Surprise! Beavers Start Baseball Season
OREGON STATE AT COCA-COLA CLASSIC Surprise Stadium; Surprise, Ariz. FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 13 Oregon State vs. Utah, 10 a.m. PST SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 14 Oregon State vs. Gonzaga, 2 p.m. PST SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 15 Oregon State vs. Cal State-Northridge, 8 a.m. PST
Pitching and defense.
From the time Abner Doubleday allegedly invented the sport in 1839, those have been the main factors in winning baseball games. And those could be two big strengths for Oregon State in 2004.
"We just have to go out and establish the fact that we're going to have to pitch and play defense to set up everything else," OSU head coach Pat Casey said. "We'll try to play the game the way they blueprinted it 160-some years ago and follow that track, and it's up to our guys to attack the game."
The goal - as it is every season - is a berth in the NCAA tournament.
"We fully intend to play in the postseason," Casey said. "And we should. We're capable ... once the season starts, regardless of who's where, we're going to have to find a way to win with the club we have.
"And we like the club we have."
There's a mixture of experience and newcomers as the Beavers begin their season this weekend at the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz. Oregon State plays Utah on Friday, Gonzaga on Saturday and Cal State-Northridge on Sunday.
OSU is aiming to drastically improve on a 2003 season that saw them go 25-28, including a 7-17 record and tie for eighth place in the Pacific-10. Coming back are 17 lettermen, with 11 starters among them; there are also 10 newcomers who go into the spring with a chance to be starters and even more who could earn playing time.
"We have some new players who are going to spend a significant amount of time on the field," said Casey, now in his 10th season at OSU. "But I also think we have some experience at spots where you've got to have it up the middle, and we have enough experience that there should be a good mesh of those guys."
The experience starts on the mound, where the Beavers have two senior starters - lefthander Jake Postlewait and righthander Ben Rowe. Postlewait was an All-Pacific-10 first team pick last season and attracted offers from Major League teams during an outstanding summer in the Alaska League; Rowe was drafted in the 24th round by the Texas Rangers but opted to return to OSU for his senior season. The two can set the tone for the Beavers.
"We expect that from them; they expect that from themselves," Casey said. "It's their fourth year in our program and they both know exactly what they have to do to be successful."
Postlewait was 5-1 with a 3.43 earned run average in 2003 despite missing almost three weeks early in the season; one of his wins was a 6-1 victory over third-ranked Arizona State.
"About halfway through the season - and especially when we got deep into the Pac-10 and he had some success - Jake realized he had a chance to be pretty good," Casey said. "He finally believed that, and I think he established that last summer. He's 100 percent healthy and I think he'll be better this year."
Rowe was 4-7 with a 6.56 ERA as he pitched a team-high 83 2/3 innings.
"We felt Ben didn't have the year he was capable of having last year and that he corrected those things in the fall; I thought he had a great fall," Casey said. "Ben had an opportunity to sign, and a good opportunity to sign. But he didn't feel like he'd completed what he wanted to complete in college. I don't think he was satisfied with his performance last year; he came back in the fall with a plan and a determination that was obvious. If he carries that into the season, he's going to be a lot better for us.
"I think both he and Jake are looking forward to having the role they're going to have on our club, and that's always a good thing ... both those guys are just good guys to have on the club. They're graduating, they're both going to be successful and I'd anticipate both those guys playing professional baseball before it's all over. We're excited that both of those guys could have left and played professionally, and both of them are back."
There are a number of possiblilities for a third starter, including sophomore righthander Andy Baldwin (3-1 record, 6.82 ERA, 4 saves in 2003) and an outstanding trio of freshmen from Oregon - righthanders Dallas Buck and Jonah Nickerson and lefthander Kevin Gunderson. Buck was the state's Player of the Year and turned down a contract after being drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates, while Nickerson and Gunderson were both all-state first-team selections.
"Pitching is a key, and how fast the freshman guys can step in and pitch," Casey said. "The indication in the fall was that they did a really, really good job. I thought some guys established the fact they can and will pitch in big situations."
Other returning pitchers include senior righthander Jared Sanders (0-2, 7.67, 3), who is OSU's career saves leader; senior lefthander Nathan Pendley (1-3, 6.08, 1); and junior righthander Kenny Anderson (3-3, 5.65).
Two more OSU standouts return in the outfield - junior centerfielder Aaron Mathews (.307 batting average, 3 home runs, 21 runs batted in; 6 stolen bases) and sophomore rightfielder Jacoby Ellsbury (.330, 7, 33; 14 stolen bases), both of whom earned All-Pacific-10 honorable mention. Mathews missed almost half the season due to a broken hand but came back to earn Pac-10 Player of the Week honors; Ellsbury earned Freshman All-America from Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball.
"I think Aaron and Jacoby could play for anybody in the country," Casey said. "They're tremendous players. Above that, we're getting solid leadership out of those guys."
Continuing through the middle, OSU brings back a pair of experienced catchers in senior Paul Richie (.290, 0, 27) and sophomore Billy Munich (.235, 1, 3). At shortstop is senior Tony Calderon (.362, 4, 43) and at second base there's competition between a returning starter in sophomore Chris Kunda (.266, 5, 23) and freshman Chad Schroeder (.403 in 2003 high school).
"Tony Calderon showed us last season that he's got tremendous ability; he has to establish the fact that he wants to be the guy who takes charge in the infield," Casey said. "We've got two guys behind the plate with enough experience; Paul is a four-year guy here and Billy caught enough last year that he feels very confident back there."
Sophomore Shea McFeely (.441 in 2003 junior college) is likely to start at third; the transfer was the Northwest Athletic Association of Community Colleges Player of the Year last season. At first base, sophomore Scott Nelson (.261, 0, 5) is competing with freshman Mitch Canham (.430 in 2003 HS) and junior college transfer Andy Jenkins (.358, 4 HRs in 2003 JC), both of whom earned all-league first-team honors last season.
In left field, the battle is between senior Mike Hass, a transfer from Nevada who batted over .300 each of his first two seasons with the Wolfpack; junior Chris Campos (.365 in 2003 JC), an all-conference pick in junior college last season; and freshman Mike Lissman (.529, 10 HRs in 2003 HS), an all-state first-team pick in Oregon last spring.
"One of the keys is, we need a lefthanded bat to emerge," Casey said, noting the departures of Jarvis and Biles. "There's Campos, Hass and Canham, and all three of those guys are new in our program; we don't really know what to expect out of them."
While Casey is curious to find out who might contribute what, he believes the Beavers possess enough ability at the plate to win. And, as Casey noted, it's a group that he feels has the talent and the attitude to reach the NCAA Regionals.
"We've got three or four kids in our program who had an opportunity to sign professionally last year, and they chose to come back here," Casey said. "You feel, as a coaching staff, that indicates they like what's going on here and they have some goals they haven't achieved yet that they want to achieve."
Neither Utah nor Gonzaga has played so far this season going into the Coca-Cola Classic. Cal State-Northridge is 4-2; last weekend, the Matadors took two of three games at Hawai'i, winning 4-3, losing 11-0 and winning 8-1.
OREGON STATE LINEUP:
C - Paul Richie, sr.; Kelso, Wash. (Kelso HS); .290, 0 HRs, 27 RBIs in 2003 or - Billy Munich, so.; El Macero, Calif. (Jesuit HS); .235, 1 HR, 3 RBIs in 2003 1B - Scott Nelson, so.; Eugene, Ore. (North Eugene HS) .261, 0 HRs, 5 RBIs in 2003 or - Mitch Canham, fr.; Lake Stevens, Wash. (Lake Stevens HS) or - Andy Jenkins, jr.; Salem, Ore. (Mt. Hood CC) 2B - Chris Kunda, so.; Philomath, Ore. (Philomath HS); .266, 5 HRs, 23 RBIs in 2003 or - Chad Schroeder, fr.; Everett, Wash. (Cascade HS) 3B - Shea McFeely, so.; Federal Way, Wash. (Tacoma CC) SS - Tony Calderon, so.; Orange, Calif. (Santa Ana JC); .362, 4 HRs, 43 RBIs in 2003 LF - Mike Lissman, fr.; Ontario, Ore. (Ontario HS) or - Mike Hass, sr.; Redmond, Wash. (U. of Nevada) or - Chris Campos, jr.; Modesto, Calif. (Modesto JC) CF - Aaron Mathews, jr.; John Day, Ore. (Grant Union HS); .307, 3 HRs, 21 RBIs in 2003 RF - Jacoby Ellsbury, so.; Madras, Ore. (Madras HS); .330, 7 HRs, 33 RBIs in 2003 (Tentative pitching rotation) LHP - Jake Postlewait, sr.; Corvallis, Ore. (Corvallis HS); 4-0 record, 2.45 ERA in 2003 RHP - Ben Rowe, sr.; Perth, Australia (Greenwood HS); 3-6 record, 6.35 ERA in 2003 RHP - Andy Baldwin, so.; Hood River, Ore. (Hood River Valley HS); 3-1 record, 6.82 ERA in 2003
OREGON STATE ALL-TIME VS. THIS WEEK'S OPPONENTS: Oregon State has an all-time record of 4-1 against Utah in a series dating back to 1973 and the Beavers are on a 2-game win streak against the Utes. The last meeting came in 1996, when the Beavers won 7-0 at the Arthur Gallagher Classic in San Diego, Calif. In 1993 at the Spartan Classic in San Jose, Calif., Utah took a 7-3 win in the first meeting and OSU came back for a 5-1 win in the second meeting.
Oregon State has an all-time record of 56-27 against Gonzaga in a series dating back to 1919 and the Beavers are on a 1-game winning streak against the Bulldogs. Last season, OSU earned a 5-1 victory at the Coca-Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz.; a 3-game season-ending series set for Spokane was cancelled. In 2002, OSU won the first 2 games of a series in Corvallis by scores of 11-9 and 9-8 before the Bulldogs took the finale 8-3.
Oregon State has an all-time record of 8-9 against Cal State-Northridge in a series dating back to 1999 and the Beavers are on a 1-game losing streak against the Matadors. Last season at the Clash of the Conferences in Lancaster, Calif., OSU won the first meeting 10-6 and CSUN won the second 10-8.
OREGON STATE ALL-TIME ON OPENING DAY: The Beavers' all-time record in season-openers is 65-29, and OSU has won 11 of its last 17 on Opening Day. OSU has lost its last 4 openers, though, including last season's 9-6 loss at California-Riverside; OSU's last win on Opening Day was a 13-6 victory over Kansas State in Peoria, Ariz., to begin the 1999 season. This season's Feb. 13 date for Opening Day is the latest for the Beavers since they began the 1995 season on Feb. 22 with a 4-3 win over Western Oregon in Corvallis.
In home-openers, OSU has an all-time record of 75-19, with the Beavers winning 14 of their last 16 home-openers and 29 of their last 32.
FOUR BEAVERS AMONG TOP 50 IN THEIR YEAR: Oregon State has 4 players that Baseball America magazine ranks among the top 50 players among all those in their class year heading into the 2004 season.
Righthanded pitcher Ben Rowe is rated the 13th-best senior, lefthanded pitcher Jake Postlewait is rated the 40th-best senior, outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury is rated the 29th-best sophomore, and righthanded pitcher Dallas Buck is rated the 33rd-best freshman.
Rowe (Perth, Australia/Greenwood HS) was drafted in the 24th round by the Texas Rangers following the 2003 season but chose to return to Oregon State for his senior season. Rowe also had opportunities to sign with the Minnesota Twins while still in Australia; he is a two-time Pacific-10 All-Academic honorable mention selection.
Postlewait (Corvallis, Ore./Corvallis HS) was not drafted after last season but was approached by several professional teams about signing during an outstanding summer in the Alaska League. Despite missing almost three weeks of the season, he was an All-Pacific-10 first team selection after going 5-1 with a 3.43 earned run average.
Ellsbury (Madras, Ore./Madras HS) was a Freshman All-America selection by both Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball newspaper last season, when he batted .330 with seven home runs, 33 runs batted in and 14 stolen bases. Also an outstanding fielder, he had been drafted in the 23rd round by the Tampa Bay Devil Rays after his senior year of high school but chose to attend OSU.
Buck (Newberg, Ore./Newberg HS) had been rated the 46th-best prospect in the nation by Baseball America during his senior year of high school. He was drafted in the 19th round by the Pittsburgh Pirates but opted to attend OSU to play both baseball and football; as a defensive back and special teams player, he was the only true freshman to play for the Beavers last fall.
BEAVERS POST FIRST-EVERS AT SURPRISE STADIUM: When Oregon State visited last season's Coca-Cola Classic at Surprise, Ariz., on Feb. 14-16, the Beavers got to play the inaugural game at Surprise Stadium, which opened in 2003 as the spring training home of the Kansas City Royals and Texas Rangers. The Beavers got the first-ever victory at the park, shutting out Oklahoma State 4-0.
The Beavers' Jake Postlewait was the first winning pitcher at the new park and Jon Koller got the first save, combining on a 5-hitter. In the top of the first inning, Jacoby Ellsbury's single to leftfield was the first hit, Andy Jarvis' sacrifice fly to right was the first run batted in, and it scored Rob Recuenco with the first run. The next day, in a 5-1 win over Gonzaga, OSU's Seth Pietsch had the ballpark's first homer with a third-inning, 2-run drive over the leftfield wall.
THE LAST TIME IT HAPPENED: Here's the last time Oregon State players accomplished several notable feats, going into the 2004 season:
THREW A NO-HITTER: April 11, 1967; Cleve Benson, Eric Selberg and Jack Humphrey vs. Portland. OSU 11, Portland 0. (Individual - April 12, 1947; Fred Gallagher vs. Montana. OSU 1, Montana 0). WAS NO-HIT: March 27, 1994; Jack Gullard, Lewis-Clark State at Hawai'i Easter Tournament. Lewis-Clark State 1, OSU 0. THREW A ONE-HITTER: Feb. 18, 1999; B.R. Cook vs. Oklahoma State at San Diego State Tournament. OSU 5, Oklahoma State 0. THREW A SHUTOUT: May 8, 2003; Jake Postlewait, Ty Kline, Nathan Pendley and Andy Baldwin vs. George Fox. OSU 4, George Fox 0. (Individual - May 19, 2001; Scott Nicholson vs. Southern California. OSU 6, Southern California 0. HAD 10 OR MORE STRIKEOUTS BY A PITCHER: April 6, 2001; Thad Johnson vs. California; 14 strikeouts. OSU 6, California 5. HIT A GRAND SLAM: February 27, 2003; Kerisi Reynolds vs. Cal State- Northridge at Lancaster, Calif. OSU 10, Cal State-Northridge 6. HIT TWO HOMERS IN A GAME: March 11, 2001; Andy Jarvis vs. Washington State at Yakima, Wash. (hit 3 homers). Washington State 8, OSU 7. (March 30, 2003; Seth Pietsch hit 2 homers vs. California but one was ruled a single when he was called out for passing Andy Jarvis between first and second base). HIT THREE HOMERS IN A GAME: March 11, 2001; Andy Jarvis vs. Washington State at Yakima, Wash. Washington State 8, OSU 7. PINCH-HIT A HOME RUN: March 7, 2001; Jason McBride vs. Washington. OSU 17, Washington 3. HIT AN INSIDE-THE-PARK HOME RUN: April 18, 2000; Drew Hedges vs. Concordia. OSU 13, Concordia 5. HIT BACK-TO-BACK HOME RUNS: April 12, 2003; Aaron Mathews and Andy Jarvis vs. Washington State (incidentally, they came on the first pitch of each at-bat). OSU 11, Washington State 3. HIT BACK-TO-BACK-TO-BACK HOME RUNS: April 11, 2000; Brian Barden, Curtis Davis and Joe Gerber at Portland. OSU 13, Portland 5. HIT TWO TRIPLES IN A GAME: May 3, 1997; Abino Vazquez at Portland State. OSU 7, Portland State 5. HIT THREE DOUBLES IN A GAME: April 22, 2003; Paul Richie at Portland. OSU 14, Portland 4. HAD FIVE HITS IN A GAME: April 12, 2003; Aaron Mathews vs. Washington State. OSU 11, Washington State 3. HAD FOUR HITS IN A GAME: May 6, 2003; Andy Jarvis vs. Concordia. OSU 13, Concordia 2. (Jacoby Ellsbury had 4 hits in a game that began April 1, 2003 and was completed May 21 after being suspended by rain. OSU 18, Portland 6). DROVE IN SIX RUNS IN A GAME: February 21, 2003; Andy Jarvis vs. New Mexico (had 7 RBIs) at El Paso, Tex. OSU 18, New Mexico 16. DROVE IN FIVE RUNS IN A GAME: May 6, 2003; Chris Biles vs. Concordia. OSU 13, Concordia 2. SCORED FIVE RUNS IN A GAME: March 5, 2000; Brian Barden at Washington. OSU 27, Washington 4. SCORED FOUR RUNS IN A GAME: April 1-May 21, 2003; Jacoby Ellsbury at Portland (game was suspended due to rain April 1, completed May 21). OSU 18, Portland 6. STOLE FOUR BASES IN A GAME: April 11, 1991; David Anderson vs. Willamette. OSU 8, Willamette 0. STOLE THREE BASES IN A GAME: Feb. 4, 2001; Kerisi Reynolds at Cal State-Northridge. Cal State-Northridge 20, Oregon State 10. HAD FIVE WALKS IN A GAME: May 21, 1970; Bob Beall vs. UCLA. UCLA 7, OSU 2. HAD FOUR WALKS IN A GAME: March 8, 2003; Andy Jarvis at Portland. OSU 13, Portland 6. TURNED A TRIPLE PLAY: April 4, 2000; Joe Gerber and Will Hudson vs. Portland (line drive to 1B Gerber for 1 out; Gerber steps on first base before runner returns for 2 out; Gerber throw to SS Hudson covering second base before runner returns for 3 out).
OREGON STATE'S SCHEDULE: Oregon State plays one of the nation's most challenging schedules, as the Beavers will face 4 teams ranked in the USA Today/ESPN national coaches poll of Feb. 9: No. 4 Stanford (3 games), No. 7 Arizona State (3 games), No. 17 Arizona (3 games) and No. 21 Southern California (3 games). OSU will play another 4 teams who received votes in the poll but did not crack the top 25: Washington (6 games), California (3 games), Southwest Missouri State (1 game) and California-Riverside (1 game).
RAIN ON THE ROAD: If the recent trend continues, Oregon State will have better weather luck at home than it does on the road.
Since the start of the 1997 season, the Beavers have had 34 games either cancelled or rescheduled due to rain. Of those, only 12 have been games at OSU's Goss Stadium at Coleman Field; 15 were at ballparks in California, Nevada, Hawai'i, Texas or Florida. Another 7 were at ballparks elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.
OSU has lost just 3 home games to rain during that time, while having 11 games cancelled at sites outside the region and 3 called off at other Pacific Northwest ballparks. The Beavers have postponed 8 home games, 4 games at sites outside the region and 5 at other Pacific Northwest ballparks.
OREGON STATE HEAD COACH Pat Casey: Pat Casey, now in his 10th season at OSU, celebrated the 400th victory of his head coaching career on April 14, 2002 when the Beavers completed an 11-9 win over Hawai'i-Hilo. Casey's career record is 435-316-5, which includes 7 years at George Fox in Newberg, for a winning percentage of .578.
Casey has a record of 264-203-4 with the Beavers for a winning percentage of .565. Of the 19 head coaches in OSU baseball history, only Ralph Coleman (1923-28, 1930-31, 1938-66) and Jack Riley (1973-94) have coached more wins for the Beavers.
Casey was named the Pacific-10 Northern Division Coach of the Year in 1997 after leading the Beavers to a 38-12-1 mark, a school record for wins in a regular season. During Casey's time at OSU, 19 Beavers have been drafted by Major League Baseball teams and 4 more players have signed as free agents.
Casey came to OSU from his alma mater, George Fox, after leading the Bruins to a 171-113-1 record and winning 3 NAIA District 2 titles at the school in Newberg, Ore.
OREGON STATE'S ALL-TIME RECORD: Oregon State's all-time record in varsity baseball is now 1,747-1,216-15, a winning percentage of .589. OSU's all-time record in conference games is now 777-577, a winning percentage of .573.
To break the numbers down a step further, since starting varsity baseball in 1907, the Beavers have scored 19,495 runs and allowed 15,149 runs. That's an average score of 6.55-5.09.
GOSS STADIUM AT COLEMAN FIELD: Oregon State has been playing on the same site since starting varsity baseball in 1907, making Goss Stadium at Coleman Field the oldest diamond in the Pacific-10 and one of the oldest in the country.
In 94 seasons at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field, the Beavers are 910-399-1 at home for a winning percentage of .695. Last season, OSU was 9-12 at home. Since the start of the 1993 season, OSU is 160-70 at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field for a winning percentage of .696.
Oregon State's ballpark made its first venture into night baseball in 2002 with the addition of its first-ever set of lights. The first night game saw OSU beat fourth-ranked Stanford 4-1 on April 27.
Goss Stadium was added to Coleman Field over the winter of 1998-99. The ballpark holds 2,000 fans, with the main grandstand seating 1,500 of those. The structure includes a press box, concession/lobby area, dugouts, locker rooms, restrooms and storage areas.
The playing surface has been completely rebuilt recently, with the infield undergoing renovation in 1996 and the outfield in 1998.
TICKET INFORMATION: Season tickets for Oregon State baseball are $100, which entitles the ticketholder to the same reserved seat for all 21 OSU home games in 2004. For OSU faculty and staff, and for senior citizens age 62 and over, season tickets are $80.
There is also a Family Plan available for the 2004 season. The Family Plan admits up to 2 adults and up to 4 students through high school to all 21 home games. The cost is $20 per adult and $10 per child, and a family must purchase the tickets for all its members at the same time.
Individual game tickets for Oregon State baseball are sold on a general admission basis and cost $5 for adults and $3 for seniors age 62 and over and children through high school.
There is a team/group rate of $2 per person, but those interested in using that plan must call the OSU athletic ticket office at 1-800-GO BEAVS at least 2 days prior to the game to arrange for those tickets.
For more information, call the OSU athletic ticket office at 1-800-GO BEAVS or visit the OSU athletics website at www.osubeavers.com
OREGON STATE DUGOUT CLUB: The Oregon State Dugout Club is an organization devoted to supporting Beaver Baseball. The group is open to the general public; dues are $75 per year.
Also, anyone entering the OSU Dugout Club Golf Tournament automatically gains membership. This year's tournament will be held this summer at Tokatee Golf Club in Blue River.
For more information on the OSU Dugout Club, call (541) 737-2825.
OREGON STATE RADIO BROADCASTS: Oregon State baseball will again be broadcast this season, with most of the Beavers' schedule heard on KEJO-AM (1240) and via the internet at www.osubeavers.com. Mike Parker, the voice of the Beavers, handled play-by-play duties with assistance from John Warren and Kip Carlson. The broadcast schedule begins with the start of Pacific-10 play on March 26 at California; selected games may be broadcast over the internet prior to that time.
TELEVISION BRINGS OUT BEST IN BEAVERS: Oregon State's home game against Arizona on April 2 will be televised by Fox Sports Net on a tape-delayed basis, shown either April 3 or 4. Prior to 2003, Oregon State had played on national cable television each of the last 5 seasons, and the Beavers have gone 3-2 in those games, including a 3-0 mark at home. Since Fox Sports Net (formerly Prime Sports) began televising games in 1990, Oregon State has a 29-15 record in televised games, including 8-3 in national TV games.