CORVALLIS — After his team was vanquished by No. 1 national seed Oregon State last week in the Corvallis Regional, Yale coach John Stuper said the Beavers “are destined for Omaha” and the College World Series.
That may be true.
OSU (52-4), with the nation’s longest current winning streak of 19 games, was dominant in the four-team, double-elimination Corvallis Regional. The Beavers beat Yale twice — 11-0 and 8-1 — and opened with an 8-2 victory Friday over No. 4 seed Holy Cross.
But in the best-of-three Corvallis Super Regional against Vanderbilt (36-23-1), which wrapped up the Clemson Regional on Monday by defeating host Clemson 8-0, the Beavers will be facing a much stronger team than they saw in the Corvallis Regional.
CORVALLIS SUPER REGIONAL
Oregon State (52-4) vs. Vanderbilt (36-23-1)
At Goss Stadium, Corvallis, Oregon
Best-of-3 series; x-if necessary
Game 1: Friday, 6 p.m., ESPN
Game 2: Saturday, 6 p.m., ESPN
x-Game 3: Sunday, 6 p.m. (ESPN2 or ESPNU)
A CLOSER LOOK AT VANDERBILT
TOP OFFENSIVE PERFORMERS
- Jeren Kendall: .312, 15 homers, 52 RBI, 19 SB
- Will Toffey: .350, 11 homers, 62 RBI
- Julian Infante: .322, 11 homers, 65 RBI
- Kyle Wright: 5-5, 2.98, 113 K
- Patrick Raby: 10-3, 2.36 ERA, 85 K
- Drake Fellows: 3-3, 3.30, 68 K
OSU and Vanderbilt last met in 2011 with the Commodores of the Southeastern Conference winning both matchups in the Nashville Super Regional. The Corvallis Super Regional winner advances to the College World Series in Omaha, June 17-28.
“Thoroughbreds get to Omaha and we’re just gonna have to be better. That’s all there is to it,” OSU coach Pat Casey said.
Words of wisdom from a man who has led OSU to the CWS four times, with back-to-back national championships in 2006 and 2007. The Beavers are looking for their first trip to Omaha since 2013.
Game 1 of the Corvallis Super Regional is scheduled for 6 p.m. Friday (ESPN2) at Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Game 2 is 6 p.m. Saturday (ESPN), and Game 3 (if necessary), would be played at 6 p.m. Sunday (ESPN2 or ESPNU).
It’s hard to find fault with the Beavers’ performance in the Corvallis Regional. They received outstanding starts from Jake Thompson and Luke Heimlich, and OSU had 41 hits in the three games, including two homers by third baseman Michael Gretler, and one apiece from right fielder Jack Anderson and first baseman KJ Harrison.
But they also stranded 29 base runners and missed several sacrifice bunt opportunities. Not that OSU struggled with small ball as evidenced by second baseman Nick Madrigal’s four bunt singles in the Beavers regional-clinching 8-1 victory over No. 3 seed Yale.
Truth is, finding fault with the Beavers’ season up to this point would be nitpicking. The Pac-12 champions set a league record with 27 conference victories, won every series, and lead the nation with a team earned-run average of 1.78 led by Thompson (13-0, 1.30) and Heimlich (11-1, 0.76), the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year.
“I’m told sometimes that I’m demanding and maybe that’s a good thing. I don’t know,” Casey said. “But I do know one thing: Our guys give us effort all the time.”
That was apparent in the Corvallis Regional. Outfielder Steven Kwan, who missed several games late in the season due to a quad injury, hit .714 in the Corvallis Regional and was named the tournament’s Most Outstanding Player.
Kwan was joined on the all-tournament team by teammates Harrison (first base), Gretler (third base), Heimlich, Cadyn Greiner (shortstop), Adley Rutschman (catcher) and Trevor Larnach (designated hitter).
“It was great to get back on the field,” Kwan said. “Being able to play with my teammates again is the best feeling.”
OSU last hosted a Super Regional in 2013 and defeated Kansas State in the deciding game. The Beavers also prevailed in the Corvallis Super Regional in 2005 and 2006.
Playing at home, where the Beavers are 29-1 this season, figures to be a significant advantage. A crowd of 3,456 for Sunday's game was OSU's 17th consecutive sellout.
“I think the one thing that everyone has mentioned to me is how unbelievable it is to play at Goss Stadium,” Casey said. “Opposing coaches, players, the energy. That’s a tribute to the people who come here all the time, great fans.”