Closing Thoughts About Baseball, and Other Notes

Being eliminated from the regional tournament marked a disappointing end to a great season for the OSU baseball team. The Beavers did well to respond well from the Saturday shellacking to force a pivotal Monday matchup. Unfortunately, their rally attempt fell short against UC-Irvine in that game. Hats off to the Anteaters. They constantly put pressure on the Beavers and played more mistake-free ball. In many ways, they reminded me of past OSU squads.

The Beavers got some outstanding performances during the regionals. From Andrew Moore’s 17 strikeouts in Game 1, Ben Wetzler’s complete game in Game 3, Scott Schultz’s complete-game shutout in Game 4, and Jake Thompson’s gritty Game 5 performance.

And Thompson’s showing offered promise for next season. He’s got good stuff. Him and Moore should form a strong 1-2 punch in 2015, which would help offset the loss of a great core of players in Michael Conforto, Wetzler, Jace Fry, Dylan Davis, Andy Petersen, etc.

But You don’t lose all the talent, and not take a step back in some regards, so Pat Casey has his work cut out. But if there’s one thing Beaver Nation has learned since 2005, when his program started to take off, don’t count out a Pat Casey-led squad. That said, it would help immensely if  this weekend’s MLB Draft doesn’t gut the Beavers’ recruiting class.

  • Speaking of the draft, congrats to Conforto for being taken with the No. 10 pick by the New York Mets. It’s nice to see arguably the greatest player in OSU history, and one of the finest in Pac-12 history, be rewarded for his hard work. He’s now the highest Beaver ever drafted (Scott Christman went at No. 17 in 1993). While he was tremendous on the field, I don’t think Conforto gets enough credit for being equally great off the field. He was a great representative of OSU, and it will be fun to watch him progress at the next level. As a Braves fan, this is the closest I’ll come to following the Mets.
  • Earlier this week, former OSU star and current New York Yankees standout Jacoby Ellisbury donated $1 million to the Beavers baseball program to help with locker room renovations. This is a huge boon for Casey and his program. It will enable the program to keep up in the Pac-12 facilities race, and should help with recruiting. It’s great to see Ellsbury giving back, and it’s nice that after years of sweat, blood, and tears, Casey isn’t having to do all the heavy lifting when it comes to fundraising.
  • On to basketball… One of the complaints during the later years of the Craig Robinson era was the lack of solid X’s and O’s especially during crucial stretches of games. The answer that many fans clamored for (besides wanting Robinson fired) was more experienced and proven assistant coaches. Well, Tinkle appears to have found that with his first assistant coach hire: Kerry Rupp, who has 15 years of college experience after a lengthy high school coaching career, including a 4-year stint as HC at Louisiana Tech. His best season there came in 2009, when the Bulldogs finished 24-11. Rupp spent the last two seasons on Tinkle’s staff at Montana.
  • It’s also rumored that former Cal assistant Gregg Gottlieb is joining the staff. That would be a home run hire. Gottlieb has strong recruiting ties to California and a reputation for developing players such as Ryan Anderson and Allan Crabbe. He’s coached under Steve Fisher and Mike Montgomery. He’s also the brother of notable basketball analyst Doug Gottlieb. That can only help right? He’s no President Obama, but still Doug Gottlieb could help draw more attention to the program.
  • So who will fill the last spot on Tinkle’s coaching staff? Freddie Owens? Not so fast. I thought Owens would be the first person hired by Tinkle, given they coached together in Montana, and that Owens could bridge the gap between Tinkle and the the returning OSU players. But maybe a clean break from the Robinson era would be best. That said, a younger, diverse coach such as Owens would be a smart choice for Tinkle. Plus, with Rupp, and hopefully, Gootlieb on board, Tinkle can take a chance on someone without as much experience. A dynamic personality who can relate well to recruits is what I’d like to see.
  • Lost among the hoopla of Tinkle being hired and the Beavers playing in the regionals is the fact that women’s basketball coach Scott Rueck continues to clean up in recruiting. This spring he’s landed a JUCO point guard, a 6-5 post from Germany, and two highly-regarded prep players for the 2015-16 season. Beaver fans should never doubt coaches who hail from George Fox, but did anyone see Rueck having this much recruiting success early on? If you did, I’d like to buy you a drink. Now if he can land Katie McWilliams from South Salem High School, that would be even sweeter. She grew up a Beavers fan and so it would be neat to see her playing for her childhood fav. But McWilliams won’t be hurting for suitors. She’s one of the top players in the state. (RW)

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