CORVALLIS, Ore. >> None of the other teams in the Corvallis Regional have any illusions about the challenge they face: the Oregon State Beavers are the top-ranked team in the nation, the No. 1 national seed in the NCAA Tournament, and they only lost four times during the season.
“Everyone knows they’ve had a good year,” Holy Cross first baseman Anthony Critelli said. “They’re solid and all. But we’re more focused on us and what we need to do.”
Oregon State will host fourth-seeded Holy Cross on Friday night following a game between No. 2 Nebraska and No. 3 Yale in the double-elimination bracket.
It’s been a record-setting season for the Beavers, who at 49-4 have the fewest losses going into the postseason since Texas was 53-4 at the end of the regular season in 1982.
Oregon State went 27-3 in Pac-12 play for the league title, surpassing Arizona State’s record of 26 league wins set in 1981. Along the way, coach Pat Casey surpassed the 1,000-win milestone.
The Beavers are riding a 16-game winning streak into the postseason.
“Our guys kept staying with it, the ball bounced our way, we got a lot of breaks. We stayed injury-free till the end,” Casey said. “We played consistent. I never thought we got too high or too low. We stayed pretty consistent.”
The back-to-back College World Series champions in 2006 and 2007 have made the postseason 17 times with a 51-33 overall record. It is the sixth time they will host a regional, and they’re 26-6 in postseason play at Goss Stadium.
Holy Cross is headed to the tournament for the first time since 1978. The Crusaders (23-27) won their first-ever Patriot League title since the school joined the conference in 1986.
Holy Cross won the NCAA title in 1952.
“I don’t think these guys need much motivation, to be frank,” Crusaders coach Greg DiCenzo said. “They’re excited to partake in the tournament, they’ve worked extremely hard. They know how hard we’ve worked as a coaching staff to develop the program and put our fingerprints on this program and build that culture. And whether we’re playing the No. 1 team in the country, or the 63rd-ranked team in the country, I don’t think it matters to us, it’s about getting between the white lines and competing.”
Yale is 32-16 and went 16-4 in the Ivy League Conference. The team is making its first appearance in the tournament since 1993.
The Bulldogs won their sixth overall Ivy League title this year.
“Everything’s very, very competitive for us. You can tell when we’re just in the locker room whether we’re playing Call of Duty on the TV, or Guitar Hero. Everything we do we’re trying to win,” said Yale sophomore right-hander Scott Politz.
Nebraska (35-20-1) fell twice to the Beavers earlier this season in Surprise, Arizona. The Huskers won the Big Ten regular-season title, going 16-7-1 in conference play.
Yale coach John Stuper and Nebraska coach Darin Erstad won World Series rings as pros, Stuper in 1982 with the Cardinals and Erstad with the Angels in 2002.
And one detail about the road to Corvallis? Yale and Holy Cross took the same plane to Oregon, picking up Nebraska along the way.
“If it would have been up to me we would’ve left them,” Stuper joked.
Oregon State was also the top seed in 2014, but got upset in the Corvallis Regional by UC Irvine.