Rathbone: Portland loss serves as a microcosm to this season

Brian Rathbone Senior Beat Reporter

Two days after getting swept by Arizona, essentially eliminating Oregon State from hosting a regional, come tournament time, they suffered their worst loss of the season. Losing to the University of Portland for the first time in nearly a decade. Ending a 25-game winning streak against the Pilots.

Following the game, junior catcher and team captain Logan Ice had strong words to say about the team who had just lost four straight and nine of their past 16.

“I think collectively, one through 35 … there’s not the championship drive for Omaha or Omaha drive that there’s been in the past,” Ice told reporters following the game. “I think there’s a good core. I think there’s a collective group that for the most part wants it, wants to get to Omaha, wants to go win a national championship. But what’s that saying? You’re only as good as your worst player. … I think it’s true. Whatever our worst is, that’s what we’re going to be.”

The Beavers were a team that entered the 2016 season a consensus top-10 team in the nation with aspirations of playing in the College World Series for the fourth time in the past decade.

Nobach echoed Ice’s comments, saying that the only way the team will reach their goals is if the level of play will increase once everyone on the team is on the same page.

“When teams are rolling well, everyone is working together well,” he said. “There are teams that aren’t extremely talented but they are a team. Everyone is there together and their performance level goes up.”

Over the past month, the Beavers have played 16 games, going 7-9 in those contests. During that period the Beavers have dropped a series to the last-place Washington State, were swept by Arizona and saw their 25-game win streak against the Portland end.

One could point to the pitching being the problem, or the untimely defensive miscues as the problem of the team over the last month. But the issue has been the lack of production when runners are on base.

Looking at the box score of Tuesday’s game, it doesn’t look too bad. OSU had 13 hits, that’s good. They scored five runs, which is okay, it’s usually enough runs to win a game. Two errors, not great, but it happens. But the telling stat is the number of runners that the Beavers left on base. Eleven times OSU runners were stranded on base, compared to just six that the Pilots left on.

“It’s always tough to leave runners on,” said Nobach. “The point of the game is to score runs and that’s how you win a ball game.

“It’s not a lack of preparation,” he added. “Our coaches have done a great job preparing, it’s a confidence thing.”

Over the last 16 games, OSU has left 140 runners on base, an average of 8.75 runners on base per game. Their opponents are cashing more often when they have runners on, only leaving 6.625 runners on per game.

“The main thing is when runners get into scoring position, the hitters are putting too much pressure on themselves individually trying to do too much,” said sophomore leftfielder Christian Donahue who is hitting a team-high .385. “We need to go up there and need to be confident and trust ourselves. When we try to do too much and press a little bit it takes away our focus at the plate.”

With Oregon rolling into town this weekend for the Civil War, if there was ever a time to rediscover their championship drive, a three-game series against their bitter rivals is the time to do it.

“We’re back to square one this is kinda the lowest of the low,” said Donahue. “We put our foot down and we are saying ‘we are turning this around.”’

On Twitter @brathbone3

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