OSU's road to Omaha now truly begins

THE BASEBALL POSTSEASON gets underway for No. 3 Oregon State (45-10) on Friday, with a 5 p.m. start against University of Texas-San Antonio (35-23). The format for the regional is double elimination and while Oregon State will be a heavy favorite to advance, it only takes one game, one hot pitcher, one team whose bats suddenly heat up, to put a losing team on the brink of elimination.

Oregon State is the Corvallis Regional's No. 1 seed, followed by Texas A&M (2), UC-Santa Barbara (3) and UTSA (4).

If OSU comes through the regional, they will again play host in the Super Regional round, this time playing the winner of the Manhattan Regional -- which features Kansas State, Arkansas, Bryant and Wichita State. K-State is the host and the favorite there.

A win in the Super Regional, which is best 2-of-3, would then mean a trip to Omaha for the College World Series. The format there is eight teams, double elimination until the final, which is then best 2-of-3.

But first things first. Oregon State has UTSA (35-23) on deck for tonight.

The Roadrunners, the champions of the Western Athletic Conference tournament, haven't played in an NCAA regional in eight years.

But UTSA has won seven in a row and 10 of 11 overall, including four straight to capture the WAC crown and the tourney berth.

The Beavs enter the postseason with a microscopic 2.15 ERA.

Oregon State will give the ball to Matt Boyd tonight. Boyd is 10-3 on the season with a 2.09 ERA (5-0, 1.35 at home). Boyd turned down a MLB contract last year after being drafted in Round 13 by the Cincinnati Reds.

Boyd has a good fastball but it's his other pitches and control that have him rising on MLB draft boards again this year. He has just 24 walks in 107 2/3 innings.

Boyd (third-team) and fellow pitcher Andrew Moore (second-team) were named Louisville Slugger All-America this week.

Brock Hartson was expected to start against the Beavs but citing his recent heavy workload, UTSA skipper Jason Marshall says he'll go with true freshman Nolan Trabanino (4-3, 4.57) instead. It's worth noting also that closer Matt Sims has been solid down the stretch.

UTSA infielder R.J. Perucki was the WAC's top hitter on the conference's top hitting team with a .354 batting average, 43 runs, 75 hits, 10 home runs and 116 total bases.

Catcher John Bormann (.470) led UTSA in hitting during the tournament, followed by Warren (.444).

Speaking of catchers, there probably won't be a lot of baserunners trying to steal on Friday night. OSU's Jake Rodriguez and UTSA's Bormann rank 1-2 nationally in throwing out baserunners attempting to steal.

Rodriguez has thrown out 63.3 percent, with Bormann at 60.8 percent.

Oregon State, the Pac-12 champs, enter the postseason having won 16 of 18 games and they've done it with pitching. Oregon State has the second-best ERA in the nation and have multiple, elite-level starters to work with in the postseason.

The Beaver defense has also been solid and their ability to score runs has been boosted by the late season surges of two players in particular -- Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis.

Conforto was named the Pac-12 player of the Year this week. All Davis did was lead the Pac-12 in RBIs during the regular season.

Conforto has a .332 average, with nine homers and 42 RBIs, while Davis actually leads the team in hitting with a .344 mark, four homers and 53 RBIs.

NOTABLE NOTES:
  • The winner of Friday's game plays at 5 p.m. Saturday against the winner of the game between Texas A&M and UC Santa Barbara.

  • The winner of that game plays at 5 p.m. Sunday. If OSU wins all three of these games, it's over and they move on. If the eventual champion loses one game, the regional will wrap up with the championship game Monday.

  • The losers bracket games will start at noon on Saturday.


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