominic Fletcher, who is 8 for 14 with two homers and eight RBIs in three games here. He is the only California recruit on the Razorback roster.

It could be an interesting series because the high-powered OSU offense is likely going to have to get a little more help from its starting pitchers in order to win.

The ‘Backs are 33-3 when they score six or more runs in a game but only 14-16 when they tally fewer than that.

The Beavers had to win four straight elimination games to make it this far and their pitching staff is showing signs of stress – especially the top two starters, Luke Heimlich (16-2) and Bryce Fehmel (10-1).

The Beavers have yet to get anything close to a quality start in the CWS and need at least one to give the over-used bullpen a rest.

So far, Coach Pat Casey has been coy about who will be his Game 1 starter but he needs someone to step up and give him at least five innings.

“Now we haven’t got one quality start out of our two best guys in four starts for them,” he said. “And so therefore – I’m being up front – that’s puzzling to me. I’m not positive how we got to that point to where we can continue to play when the freshman gives us the big start we’ve had.”

The way the Beavers have been scoring, the pitching hasn’t had to be flawless – but it’s going to have to be adequate in the final series.

And expect OSU to continue to score, especially if second baseman Nick Madrigal can snap out of a mild slump. The No. 4 pick in the recent big-league draft is hitting only .257 here – far below his season average of .395.

But don’t expect the Beavers to be the darlings of the home crowd. Arkansas Coach Dave Van Horn coached at Nebraska for five seasons and is still very popular in these parts.

GAME NOTES: Casey will likely choose between Heimlich, Brandon Eisert and Christian Chamberlain on the mound in the opener of the series. … Centerfielder Steven Kwan, who has been out with hamstring strain, got an at bat and played an inning in the field in the Saturday game vs. Mississippi State but Casey would not pronounce him ready to go Monday. “You know, last night I probably allowed my trust in the players to get to me,” Casey said Sunday. “He wanted to get an at bat and go into the game and he was 100 percent and it was probably against my better judgment that I allowed that to happen. And so thank God nothing was hit to him.”

Trail Blazers keep it simple with Simons -- but why?

Trail Blazers keep it simple with Simons -- but why?

When I heard the Trail Blazers had selected Anfernee Simons with the No. 24 pick in the NBA draft Thursday night my first thought was that they turned this draft over to Paul Allen.

The Trail Blazer owner loves the draft, evaluating the prospects and enjoys projecting young players into the league.

And when it comes to young players, it’s simple … Simons. The most inexperienced player available – he spurned college for the IMG Academy – was the one that Portland chose. If you enjoy watching player development for a few years, this, by all accounts, is your man.

But this is a team that vowed it was in the hunt for older and more experienced players who could help this group navigate through the first round of the playoffs, right?

Well, no. Not with the draft. That stuff will have to come later on. Most scouting reports on Simons say he could someday turn out to be a very good player – but that day is not anytime soon. Perhaps two years away, in fact.

This is obviously not someone who fits the Damian Lillard/CJ McCollum time line. He’s not going to provide immediate help -- unless Portland knows something about him that other teams don’t.

Draft choices often come with questions and Simons comes with the shortest one of all:

Why?

"He's got a really bright future. He works. He can dribble, he can pass, he can shoot, he's a high-level athlete, we know he's going to work," said Blazer president, basketball operations Neil Olshey. "His skillset translates and when the physical growth catches up to his natural God-given ability, he's going to be a really good player."

And when you are drafting 24th, it's sometimes best to take a chance on a player with a promising future rather than a mediocre present.

The Mighty Casey has created a very elite "club" at Oregon State

The Mighty Casey has created a very elite "club" at Oregon State

CORVALLIS -- When Oregon State baseball coach Pat Casey talks about his team, it's usually in the old-school manner of the sport. He talks about his "club." Which, of course, is short for his "ball club."

Remember, this is a sport where players don't dress in a locker room. They dress -- and hang out -- in their clubhouse.

And make no mistake, what Casey has created at Oregon State really is a club. A very exclusive one, at that. It's obviously a fraternity of players who are close and dedicated to one another and to a common goal.

I believe, in all honesty, OSU baseball is the most astounding ongoing story I've witnessed in my decades of living and working in this state. I once coached college baseball, as an assistant, and know what it's like to try to get a team ready without benefit of dependable weather. Of trying to recruit players from outside Oregon to come play their most important amateur seasons in this climate. And I know how difficult it is to overcome those teams with the preparation and recruiting advantages of the sun-belt states.

I have also known Casey since he was a very good freshman basketball player at the University of Portland. And -- bias admitted -- he once recruited my son, Will, to come play for him at his previous job, George Fox College. He is a special person and special coach.

After watching on TV as the Beavers pounded out an 8-1 win over Minnesota Friday night in Game 1 of their super-regional matchup, I just had to be in Goss Stadium Saturday night. It was too late to request a media credential though and unfair to even ask for one that late. And the game, of course, was sold out. So to the secondary market I went and bought two tickets -- one for my brother -- at a ridiculous price that would most certainly get me booted out of the "if-it's-free-it's-me" media fraternity.

Games, I figured, like this one don't come along very often. And as it turned out, I've never been more correct. It was a magical night.

The Beavers did what the Beavers do. They are an extremely talented group, as befitting the No. 3 national seed, but they are also grinders. They are relentless in their approach at the plate and spectacular with their defense.

But quite honestly, when the Gophers brought freshman All-America reliever Max Meyer into the game, with his 12 saves and 1.70 earned run average, I had to get up from my seat on the third-base line and check him out from behind the plate. My first thought was, "They aren't going to hit this guy." He has a terrific slider and a live fastball. But he was in the game too early and by the time he exited, OSU had worked 80 pitches out of him -- way above his capabilities.

Oregon State scored a run in the eighth to tie the game and three more in the ninth to take a 6-3 lead. The bullpen -- shaky at times during the season but suddenly lights out -- finished Minnesota off with a flurry of strikeouts over the final three innings. Kyle Nobach's two-out, line-drive single to right drove in the tying run and Adley Rutschman's two-out, two-strike liner up the middle drove in the go-ahead runs.

Clutch hitting is not a big deal to this bunch. These guys just hit. From the top of the order to the bottom and from the first inning to the last.

The record crowd of 4,025 in Goss went crazy and the Beavers, after a victory lap to salute the loyalists, were once again on their way to Omaha for the College World Series. Whatever happens after this is a product of talent, emotion, grit and pure luck. Win it or not, I can't help but admire what the Mighty Casey has created in Corvallis.

He is the head man of a very elite and impressive club. And he's been doing it for a long time.

 

LeBron left Smith -- and the game -- twisting in the wind

LeBron left Smith -- and the game -- twisting in the wind

OK, nobody else seems to want to write this, so apparently I'm going to have to do it.

LeBron James did not exactly show Hall of Fame leadership skills while his team snatched defeat from the jaws of victory last night in Game 1 of the NBA Finals.

Yes, his teammate, J.R. Smith, pulled one of the dumbest basketball plays you'll ever see late in the game when he rebounded a missed free throw with 4.7 seconds to go and dribbled the ball swiftly away from scoring territory -- quite obviously thinking his Cleveland Cavaliers were ahead of the Golden State Warriors, rather than tied. A disgraceful boner from a professional player who didn't even have the nerve to admit his mistake after the game.

But James reacted like a child. He showed Smith up on the court with his expression and body language and then went to the bench during the break before overtime and iced him out. Ignored him.

It was the baseball equivalent of a pitcher throwing his arms in the air after a shortstop just made a big error behind him. You just don't do that to a teammate. You tell him to hang in there and that you'll pick him up.

Understand, the Cavaliers had not yet lost the game. They were going into overtime in a contest they were favored to lose by a dozen. And who is to say Smith would have been able to score after that rebound? Or that the Warriors wouldn't have gotten the ball back after a timeout and hit a miracle three-pointer to win?

I believe in similar situations after a gaffe like that one, some cooling off is necessary. Step back for a few seconds and assess the situation. Good leaders don't look at how they just lost, but how they can still win.

And after a long TV timeout, there was none of that. Instead of patting Smith on the shoulder and saying, "Don't worry, we're going to bail you out" or "Hey, we've got your back," James went out in overtime and missed all four of his shots and, in general, seemed to do all he could to show the world that Smith's mistake cost the Cavaliers the game.

Of course on the podium afterwards, James acted as if he was supporting Smith by not criticizing him, but it was too late. His prior actions betrayed him. As the leader of his team, he should have tried to bring his team back together. Instead, he created a divide.

It was a strange game and a lot of Clevelanders came away thinking their team got the shaft. That block/charge call that was reviewed by officials and was (rightfully) switched to a blocking call was the big thing. What amazed me the most about that situation is how many NBA players and coaches know nothing about the rule governing such plays. The media seemed to be more in tune with it than anybody. The officials have the right to review it and they made the right call upon review. Lebron was moving and he wasn't even squared up to the offensive player. The contact with Kevin Durant was made by James' shoulder, not his chest -- which is usually one determining factor by NBA referees.

It was also interesting how ESPN uses former referee Steve Javie as its expert on such matters, who was speaking to the network from the NBA replay headquarters. Fun watching Steve trying to ride the fence by not criticizing his former partners or taking the chance of offending the league. Which is to be expected.

As it turned out, the game was much more memorable than most of us thought it would be. And my biggest memory will be LeBron James not coming to the aid of a teammate.

 

 

I'm getting very tired of the NBA's "Cult of personality"

I'm getting very tired of the NBA's "Cult of personality"

Well, here we go again. Cleveland vs. Golden State. And if you're not fired up about this matchup, well... join the club. It's likely to be a very short series and more of what we've been watching for the past several weeks in the playoffs, including:

  • The thing that's bothered me about the league for several years now: The total glorification of its star players unlike any other major sport. It's what's called a "Cult of personality." Webster's Dictionary defines that as "a situation in which a public figure (such as a political leader) is deliberately presented to the people of a country as a great person who should be admired and loved." For example, LeBron James -- whom the ESPN announcers just can't seem to find enough adjectives to describe. They are fawning all over him. He couldn't be more celebrated if he cured cancer. Yeah, OK, I've got LeBron Fatigue -- I admit it. But this has been going on for years in a league that has for decades celebrated individuals over teams.
  • Scott Foster. This referee is seemingly in hot pursuit of the impossible -- making the fans of every team in the league believe he's out to get their team. And it looks sometimes as if they might be correct.
  • Speaking of referees, there is no way in the world they should be paid in full for working playoff games. They simply don't do their job. They overlook fouls to the degree that when they call one, the reaction is always, "Wait a minute, you just let worse than that go at the other end!"
  • If I never see James Harden take another dive after a three-point field goal attempt I will be a happy man. And I would love not to watch him travel on his step=back move. And it's not fun to see him dribble endlessly between his legs without using it to go anywhere. Actually, overall, I have Harden Fatigue, too.
  • I fully understand the value of three-point field goals and why teams are hoisting them by the dozen. And really, it's only going to get worse. But what I don't get is why a team with a double-digit halftime lead doesn't try first to get easy two-point shots. When you have a solid lead, it's going to take a lot of three-point makes to overcome your two-point makes. And I'm talking about YOU, Houston. And by the way, if you just stood back and let Harden take it to the basket, he'd have been at the foul line all night and you wouldn't have lost.
  • I heard the jokesters on the TNT panel talking about Kevin Love missing a Game 7 because of a concussion and they, of course, bragged about how they would have played no matter what. You know, take a couple of Advil and go get 'em. And for all the things they make TV guys apologize for these days, this should have been one of them. My goodness -- concussion protocol is there for a very good reason and it's to protect players from their own stupidity. But here we are again with the macho garbage about playing with an injury that could lead to some serious brain damage.
  • That said, I cannot understand why ESPN can't come up with a halftime/pregame panel even remotely as good as the one on TNT.
  • Oh well, there's still the Finals to come. Let's all sit back and watch Lebron and Scott Foster do their thing. Enjoy!

Get ready for Oregon to get back in the bookie business

Get ready for Oregon to get back in the bookie business

First, a brief history lesson:

After years of opposing such things, all of our major sports leagues have come out in favor of legalized sports betting within the last few years. Rather than worry about potential problems with game-fixing or point shaving, the leagues finally gave in to the lure of the pot of gold at the end of the gambling rainbow. There are huge sums of money to be made off our vices, as if you didn't already know.

Today's Supreme Court ruling has likely put a whole lot of institutions in the gambling business.

Make no mistake, you're going to see a stampede now, as leagues, states, casinos and web apps dive into sports betting. Very soon, in fact, we could see the state of Oregon become a very big and succesful bookmaker. Of course, the NBA wouid like to do the same thing. All our leagues -- including the NFL and MLB -- are tired of seeing the bookies and Nevada casinos making all the money on the wagering on their games.

Betting windows in Moda Center? Don't be surprised at some point if you can make a halftime bet on somebody's second-half point total.

In case you didn't know it, there are billions at stake here. Oregon recognized this a long time ago when it instituted "Sports Action," a state-sponsored parlay method of betting on NFL games. Later, NBA games were added to the mix but the league filed a suit that stopped its inclusion. Sports Action was banned in 2007 because the NCAA promised not to hold any March Madness tournament rounds in the state as long as the game existed.

Oregon would need to have the legislature legalize betting again to make sports wagering possible here. It would also need to create a method for regulating it. But with upwards of $10 billion up for grabs, the race will soon be on to grab a piece of that very big pie.

And sports, as we know them, will likely be forever changed.