Tonight, Oregon State will battle Gonzaga in a non-conference matchup in Corvallis, looking for a Pac-12 record-tying 24th straight win (Arizona State won 24 straight in 2010). Overall, the Beavers are an otherworldly 28-1 on the season, with their lone loss being a 6-1 defeat at the hands of Ohio State.
Anyway you look at it, Oregon State has been absolutely unstoppable this season. As a team, they have pitched to the tune of a 1.81 ERA (best in the nation), while allowing a measly 2.59 BB/9 (tenth-best in the nation). Three pitchers have thrown more than 10 innings this year while still maintaining an ERA below 1. Ace pitcher Luke Heimlich has thrown 58.2 innings on the year, and has yet to lose a game, with his record standing at 5-0. In addition to an undefeated record, Heimlich’s ERA is a sparkling 0.77. Oregon State also became the first team since the Pac-12’s unification in 1999 to have four pitchers of the week in the conference. But, it is not just the pitchers that have been getting it done for head coach Pat Casey. As a team, Oregon State is hitting .291 on the season, while scoring nearly six runs per game. The Oregon State hitters average four walks per game, and have also stolen 29 bases on the season, led by sophomore Nick Madrigal’s eight.
So, why all the success? Well, for one, Oregon State is an elite program, having produced the likes of Jacoby Ellsbury and Michael Conforto. Head coach Pat Casey has won two national championships, and over 800 games at Oregon State, good for eighth all-time in the Pac-12. In addition, many of the pitchers studied under the tutelage of Driveline Baseball, a training facility in Washington. Driveline is known for their weighted ball programs designed to improve velocity and command. Oregon State pitchers have struck out an impressive 8.29 batters per 9 innings, while allowing just 2.59 BB/9. 7 of the 28 wins have been in shut-out fashion as well. Opposing teams have only managed a .184 average against Beaver pitching thus far. Every pitcher with more than 10 innings pitched on the year has an ERA under 4. Simply put, Oregon State’s pitching staff may be the best in the country.
As conference play begins to heat up, Casey and his team will look to capture a fifth regular season title in his tenure. But, they will not just stop there. Oregon State has the potential to be the final team standing in Omaha come June. A deep pitching staff and a talented group of hitters could lead Casey to his third national title.