Champions of the Big-12, the Wildcats are offensive-minded with a team batting average of .324, 399 runs scored, 78 sacrifices, a team fielding percentage of .975 and an ERA of 3.86, led by freshman reliever Jake Matthys (8-1, 9 saves) and his 1.96 in 55 innings.
No. 3 national seeds and Pac-12 champions, the Super Regional host Beavers are built on pitching – team ERA of 2.13, nine pitchers with an ERA under 3.00 and at least 15 innings pitched – defense with a .971 fielding percentage, and opportune offense.
Eight Beavers have at least 23 RBIs, the team has 103 sacrifices and has outscored opponents 337-170.
There will be no reinventing of the wheel for either team at Goss Stadium during the Super Regional.
OSU will pitch long and hard with Matt Boyd, Andrew Moore and Ben Wetzler – all three of whom were all-Pac-12 performers, Moore and Wetzler were all-regional selections as well, combining for 17 innings – and be flexible with a bullpen led by freshman Max Engelbrekt (5-1, 1.32 ERA, 5 saves) and Scott Schultz (2-1, 2.09, 10 saves).
K-State, which went 16-8 in Big-12 play and won the conference tournament, attacks with eight regulars hitting no less than .312 and two – Austin Fisher and Ross Kivett – batting a team-high .363. Those eight have all started at least 56 of the Wildcats’ 61 games.
Playing at Goss will be in the Beavers’ favor. They’re 25-4 at home and have played in front of record crowds in three of their last six games. The Super Regional was a sellout by 9 a.m. Wednesday morning, pending any ticket returns from Kansas State’s allotment. It will be a heavily Beaver-oriented crowd, yet one that is aware of the Beavers’ weak points.
OSU has struggled to score early in games, forcing its starters to turn in nearly perfect performances every time out. Boyd (10-3), Moore (13-1) and Wetzler (8-1) have done just that.
Their efforts will be significantly easier if leadoff hitter Tyler Smith and No. 2 batter Andy Peterson do their jobs by reaching base and sacrificing runners over. Smith is hitting .301 with a .386 on-base percentage. Peterson is hitting .336 with a .393 OBP. Together, they’ve scored 88 runs, including the winning runs against Texas A&M in the Corvallis Regional final.
Designated hitter Ryan Barnes led OSU in the regional, hitting .538. He also hit the only home run at Goss the entire weekend. Right fielder Dylan Davis, named the most outstanding player in the regional, batted .429; Pac-12 Player of the Year Michael Conforto hit just .231 in the regional with an OBP of .333. Conforto was a .326 hitter with 42 RBIs, 44 runs scored and an OBP of .450 in the regular season.
There are seven K-State players with 30 or more RBIs and eight have scored 30 or more times. The Wildcats offense is quite possibly even better balanced than Oregon State’s. Kivett scored 54 runs and drove in 39, while Fisher had 42 runs and 37 RBIs. Jared King leads the Wildcats in RBIs with 51, while Shane Conlon has scored 55 times.
Kansas State is 15-5 in one-run games; the Beavers are 12-2. There’s no lying in those statistics: both are outstanding baseball teams. Getting to Omaha for the College World Series will be no easy task.
The Beavers came into this season with a focus on reaching the CWS and knowing the easier path was to play in front of their home crowd. They’re 3-0 in Super Regionals at Goss and looking to go 4-0.