Beavers' Goal Is Postseason

Feb. 3, 2003

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FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7Oregon State at California-Riverside, 3 p.m.SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 8Oregon State at California-Riverside, 1 p.m.SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 9Oregon State at California-Riverside, 1 p.m.

Some things change, some don't.

Oregon State has made steady progress over the last three baseball seasons, improving its winning percentage each spring. What's remained the same for the Beavers from year to year is the goal:

The NCAA Regionals.

The Beavers begin their 94th season of varsity baseball this weekend with a series at California-Riverside (3-0, 0-0 Big West), and the 2003 team brings back a wealth of experience on the mound and in the outfield. OSU also has the talent on hand to add a strong infield to that mix.

Put the pieces in place, play the game properly, and Oregon State will again be in position to challenge for a place in the postseason. The Beavers have already picked up votes in the Sports Weekly/ESPN national coaches poll; OSU's 10 points in the balloting were good for 43rd place in the preseason ranking.

'We're right there,' OSU head coach Pat Casey said. 'We've been in contention the past few years, and each year we know a little more about what it takes to reach that goal. We've got a lot of people who have been learning some lessons that you only get by going through those situations.

'We have to perform at a high level from the start of the season, then build on that as we go along. That's not an easy thing to do, but this team is capable of doing it. You look around this group, and there are a lot of things to like about this team.'

Oregon State brings back its top two starting pitchers - senior righthander Stephen Copeland and junior righthander Ben Rowe. Copeland had a 5-3 record with a 5.49 earned run average (4.44 in Pac-10 games) last season, his second as a starter; Rowe was 7-5 with a 5.71 ERA and earned Pacific-10 Player of the Week honors for tossing a four-hitter at fourth-ranked Stanford.

'That's a great start to a weekend rotation,' Casey said. 'Those two are going to go out and keep you in ballgames on a consistent basis. They'll give you a chance to win.'

OSU also returns most of a bullpen that was one of the Beavers' strengths last season.

Junior lefthander Jake Postlewait led the Pac-10 with 30 regular season appearances last season, going 1-2 with one save and a 5.45 ERA; junior righthander Jared Sanders filled the closer role with a Pac-10-leading nine saves, a 3.23 ERA and All-Pac-10 honorable mention; and sophomore righthander Mike Ekstrom was outstanding in long relief en route to a 1-0 record with two saves and a 4.74 ERA. Righthander Ty Kline, who was 6-1 with two saves and a 3.68 ERA last season, hopes to regain his eligibility in late March; he was honorable mention All-Pac-10 in 2002.

The Beavers were bolstered over the holiday break by a potential contributor - sophomore righthander Jon Koller, a transfer from Califoria-Irvine. Last season, Koller was 4-2 with two saves and a 3.85 ERA and earned Freshman All-America honorable mention from Collegiate Baseball newspaper.

'That bunch did a terrific job for us last season,' Casey said. 'Now they come back with more experience at this level; they know what it's like to pitch in the Pac-10 and they've had some success in big situations. One of those guys could be our third starter on weekends, and the rest are the core for another strong bullpen. Plus, we've got a number of other guys who came in last fall and showed they should be able to give us good innings as starters or relievers.'

Senior lefthander Noel Clark sat out last season recovering from injury, sophomore righthander Kenny Anderson saw limited action, and freshmen righthanders Andy Baldwin and John Dailey redshirted last season. Getting their first look at Division I competition will be transfer lefthander Nathan Pendley and freshman righthander Kurt Steele.

Behind the plate, junior Paul Richie returns after adusting to the starting role last season; he'll be pushed by senior Ian McMullen and freshman Billy Munich.

'We've got some options at catcher,' Casey said. 'We have a nice blend of hitting and defense back there.'

The only returning starter in the infield is senior first baseman Andy Jarvis, who batted .335 with 11 home runs and 44 runs batted in last season to earn All-Pac-10 honorable mention; he's already among OSU's career leaders in homers, doubles, RBIs and total bases. Juniors Levi Webber and Jake Quiring are also possibilities, with Webber having batted .321 with three homers last season and Quiring moving from pitcher.

'We've got a couple of people in that spot who can give us some power,' Casey said. 'And right now, that's where our experience in the infield lies.'

At the other three infield positions, the Beavers are trying combinations of newcomers. Highly-regarded junior transfer Tony Calderon could play third base or shortstop; sophomore transfer Rob Recuenco could play shortstop or second base; freshman Mark Jackson could play short; and freshman Chris Kunda could play second.

'Some things will have to sort themselves out,' Casey said. 'We've seen plenty of ability from all of those guys; they can play at this level. It's going to be a matter of who steps up and plays at a high level consistently.'

Experience abounds in the outfield, though. Sophomore centerfielder Aaron Mathews batted .338 with two homers, 26 RBIs and 10 stolen bases last season, earning Freshman All-America honorable mention from Collegiate Baseball; junior leftfielder Seth Pietsch batted .307 with eight homers and 34 RBIs, leading the Pac-10 in regular-season doubles with 24 and earning all-conference honorable mention; and senior rightfielder Chris Biles batted .291 with six homers but is looking to regain the form that made him an All-West Region pick in 2001.

'That's going to be one of our strengths, both offensively and defensively,' Casey said, recalling a number of outstanding plays turned in by Pietsch and Mathews. 'And we're going to have some competition out there, too. We'll be able to play to some situations out there.'

Webber could also play the outfield, and junior Kerisi Reynolds moves to the position after spending his first two seasons as an infielder and showing a strong bat. Freshman Jacoby Ellsbury is also likely to get playing time.

'We've got the tools,' Casey said of the 2003 Beavers. 'But we've got to go out every day and use them. This team can be a very good one, but we've got to go out there every day and play the game the way it's supposed to be played.'

OREGON STATE LINEUP, PITCHING ROTATION:(2002 statistics for returning players)

C - Paul Richie, jr.; Kelso, Wash. (Kelso HS);.240, 1 HR, 18 RBIsor - Ian McMullen, sr.; Kennewick, Wash. (Lower Columbia CC);.250, 0 HRs, 3 RBIsor - Billy Munich, fr.; El Macero, Calif. (Jesuit HS)1B - Andy Jarvis, sr., Renton, Wash. (Liberty HS);.335, 11 HRs, 44 RBIsor - Levi Webber, jr.; Glide, Ore. (Glide HS);.321, 3 HRs, 8 RBIs2B - Chris Kunda, fr.; Philomath, Ore. (Philomath HS)or - Rob Recuenco, so.; Vancouver, B.C. (North Idaho JC)3B - Tony Calderon, jr.; Orange, Calif. (Santa Ana JC)SS - Rob Recuenco, so.; Vancouver, B.C. (North Idaho JC)or - Mark Jackson, fr.; Granite Bay, Calif. (Del Campo HS)LF - Seth Pietsch, jr.; Wilderville, Ore. (Hidden Valley HS);.307, 8 HRs, 34 RBIsCF - Aaron Mathews, so.; John Day, Ore. (Grant Union HS);.338, 2 HRs, 26 RBIsRF - Chris Biles, sr.; Tigard, Ore. (Tigard HS);.291, 6 HRs, 29 RBIsor - Jacoby Ellsbury, fr.; Madras, Ore. (Madras HS)DH - Levi Webber, jr.; Glide, Ore. (Glide HS);.321, 3 HRs, 8 RBIsor - Chris Biles, sr.; Tigard, Ore. (Tigard HS);.291, 6 HRs, 29 RBIsFri. LHP - Jake Postlewait, jr.; Corvallis, Ore. (Corvallis HS);1-2 record, 1 save, 5.45 ERASat. RHP - Ben Rowe, jr.;  Perth, Australia (Greenwood HS);7-5 record, 5.71 ERASun. - To be announced

OREGON STATE ALL-TIME VS. THIS WEEK'S OPPONENT: Oregon State has an all-time record of 6-6 against California-Riverside in a series dating back to 1970. Last season, UCR took a 21-4 win in the Riverside Baseball Invitational, scoring 14 runs in the eighth inning. In 2001, the Beavers won 18-10 in the San Diego Baseball Classic; that game included a 2-homer sixth inning by OSU's Andy Jarvis.

OREGON STATE NOTES: Oregon State received votes in the Sports Weekly/ESPN Coaches Top 25 last season, but this is the first time in recent years that the Beavers have earned votes in the preseason poll ... OSU was picked for eighth place in a preseason poll of Pacific-10 coaches. However, OSU has placed higher than the coaches' predicition in each of the last 3 seasons ... Seth Pietsch has made a habit of seeing double and triple in his OSU career. In Pietsch's career, he has 72 hits and 43 of them have gone for extra bases - 27 doubles, 6 triples and 10 homers ... Aaron Mathews ended last season on a 13-game hitting streak, and NCAA guidelines allow hitting streaks to carry over from season to another. During his streak, Mathews is batting .354 (23-for-65) with 2 doubles, 2 homers, 11 RBIs and 5 stolen bases.

2002 IN REVIEW: When the Pacific-10 coaches issued their preseason poll, Oregon State was picked for seventh place in the 2002 standings. The Beavers responded by taking their hopes for postseason play into the final weekend of the regular season before finishing with a 31-23 overall record.

OSU went 10-14 in the Pacific-10 for a sixth-place finish, one notch ahead of where the preseason poll had tabbed the Beavers, but Oregon State had been as high as a tie for third place in the Pac-10 with three weeks left in the season.

'I think when we got to the end of the year and looked back, this team exceeded a lot of people's expectations for it,' said OSU head coach Pat Casey, who was in his eighth season guiding the Beavers. 'We had our sights set higher, and I think we managed to convince a lot of people that we were a pretty good ballclub.

'Once we'd put ourselves in a position to get to the postseason, it was disappointing not to finish strong. We had a few things happen that got in our way, and in a conference as good as the Pac-10, just a few things can really hurt you.'

Second baseman and team captain Tom Creighton was injured at California on May 12 and missed almost of the next week's series against Washington before trying to come back for the season's final series at Arizona State. The Beavers also dropped a trio of one-run games in the season's final three weeks, including a 2-1, 15-inning heartbreaker at Cal on May 11.

'We were right there all the way through the season,' Casey said. 'We didn't reach our ultimate goal, but we did a lot of things right and played a lot of good baseball.

'Most of the season, we performed like a postseason ballclub.'

That provided the Beavers had a number of highlights during 2002:

* In their 96th year at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field, the Beavers played their first-ever home night game. OSU beat fourth-ranked Stanford 3-1 on April 26 as Ben Rowe pitched a four-hitter at the College World Series-bound Cardinal.

* OSU took 2 of 3 games from Stanford that weekend, giving the Beavers a series win over a top-five team for the second straight season.

* Casey recorded the 400th win of his head coaching career on April 14 when the Beavers completed an 11-9 win over Hawai'i-Hilo at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field.

* The Beavers set post-1999 renovation attendance records for Goss Stadium at Coleman Field for a single game and a series, plus total season attendance and per-game season attendance.

* OSU's improved facilities allowed the Beavers to play 27 of their 54 games at home; it was the first time since 1967 that OSU had played at least half its schedule at home.

* The Beavers recorded their fifth 30-win season in the past seven years.

* Oregon State set team records for triples (27) and saves (14). OSU led the Pac-10 in triples and tied for the lead in saves as a team.

* Sophomore outfielder Seth Pietsch set a single-season school record by hitting 24 doubles. That mark also led the Pac-10 in two-base hits.

* Sophomore reliever Jared Sanders set a single-season school record with nine saves. He also led the Pac-10 in that category.

* Junior third baseman Brian Barden set career school records for hits (231) and total bases (355). He was also named to the All-Pacific-10 first team for the second straight season.

* Oregon State had its highest-scoring three-game series ever in a sweep at Washington State from May 3-May 5, racking up 50 runs in a weekend capped by a wild 22-21 victory.

'This club left a lot to be proud of,' Casey said. 'We went into the season having to play a lot of inexperienced guys in some key positions, and they got better as the season went along. You look at our pitching staff, and there weren't a lot of guys who'd seen many innings when we started the year, but that turned out to be one of our real strengths this season.

'We weren't dominating in any one aspect of the game, but we were pretty good in all of them most of the time. You talk about winning as a team and losing as a team, and this group tended to win as a team. That got a lot of people interested in coming out to the ballpark, and having those crowds got our guys going even a little more. The fan support was one of the real positives of this season.'

2003 BEAVERS ON OREGON STATE'S LEADER LISTS: Where Oregon State players ranked among the school's all-time leaders going into the season:

CAREER DOUBLES1. Joe Gerber, 1997-2000	442. Josh Carter, 1999-2001	423. Brian Barden, 2000-02	394. Drew Hedges, 1997-2000	375. Ken Bowen, 1984-87	366. Troy Schader, 1997-99	357. Tim Lambert, 1985-88	348. Bob McNair, 1978-80	32> (tie) Andy Jarvis, 2000-02	32  (tie) Andy Jarvis, 2000-02	27 Brian Barden, 2000-02	1543. Matt Bailie, 1995-98	1444. Ken Bowen, 1984-87	1315. Bob McNair, 1978-80	1306. Ryan Lipe, 1995-98	126> 7. Andy Jarvis, 2000-02	124 Brian Barden, 2000-02	3552. Joe Gerber, 1997-2000	3473. Ken Bowen, 1984-87	3034. Bob McNair, 1978-80	2855. Drew Hedges, 1997-2000	283> 6. Andy Jarvis, 2000-02	278  (tie) Jared Sanders, 2002-present	9  (tie) Stephen Copeland, 2000-present	5 

OREGON STATE ON OPENING DAY: Oregon State has made a habit of winning on Opening Day. Since starting varsity baseball in 1907, the Beavers have a 65-27 record in season-openers and OSU has won 11 of its last 16 on Opening Day. Last season was an exception, as the Beavers fell 13-5 to host 17th-ranked Arizona State in the Bill Kajikawa Classic.

Incidentally, this will be the first time since 1993 that the Beavers haven't set or tied a record for their earliest-ever scheduled opener. For the past nine seasons, OSU's opener was set for the same date or earlier than the previous season's opener.

OREGON STATE HEAD COACH PAT CASEY: Pat Casey, now in his ninth 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 410-288-5, which includes 7 years at George Fox in Newberg, for a winning percentage of .587.

Casey has a record of 239-175-4 with the Beavers for a winning percentage of .577. 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 SCHEDULE: Oregon State's 2003 schedule includes 10 games against teams in the Sports Weekly/ESPN Top 25 preseason coaches poll: No. 5 Stanford (3 games), No. 6 Southern California (3 games) and No. 9 Arizona State (4 games). The Beavers' schedule includes another 17 games against teams receiving votes in the poll - California (3 games), San Diego State State (1 game), Oklahoma State (1 game), Arizona (3 games), Washington (3 games), Cal State-Northridge (2 games), UCLA (3 games) and San Diego (1 game).

RAIN ON THE ROAD: If the trend from recent years continues this spring, Oregon State will have a lot better luck with the weather at home than it does on the road.

Since the start of the 1997 season, the Beavers have had 26 games either canceled or rescheduled due to rain. Of those, only 6 have been games at OSU's Goss Stadium at Coleman Field; 14 were at ballparks in California, Nevada, Hawai'i, Texas or Florida. Another 6 were at ballparks elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest.

OSU has lost just 2 home games to rain during that time, while having 11 games canceled at sites outside the region and 3 called off at other Pacific Northwest ballparks. The Beavers have had to postpone 4 home games, 3 games at sites outside the region and 3 at other Pacific Northwest ballparks.

OREGON STATE'S ALL-TIME RECORD: Oregon State's all-time record in varsity baseball is now 1,722-1,188-15, a winning percentage of .591. OSU's all-time record in conference games is now 770-560, a winning percentage of .579.

To break the numbers down a step further, since starting varsity baseball in 1907, the Beavers have scored 19,122 runs and allowed 14,751 runs. That's an average score of 6.54-5.04.

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.

Now having played 93 seasons at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field, the Beavers are 901-387-1 at home for a winning percentage of .699. Since the start of the 1993 season, OSU is 151-58 at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field for a winning percentage of .722.

In 2002, OSU went 18-9 in its own ballpark and set a number of attendance records. Goss Stadium at Coleman Field was renovated prior to the 1999 season; the Beavers set post-renovation records for total home attendance (20,791), average home attendance (799 per game), attendance for a home series (4,226, April 26-April 28 vs. No. 4 Stanford) and attendance for a single home game (1,838, April 27 vs. No. 4 Stanford). After OSU's 4-3 win in that April 27 game, the Beaver players went outside their clubhouse behind the third-base side of the ballpark and thanked exiting fans for being part of the victory.

OSU attracted 10 home crowds of at least 1,000 during the season, including 7 of the last 9 home games. The numbers for total home attendance and average home attendance were the largest since 1985, the first season for which complete attendance figures are readily available.

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. The first use of the lights in a game had come on April 13 as the Beavers hosted Hawai'i-Hilo in a doubleheader; after rain delayed the games twice, the lights came on in the second inning of the second game.

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.

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 June 23 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 also availabe via the internet at www.osubeavers.com. The first broadcast of the season will be Feb. 28 from the Clash of the Conferences tournament in Lancaster, Calif. Mike Parker, the voice of the Beavers, will handle play-by-play duties with assistance from John Warren and Kip Carlson.

TELEVISION BRINGS OUT BEST IN BEAVERS: Oregon State will have several games televised this season on Fox Sports Net; dates and opponents will be announced. Oregon State has 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.

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