OMAHA, Neb. — Winning the College World Series requires endless hard work, dedication and talent.
It also takes plenty of luck, which is why the No. 1 national seed hasn’t brought home the hardware since Miami in 1999.
Top-seeded Oregon State (56-6), which was eliminated by No. 4 LSU (52-18) at TD Ameritrade Park, found that out Saturday afternoon. The Beavers’ offense went cold at the worst possible time, resulting in their first two-game losing streak of the season.
Just like last, it was all over.
“We've been playing well all season and I felt like just after a couple of innings it tightened up a little bit, and it felt that way the whole game,” said junior KJ Harrison, who has likely played his last game in a Beavers uniform. “I think we didn't stay aggressive like we normally are, and it's just how it was.”
The Beavers showed plenty of aggression through most of the 2017 season, compiling a pair of 23-game winning streaks en route to a school-record 56 victories. OSU finished 27-3 in Pac-12 play, the best mark in conference history.
But as the stakes were raised and the competition stiffened, the Beavers came up one victory short of playing for their third national title.
“For some of these kids, it’s the first time on this type of stage,” pitching coach Nate Yeskie said. “We played at home through the regionals, we played at home through the supers and when you come here, you’re not dealing with just a home crowd anymore. The whole thing is a new learning experience, and for our guys to do what they did. … I’m proud of them.”
With a final record of 56-6, OSU ends the season tied with Texas’ 1975 team for the fourth-best winning percentage in the CWS era (1950-present) at .903. Cliff Gustafson’s Longhorns also went 56-6, overcoming an NCAA tournament loss to Arizona State en route to the national title.
The top three all-time teams — 1972 Arizona State (64-6, .914), 1982 Texas (59-6, .908) and 1974 Arizona (58-6, .906) — all fell short of a championship.
Since 2003, the only top-eight national seeds to win the CWS were LSU (2009) and South Carolina (2011). A national seed is guaranteed to win the 2017 championship.
Yeskie did not believe the Beavers felt the weight of history, or being No. 1, during the postseason.
“We had the No. 1 run for 13, 14 weeks and we never looked at ourselves that way,” the coach said. “We never thought that we needed to rest on what we had done. We tried to go out and win the next pitch, the next out, the next game, whatever it might be. Being No. 1 here doesn’t mean anything unless you’re No. 1 at the end.”
Despite coming up short, the 2017 Beavers will undoubtedly be remembered as one of the greatest teams in college baseball history.
Two losses against LSU doesn’t erase a season’s-worth of splendid play.
“It's unbelievable what they did this year,” LSU coach Paul Mainieri said. “To lose four games out of 60 when they came here, whatever their record was, you don't do that accidentally.
“They were an outstanding ball club, one of the best, just like our team was in 2013. But we didn't win it out here either. You still have to play the games.”