But Could Be Too Little, Too Late…
By CB360 contributor Kris Anderson
What is the level of frustration for the No. 6 Oregon State baseball team after being swept by in-state rival Oregon? OSU head coach Pat Casey said it all afterwards with his silence.
After the Ducks clinched the Civil War Series with a 4-1 win on Saturday and then were swept 6-0 on Sunday, Casey wouldn’t acknowledge the Beavers media relations staffer, and walked past a group of reporters and left the ballpark.
After dropping their first weekend series of the season against the USC Trojans, the Beavers had an opportunity to rebound against the struggling Ducks. But with a series sweep, the Ducks have gone from the roll of spoiler to a bubble team, and believing they deserve a spot in the field of 64.
“I think we’re a worthy team,” Ducks coach George Horton said. “In my heart of hearts, I believe we’re one of the 64 best teams in the country. I think we’ve earned the right to play in the 64-team tournament. I think we’ll make the committee proud.”
Horton believes that the sweep gives the Ducks a “40 percent” chance of being selected to regionals. That will be determined when the committee announces the field on Monday (12:30 p.m. ET on ESPN).
Oregon received the help they needed from teams around the country on Sunday.
Both No. 11 Cal State Fullerton and No. 14 Texas A&M won their respective conference tournaments.
With the sweep, the Ducks’ RPI improved to 53, according to warrennolan.com.
Had Oregon not lost its series a week ago to Washington State, this weekend’s sweep might have assured them a regional bid. However, at this point, they would certainly be a surprise and debated selection.
For Oregon State, the last two weeks have been a Corvallis kerplunk. The Beavers have gone from the nation’s No. 2 team prior to the series against USC, to No. 6 and will probably not be a host site for super regionals, should they advance that far. They have now lost five in a row and six of their last seven.
The losses also cost them the Pac-10 championship, which UCLA claimed by taking two of three games from Arizona State.
The OSU offense was stagnant throughout the series. In three games, they scored just two runs, while committing five errors. On Sunday, Oregon starter Alex Keudell held the Beavers to only two hits through 8 2/3 innings, and retired 15 straight hitters before being pulled in the ninth inning.
If the Beavers are worried if their performance as of late will carry over into regionals next weekend, those who did talk to the media put on an act good enough for Broadway.
“No panic. We’re fine. We’re fine,” Beavers first baseman Jared Norris said. “Obviously this is embarrassing. Just got to get ready to go for next week.”
“It’s the same team, same guys, we just didn’t get the hits. It happens. It’s just baseball; stuff happens. Stuff happens all the time, and you just got to respond. We’re fine. We have a week to prepare, then we’ll be ready to go.”
The Oregon State bats, which have allowed this team to rally from behind throughout the season, were uncharacteristically quiet in the clutch. The Ducks victories in the first two games of the series were a result of key breaks and finding a timely hit. In the final game of the series, the Beavers didn’t have an answer on the mound or in the box. The Beavers used as many pitchers in the final game as they did in the first two games—six.
It was announced on Sunday that the Beavers would be a host for regionals next weekend; however, this will certainly be a long week for Casey and his squad.