The No. 7 Oregon State Beavers (26-6, 8-2) and No. 9 Oregon Ducks (25-8, 10-3) baseball teams have silently dominated Pac-12 baseball thus far. At first and second place respectively in the conference, both of the Oregon schools are sitting in prime position for a strong opportunity to not only make the NCAA Tournament, but to host a regional/super regional and possibly a run into the College World Series (CWS).
This is exactly the type of rivalry that needs to develop for Ducks fans to embrace this Oregon baseball team like they have basketball and football. There hasn’t been a time in decades that both teams were this competitive and ranked at such a high level. Think about two schools from a small state, with inclement weather, battling in one of if not the toughest baseball conferences. That’s just simply incredible!
Oregon State saw elite success during the middle of the 2000s when they made the CWS three straight years from 2005-07, including back-to-back national championships in ’06 and ’07.
But despite making the tournament four consecutive seasons four straight seasons, the Beavers have not made it make to CWS since their back-to-back titles. The Beavers, have been good, but not great for a few years.
And for the Ducks, they haven’t been around to make for what could have been an epic rivalry. Since the program was reinstated in 2009, the Ducks have gone from a 14-42 team to a 46-19 record and one fluke play away from making it to the program’s second CWS appearance ever and first in over 50 years.
Oregon head coach George Horton has the Ducks rolling, and this may be the best team he’s had since leaving Cal State Fullerton. Superstar The Ducks, unlike the past few seasons, are balanced with batting and pitching. Offensively the Ducks rank 8/11 in the conference in batting average and seventh in runs scored, scoring just enough for their pitchers to get low-run wins. The Ducks rank 4/11 in team pitching with a 2.93 ERA and rank first in fielding percentage at .988, only committing 16 errors on the year.
The Civil War in football has become an insignificant rivalry with the Ducks victorious five straight years. In basketball, the Ducks have dominated as well since head coach Dana Altman has joined the program. Oregon has won five of the last six games including a sweep this past season. Both rivalries are dead. I’m not saying that the rivalry in football and basketball are unable to be revived, but with the talent level being so vastly one-sided and the programs being in such different directions, it doesn’t appear that the Beavers are going to be competitive in either sport any time soon.
If baseball can keep this rivalry going strong, may fans will start flocking out to PK Park on a consistent basis. While attendance is still relatively high at Ducks games considering the sub-par weather, it can improve. There’s no reason for home games against top-quality Pac-12 opponents to be seeing so many empty seats.
Watch as the Ducks and Beavers continue to dominate the Pac-12. Maybe even of these two can win the conference outright. If these two programs can stay relevant, we may see a new generation of Ducks baseball fans.
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