Oregon State hosts Kansas State in NCAA baseball super regional

Kansas State (44-17) at Oregon State (48-10)
Kansas State has never been to the College World Series, let alone a super regional. But this is not the first rodeo for Pat Casey's Oregon State program, which won back-to-back NCAA titles in 2006 and 2007. On paper, the Beavers boast a decidedly better pitching staff than the Wildcats. They're also hosting this best-of-three series at what will be a rowdy, overflowing Goss Stadium, so the early advantage certainly points in the direction of the orange and black. Oregon State is 25-4 at home this season, where it has won 14 of its past 15 games.

[Related video: Matt Boyd hopes to bring Oregon State back to championship glory]

Times: Saturday 4 p.m., Sunday 7 p.m., Monday 4 p.m. (if necessary)
TV: ESPNU

Key to Oregon State Victory:
Take advantage of Kansas State's pedestrian pitching staff.

The Wildcats own the Big-12's best offense. Their overall .851 team OPS is no joke: It illustrates just how potent this lineup is. All but one hitter in the Wildcats' order is batting at least .300 with an on-base percentage of at least .400. So, there will be no breaks for Oregon State's excellent pitching staff against an attack that averages over 6.5 runs per game.

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Kansas State's weakness lies on the mound. Their numbers aren't horrible (3.86 staff ERA, .260 opposing batting average), but Wildcats pitchers simply do not bring electric stuff to the table. Though Oregon State's offensive numbers may not match its pitching prowess, the Beavers are their usual disciplined selves at the plate this year. They were again near the top of the Pac-12 standings in walks, and their relentless, well-oiled approach has the potential to break Kansas State's rotation. Lefty Joe Flattery (3.87 ERA) opens the super regional for the Wildcats, and he'll be followed by a pair of very hittable freshmen right-handers. Levi MaVorhis (4.05 ERA, .319 OBA) and Blake McFadden (4.40 ERA, .271 OBA) will be pitching in a brutal road postseason atmosphere for the first time, and the Oregon State offense must take advantage.

Even if the Beavers again struggle with runners in scoring position like they did throughout the first two games of the Corvallis regional, they do have the pitching staff to squeak out low-scoring contests anyway. Matt Boyd (2.20 ERA, .195 OBA), Andrew Moore (1.22 ERA, .192 OBA) and Ben Wetzler (1.98 ERA, .224 OBA) highlight the NCAA's best starting rotation, and it'll be fascinating to see them take on a prolific offense. They say that good pitching beats good hitting, but given the potency of Kansas State's attack, the Beavers shouldn't take any chances. They need to score runs of their own.

[Related: UCLA takes on Cal State Fullerton in NCAA super regionals]

Hinge Player:
Right fielder Dylan Davis hits cleanup for Oregon State, and that means he protects super sophomore Michael Conforto in the order. Davis was phenomenal in the regional, earning the tournament's Most Outstanding Player recognition on the fuel of a 6-for-14 (.429) performance. He punished the field for pitching around Conforto, and that made the Beavers' offense click when it counted. Fans will long remember his two-run, walk-off double that catapulted Oregon State past UTSA to open the postseason. He'll again be a vital cog in the Beavers' offensive efforts.

[Related: NCAA baseball tournament bracket]

David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.