Beavers Take On Ohio State Friday at Noon.

June 3, 2005

There's no place like home, there's no place like home ...

Especially when you've waited 19 years to get back to the baseball postseason. That's the case for Oregon State, which is in the NCAA Regionals for the first time since 1986 and will mark its return by hosting the Corvallis Regional starting Friday.

'This is great news for everyone involved with Oregon State baseball,' OSU head coach Pat Casey said. 'For our team, our staff, and especially our fans because they're going to be able to watch us play in the postseason. They've given us a tremendous homefield advantage this season, and the level of support they've given us is a big reason that we'll be able to play at home next weekend.

'It's a tribute to both them and to what our team has accomplished on the field this season that the NCAA selected us to host a Regional.'

Oregon State is the No. 8 seed nationally and the No. 1 seed in the Corvallis Regional followed by Virginia, St. John's and Ohio State. The double-elimination tournament runs Friday through Sunday or Monday, depending on whether a seventh game is needed to determine a winner.

Oregon State (41-9 overall, 19-5 Pacific-10), which won the Pacific-10 championship, is ranked second nationally in this week's Sports Weekly/ESPN coaches poll, by Baseball America magazine and in the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association poll, and third by Collegiate Baseball newspaper. Ohio State (39-18, 17-12 Big Ten), St. John's (39-16, 19-4 Big East) and Virginia (41-18, 14-14 Atlantic Coast) are all unranked but the Buckeyes and Cavaliers received votes in the coaches poll.

The 64-team field has eight national seeds; no team that is nationally seeded would meet another nationally seeded team until the College World Series. The winners of this weekend's 16 NCAA Regionals advance to the Super Regionals, a best-of-three series June 10-13; the Corvallis Regional is paired with the Long Beach Regional, which includes Long Beach State, Southern California, Pepperdine and Rhode Island.

The Beavers had last weekend off, drawing the bye in the Pac-10 schedule for the final series of the regular season. OSU scrimmaged on Friday evening, then found out Saturday afternoon that they would be the sole owners of the Pac-10 championship when California beat Arizona in the first game of their series in Tucson.

'It was a good chance for our guys to get a little bit of a break,' Casey said. 'After eight straight weeks playing in this conference, they were able to catch their breath a little bit. Now we've got to go back to work because we have three very strong teams coming in here.

'It's a brand-new season starting this weekend. What we did in those first 50 games put us in position to do some great things, but now we have to go out and step it up even more to keep having success. You get to this point, and every team that's still playing is a very, very good team.'

The Beavers will have the benefit of familiar surroundings, and that's been good to them so far this season. Oregon State is 21-4 this spring at Goss Stadium at Coleman Field.

Through the end of the regular season, OSU's Dallas Buck led the Pac-10 in earned run average (1.93) and was tied for first in wins (11). The Beavers' Jonah Nickerson was second in ERA (2.13) and Kevin Gunderson was fifth (2.78). Gunderson was the leader in saves (13) and Anton Maxwell was tied for third in wins (10).

The Beavers' Jacoby Ellsbury was second in the batting race (.415) through the end of the regular season, while Andy Jenkins was fourth (.372). Ryan Gipson topped the conference in on-base percentage (.428) and Ellsbury was second (.504).

As a team, OSU's pitching staff was first in ERA (3.02) and opponents batting average (.219). At the plate, Oregon State was first in on-base percentage (.415) and second in batting average (.315).

Virginia lost 4-3 to Georgia Tech in the championship game Sunday and is making its fifth NCAA tournament appearance in the history of the program. Virginia is 17-5 over its last 22 games and is 10-13 away from home, where it was 31-5.

The Cavaliers have been led at the plate by junior infielder Ryan Zimmerman (.399 batting average, 6 home runs, 58 runs batted in) and freshman first baseman Sean Doolittle (.316, 11, 55). The starting pitchers have generally been senior righthander Jeff Kamrath (9-4 record, 2.23 ERA), junior lefthander Mike Ballard (8-3, 3.54) and junior righthander Matt Avery (6-5, 4.24).

St. John's won the Big East regular season championship with a 19-4 record to earn the top seed in the Big East tournament at Somerset Park in New Jersey. The Red Storm lost two straight, though, being beaten by Pittsburgh 4-1 and Boston College 7-5.

St. John's top hitters have been junior outfielder Greg Thomson (.377, 7, 43), senior infielder P.J. Antoniato (.370, 0, 26) and sophomore catcher Joe Burke (.353, 1, 41). The starting pitchers have generally been junior righthander Anthony Varvaro (9-3, 2.32), sophomore righthander Anthony Sullivan (7-3, 2.78) and senior righthander Jim Wladyka (7-2, 3.05).

Ohio State won the Big Ten tournament as the No. 5 seed and enters the NCAA tournament as one of the nation's hottest teams as winners of 19 of its last 22 games. The Buckeyes reached the championship round undefeated. Minnesota forced a second championship game after getting a two-out, two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth for a 4-3 win, but Ohio State jumped out to an 11-1 lead after four innings and cruised to a 14-6 win.

The Buckeyes have been paced by senior outfielder Mike Rabin (.333, 2, 28), freshman outfielder Matt Angle (.318, 0, 17), freshman catcher Eric Fryer (.318, 2, 23) and junior infielder Jedidiah Stephen (.318, 5, 46). With the Big Ten playing four-game conference series, the starters on the mound have usually been sophomore lefthander Dan DeLucia (5-5, 3.12), freshman lefthander Cory Luebke (4-2, 3.55), senior righthander Mike Madsen (7-3, 4.06) and senior lefthander Trent Luyster (7-3, 4.43).

--Courtesy of Oregon State.

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