The Oregon State Beavers earned a No. 3 national seed in the NCAA baseball tournament and will host a regional for the ninth time in school history. Here’s a look at the four-team field of the event, which begins Friday at Goss Stadium in Corvallis.
NO. 1 SEED OREGON STATE BEAVERS
Coach: Mitch Canham, third season
Top hitters: Jacob Melton (.375 batting average, 15 HRs, 77 RBIs, 64 runs, 21 doubles, 20 SBs), Justin Boyd (.373, 63 runs, 48 RBIs, 7 HRs, 23 SBs, ), Wade Meckler (.350, 75 runs, 31 RBIs, 21 doubles), Garret Forrester (.328, 56 RBIs, 46 runs, 7 HRs), Travis Bazzana (.315, 52 runs, 42 RBIs, 15 doubles), Gavin Logan (.319, 36 RBIs, 11 doubles)
Top pitchers: Cooper Hjerpe (10-2, 2.33 ERA, 140 strikeouts. 0.90 WHIP), Jacob Kmatz (8-1, 3.89, 64 strikeouts), Jake Pfennigs (3-0, 2.54, 25), Ben Ferrer (4-0, 1.79, 71 strikeouts), Ryan Brown (4-1, 5.52, 9 saves), Reid Sebby (1-2, 3.05, 3 saves)
What to know: Oregon State was remarkably consistent and mostly dominant all season, surging as high as No. 1 in the national rankings while avoiding consecutive losses until the final two weeks of the regular season.
The Beavers finally slipped before the postseason, losing four of their final five games, but eased concerns over the late-season skid with a solid, if eventful, run in the Pac-12 tournament. After opening with a pair of wins and surviving a wild marathon doubleheader against UCLA, they advanced to the championship game of the inaugural event in Scottsdale, Arizona. OSU ran out of steam in the final, falling to Stanford 9-5, but showed a lot of guts and resiliency along the way, fighting through dehydration, cramps and various ailments in the triple-digit Arizona heat.
The Beavers’ pitching staff is anchored by Hjerpe, a first-round MLB draft prospect who is a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and the Dick Howser Trophy. Kmatz’s emergence in his true freshman season was a savior and Pfennigs, though he struggled in the Pac-12 tournament, is both experienced and talented. Bullpen depth is a concern, but Ferrer, Sebby and Brown form a nice trio.
Oregon State’s lineup is potent one through six, with Melton — the Pac-12 Player of the Year — Boyd, Meckler and Forrester anchoring a relentless offense that ranked among the best in the Pac-12 all season. The Beavers averaged 10.2 runs per game in the conference tournament.
The Beavers, who are the No. 3 national seed, are hosting a regional for the ninth time in school history and fourth since 2017. They are seeking their third national championship.
NO. 2 VANDERBILT COMMODORES
Coach: Tim Corbin, 20th season
Top hitters: Dominic Keegan (.363, 58 RBIs, 39 runs, 12 HRs), Enrique Bradfield Jr. (.315, 62 runs, 31 RBIs, 43 SBs) Spencer Jones (.367, 52 runs, 49 RBIs, 9 HRs), Javier Vaz (.286, 38 RBIs, 12 doubles)
Top pitchers: Carter Holton (8-3, 3.15 ERA, 92 strikeouts), Devin Futrell (8-3, 3.77, 60 strikeouts), Chris McElvain (5-5, 4.54, 89 strikeouts), Thomas Schultz (4-2, 3.16, 7 saves 31 strikeouts)
What to know: The perennial college baseball power is playing in the NCAA tournament for the 16th consecutive season, but will play on the road in the regionals for the first time since 2018.
Vanderbilt, which won national championships in 2014 and 2019 and finished runner-up last year, has advanced to super regionals in nine of the past 11 NCAA tournaments and won four of eight road regionals under Corbin. The Commodores were seemingly in a position to host heading into the final week of the regular season, but suffered a three-game sweep to LSU and then lost two of three games in the SEC Tournament.
Vanderbilt boasts one of the best pitching staffs in the nation, but allowed an average of 10.5 runs over its final six games and was outscored 20-3 to Tennessee and Kentucky in its final two games of the conference tournament. But it was not Holton’s fault. He has pitched 24 consecutive scoreless innings and has not allowed a run since April 23 against Kentucky, shutting out Texas A&M, Arkansas, Georgia and Ole Miss over his last four starts.
Meanwhile, the Commodores’ offense has been anemic all season, featuring just three regulars with a batting average above .300. Keegan, a semifinalist for the Golden Spikes Award and an all-SEC team selection, and Bradfield, an all-SEC selection, are the biggest threats.
Despite its late-season struggles, Vanderbilt finished with a No. 7 ranking in the RPI and earned eight wins against top 25 opponents this season.
NO. 3 SAN DIEGO TOREROS
Coach: Brock Ungricht, first season
Top hitters: Caleb Ricketts (.375, 16 HRs, 53 RBIs, 46 runs), Chase Meidroth (.338, 10 HRs, 53 runs, 46 RBIs), Kevin Sim (.298, 11 HRs, 55 RBIs, 50 runs), Jack Costello (.310 42 RBIs, 39 runs)
Top pitchers: Brycen Mautz (9-2, 4.09 ERA, 124 strikeouts), Ian Churchill (302, 4.50, 57 strikeouts), Ryan Robinson (3-0, 1.87, 42 strikeouts), Ryan Kysar (4-0, 4.77, 49 strikeouts)
What to know: The Toreros earned an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament with a surprise four-game sweep through the WCC tournament, clinching their first trip to the regionals since 2013.
San Diego beat WCC favorite Gonzaga twice to earn the bid, winning the second WCC championship in school history with a come-from-behind 15-12 win in extra innings.
The Toreros led the WCC in batting average, on-base percentage, slugging percentage and home runs, and, in addition to the marquee wins over Gonzaga, earned series wins over tournament teams Oregon and Grand Canyon during the regular season.
Eight San Diego players earned all-WCC honors, including first-team selections Ricketts, Mautz, Meidroth and Sim. Mautz ranks 10th in the nation in strikeouts and Ricketts was named the Most Outstanding Player of the WCC tournament after batting .588 with five home runs and 12 RBIs.
NO. 4 NEW MEXICO STATE AGGIES
Coach: Mike Kirby, third season
Top hitters: Logan Gallina (.333, 21 HRs, 62 RBIs, 52 runs), Cal Villareal (.366, 30 RBIs, 30 runs), Kevin Jimenez (.329, 51 runs, 30 RBIs), Tommy Tabak (.302, 7 HRs, 37 runs, 36 RBIs)
Top pitchers: Ian Mejia (6-4, 4.24, 93 strikeouts), Alex Bustamante (1-2, 5.57, 8 saves), Pablo Cortez (4-4, 6.61 53 strikeouts)
What to know: The Aggies are playing in a regional for the sixth time in school history and second time in the last five years.
They earned the automatic postseason bid with a stunning run in the WAC tournament, during which they went 4-0 and defeated Abilene Christian 7-1 in the championship game. New Mexico State has never won an NCAA tournament game.
The Aggies started the season 8-2, but limped to a 12-30 regular-season finish and barely made it into the WAC tournament. But they were dominant once they arrived, allowing just five runs in wins over Sam Houston, Texas-Rio Grande Valley, Sacramento State and Abilene Christian.
Logan Gallina, who was an all-WAC first team and all-defensive team selection, is New Mexico State’s most accomplished player. He finished tied for 16th in the nation in home runs.
Original Article: Source