Corvallis Regional Preview

By Andy /  PNW Sports Fans

Another regular season is in the books and it’s time to look ahead to playoff baseball in Corvallis. With a 44-10 (22-9 PAC 12) record, Oregon State earned the #3 overall national seed in the NCAA tournament, which means as long as they keep winning, they’ll keep playing at Goss, right up until the College World Series.

Aside from Oregon State, the Corvallis Regional will play host to LSU (who knocked the Beavs out in Omaha last year) San Diego State, and Northwestern State (Louisiana).

So with that information established, let’s breakdown the threat level each team poses in the regional:

*Threat level is determined on a 1-5 scale, with 1 being lowest threat, and 5 being the greatest possible threat.

Northwestern State Demons

Conference- Southland

Record- 37-22 (18-12)

Key Wins- Nebraska, Louisiana Tech, Southland Conference Tournament.

Threat Level- 2

Thoughts- While  the Demons are riding a  five game winning streak and coming off of a conference tournament title run, It’s important to remember that the level of competition in the Southland conference is not equivalent to what the Beavers faced all year in the Pac 12. While it’s true that any team in the tournament is capable of making a run, it would be a major letdown if the Beavs couldn’t get the regional started off with a win on Friday night. Northwestern State will play hard, but ultimately, there is too much talent in the Corvallis regional for the cinderella candidates to keep dancing.

San Diego State Aztecs

Conference- Mountain West

Record- 39-19 (18-12)

Key Wins-  Washington, Cal State Fullerton (twice), Mountain West Tournament.

Threat Level- 3

Thoughts- The Aztecs have proven they can play with anybody. They are coming off of their fifth conference title in six years and are not afraid of quality opponents. As a level 3 threat, I consider San Diego State a formidable foe. The only reason I don’t give them a 4 is because I really believe in this Oregon State squad. That, and the fact that the regional is within the friendly confines of Goss.

LSU Tigers

Conference- SEC

Record- 37-25 (15-15)

Key Wins- South Carolina, Arkansas (three times), Florida.

Threat Level- Midnight (that’s a joke for those that watch The Office) I’ll give them a 4.

Thoughts- Ah yes, LSU. I’m pretty sure everyone in Beaver Nation was “chomping” (funny, this is actually a commonly misused phrase. The original phrase is actually champing at the bit. You’re welcome.) at the bit. Anyway, everyone knows the history as LSU knocked an OSU team destined for a national title out of Omaha last season. Most fans are rightfully bitter about how that all went down. There was a foul ball debacle and a Greg Street malfunction, but when the dust settled, Oregon State didn’t emerge as champions. Having an opportunity to exact revenge is all this team could ask for. It won’t be easy as LSU has been playing good ball lately and has been tested in the rigorous SEC. Don’t be fooled by a 37-25 record. This team is elite when it wants to be. The one thing that gives me pause with LSU is their 4-14 road record. It’s easy to pile up wins with 10,000 Tigers fans backing you at Alex Box stadium, but this ball club hasn’t faired quite as well on the road against fellow elite competition.

This is going to be a wild regional. Truth be told, I think this group is pretty tough when looking at the pedigree of teams making the trek to Corvallis. The good news is if Oregon State survives the test, it will mean they are playing championship level baseball.

*Note for readers- OG PNW contributor, co founder, and friend to all, Braught will be at the games. Look for the handsome, slender man in the outfield finding creative ways to steal views. If he’s a little hesitant or shy at first, offer him a “coldie” (found out during the Stanford series that this is the term Pat Casey prefers). You’ll be glad you did.

Go Beavs!

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Beavers looking for momentum heading into June

By Andy / PNW Sports Fans

The Beavers wrap up the regular season with a home series against the 17th ranked UCLA Bruins in what will serve as a good measuring stick for where this team is at heading into postseason play.

Sure, OSU still technically has a chance to repeat as PAC 12 Champions. However, that will require the Beavs to not only sweep a strong Bruins team, but Stanford would also need get swept by Washington. So while unlikely, it’s not impossible.

Sure, an improbable late PAC 12 title push would be awesome, but I’m more concerned with what the Beavers can control this week. I want to see how the team responds against a solid contender after yet another Sunday letdown. I believe coach Casey will have the guys ready to go and looking to make a statement before Selection Monday.

If the Beavers play to their ability, they should be able to take two out of three and have a punchers chance at a sweep.

Forget the conference title, there are also other major postseason implications on the line this weekend. If the Beavers take care of business, they should end up with a national seed and wouldn’t have to play on the road again until Omaha.

To make those possibilities a reality and get the best of UCLA this weekend, Oregon state will need customary outings from Luke Heimlich and Bryce Fehmel. Those two are as good as any 1-2 punch in all of baseball. The question (as it has been all season) is who can provide a decent start in game three? Kevin Abel has shown glimpses of being the guy, but has struggled with control at times. Finding another reliable starting arm is something the Beavers desperately need if they want to make another deep run.

Aside from starting pitching, the bats will need to get back to form. This really isn’t something I’m all that concerned with. This squad has maybe the best 1-9 lineup I’ve ever seen. I doubt they will have multiple clunkers in a single week.

Do my keys to success seem like an oversimplification? Are you thinking to yourself, “Connor could’ve come up with that analysis!”? Good! Because it is simple! This team is immensely talented and coached by a freaking legend! Yeah, the keys to success are simple. The only consistent issue all year has been finding a reliable third starter. That’s honestly all the 2018 Beavers are missing at this point. Sure, they aren’t 56-6, but I will take 42-9 any time. That’s an incredible record and shows that they are certainly capable of getting back to TD Ameritrade Park and finishing what they started a year ago.

I’m looking forward to a great weekend of baseball and seeing what sort of momentum Oregon State will take into the regional.

until then,

Go Beavs!

3 Quick Hits; Weekend Warriors

3 Quick Hits; Weekend Warriors

By Con / PNW Sports Fans

Here on another addition of 3 quick hits to start off your week. Our random thoughts and observations from any weekend activities.

1. OSU Baseball just misses sweep: While one of the PNW crew members is busy in the Basque country, an unlikely member was glued to the Oregon State baseball series vs Stanford this weekend. It was a pleasurable site watching OSU pound the Cardinal into submission game one and game two and to start game three. Then it all fell apart when frosh Kevin Abel walked 30 straight batters… Ok maybe not that many but you get the point. However, this does not put a damper on taking the series from your only competition in the Pac-12. OSU bats are FIRE right now. They will continue to be the rest of the season. The lineup is too good for any pitcher to get past. But the elusive Sunday starter still remains a mystery. We had faith in Abel as he had a few brilliant performances recently and with Grant Grambrell not being able to pitch effectively in t-ball right now,  Abel is one of our only options. We will see what Pat does. I prefer to try Brandon Eisert out as Sunday starter. He is more experienced then Abel and has proven the ability to keep his pitch count down and be semi consistent. We will see how this develops. Quote of the weekend from Steven Kwan regarding Pat Casey as a coach: “He’s the biggest motivator ever, the best coach I’ve ever had, but really hard to play for at first. He had the look that would bring you to your knees. That played into my self-doubts, made you think you’re the worst baseball player ever.”

GOD BLESS YOU PAT. NEVER CHANGE.

2. HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY??? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY?HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY? HOW DID BRAD STEVENS NOT WIN COY?

PROOF THE NBA IS RIGGED. RIP DWANE CASEY THOUGH. Best record in FRANCHISE HISTORY and gets fired? LOL. Terry Stotts should retire then…

3. It’s a slow sports season…Braught what is happening with the Mariners? Oh yeah they suck again and over-committed to all fans and got everyone hyped about how good they were going to be and half their team is injured I guess. Oh and the Ichiro experiment? He is quickly to the front office…as what? Hopefully head translator so he can speak to the clone of himself he will bless the Mariners franchise with. Seriously, I am calling for a complete overhaul and dismantling of this franchise. A la the Florida Marlins except not with the slime ball Derek Jeter and with actual intelligence in trades and signings, not another MLB team working hard to make the Yankees better…

 

PS: Great job Wayne Tinkle for getting a midget point guard who can’t really shoot. So he will be slashing to the rim I guess at 5’5″??? Awesome strategy. But hey Nate Robinson is/was the ultimate OSU basketball killer…

 

Mariner’s August Update

Mariner’s August Update

Now ten days into August and eight games into a month I said we should go 16-11, I figured we would look at where we are in my prediction.

In the first two games of the month, the M’s split them with Rangers but ended up taking the series. In the first game of August, the offense built a comfortable 5-0 lead by the end of third inning and held off the Rangers rally. The M’s offense must have used all their magic in that game, because they only could muster one run against Cashner the next day.

A split of the 4 game, rain soaked, series with the Royals was very much needed to hold them off the 2nd Wild Card spot in the AL. It was also, probably the best result we could expect from our tattered pitching staff. The ace Paxton continued his dominance and 7th win in a row but none of the other pitchers could make it past the 5th inning. This is not unusual for the 2017 Mariners, as Ryan Divish noted in his article this week, “of the 113 starts made this season, only 21 times has a pitcher gone seven innings or more.” He went on to says that the Mariners have had 43 starts of five innings or less. I only see this trend continuing with the way our staff is living on the DL and bringing AAAA (yes that is on purpose) pitchers.

Our bullpen has performed admirable in all this but they will have to perform exceptionally if we expect to make the playoffs. On the season, they have thrown the 6th innings in the MLB and have the 9th lowest ERA and 11th lowest BAA.

Anyways, back to the month of August, the Mariners took the next two games from A’s thanks to the offense. This puts them at 5 and 3 on the month and on track to meet the 16-11 I believe they should go in the month. Tonight, they start a 7 game home series vs two teams fighting for our current playoff spot. With Paxton the mound tonight, I feel good that they can move to 6-3 and put up a fight against some bad starters that the Angels are going to walk out there.

The Mariners did perform a trade post deadline and picked up Yonder Alonso for Boog Powell. This move allows a platoon rotation at first with Alonso batting .281 vs RHP in 2017. Valencia is batting .309 vs LHP in 2017. This was the expectation with Vogelbach but he was unable to perform. Both Alonso and Valencia will be free agents at the end of the year and I expect this to act as an extended try out.

Other news to note, Felix will be on the DL for quite some time, Haniger should be making his way back off the DL soon, Phelps will be on the DL for a little, and Martin’s HR vs the A’s made me very happy.

SoDo MoJo

Photo from Q13 Fox News

Notes: Beavs in Bend

Notes: Beavs in Bend

By Andy / PNW Sports

The Oregon State football  team capped off their week of practice in Bend, Oregon with a Friday night scrimmage at Summit High School. Below are some notes and observations I recorded while taking in the 90 min workout.

Great crowd: I was shocked at the number of people that showed up for the scrimmage. It’s obviously not the numbers you would see in Corvallis for an open scrimmage, but it was still pretty impressive. The grandstands were completely full and quite a few people lined the fence around the track.

To make a comparison, last year when the Beavers held an open scrimmage it was well attended but open seats were plentiful. This year, there weren’t even spaces to park in Summit’s lot. I had to park at the North end of the school out on the street. So well done Beaver Nation, and well done Oregon State Athletics Department. It also helped that rather than opening up a standard a practice, the team staged a full scrimmage.

Luton is an upgrade: I realize it’s just one scrimmage, but Jake Luton looked like he was in command from the start. He had tremendous poise in the pocket and showed the ability to make all of the throws. He does have room to improve as he missed on a couple shots that should have been big gains. But as I told my buddies here at PNW, at least throwing a slant route is no longer an adventure.

Aside from his throwing capabilities, Luton seems to have no problem taking command and keeping everyone sharp. For a second week scrimmage communication and execution seemed to be fairly sharp. Again, room to improve, but it looks better than in years past.

I also wanted to make clear that Luton isn’t necessarily the most mobile QB but he’s also not a  wooden, cigar store indian (This is how Danny O’Neill describes Carson Palmer’s mobility). Jake can move around enough to buy a little time and he isn’t afraid to get what he can running. It also helps that he showed the ability to get the ball out pretty quick. I’m in agreement with Con that he has a little bit of a Luke Falk presence in the pocket. If he turns out to be half of what Luke Falk is, Beaver Nation should be thrilled.

O-Line needs work: The offensive line struggled with getting a push up front. The run blocking was serviceable, but the pass protection must get better. I have a cautious optimism that they will get much better in the coming weeks. This unit lost three guys to the NFL, so they are obviously going through some growing pains. It’s also worth noting that Gus Lavaka sat out of the scrimmage. Although, Gary Anderson did say if this had been a game he could’ve gone.

I think the best medicine for the offensive line will be repetition. They need to get experience together to form some chemistry. I won’t hit the panic button on this group yet, but they need to get better quick.

Receiving Corps could be special:  In my opinion, the receivers stole the show last night. I’m going to group Noah Togiai in with the receivers to make things easier. When the starters were announced earlier this week I was giddy about the size of this group. Jordan Villaman 6’5”, Seth Collins 6’3″, Isaiah Hodgins 6’4″, and Noah Togiai 6’4″ make up the starting pass catchers. That is fantastic size and something that should create matchup nightmares for opposing defenses.

So let’s break down the receivers performances. True freshman and gem of the 2017 class, Isaiah Hodgins wasted no time making his prescience felt. The physically imposing newcomer went up and made what was almost a fantastic sideline grab to start the scrimmage. The pass was ruled incomplete because he couldn’t get his foot down with a defender all over him. It’s important to note that he showed great body control and did in fact haul the pass in, but was out of bounds. Others reported that the ball was knocked out of his hands, but that is false. It was right in front of me. Anyway Hodgins looked solid and made another nice play after where he should his hands, speed and strength all in one sequence. I’m excited to see what he can do.

Seth Collins brought the juice to the scrimmage the way only Seth can. The guy I have affectionately nicknamed Lazarus appeared to be back to his usual high intensity, healthy self. Collins made a few nice grabs and showed off his athleticism by jumping over a defender for good measure. The energy that Collins brings to this team is unmatched. He got his teammates going with that hurdle and then proceeded to get everyone on the sideline hyped with a solid 30 seconds of yelling and aggressive celebrations. Seth is without a doubt one of the most important players on the team. His passion is contagious.

Jordan Villamin looked decent, but had some miscues with Luton. After a down year, I hope to see him return to the player he showed he could be in 2014 and 2015. Vitamin J has all of the tools (size, speed, hands) but he just needs to work on being locked in every single day. I’ve been high on Villamin for a long time and I hope his Senior year can be the season he puts it all together. This guy should be playing on Sundays with his physical gifting.

Noah Togiai was the most impressive in Friday’s scrimmage. He caught three touchdowns from Luton and appears to be back to full health after recovering from his 2016 season ending knee injury. Togiai is so athletic and fluid for a big guy. He is the exact type of tight end you would look for in this offense. Having Togiai is a huge weapon as he is a near impossible cover (too fast for linebackers, too big for DB’s).

D-Line accepting challenge: This one’s pretty simple. Gary called out the defensive line and they are responding thus far. They controlled the line of scrimmage most of the night. This unit has so much depth and potential that it would be inexcusable for them to not be dominant.  Obviously it would be a huge boost to get JUCO transfer Craig Evans in the fold, but that possibility remains uncertain given his struggle to become eligible.

I would like to see more out of Elu Aydon this season. His camp got off to a rocky start as he did not show up in shape. After a week of extra conditioning, Aydon is now getting reps on the field. If it all clicks for Elu, he can be an absolute game wrecker. I think he will take a step this year.

Tyner looks explosive: This one has me excited. Picking up Tyner in the spring seemed like it would be a huge boost to the backfield depth. But this is Thomas Tyner two years removed from football after medically retiring. I wanted to see if he still had “it” and if his body that failed him in years prior is capable of holding up.

Simply put, Tyner looked every bit the part of a five-star recruit. He still has impressive burst and excellent field vision. You could tell when number 4 was carrying the ball out there. If Tyner holds up, this will be a backfield worth drooling over. Barring injuries, Oregon State will go into the 2017 season with an absolutely loaded stable of running backs. This is without question the most talented position group on the team. I’m looking for two guys to flirt with 1,000 yard seasons.

Battle for the second safety spot will be competitive: Brandon Arnold is locked in and was thumping people Friday night. However the second safety position was left vacant by the hard hitting Senior, Devin Chappell. It’s going to be a hard fought battle for that starting spot. Jalen Moore got the first crack at it and looked very sound. I think the spot will be filled by Moore, Austin Hudson, or David Morris.  Moore seems to be the favorite to win the job at this point, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Morris and Hudson find their way onto the field. Morris has received high praise from the coaches throughout his first fall camp.

Summary:

I could keep going forever on what I saw Friday, but I think I’ll leave it here for now. Overall I liked what I saw on both sides of the ball. I think this team is going to surprise a lot of people on the outside. There is a totally different vibe from years prior. You can just see a swagger and a confidence that was missing. This team has always played inspired, passionate football under coach Anderson, but this is next level. When these guys step on the field they are expecting to win. Gone are the days of being a PAC 12 cupcake. Opponents are going to have some sore Sunday mornings in 2017. I fully expect this team to win 6-8 games. Honestly, their ceiling could be even higher than that if things bounce their way. There’s no doubt in my mind that six wins is absolutely the floor for this team and they believe that. It’s going to be a fun season in Corvallis.

Is it August 26th yet?

Go Beavs!

 

 

College World Series

College World Series

By Braught / PNW Sports Fans

The Beavers are back in Omaha for the College World Series again after going on tear through their Regional and Super Regional. The Beavers are 5-0 in the postseason, having beat their opponents by a combined score of 44-9. The last time Oregon State was in Omaha was 2013, when Mississippi State knocked them out in the semi-finals and Michael Conforto would prove to me that not only was his bat worth the 10th overall pick in the following year’s draft, so was his arm. In game 1, Mississippi State hit a routine fly ball to LF and they sent their runner from 3rd. Conforto’s throw beat the runner by about three steps. Also on that 2013 team was Max Engelbrekt, who will be making his second appearance in Omaha.

No disrespect to Vanderbilt, who I thought was one of the better teams in the field but awaiting the Beavers in Omaha are far tougher opponents. Five of the national seeds advanced to Omaha, the most since 2011 and the 7 other teams went 35-4 in the Regional and Super Regional’s. One of two teams not to sweep their Super Regional, is the Beavers first opponent in Game 1 of the CWS, Cal State Fullerton.

Cal State has gone 34-21 and come out of the Big West Conference. They had an impressive sweep of Stanford in the Trees own Regional before going to Long Beach State where they took 2 of 3. (Side note: Cal State lost game one to Darren McCaughan and his flow, who threw a gem of a 2 hitter and has been drafted in the 17th Rd by the Mariners) Cal State is led by Zach Weisz and Scott Hurst who each carry an OPS over 1.0 and anchor their OF. Connor Seabold is their ace, who comes in with 120 K’s in 120 IP. He does have an OBA over .260, so he is hittable. Both Connor and Scott were taken in the third round of the draft this last week.

The other two teams on the Beavers side of the bracket are Florida State and LSU who both bring potent offenses. Florida State is also led by two 3rd round draft picks in SS switch hitting Taylor Walls and 3B Dylan Busby. Walls is a disciplined hitter with 63 walks this year while Busby brings the power with 14 homers and 62 RBI’s. FSU showed grit and pitching depth after dropping game one of their own regional and winning it out of the loser bracket.

Like the Beavs, the LSU Tigers bring in their own long winning streak, 16 games. I think LSU is the next best team in the tournament. Team ace, Alex Lange has 134 K’s in 113 IP and was selected in the 1st round of the draft. Their up the middle combo of Cole Freeman and Kramer Robertson were each taken in the 4th rd of the draft and bring experience to the table as seniors who have been to Omaha, in 2015. And lastly, there is the Tigers baseball destroyer of a RF, Greg Deichmann who has hit .320 this year with an OPS of 1.035 and 19 home runs.

We all know what the Beavers bring to Omaha. Their determination after being snubbed last year, the nations leading ERA, timely hitting, and only 4 losses on the year! I will not make too many assumptions on what Pat will do with the pitching rotation but I will assume that Jake will throw game one. If he is able to replicate what he has been doing all year, the Beavs should be in good position to make it out of Saturday unscathed.

Game 1 of the CWS will be played at noon Saturday on ESPN.

Go Beavs!

 

Road to Omaha starts Friday night

Road to Omaha starts Friday night

By Andy / PNW Sports Fans

Here we are. After a historic run through the regular season, Oregon State Baseball finally gets the opportunity to play for keeps. As great as this season has been thus far, things are just getting started. Tomorrow night we will get to see what kind of team Oregon State really has as pressure and expectations reach an all time high.

Monday it was announced that the Beavers would be the number 1 overall seed in the NCAA Tournament and as such, would host a regional in Corvallis.  Both of these things were a bit of a forgone conclusion, but now they’ve officially been cemented in reality.

The Beavers will play host to Nebraska, Yale, and Holy Cross for the weekend. Following Nebraska and Yale at 1pm on Friday, Oregon State will get its postseason started by matching up with Holy Cross for an 8pm nightcap on ESPNU.

On paper, OSU looks well equipped to handle this regional. Even so, we know that seeding and talent means very little at this point in the season. It was just three short years ago that Oregon State found itself in this exact same position but ended up getting bounced from their own regional.  This should serve as a reminder to this year’s squad of how things can get away from you in a hurry.

One night you’re up on the parking garage with your buddies and  some banquets watching the Beavs win,  and the next you’re getting your heart ripped out at the hands of UC Irvine. Sometimes Summer dreams can be crushed before they even have a chance to be realized. But that’s enough of my sob story. Let’s take a look at the gauntlet the Beavers will have to survive this time around.

Nebraska was a team OSU saw down in Arizona in February and frankly dominated, winning the first game 10-1 and the second 5-2. However, February was a long time ago and this Nebraska team has only gotten better. Yale is a pesky team and is riding the momentum of their first postseason appearance since 1993. Timely hitting and solid play in the field makes them a tough out. Similarly, Holy Cross is excited to end a postseason drought of their own as they qualified for the tournament for the first time since 1978. Though they have a losing record overall, they played good enough ball to win their conference tournament and feel as if they have nothing to lose. As we know, teams with nothing to lose are pretty scary.

They say history tends to repeat itself. While that may be true I think Oregon State will head into the weekend better prepared than in 2014. This year’s team certainly shouldn’t take anything for granted and I’m sure the coaching staff will have them locked in well before the first pitch. I think the Beavers will show up ready to play Friday night.

The team has played with a sense of urgency all year long and I don’t see that changing. Aside from that, they’ve proven they can perform well under pressure. Don’t let the 49-4 record fool you, this team had its share of adversity. There were several games that had to be pulled from the fire in the waning moments throughout the season. The Beavers continually found ways to win whether it be with hitting, pitching or fielding. Look at the best teams in any sport. They usually aren’t great because they steamroll every opponent (though OSU has done plenty of that too) but rather they are great because they have incredible resolve and find ways to win games even when it’s not their best day. The Beavers have shown that quality time and time again this season and that’s why I think they really have a chance to make a run.

At the end of the day, Oregon State has a pitching staff that has more talent and depth than any other team in this regional or the country for that matter. This is a starting rotation and bullpen that gives the team a great back bone when it comes to tournament time. OSU has 6 or 7 guys that are starter quality. If that doesn’t give you confidence the Beavers also possess fantastic position players and appear to be looking close to 100 percent healthy heading into the postseason. This team isn’t just built around one or two great players. They have incredible depth and that’s what often leads teams to Omaha.

Yes, nothing is given at this point in the journey. But this weekend the Beavers will have the opportunity to go out and prove why they are the top seed. Corvallis will be buzzing, and if all goes right, they’ll stay right at home in the Willamette Valley for the Super Regional.

I’m looking forward to tomorrow.

Until then, crack a cold one, and Go Beavs!