It has always been the tale that teams who peak at the end of the season are the ones who usually end up as champions. Playing well in the end is where it counts. So, here we go Beavers, here we go.
Last weekend, Oregon State’s baseball team swept California in three games down in Corvallis. They followed that up with a mid-week victory over the Portland Pilots and now have an overall record of 38-8. But with just three weekend series remaining, we will all find out what our beloved Beavers are made of. Because now the road, literally and figuratively, takes on added substance.
This weekend, OSU travels to Palo Alto to take on Stanford (26-17 overall, 11-10 conference). Despite what looks like a mediocre record, looks can be deceiving. This Stanford team has spent a lot of time in the Top 25 this year and had a hard fought series against Oregon, where the Ducks came back twice late to win. To this point in the season, the Beavers are 7-3 against Top 25 opponents. On the plus side, the Beavers have fared well against tough league assignments away from home, having swept the Arizona Wildcats and winning two of three in Los Angeles against UCLA. In addition, OSU is 18-5 on the road this season and has a stranglehold on their ranking at #6.
No serious math skills are need here. After OSU and Oregon both swept their opponents last weekend (the Ducks again coming from behind in the third game against Washington State), the Beavers are still only one game ahead of the Ducks in the loss column. To keep pace, taking two of three from the Cardinal is essential to set up the colossal matchup the next weekend in Eugene.
It is difficult to measure where the Beavers strength really lies. Their pitching staff has been spectacular with an overall ERA of 2.00. Furthermore, the staff gets nice exposure on BaseballAmerica.com’s weekly chats. On the offensive side, the team’s batting average stands solid at .286. From the intangibles department, catchers Jake Rodriquez and Nate Esposito have thrown out 22 of 40 base runners for the year and opposing runners have a paltry success rate of 1 out of 14 steal attempts in the last month of play. Perhaps the shining statistic is the team’s record in one run games: 8-1. Not to diminish the record of 13-1 in games decided by two runs or less.
All of this adds up to steady play as the season winds down. Consistency is also the mark of great teams and OSU has displayed such a trait over and again through each conference game. The hiccup at Washington is hopefully just that, forgotten. The only message for the Beavers to take out of those Husky games is to take no one lightly. With two ranked teams in the next two weekends, any such scenario appears highly unlikely.
OSU has shown grit before away from the friendly confines of Goss Stadium. Top tier teams always rise to the occasion. So Beavs, well, it’s your turn.