The Kentucky Derby is this weekend and if the Oregon State Beavers baseball team was in a horse race, one could say they are in the final straightaway heading for the far turn. In their peripheral vision is a slight glimpse of the finish line. Longshot? Not likely. Destiny’s darling? Let’s hope so. Flowers, banners, trophy and last but certainly not least, the dog pile. Keeping an eye on the prize. Remember, I’m all in with these guys.
After the team struggled against the lowly Washington Huskies, any nervousness could be understood as OSU took on the USC Trojans. Luckily, the Beavers were facing the team with the worst ERA in the conference and pulled out the sweep, taking the three game set. The team hammered out 34 hits in three games. While USC committed no errors all weekend, OSU had four. Significance? Clearly Pat Casey has the squad minimizing their mistakes. Furthermore, the pitching staff only gave up three walks total in three games and held the Trojans to a total of five runs in three games. A positive template moving forward towards the postseason.
Just as two horses can battle nose to nose, the Beavers are side by side with theirs rivals, the Oregon Ducks. Oregon also swept their opponent (Stanford Cardinal) and remain only a game back in the loss column to OSU. Arizona State and UCLA are tied for third with identical 11-7 conference records. However, the bright side there is the Beavers beating each of them twice. Any tie gives OSU the advantage over those two.
This week the Beavs (ranked #6 with a 34-8 record, 14-4 in conference) take on the California Bears (21-23 overall, 9-12 league). Yes, they are all on the tightrope at this point but again, this is a team OSU should handle. Playing in Corvallis this weekend, OSU has won the last four series against California when playing at home. For the Beavers, their starting pitching has become quite stellar. Their starters of Matt Boyd, Andrew Moore and Ben Wetzler have a 1.74 ERA in 124 innings pitched. This upcoming series against the Bears takes on extra value because OSU travels to Stanford and Oregon in the two following matchups before finishing the season at home against the Cougars of Washington State.
Nothing is a sure thing; however, the cream rises to the top and now is not the time to be complacent. While the Ducks are on the road this weekend against Washington State (and only have OSU and Utah left on the conference schedule), they have extreme confidence right now and are waiting in the wings for the Beavers to falter. As I mentioned last week regarding last season’s questionable seeding for the NCAA tournament, OSU needs to finish ahead of the Ducks to get a deserved national seed. Currently, BaseballAmerica.com has the Beavers and Ducks “on the bubble” of attaining a top eight seed for the tournament.
Some good news came from the national scene. Last week, top seeded North Carolina and second seed LSU each lost twice. The importance of this stat is that one of the top tier teams is no longer in a standing of invincibility. This is purely a long term outlook. Should the Beavers face either of those teams, sooner or later in the tournament, those losses become assets. Keep in mind the following saying: “One man’s junk is another man’s treasure.” Those may be passing stones for the Tar Heels and Tigers, but invaluable information for OSU coming down the stretch.