It isn’t the recommended route to winning the College World Series but Oregon State has done it before. In 2006, the Beavers lost their opening game, but played their way through the losers’ bracket to win the school’s first national championship. Oregon State is hoping to repeat history here in 2013.
The Beavers were the first team to lose here in Omaha, falling to Mississippi State 5-4 in the opening game of the CWS. But Oregon State has stayed alive with an 11-4 rout of self-destructive Louisville and then a 1-0 gem vs. Indiana.
For all their hard work, the Beavers draw the Bulldogs again and will have to beat them twice in a row to reach the national championship series. You would think Oregon State feels confident. The Beavers came an extra spoonful of Wheaties from winning that first match-up when Danny Hayes potential three-run game-winning homer came-up just a few feet short, caught by Mississippi State RF Hunter Renfroe with his back against the wall for the final out.
The Beavers have been led by Pac-12 Player of the Year Michael Conforto, who leads the CWS with seven hits in 12 AB for a .583 average with four doubles and two RBI. But while Oregon State has been led by their sophomore outfielder, it was senior Matt Boyd who was the headline-maker in Wednesday’s 1-0 stay-alive victory over Indiana.
In what Coach Pat Casey says was the best he’s ever seen Boyd pitch, the lefty delivered a four-hit, complete game shutout with 11 strikeouts. Said Casey, “Matt is a no-maintenance guy, you never have to worry about him, he’s easy to coach, especially when he throws shutouts.”
Boyd was one of four seniors in the starting line-up and one of eight on the Beavers’ roster. That’s a pretty big number for a college baseball team. Many college coaches will tell you that too many seniors means your team isn’t quite good enough. Usually in college baseball, the best players are drafted after their junior seasons and leave for pro ball.
But these Oregon State seniors have provided a spark for this team trying to repeat what the 2006 team did. After the Beavers’ opening game loss to the Bulldogs, those seniors gave an impassioned plea to the team to play “until they rip the jerseys off our backs.
Well six days into the College World Series, the Beavers are still wearing their jerseys, with a guarantee to play at least one more game.
I asked Coach Casey if this year’s team has anything in common with the ’06 team and he joked, “yeah the next game they lose will be their last.” That’s why the Oregon State Beavers are hoping to repeat history.