OSU first baseman Mike Lissman (3-Right) and academic counselor Ardell Bailey try to untangle fishing line on Wednesday, June 19, 2007 in Omaha, Nebraska. Members of the OSU baseball team went fishing at the Con Agra lagoon--a ritual they began last year to relax before playing a game. Maggie Rife/The Omaha World-Herald - Omaha World-Herald

Beavers are fishin' for another crown

OMAHA, Neb. — Daniel Turpen was talking fishing, not baseball. No matter that he had just limited UC Irvine to five hits over eight strong innings of Oregon State's 7-1 victory that eliminated the Anteaters and moved the Beavers into the championship series of the 2007 College World Series.

Earlier Wednesday, Turpen and a few teammates took a short ride provided by their hotel shuttle to a small pond. They dropped in a few lines and caught some fish.

It proved quite relaxing, Turpen said. And after his exceptional pitching performance that raised his season record to 10-1, coach Pat Casey seemed both amused and surprised.

"Did you really go fishing this morning?" he asked as he smiled and glanced at Turpen during the postgame press conference.

"I caught a few (fish)," Turpen said. "We have a few guys who go before every game. We just throw out the hook and hope something hits one."

So far, it's helped keep things in a relaxed mode for a few Beavers, who needed the minimum three games to advance out of their bracket.

With OSU's success, perhaps the fishing adventure will catch on with other CWS qualifiers. But while fellow angler Mitch Canham went 3-for-5 with three RBIs against Irvine after being 6-for-36 entering the game, Turpen isn't so sure of its effect.

"That was their theory," Turpen said of good things happening to those who were successful pulling fish from the downtown Omaha pond and then releasing them into the water.

"I kept telling Turp, 'If you catch fish, you'll get more strikeouts,'" said teammate Mike Lissman, one of the fishing buddies along with Canham, outfielder Chris Hopkins and OSU academic advisor Ardell Bailey.

"I'm thinking I might have to try it again," Turpen said, "but I was hoping the (media) would let it go for a few more days."


AS HE PLANNED: Casey had never been to the College World Series until 2005.

That's how he planned it after a friend brought him some CWS souvenirs in 2002.

"He brought me a shirt, cap and some dirt (from Rosenblatt Stadium) and said, 'You've got to go do this.' But I said, 'I'm not going unless I take my team.'"

Only three years later, Casey made his first trip. He's liked it so much he's returned every year since. Now, some OSU fans seem to think the Beavers should be here every year. But that's OK with the veteran coach.

"As unrealistic as that is, I think it's a great expectation for our fan base," Casey said.

Meanwhile, the exposure gained from these three trips to Omaha has expanded the recruiting base.

"What we say (to recruits) is that it takes players like you to get back there," Casey said. "And when you look at what's happened in the last three years, people have to say we're one of the elite baseball programs in the country."


BACK-AND-FORTH: Kurt Steele, an undergraduate assistant coach, flew home Thursday and will miss today's first game of the championship series. For good reason.

Steele will marry Kathy Gellatly of Philomath today. The couple will have a unique honeymoon — flying to Omaha for Sunday's second game of the title series.

Casey said Steele's duties with the Beavers include "organizational things, whatever needs to be done."

"He was a warrior," Casey of Steele's dedication to the program, "and he was a warrior when he played for us. I'm just happy he's here helping us get things done."

He hopes Steele returns with the Beavers ahead 1-0 as they attempt to become the first team to win back-to-back titles since LSU in 1996-97.


UNSUNG HERO: An Omaha reporter asked Casey if his team had an unsung hero. There wasn't much hesitation when he named Joey Wong, the freshman second baseman.

"Some of the plays he's made are overlooked," Casey said. "He's been pretty vital, pretty important. Joey just kind of quietly turns a double play, backs up a base "¦"

Yet there's room for improvement.

"If he can get faster, he can be a real player," Casey said.

That's what Wong will work on this summer.

Another reporter asked Casey if Wong looked "like a young kid."

"They all look like kids to me, and it gets worse every year," Casey laughed.

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