Column: Return of Wetzler, Schultz could push Beavers back to the CWS

2013-07-12T23:00:00Z Column: Return of Wetzler, Schultz could push Beavers back to the CWSBy STEVE GRESS, Corvallis Gazette-Times Corvallis Gazette Times

When Ben Wetzler followed in Matt Boyd’s footsteps Friday and decided to return to Oregon State for his senior baseball season, it was hard not to start thinking about what might be in store next season.

A starting pitching staff that includes Wetzler, Andrew Moore, who was a freshman sensation in 2013, and Jace Fry, who was impressive as a freshman in 2012 before recovering from Tommy John surgery most of last season.

How about a repeat Pac-12 title?

Maybe even a top eight national seed.

What about a return to the College World Series?

And, why not, possibly winning a third national title.

One thing is for sure: All of those are within reach, and likely a big reason Wetzler gave up the chance to play pro baseball for one more chance to play for the Beavers.

“I couldn’t be happier to return to Oregon State for my senior year,” Wetzler said in a release. “We had a great season and I’m looking forward to taking another crack at getting back to Omaha next year.”

Indeed, the return of Wetzler, a lefty who went 10-1 last season as the Sunday starter, bolsters the pitching staff.

But so does the return of Scott Schultz, a righty reliever who also decided to put off a professional career on Friday to give it one more go in Corvallis.

“I had way too much fun last season,” Schultz said in a statement. “We had such a great group of guys. I loved the experience we had. I came to Oregon State my freshman year to win and I feel like we did that (in 2013). I just didn’t feel like it was time to leave. I love playing in front of Beaver Nation. I’m looking forward to doing it one more year.”

Let’s not forget the Beavers will be solid in the outfield with the deadly combination of Michael Conforto in left and Dylan Davis in right hitting 3-4 in the lineup.

They combined for 167 hits, including 36 doubles and 16 homers, and 108 RBIs.

Then there is Kavin Keyes at third who quietly had a solid season, and Andy Peterson at second, who had 82 hits and scored a team-best 49 runs.

The Beavers do need to replace Danny Hayes at first, Tyler Smith at shortstop and Jake Rodriguez behind the plate. All three are now playing in the minors.

While there are holes, there is also excitement amongst the players seeing guys who could have left for some money come back to build off the 2013 season.

“#Beavernation stand up! @benwetzler28 is comin back for one more year!!,” Conforto tweeted, then followed up with another tweet about Schultz, “@Sschultsie comin back too! Couldn’t be more pumped!”

OSU did struggle at times with their offense, especially in the final two-plus games in the CWS.

But you don’t need to score as many runs when you have a dominant pitching staff.

And with the return of Wetzler and Schultz, you can count on that in 2014.

Steve Gress is the sports editor of the Corvallis Gazette-Times. He can be reached at steve.gress@lee.net.

Copyright 2015 Corvallis Gazette Times. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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