OMAHA, Neb. -- In case anyone has forgotten, the Oregon State Beavers are still here.
Been awhile since their last sighting. When last viewed, they were mashing LSU 13-1 on Monday. By the time they play the Tigers again Friday afternoon, we will have seen the NBA draft, the first day of summer and half the field eliminated from the College World Series.
“Three days off is kind of a long time,” coach Pat Casey was saying Thursday after practice. “It’s also nice.”
Perhaps a quick Oregon State review is in order. Though it has probably not slipped anyone’s minds around here that the Beavers . . .
Have outscored seven NCAA Tournament opponents 63-15. That’s nine runs a game from a team most renowned for its pitching.
Have a bullpen that has yet to allow a postseason earned run. Its June line: 16 innings, one unearned run, 10 hits, 17 strikeouts.
Have a pitching staff whose earned run average is at a ridiculous 1.84, while limiting opponents to a .195 batting average for the season and .125 in Omaha.
Have gotten four postseason home runs from KJ Harrison, including the first CWS grand slam in seven years.
Those guys, remember? When last seen, Oregon State seemed to be like an orange cement truck thundering downhill, with LSU in the way. Scary to think what might happen with a fully rested pitching staff added to that.
“Some people will argue there’s momentum in the game and others won’t,” Oregon State pitching coach Nate Yeskie said “Anytime you can have rest, too, those are two things you’d like to have in your corner. I feel pretty good about being able to stay in our routine.”
OK, so what’s a team do with three off days in Omaha?
Tour Boys Town on Tuesday.
Go to the zoo on Wednesday. “The penguins, without a doubt. I’m a penguin guy,” outfielder Jack Anderson said of his favorite animal.
Yeskie is partial to the gorillas. Casey stayed back at the hotel. “I told them I go to the zoo every day. Why would I want to make another trip? The animals are just different.”
Ah, the good humor of a 56-4 team in the winner’s bracket.
Some of the Beavers have dropped in on other CWS games. Anderson again, “It was cool just to be a fan, be able to go in the outfield and have some fun with the beach balls.”
And they practice each day. Thursday morning’s session on Creighton’s campus was apparently not so hot, which is what Casey had to say when he gathered his flock around him afterward.
“We could have done a little better job on some detail work today, so we talked about that. But I think at this time of year, if you’re trying to inspire guys it might be a little late. They know what they need to do.”
LSU might not have a 17-game winning streak anymore, but the Tigers are still a 50-victory team. They wanted a rematch and now they have it. And it'd be hard to imagine another 13-1 game.
Casey: “LSU, I’ll say what I said the first time, they have as much talent as anybody here, extremely well coached, extremely gifted group of guys that play the game hard, play the game right.”
One thing the Oregon State Beavers have not done with their days off: Spend too much time admiring the numbers they are stacking up, which are beginning to have an historical feel to them. There’ll be time for that later. Maybe.
“I think we’re in the middle of it right now,” Yeskie said. “It’s just one foot in front of the other.”
Whether it’s walking around the zoo, Boys Town or, Thursday morning, back to the bus to return to the hotel, where the hottest team in town had to wait yet one more day to play.