Somewhere deep in the Oregon State memory banks, 2017 has been lurking. Those awful two days in TD Ameritrade Park when its trip to the College World Series came crashing down.
The Beavers were 56-4, needing only one more win to get to the CWS finals, and playing an LSU team they had just buried 13-1 four days earlier. There are no sure things in college baseball, but this seemed pretty close. Except it wasn’t. They lost 3-1 one night and 6-1 the next. In under 48 baffling hours, this mighty, nearly-unbeatable powerhouse produced two runs and five hits. What a way to go.
way to go.
“It’s a tough day, when you’ve had such a great year,” coach Pat Casey said that Saturday night. One year later, it’s been another great year for Oregon State. But this Saturday night was so much different – with a locker room celebrating rather than shattered – after the Beavers beat Mississippi State 5-2 to advance to the CWS finals.
Have they remembered what last June felt like? Oh, yeah. Let’s ask three Oregon Staters who were all in on the final out Saturday night with the bases loaded – the moment that completed the 180-degree transformation from 2017.
From Cadyn Grenier, the shortstop who fielded the final Mississippi State grounder: “The way we were playing last year, we felt like we really had a good shot. For us to lose those two games and be out really, really crushed a lot of us.”
From Nick Madrigal, the second baseman who caught the throw for the force out: “I don’t know if that motivated us even more. but it was definitely in the back of our minds. We’ve worked for it. It’s been a long time to get to this point.”
From Jake Mulholland, who made the final pitch, after a scary ninth inning that had Casey doing a Rosary in the dugout: “That drove us a ton. We got sent home and we didn’t like it. Ever since then, starting with our very first practice, we started breaking on the word `finish.’”