Sorenson’s Supers Wrap: Day One

Postseason



It wasn’t a day of stunning results or surprising developments. As day one’s go in Super Regional-land, this one was practically par for course. Although had Davidson been able to pull the extra inning upset, like it looked like it might on a couple of occasions, that would be another story. But Texas A&M pulled out the win at home, as did Louisville, Long Beach State and here in Corvallis, the Beavers prevailed as well.

That’s 4-for-4 for the home teams. Yawwwwwn, I know.

Day two could be a much different script as the other four Supers get underway with TCU hosting Missouri State, Florida State hosting Sam Houston State, LSU hosting Mississippi State and Florida hosting Wake Forest.

I happened to make the trek up to rainy Corvallis, Oregon to see who will take the ultimate Pac 12-SEC showdown between No. 1-ranked Oregon State and upstart Vanderbilt. I’ll get to all of it below, guys and girls.

Before we look at that, here is a quick whip around the country to look at today’s four games.

BIGGEST WIN: 
– Long Beach State.
Of all the home teams who could’ve least afforded to lose tonight, the Dirtbags probably had the most riding on their shoulders at Blair Field in a 3-0 win over rival Cal State Fullerton. Had they lost, the ‘Bags would’ve had a one game deficit and having to face John Gavin, who shut Stanford down last weekend to earn a win.

BIGGEST LOSS: 
– Davidson
Obviously, the Wildcats do not have the depth on the mound that the Aggies do, so dropping game one – and burning through some of their better pitchers – was a big loss. It will take somebody pitching the game of their lives to push this one to a third game. Then again, that’s why we call teams like this “Cinderella” after all.

BEST BET TO GO THREE GAMES:
– The Long Beach Super Regional.
As mentioned above, this one is far from over. The Titans may have the deepest staff left in the tournament of anyone not named Oregon State. The big question will be whether their hot bats I saw at Stanford last week will return in time to save them? They’ll have to face off with Dave Smith, which is a “good news/bad news” kind of thing. The good news is that Smith has been used a lot in the past two weeks. The bad news is that he’s still been ungodly-like in shutting people down.

BEST BET TO END AFTER TWO GAMES:
– The College Station Super Regional.
Sorry Davidson, I think you shot your wad. Pitching depth definitely goes to the Aggies, who should have the advantage with Corbin Martin toeing the rubber in game two. Still, we have all learned to NEVER count out those plucky Cats, so we’ll see.

PLAY OF THE DAY:
– Davidson’s Jake Sidwell getting caught leaning off third.
It was supposed to be a safety squeeze bunt, but Davidson batter Max Bazin inexplicably pulled the bat back and left Sidwell leaning too far off third, where he was nabbed for the second out of the inning. Sure enough, the next batter, Cam Johnson, came on and sliced what would’ve been the go-ahead and maybe game-winning single. Instead the Cats were left with no runs and the game continued until the 15th inning, where A&M pulled out the win.

TOUR DE FORCE:
– Darren McCaughan, Long Beach State pitcher
For the 10th time this season The Beach posted a shut out and this time you can give credit to McCaughan, who went 7.2 innings, giving up just two measly hits, walking two and striking out seven. His 96-pitch effort earned him his ninth win of the season (against two losses) and more importantly, got a post-season win against their rivals.

TOUR DE FORCE II: 
– Cam Johnson, Davidson
The Wildcats might not’ve won their game at Texas A&M, but you can’t put any of the blame on Mr. Johnson. All he did was go double, double, single, single in his first four at-bats, plating three runs at the time. That keyed the DU rally, which he completed in the ninth inning with his clutch, two-out RBI single to send the games to extras.

NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYER:
– The SEC.
Not a great day for the Southern Monster in day one of the Supers. Kentucky never really got off the mat after Louisville plated some early runs on them, dropping game one. Here in Corvallis, the Commodores couldn’t keep pace with the No. 1 team in the country, in an 8-4 loss. And the SEC’s only win took 15 innings as Texas A&M could not shake pesky Davidson, the sixth-place team from the Atlantic 10. Saturday will be a better day for them.

Steven Kwan makes a solid sliding grab in the meadow as teammate Michael Gritler looks on in udder amazement.

FROM THE CORVALLIS SUPER REGIONAL
Oregon State jumped on Vanderbilt starter Patrick Raby right off the bat for a 3-0 first inning lead and never trailed from that point on, posting an 8-4 opening game win. The Friday night win means the Beavers are now 27 outs away from their first trip to Omaha since 2013.

LINESCORE:
Vandy – 030 000 100 – 4  8  1
O.S.U – 320 010 02x – 8  10 0

WP: Jake Thompson, 14-0
LP: Patrick Raby, 10-4
Save: Sam Tweedt, 1

Jake Thompson improved to a mind-boggling 14-0 with this win over Vanderbilt in Corvallis on Friday night.

When you think of Oregon State and Vanderbilt, the first thing that comes to mind, other than national championships, is pitching. And I certainly didn’t expect to see an offensive explosion between these two, but that’s what we got in the early innings, which saw both starting pitchers run into early trouble.

Oregon State got to VU’s Patrick Raby immediately, or rather Raby got to himself. His two first inning walks to Nick Madrigal and Trevor Larnach being big mistakes. Cleanup hitter K.J. Harrison lived up to his position, crushing a three-run bomb to put the Beavs up early 3-0.

“Anything that we can put up on the board in the first inning is really big,” K.J. said of his three-run ding-dong. “I was just looking for a pitch that was up in the zone and he threw me two fast balls right before that, and he gave me one that was in my zone so I was able to put a good swing on that one.”

But credit the Commodores, who went down in order in six pitches in the first inning, but bounced back to tie the game at 3-3 in the top of the second inning thanks to a two-run single by Jason Delay and an RBI single from Will Toffey, which was a great answer to the revved up crowd at cloudy and cool Goss Stadium.

Will Toffey (9) hit a seventh inning solo shot that gave the ‘Dores a great response in cutting OSU’s lead down to 6-4.

But talk about answers, the Orange and Black had another one in the bottom of the second inning when Nick Madrigal lived up to his All American billing and sliced a two-run double to the left field corner, scoring Christian Donohue and Steven Kwan. Instant answer, 5-3.

“You’ve got to give Oregon State credit,” said VU coach Tim Corbin. “They put a lot of pressure on us tonight. Particularly in getting the big hit. Twice early. That certainly was a shot to the gut, especially after we came back and scored three to tie the game.”

Sneer and bear it. VU’s Patrick Raby had the praise of his head coach for keeping the game close, but still suffered the loss after 6.0 innings of work.

The two starting pitchers settled in immediately after those fireworks, putting up a series of zeroes. There were a few bumps along the way, including OSU scoring a marker in the fifth inning when Steven Kwan led off the inning with a walk, was bunted over and then scored on Trevor Larnach’s RBI single.

Will Toffey put his stamp on the game with a towering solo shot that hugged the right field fair pole to make it 6-4.

Thompson came back out in the eighth inning to a light round of applause and immediately got the first two outs of the frame, before Pat Casey finally gave him the hook, much to the crowds approval. Jake Mulholland came in to retire Ethan Paul with a strikeout on four pitches. Sam Tweedt came on in the ninth inning to rack up the last three outs and secure the series-opening win.

“I thought Thompson pitched really, really well tonight,” Casey said. “That’s a really, really good team we played right there.”

In all, Thompson allowed seven hits and four runs in his 7.3 innings of work. His counterpart, Patrick Raby, allowed six runs on eight hits with three walks in taking the loss.

Obviously, the big news of the day was Friday starter Luke Heimlich taking himself out of the lineup for the immediate future (more on that below). But the Beavers didn’t seem to even think about who was on the mound for them tonight.

“I really do think this was just another game,” Nick Madrigal said afterward when asked about not having Heimlich on the bump. “We prepared for it the same as we have every game and we were excited for it.”

The “excitement” part was evident from the first pitch. Nay, from the first set of wind sprint warmups the Beavers did in pregame. The cool, cloudy conditions only seemed to feed into the crowd’s frenzy tonight. It was Beaver weather.

“The crowd was really awesome tonight,” Madrigal said. “We owe a lot of credit to them.”

Coach Casey noticed the small amp-up his team took on, saying afterward, “I thought we played with energy. I thought we played with that togetherness we always talk about. The crowd probably had a lot to do with our energy, no doubt about it.”

K.J. Harrison takes off the helmet to smack with his teammates after hitting a first inning no-doubt home run.

While the Beaver fans seem ready to burst at the seams just to get another trip to Omaha, coach Casey was still in ‘caution’ mode at the post-game press conference.

“I just told our guys that we are here to win two,” Casey said. “I am proud of our guys, and I told them that. They have come to they yard to work every day. I can’t tell you how much as a coach that I appreciate that. They really do GET that part of it. But at this time of year, there is less said to them at this time of year because they have become so self motivated.”

We’ll see if the Beavers are motivated enough to get a win while facing the daunting task of trying to hit Vandy All American Kyle Wright on Saturday. Getting to the College World Series may require beating the best pitcher they have probably faced all season. In his last nine starts, Wright has stuck out 79 batters while walking just 16 and allowing teams to hit a paltry .169 off him.

Yikes.

“Coach Casey and the staff are really big on just having us take it one game at a time, one pitch at a time,” Madrigal said. “It’s the same mindset that we have every game. But we know it’s going to be a great battle tomorrow.”

“It’s just one game,” Corbin said. “One loss doesn’t mean two. We’ll respond tomorrow.”

That, StitchHeads, is the working definition of an understatement.

Will Toffey also had his down moments too, like here when home plate umpire Danny Everett rung him up on a called third strike. (Toffee signals that the pitch was a bit high.)

Since there was probably not enough Vanderbilt highlights pictured here, here’s another one of the Dores celebrating a run across home.

NOTES
– The Friday starter was here tonight.
As you have probably heard a number of times already, OSU Friday starter Luke Heimlich had some trouble with the law after failing to report his sex offender status to local police last week. Because of that, Heimlich made a statement about two hours before the game that he was “taking time off from his duties with the team for now.”

Oddly, before game time, Heimlich was seen long-tossing in the outfield during warm-ups and was part of the team introductions for both squads. Take this however you want but he was given a hearty applause when his name and number were called out by the P.A.

– Casey’s comments on Heimlich
As you would expect, OSU head coach Pat Casey was asked about Heimlich and his statement he made before the game and his decision to not play this weekend. Casey answered with this…

“That is Luke’s decision, and I know he’s a team guy. In his statement he said that he didn’t want to be a distraction. I can just tell you that he’s a fine young man. And for every second that he’s been on this campus he has been a first class individual. Someone that his family should be proud of, his community should be proud of and his team should be proud of. And I believe in Luke.”

– Casey’s approach the rest of the way without Heimlich
“We’ve got two options in (Bryce) Fehmel and (Drew) Rasmussen that could go for us. We’ve also got a fresh bullpen and plenty of arms so we just need to find people to step up.

When asked about the status of Drew Rasmussen and his strength for getting a possible starting role, Casey said this… “Rasmussen’s health has been fine, so how long he goes is up to him. If the situation would’ve called for it tonight we might’ve even closed with him.”

– Win records set tonight
OSU starter Jake Thompson became just the third Beaver pitcher to win 14 games in a single season and also helped his team to its program-record 53rd win of the season. The prior high-water mark for victories in a season was 52, set by the 2013 squad.

– Streaking
Oregon State’s win tonight also pushed the Beavers’ win streak to 20 straight games, while at the same time busting up a three-game losing streak to the Commodores, including the two straight losses the last time they met in a Super Regional…

– A rematch of 2011. 
These two programs faced off in the Nashville Super Regional with the Commodores coming out on top with a pair of wins. But in that series, a combined nine future major leaguers took part.

OSU:
Andrew Susac
Sam Gaviglio
Tyler Smith
Josh Osich
Matt Boyd

Vandy:
Curt Casali
Sonny Grey
Taylor Hill
Tony Kemp

– Toffey Fire.
Vanderbilt leadoff man Will Toffey continued his insane hot streak he’s been on. Since having to sit out a few games due to injury in early May, Toffey has returned with a vengeance. Over his last 12 games Toffey has gone 26-for-53, including tonight’s 2-for-5, two RBI night in the VU loss.

– Tonight’s attendance: 3,737
It was a jam-packed Beaver Den tonight in Corvallis as the rows and aisles were chock-full of Beaver fans (No, don’t tell the Fire Marshall). Tonight’s attendance marks the largest one-game crowd in the Goss Stadium era. Also, tonight’s stretched-to-the-gills crowd marked the 18th straight sellout crowd of the 2017 season. This is the 20th crowd of the season that has surpassed the 3,000-plus mark.

The forecast said there was an “80% chance of rain on Friday.” Well this is what that 80% looked like at the national anthem. It did end up raining briefly, but it wasn’t enough to keep a record crowd at home.

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