Defending champ Beavs back in the postseason

CORVALLIS — Oregon State, the defending national champion, was selected for an at-large berth in the NCAA Baseball Regionals, it was announced Monday morning. The Beavers (38-17 overall, 10-14 Pacific-10) will play Rutgers on Friday in the first round of the NCAA Charlottesville Regional. The other schools in the four-team, double-elimination tournament at Davenport Field, Virginia and Lafayette, will play earlier Friday.

OSU, which was ranked No. 25 in the USA Today/ESPN coaches poll released Monday, is the No. 3 seed in the NCAA Charlottesville Regional. Virginia (43-14, 19-9 Atlantic Coast) is the No. 1 seed, Rutgers (41-19, 20-7 Big East) is the No. 2 and Lafayette (33-18, 17-3) the No. 4 seed.

The Beavers are making their third straight postseason appearance, and they find themselves back in the NCAA Regionals after losing two starting pitchers, the closer and five standout position players from the team that won the 2006 College World Series.

"To think that this club is in the same position that we were last year (when OSU finished the regular season with a 39-14 record), with who we lost, is extremely impressive," Oregon State coach Pat Casey said. "I can't tell you how many times, when you go through tough times during the season, you really stop and enjoy it and think about that. If you were to say that at the end of the year we'll be 38-17, we'd say, 'Come on now, don't expect that.' But they did, and with a tougher non-conference schedule."

Oregon State gained its place in the 64-team field for the NCAA Regionals after taking two of three games at UCLA over the weekend. The Beavers finished in a tie for sixth place in the Pac-10, but had a Ratings Percentage Index (RPI) among the top 30 in the nation.

"I was talking to coach (John) Savage of UCLA before our game Sunday," Casey said. "These guys follow RPIs and I don't. The reality of it was, going into our game Sunday at UCLA we were 38-16 on the year with an RPI of 28; last year we entered the tournament with an RPI of 30 and were 39-14. If you look at about a one-game difference and having only two guys (catcher Mitch Canham and shortstop Darwin Barney) who played every day coming back, that's impressive what these guys have done.

"Did we stagger down the stretch? Absolutely. But there has to be a reason they want us to play 56 games. Our RPI was higher than it was last year and our non-conference schedule helped us tremendously. We had big wins over Missouri (ranked 13th in this week's coaches poll), Arizona State (ranked sixth), Texas A&M (ranked 10th), Cal Poly, Georgia — and I think they rewarded us."

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