1. The last time Oregon State and Mississippi State went to Omaha was in the same year - 2007. We were the first team out and y'all were the national champions. How does the 2013 Oregon State team stack up against that team, or the teams that won back-to-back titles in '06 & '07?
I feel like those teams had better pitching depth, though the current team has the better starting rotation. Beyond that, the Championship teams had a competitive element that made them better than their numbers might suggest; they made the big play at the right time. This year's team seems at times to lack what some would call a "killer instinct", but they are a resilient bunch. No losing streak has lasted to multiple days, as they have consistently put "bad" days behind them quickly.
2. What is the strength of the Oregon State team - hitting, pitching, fielding and why?
Starting pitching is without a doubt, the single greatest strength of the Beavers. Senior Matt Boyd was All-Pac-12 and is a third team All-American, with a 10-3 record, and a 2.13 ERA. Boyd has filled every conceivable role a pitcher can have in his career at Oregon St., and understands all the nuances of the game. Freshman All-American Andew Moore (14-1, 1.36) typically follows him, and has turned in multiple complete game shutouts, as well as getting 5 wins and a save in games following a loss. The only time he has been beaten was when Arizona St.'s Ryan Kellogg threw a no-hitter against him.
Ben Wetzler (9-1, 2.11) rounds out the rotation. Wetzler was the Friday night starter, but had some back problems at the start of the season, and had to miss a couple of weeks, and then work his way back into shape. Once he did, he ran off 7 wins in 7 starts. All 3 are routinely capable of going well past 100 pitches in an outing as well.
It's a good defensive team, especially the middle infield of SS Tyler Smith and Andy Peterson. Their fielding percentage is deceptive because they get to balls most infielders would never get a glove on, so sometimes plays don't get made that wouldn't even get attempted by others.
Left fielder Michael Conforto, the Pac-12 Player of the Year has a rifle of an arm, and center fielder Max Gordon has become a semi-regular on Sportscenter with his diving circus catches.
3. What hitter(s) are hot for OSU right now? From watching the Super Regional it seemed like y'all's park plays relatively small, how do you think the size of TD Ameritrade Park will affect the Beavers?
Conforto is the team leader in home runs, and had 2 against Kansas St. in the Super Regional, but Dylan Davis (.343), Conforto's high school teammate also homered against Kansas St., and had the game winning double against UT-San Antonio in the Regionals. Designated hitter Ryan Barnes is on a 13 game hitting streak, and Danny Hayes almost single handedly won back to back games in the Regionals, drawing a 2 out walk with the bases loaded in the 9th inning against UC-Santa Barbara, and the next night coming up with back to back run scoring doubles against Texas A&M in his last 2 at bats of the game. He homered against Kansas St. as well.
The 4 of them form a very dangerous middle of the order that are very difficult for opposing pitchers to get through time and time again.
One reason head coach Pat Casey is such an advocate of small-ball is because it is portable. Playing in the cold wet northwest, there are days when its impossible to hit a baseball out of a softball park, but bunts and sacrifices still work. That said, spacious fields invite singles and doubles into the corners, and this team can find open green space.
4. Who do you expect to start Game 1 vs. MSU? Is he a LHP or RHP? What do you expect from him?
Because Boyd came on in relief in the 3rd game against Kansas St., there is a chance coach Casey might flip to Moore, a right hander, and go with Boyd in the second game, but most doubt that will happen. Boyd, a lefty, is the leader of the staff, and he turned down MLB money to come back to take the team to Omaha. It may not be possible to keep Matt off the mound. I expect he will go 7-8 innings, and probably have the lead at that point if he gets any run support, because its happened a dozen times already.
Casey may try to go the distance with Boyd if he gets close though, as the bullpen has blown leads Boyd handed over to them 2 of the last 3 series openers.
5. What do you think of your new logo? Do you think it looks like Ole Miss head football coach Hugh Freeze?
Like many, I like the old logo, and while the new bike-helmet beaver is ok, lets just say I haven't dumped any of my gear with the old Beaver.
As far as comparisons with SEC football coaches, since the SEC generally seems to rarely have time to schedule a Pac-12 team, we aren't too familiar with your rivals out here. But we do understand the concept of searching for material to take on rival coaches with!