Yes, Oregon State’s baseball season continues to progress toward the postseason. Last weekend the Beavs swept Utah to remain on top in the Pac 12 Conference with a 10-2 record (29-6 overall). With each game, the team must believe there is no rest for the weary and remain prepared for every opponent. As the finish line gets closer, the games only get tougher no matter the record of who they are playing.
OSU and Oregon are beginning to distance themselves from the rest of the conference. The Beavers hold a one game advantage over the Ducks in the loss column and three games over UCLA (a team they have already defeated two of three games). This weekend, the Beavers travel to Washington while Oregon hosts UCLA. The Ducks-Bruins series almost is a win-win situation for OSU, considering UCLA is third in the conference. So whichever team wins there benefits the Beavs, however, UCLA winning would help more.
On paper, it would appear to be a mismatch playing Washington. After all, the Huskies are 3-9 in league play and 9-25 overall. And OSU is off to it’s best season start in history. Don’t be misled, every series is pivotal at this point. Sports history is maligned with David versus Goliath tales of the never expected upset. The team to fear most is the one with nothing to lose. And Washington has nowhere to go but up.
One of the keys to watch will be scoring. On both sides. OSU pitchers on the road are holding opponents to a 1.76 ERA while the Beavers have a 19-3 record when they score first. Friday’s starter for the Beavs will be lefthander Matt Boyd, who is riding a 7-1 record and a 1.55 ERA. Boyd is originally from the Seattle area. Along with fellow Beavers Michael Conforto, Dylan Davis and Scott Schultz, all from Washington, will be OSU players looking to have strong performances in the three game set up north.
Fifth ranked OSU needs to keep pace with 10th ranked Oregon. With the Ducks playing at home, OSU needs to stay focused and take care of business. Beat the teams you are supposed to beat. Long term, the Beavers need to keep up with those in front of them in the polls (#1 North Carolina, #2 Vanderbilt, #3 LSU, #4 Cal State Fullerton) as well as those close behind (Florida State, Louisville, Virginia, Arizona State). Victory now means reward now and later with home field seeding for the tournament.
After I saw my Baltimore Orioles (you know it, Orange and Black) win their 17th straight regular season extra inning game Thursday night, I realized such results are the mark of a good team. Winning close games, winning when you have to. Not that this needed my attention when looking at OSU’s schedule, because I am aware of their progress, but the numbers don’t lie in this category. Season results show the Beavers are 10-1 in games decided by two runs or less. Furthermore, the pitching staff has held opponents to one run or less in thirteen games. Obviously a statistic which holds water as OSU will clearly face quality opponents down the line.
When the possibility of greatness appears to lie ahead, fans and this writer feel anxiety with every game. With anticipation comes a sports stress looking for a ticket on the championship express. Road series ahead include Stanford and Oregon, so hopefully the Beavers look at Washington seriously and compete as they have to this point. Again, take no team lightly.