The Kansas State baseball team’s trip west for the first NCAA super regional in program history comes with a very large caveat.
That being a three-game series with one of the nation’s powerhouse programs and a team motivated by last year’s failure in regionals.
Make no mistake, Oregon State will be ready. And they’ll be home at Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Ore.
Oh, and because colleges in Oregon finish school almost a month later, they’ll have the entire student body on campus supporting them — Oregon State’s final day of the spring term isn’t until June 14.
“(Goss) is just a really neat atmosphere … they pack the fans right on top of you,” said Aaron Fitt, Baseball America’s national college baseball writer. “They’re smart fans, too. Not an easy place to play and the team feeds off the energy from the crowd. They were 24-5 at home this year, which is pretty much par for the course for them.”
The Beavers, who won back-to-back College World Series titles in 2006 and 2007, advanced to the super regional with a 6-1 win over Texas A&M on Sunday in Corvallis. Oregon State (48-10) has been to the CWS four times — three coming in the last decade.
Kansas State advanced to the super regionals with a 4-3 win over Arkansas on Sunday.
“The fans are going to be against you and you don’t know what you’re going to be up against in a lot of different areas,” K-State coach Brad Hill said. “It’s time to bond together and that’s what we talk about when we do go on the road and play.”
The Beavers won the Pac-12 title for the first time since 2006 and are led by seven All Pac-12 selections, including Pac-12 player of the year Michael Conforto, a sophomore left fielder who leads the team in batting (.349), home runs (13), RBIs (76) and hits (70).
“(Oregon State) is the real deal, probably their best team since winning the last national championship,” Fitt said “They’ve been a juggernaut all year long. They pitch really well, just like Arkansas, but they’re a much more complete team than Arkansas. They can score runs.
“Conforto is a really disciplined hitter, he draws a lot of walks … the bat is what makes him special. You can’t let him or (right fielder) Dylan Davis beat you and those guys go back-to-back in the lineup.”
Kansas State played Oregon State last season, losing 13-5 on Feb. 26 in San Diego. The Beavers finished the year with a regional loss to LSU in Baton Rouge, La.
“When we played that game, it was kind of like, ’We’re playing Oregon State, we’re playing one of the top-notch teams,’ ” K-State catcher Blair DeBord said. “Now we’re at a point where I don’t feel that anymore. I don’t feel like we’re playing somebody that’s up here and we’re down here. We’re on the same playing field. I know we’re good. I know they’re good. We’re just going to trust our abilities and just go about our business.”