Beavers denied from the NCAA Tournament

Joshua Lucas The Daily Barometer
OSU Baseball

Brian Rathbone Senior Beat Reporter

Monday morning a group of Oregon State baseball players gathered outside of Reser Stadium. Shock had taken over the players with one thing that was on all of their minds:

“What now?”

Caleb Hamilton picked up his golf clubs for the first time since last summer. He, along with teammates Scotland Church, Michael Gretler and Tommy Paul spent their Memorial Day playing 18 holes at Trying Tree Golf Club.

After playing 54 baseball games since the middle of February, a round of 18 holes provided a break from the game that has engulfed each of them for the last three months.

“We got away from OSU baseball,” said hamilton. “It was a chance to bond in ways outside of baseball.”

As good of a time as hitting balls around the golf course may have been, there was an underlying frustration.

“Something didn’t work out in our favor,” Hamilton said.

What didn’t work out in their favor, was being left out of the postseason play for only the second time since 2005, and first since 2008.

The team held a private viewing party at the Loge at Reser Stadium and felt good about where they stood in the conference. They had won series’ against three of the top four teams in the conference, winning two of three against Washington and eventual Pac-12 champ Utah, while sweeping Arizona State to open conference play.

Even with losses to Portland, Washington State, California and to Oregon in the Civil War, there was a consensus feeling that they would hear their name called.

“We only can control what we did in this series and we did our job,” said head coach Pat Casey after Sunday’s game. “I understand that there’s some games that we lost that could hurt us, but I’m confident that we have done what we need to do to get in the tournament.”

“I thought it was a 95 percent chance we would get in when I went to bed (the night before,)” said freshman pitcher Bryce Fehmel on Monday.

At a private viewing party held in the Loge in Reser Stadium, the team’s anxiety level grew higher and higher as each regional began to fill up. Pundits projected that the Beavers would play in the Lubbock, Texas regional, once that regional had filled up, the room grew quiet. When the final regional was announced, the room became dead silent.

Sixty four teams heard their name called—including Utah, Washington, Arizona State and Arizona from the Pac-12—but Oregon State was not one of them.

“It’s sketchy each year,” said Hamilton. “We felt good that we beat three of the top teams (in the Pac-12).

What made the decision all the more shocking, was how the Beavers had been playing the final two weeks of the season.

Entering the final week of the regular season, the team was well aware that their postseason hopes were hanging in the balance. Taking two of three games the week before on the road against USC helped their cause, but a similar effort would be required the next week against UCLA.

“We were in a do-or-die situation,” said Hamilton. “If we got two (wins) we thought we would get in, three wins would be a better situation.”

The Beavers left no doubt. Not only did OSU sweep the Bruins at Goss Stadium, but for the first time in program history the Beavers held an opponent scoreless for three consecutive games. Senior Travis Eckert, junior Max Engelbrecht, Fehmel and sophomore Luke Heimlich combined for 27 innings of shutout ball.

“That’s what we need going into the regionals,” said sophomore left fielder Christian Donahue following Sunday’s victory. “I think sweeping was a big upside for our chances for this upcoming selection show.”

Despite winning five of their final six games, the committee went another route. Instead, choosing Southeast Louisiana, Nebraska and South Alabama. Resulting in OSU to get an early jump on their summer. Much to the dismay of the team.

Having not swung a club since last August and struggling on the back nine, Hamilton was driving the ball further than he was expecting on Monday. It might had been aided by the wind gusts, or it might have been taking frustration out on a tiny white ball slightly smaller than a baseball.

“It might have been a little of both,” Hamilton said. “It was hard going through, we’re expected to (make the tournament) every year. When we didn’t get in, we were hurt.”

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