Play Ball!

Jan. 29, 2001

FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 2

Oregon State at Cal State-Northridge, 2:30 p.m.

SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 3

Oregon State at Cal State-Northridge, 1 p.m.

SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 4

Oregon State at Cal State-Northridge, 1 p.m.

RADIO: KLOO-AM (1340).

Oregon State is looking at 2001 as an opportunity to continue what it started in 2000.

The Beavers feel the pieces are in place to give them not just another winning season, but also a strong chance at an NCAA Tournament berth. OSU returns 16 lettermen - including 12 starters - from a team that carried postseason hopes into the final weekend last season.

Many of the key components are proven players at the Division I level. Starters Scott Nicholson and Thad Johnson give the Beavers a tough lefty-righty combination around which to build a pitching staff, preseason third team All-America third baseman Brian Barden anchors an infield that returns four of five starters, and Eric Stark and Josh Carter put a pair of .300 hitters back in the outfield.

The Beavers open their 92nd varsity season this weekend with a three-game series at Cal State-Northridge (3-1).

OSU's home-opener is Feb. 27 against Portland. That starts a slate of 25 games at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field, including Pacific-10 series against Southern California, Arizona State, California and Washington State and non-league series against Minnesota, San Francisco, Washington and Gonzaga.

OSU will be out to make it a memorable season at the ballpark for Beaver fans.

'We have the potential to be a pretty good club,' Oregon State head coach Pat Casey said. 'But that doesn't mean much unless you play up to your potential. So far, we feel good about how we played and what we got done during the fall, and we feel good about having a lot of starters back.'

The Beavers have put forth the effort necessary to turn potential into performance.

'This team made a big commitment to our strength and conditioning program and to our overall program goals,' said Casey, now in his seventh season at OSU. 'This group worked as hard as any I've coached through the first half of the year.'

Nicholson (8-7 record, 4.72 ERA in 2000) was drafted by the Texas Rangers following the 2000 season but the lefty chose to return to Oregon State for his senior season. As a junior, he pitched a 7-hitter to beat No. 4 Arizona State and a 5-hitter to top No. 5 Stanford.

Johnson (5-5, 4.96) may have been OSU's most dominant pitcher in the middle of the season. Among the senior righthander's losses was a 1-0, 3-hitter at No. 4 Arizona State in which the only run was unearned.

'That's a great start to a rotation,' Casey said of Nicholson and Johnson. 'Those two guys have a chance to really set the tone for us for a weekend.'

Possibilities for the third spot in the rotation are sophomore righthanders Stephen Copeland (3-0, 6.43) and Chris Wilkins and sophomore lefty Mark McLemore. Both Wilkins and McLemore are coming off strong summer seasons, Copeland had a terrific autumn as a pitcher and second baseman.

Roles in OSU's bullpen will be sorted out as the season progresses. Senior righthander Corky Wray, junior lefty Craig Hays, sophomore lefty Jed Mitchell, junior college transfer righthander Paul Williams and freshman lefthanders Jake Postlewait and Jake Quiring are looking to fill those roles.

'That's an area where some guys have shown they're capable,' Casey said. 'Now they have to show it in a game situation.'

Barden (.370 batting average, 8 home runs, 49 runs batted in in 2000), a sophomore, was named to the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association preseason All-America third team. In 2000, he was named to Collegiate Baseball's Freshman All-America team.

Other returning starters in the infield are senior second baseman Zach Gordon (.222, 11, 32), junior catcher Bryan Ingram (.288, 1, 16) and sophomore shortstop Will Hudson (.258, 0, 18). Sophomore Andy Jarvis (.339, 4, 32) takes over first base after spending last season as a designated hitter. Freshmen Kerisi Reynolds and Paul Richie may also contribute.

'We should be very solid defensively,' Casey said of the infield. 'We felt Brian, Will and Zach were one of the top infields in the Pac-10 last spring, and hopefully they'll build on that this season. And Bryan Ingram keeps getting better behind the plate, we'll really look to him to be one of our leaders.'

Stark (.305, 4, 23), a senior, is a solid defensive centerfielder who has worked himself into becoming more of an offensive threat. In right, junior Josh Carter (.313, 4, 34) proved capable with the glove last season after making the move from third base.

Those two will be joined in leftfield by sophomore Chris Biles (.397, 2, 17) or freshman Levi Webber, who opted to attend OSU after being drafted by the Florida Marlins.

'That's an outfield that could help us out quite a bit offensively,' Casey said. 'And that doesn't come at the expense of defense. They could be pretty good with the gloves.'

Biles, Webber and senior Curtis Davis (.270, 3, 12) will be the designated hitters.

'We should be able to more things offensively than we were able to a year ago,' Casey said. 'We've added more versatility to our lineup. We handle the bat better. We're looking to cut down on our number of strikeouts.

'The key - in all facets of the game - will be to execute, to do the little things that win games. Do that, and it could be a good year.'

Cal State-Northridge opened its season last weekend with a four-game series against Washington State. The Matadors took wins of 7-2 and 4-3, WSU took the third game 11-4, and Cal State-Northridge captured the finale 6-4. The Matadors play at Loyola Marymount on Tuesday before playing Oregon State.

Oregon State's pitching rotation for the weekend is set with Johnson on Friday, Nicholson on Saturday and Copeland on Sunday. Cal State-Northridge's probable starters are sophomore lefthander Bill Murphy (1-0, 0.00) on Friday, senior lefthander Craig Mosher (0-1, 15.43) on Saturday and sophomore righthander Kameron Loe (0-0, 5.79) on Sunday.

In their season-opening series against Washington State, the Matadors were led by sophomore outfielder Adam Nikolic (.692, 0, 1), junior shortstop J.T. Stotts (.412, 2, 3), junior second baseman Jason Gorman (.385, 0, 1) and sophomore outfielder Eric Verbryke (.375, 0, 3).

OREGON STATE LINEUP:

(2000 season stats for returning players)

C-Bryan Ingram, jr., Everett, Wash. (Cascade HS), .288, 1 HR, 16 RBIs

1B-Andy Jarvis, so., Renton, Wash. (Liberty HS), .339, 4 HRs, 32 RBIs

2B-Zach Gordon, sr., Simi Valley, Calif. (Moorpark JC), .222, 11 HRs, 32 RBIs

3B-Brian Barden, so., Bonita, Calif. (St. Augustine HS), .370, 8 HRs, 49 RBIs

SS-Will Hudson, so., Fountain Valley, Calif. (Fountain Valley HS), .258, 0 HRs, 18 RBIs

LF-Chris Biles, so., Tigard, Ore. (Tigard HS), .397, 2 HRs, 17 RBIs

or-Levi Webber, fr., Glide, Ore. (Glide HS)

CF-Eric Stark, sr., Sumner, Wash. (Sumner HS), .305, 4 HRs, 23 RBIs

RF-Josh Carter, jr., Fallbrook, Calif. (Fallbrook HS), .313, 4 HRs, 34 RBIs

DH-Curtis Davis, sr., Corvallis, Ore. (Corvallis HS), .270, 3 HRs, 12 RBIs

or-Chris Biles, so., Tigard, Ore. (Tigard HS), .397, 2 HRs, 17 RBIs

or-Levi Webber, fr., Glide, Ore. (Glide HS)

(Tentative starting pitching rotation)

RHP-Thad Johnson, sr., Santa Rosa, Calif. (Santa Rosa JC), 5-5, 4.96 ERA

LHP-Scott Nicholson, sr., Longview, Wash. (Lower Columbia CC), 8-7, 4.72 ERA

RHP-Stephen Copeland, so., Keizer, Ore. (McNary HS), 3-0, 6.43 ERA

ALL-TIME VS. THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT: Oregon State has an all-time record of 6-3 against Cal State-Northridge in a series dating back to 1999. The Beavers won 4 of 5 meetings last year. In 2000, OSU won a wild 13-10 game in the Nevada-Las Vegas/Coors Desert Classic on Feb. 27, the teams then met in Corvallis from March 24-26 with OSU winning 10-9, losing 9-7, and finishing the series with wins of 9-3 and 11-8.

The last time the teams met in Northridge was in 1999 and they split a 4-game series. Cal State-Northridge won the opener 16-4, the Beavers then won 9-1 and 8-4, and the Matadors closed the series with an 8-4 victory.

2000 IN REVIEW: Oregon State (28-27 overall, 9-15 Pacific-10) got its baseball fortunes headed in the right direction once again during the 2000 season. With over 20 first-year players on the roster, not much was expected of Beavers in the preseason, however, OSU carried postseason hopes into the final weekend of the spring before settling for a winning season and sixth place in the Pacific-10.

'This group of guys did some terrific things this spring,' OSU head coach Pat Casey said at season's end. 'We had a lot of players who had to adapt to Division I baseball in a hurry, and they did a pretty good job of it.'

The Beavers played what may have been the toughest schedule in OSU's 91 seasons of varsity baseball, and the young squad turned in the school's seventh winning season in the last eight years. Picked last in a preseason poll of Pacific-10 coaches, the Beavers jumped up to a sixth-place finish.

'That shows a lot about the type of competitors this team had,' Casey said. 'They saw that they were picked to finish last in the conference, and instead of letting it get to them, they took it as a challenge. This bunch was determined to accomplish more than people thought they were capable of, and they did.'

After winning 3 straight Pacific-10 series in April over Arizona, California and Washington, the Beavers were able to set their sights even higher. After taking 1 of 3 games from third-ranked Stanford at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field in early May, OSU was aiming for a postseason berth.

'That's something not many people would have thought possible for this group back in February,' Casey said. 'But they kept working, they kept improving, and they got themselves in position to really shock some people.'

OSU spent the final 2 weekends on the road, starting with a 3-game sweep at the hands of a Southern California team that was bound for the College World Series. That left Oregon State needing to take all 3 games of a season-ending series at Washington State to entertain any postseason hopes, the Beavers lost the first contest in 11 innings to end their run toward the tournament.

'We were disappointed with losing some of those games toward the end of the season, and those losses really hurt at the time,' Casey said. 'But they don't diminish what this group was able to accomplish this year. When they look back on this season, they should take a lot of satisfaction in what they were able to do.

'And, just as importantly, the guys who are coming back next season can see just how capable they are of competing at this level. We finished the season with 6 freshmen on the field, and we had one of the best groups of freshmen in the Pacific-10. By the end of the year, they belonged on the field with anybody we played. Those young guys can't sit back and think they've arrived, though - they've got to keep working and improving to remain competitive in this conference.'

HEAD COACH PAT CASEY: Pat Casey is in his seventh season as Oregon State's head baseball coach. Casey has a record of 177-128-4 with the Beavers for a winning percentage of .579. His career record is 348-241-5, which includes 7 years at George Fox University in Newberg, for a winning percentage of .590.

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.

ALL-AMERICA CANDIDATE BRIAN BARDEN: Sophomore third baseman Brian Barden (Bonita, Calif./St. Augustine HS) has already begun picking up honors in 2001, having been named to the Preseason All-America third team by the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association. In 2000, Barden was named to Collegiate Baseball newspaper's Freshman All-America team.

Barden was a key to Oregon State's improvement in 2000. After missing 6 games with a hip injury in late March, Barden settled in to hit .370 with 8 homers, 2 triples, 13 doubles and 49 RBIs.

At the end of the regular season, Barden was among the Pacific-10 leaders in batting average (seventh, .370).

Barden contributed not only at the plate, but also in the field as he had just 7 errors, fielding at a .949 clip. Barden teamed with another true freshman, shortstop Will Hudson, to make the left side of the Beaver infield one of the best in the Pac-10 defensively.

JOHNSON AND NICHOLSON TOUGH PITCHING COMBO: Senior righthander Thad Johnson (Santa Rosa, Calif./Santa Rosa JC) and senior lefthander Scott Nicholson (Longview, Wash./Lower Columbia CC) are looking to build on their 2000 success, when they established themselves as one of the top pitching combinations in the region.

In the final 8 weeks of the 2000 season, they combined for a 7-8 record but had a 4.74 earned run average and 9 complete games. During that time, the duo averaged over 7.2 innings, 7.8 hits, 2.6 walks and 4.8 strikeouts. One of the losses was Johnson's 3-hitter in a 1-0 loss at then-No. 4 Arizona State.

On April 7-8 at fourth-ranked ASU, Johnson and Nicholson turned in one of OSU's top back-to-back pitching efforts in recent memory. ASU entered the games ranked first nationally in scoring (11.25 runs per game) and second in team batting average (.346), Johnson and Nicholson limited the Sun Devils to just 4 runs (2 earned) on 10 hits in a pair of complete games.

PACIFIC-10 COACHES POLL: When the Pacific-10's baseball coaches voted on a predicted order of finish for the 2001 conference race, Oregon State was tabbed for seventh place. However, only 4 points separated the fourth- through seventh-place selections. Results of the balloting:

Place/School	(First-place votes) Pts.1. Southern California  (6) 522. Arizona State	(1) 493. Stanford        	(1) 374. Arizona        	315. California        	306. UCLA           	297. Oregon State  	278. Washington   	159. Washington State	8

BASEBALL AMERICA PICKS: Baseball America magazine tabbed Oregon State for a seventh-place finish in the Pacific-10, and ranked the Beavers at No. 75 on its list of the top teams among the 281 Division I programs.

In its 'Best Tools' listings, Baseball America rated OSU's Bryan Ingram as the conference's Best Defensive Catcher and Brian Barden as the Pac-10's Best Defensive Third Baseman.

COLLEGIATE BASEBALL PICKS: Collegiate Baseball newspaper picked Oregon State to finish seventh in the Pacific-10. Collegiate Baseball's list of Players to Watch in the conference included OSU pitcher Scott Nicholson, first baseman Andy Jarvis and third baseman Brian Barden.

BEAVERS FACE TOP-FLIGHT SCHEDULE: Oregon State again faces one of the nation's most challenging schedules. The Beavers have 13 games against teams ranked in the top 25 of the USA Today preseason coaches poll, facing No. 3 Southern California (3 games), No. 5 Clemson (3 games), No. 6 Arizona State (3 games), No. 9 Stanford (3 games), and No. 19 Oklahoma. OSU has 13 more games against teams that received votes in the poll but didn't make the top 25: Minnesota (3 games), UCLA (3 games), Texas Tech, Arizona (3 games) and California (3 games).

BEAVERS TOUGH ON OPENING DAY: Oregon State has a remarkable record in both Opening Day contests and home openers. OSU has an all-time record of 65-26 on Opening Day, last year's 7-6 loss to Kansas State in Albuquerque snapped a string of 6 straight OSU wins in season-openers. The Beavers have still won 11 of their last 14 on Opening Day.

Incidentally, this year's Feb. 2 date is the earliest ever for an OSU baseball game, edging the Feb. 4 date of the Beavers' 2000 opener.

The Beavers begin their slate of 25 games at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field on Feb. 27 against Portland, OSU's all-time record in home-openers is 73-18.

ALL-TIME RECORD: Oregon State's all-time record in varsity baseball is now 1,660-1,141-15, a winning percentage of .592. OSU's all-time record in conference games is now 749-533, a winning percentage of .584.

To break the numbers down a step further, since starting varsity baseball in 1907, the Beavers have scored 18,429 runs and allowed 14,064 runs. That's an average score of 6.54-4.99.

In its 91 seasons of varsity baseball, OSU has had 68 winning seasons, the Beavers finished at .500 another 4 seasons. The Beavers have won 20 pennants through the years. Oregon State began fielding a varsity baseball team in 1907 and has failed to field a team only 3 times since then - in 1917 due to World War I and in 1944 and 1945 due to World War II.

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 91 seasons at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field, the Beavers are 865-371-1 all-time at home for a winning percentage of .700. Oregon State was 13-10 at home in 2000. Since the start of the 1993 season, OSU is 114-42 at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field for a winning percentage of .731.

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.

TELEVISION BRINGS OUT BEST IN BEAVERS: Oregon State will have several games televised this spring by Fox Sports Net, however, the TV schedule for 2001 has yet to be announced.

Oregon State has played on national cable television each of the last 3 seasons, and the Beavers were 3-0 in those games. In 2000, OSU beat third-ranked Stanford 5-2 in Corvallis. In 1999, OSU dedicated Goss Stadium at Coleman Field by beating California 11-5. In 1998, the Beavers beat Arizona 3-2 in a game marking the first visit to Corvallis by a Southern Division team in 27 years.

Since Fox Sports Net (formerly Prime Sports) began televising games in 1990, Oregon State has a 27-13 record in televised games, including 8-1 in national TV games.

OREGON STATE RADIO BROADCASTS: Oregon State baseball will again be broadcast this spring on KLOO-AM (1340) in Corvallis, with almost the entire Beaver schedule on the air. Some games may be pre-empted due to programming conflicts. Mike Parker, the voice of the Beavers, handled play-by-play duties along with John Warren and Kip Carlson. This weekend at Cal State-Northridge, the final game of the series will be broadcast.

OREGON STATE DUGOUT CLUB: The Oregon State Dugout Club is an organization devoted to the support of 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 club membership. This year's tournament will be held on a date to be announced at Tokatee Golf Club in Blue River.

Over the past several seasons, projects financed by the OSU Dugout Club include batting cages at Coleman Field, helping finance trips that upgrade the quality of the Beavers' non-league schedule, and carpeting the baseball locker room in Gill Coliseum. For more information on the OSU Dugout Club, call (541) 737-2825.

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