Image credit: Oregon State LHP Cooper Hjerpe (Photo courtesy of Oregon State)
Coach: Mitch Canham
Postseason history: Eighth super regional appearance (first since 2018). Seeking eighth trip to Omaha and first since 2018.
Postseason route: No. 1 seed in Corvallis Regional. Went 3-1, defeating Vanderbilt in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Beavers)
“Their lineup has some depth, some holes at the bottom. They definitely have some dangerous hitters at the top with Jacob Melton. Garret Forrester had (a) good finish. Wade Meckler is a big-game player. They can beat you in some different ways, they can beat you with speed and the short game a bit and put pressure on you with steals. Justin Boyd is really good, has good bat-to-ball (skills), bunts, steals bases. Melton runs well. Travis Bazzana is a really good player, he can hit, he can put some pressure on you with his legs, too. They’re maybe not as offensive as Stanford but they maybe have another dimension with the way they can run.
“Their pitching seems like it’s gotten better recently. Their pitching early wasn’t as good, but they’ve got some guys hot recently and had more depth there. Once you get past Cooper Hjerpe—and he can carry them in a game—but after that they get a little more normal. Some guys have stepped up.
“That lineup can put pressure on good pitchers. Defensively they’re solid. Gavin Logan is a really good catcher and he’s an offensive player, too. He puts the ball in play and has a plan. Kyle Dernedde is solid at shortstop. The outfield can all run, cover ground out there.
“Hjerpe is different. The fastball is different. You get his TrackMan numbers, and his release height is like 4-foot-2 and it’s like he’s 2 feet different from a normal pitcher in release height and angle. You’re looking at a very different pitch than you’re used to seeing. His fastball is his best pitch. It’s not overpowering, it’s like 90 (mph). But the angle makes it tough. He’s competing with kind of a trick pitch. And it’s a good pitch. I feel like his breaking ball and changeup are just OK, but he throws them for strikes and he throws them in any count. He can throw a pretty good changeup to a righty and create some swing and miss or weak contact. You can paint him into a corner, but he can also pitch mix a little bit to get out.
“They take what you give them (offensively) and that makes them dangerous. At one point, they all had ridiculous batting averages because if you play them back, they’ll take bunt hits and they’re good at it. If you play them up, they’ll put the ball in play and take advantage of the holes. They don’t have to use the short game, but if you give it to them, they’ll take it. In sacrifice bunt situations with a lot of their guys they’ll sac bunt but you have to play catch because they can run.
“It’s tough to play there, it’s a good environment. Their fans are good, they’re knowledgeable of the game, they try to put some pressure on the umpires, and they know they can influence the game a bit more. They’re right on top of you. I think it’s the best environment on the West Coast as far as fans. It’s almost like they’re coached up a little bit. It seems like they know how to influence a bit and they’re a little bit rowdy that way. It’s a tough place to play, it’s a tough place to win for sure. But it’s also a cool place to play.”
C: Gavin Logan
1B: Garret Forrester
2B: Travis Bazzana
3B: Matthew Gretler
SS: Kyle Dernedde
LF: Wade Meckler
CF: Jacob Melton
RF: Justin Boyd
DH: Jake Dukart
SP: Cooper Hjerpe
SP: Jake Pfennigs
SP: Jacob Kmatz
RP: Ryan Brown
RP: Ben Ferrer
Coach: Butch Thompson
Postseason history: Fourth super regional appearance (first since 2019). Seeking sixth trip to Omaha and first since 2019.
Postseason route: No. 1 seed in Auburn Regional. Went 3-0, defeating UCLA in regional final.
Scouting report (anonymous coach breaks down the Tigers)
“They don’t dazzle you, but they have (a) lot of pieces, and they make you beat them. They make every play, they throw strikes, they put the ball in play, they throw the ball to the right place, they take extra bases. Sonny (DiChiara) has been a difference maker and Blake Rambusch is a really freaking good player. You get to the third inning, and you’re not dazzled but you get to the end of the game, and they have more runs than you do.
“They’ve done a good job of piecing together the pitching, getting the right guys in the right roles. Blake Burkhalter has been a real closer. If they have the lead in the ninth everyone thinks they’re going to win the game. They’re the story of college baseball this year in that they’re just old. They have a bunch of guys with 600-800 at-bats under their belt. Joseph Gonzalez has emerged; Trace Bright has done a good job. They have a bunch of good college players. I’m not sure there’s a bunch of big leaguers, but they have good college players.
“You look at (DiChiaria’s) at numbers last season at Samford and no disrespect to the SoCon or Samford, but he hit .271. Now, kids are allowed to get better, and he always had feel to hit and power, so there’s talent there. But I don’t think you’d project .400 with 20 HR on anyone but a (Dylan) Crews or (Jacob) Berry type guy. He’s obviously been an extreme difference maker for them. The dude gets on base half the time he goes to bat.
“Brody Moore is not sexy at shortstop, but he’s only made four errors. They’re maybe not as flashy overall, but fielding .981 as a team is pretty special, man. Kason Howell catches a lot of doubles and triples in center field; he’s a really good defender. You can’t run on them because Nate LaRue has a bazooka. They’ve given up 27 stolen bases is all. When you play Auburn, you’ve got to earn it. You have to earn all 90 feet offensively and they don’t get themselves out. They don’t chase.
“They’ve won 40+ games and they’re in a super, two wins from Omaha. The whole is greater than the sum of their parts. Any of us would like to have a lot of their players, they’re just a winning team. It’s the opposite of last year, when they couldn’t close games out and find a way to win. This year they find a way. They work ahead in the count, they have some stuff—Burkhalter has stuff, Gonzalez has a nice sinker, Barnett has (a) big arm.
“To get to super regionals, you have to be good. Part of that is being in this conference. You’re so battle tested, you’ve played six, seven, eight weekends that are like supers. You finish in the top half of the league and you’re one of the best 20 teams in the country.”
C: Nate LaRue
1B: Sonny DiChiara
2B: Cole Foster
3B: Blake Rambusch
SS: Brody Moore
LF: Mike Bello
CF: Kason Howell
RF: Bobby Peirce
DH: Brooks Carlson
SP: Trace Bright
SP: Joseph Gonzalez
SP: Mason Barnett
RP: Blake Burkhalter
RP: Carson Skipper
Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
Sunday, 10 p.m. ET (ESPN2)