Oregon State is dominant force in Corvallis

Updated: June 6, 2006, 11:56 AM ET
By Will Kimmey | Baseball America

Corvallis Regional
1. Oregon State (39-14) -- Eighth appearance, automatic, won Pacific-10 regular season
2. Kansas (42-23) -- Third appearance, automatic, won Big 12 tournament
3. Hawaii (43-16) -- 12th appearance, at-large, WAC
4. Wright State (32-25) -- Second appearance, automatic, won Horizon tournament

Corvallis Regional schedule
At Goss Stadium At Coleman Field
Corvallis, Ore.
Friday, June 2
Game 1 -- Kansas 9, Hawaii 6
Game 2 -- Oregon State 5, Wright State 3
Saturday, June 3
Game 3 -- Hawaii 5, Wright State 3
Game 4 -- Oregon State 11, Kansas 3
Sunday, June 4
Game 5 -- Hawaii 9, Kansas 5
Game 6 -- Oregon State 12, Hawaii 3
Oregon State (42-14) advances to the super regional round.

Corvallis Regional notes
Oregon State followed up last year's first regional appearance since 1986 and first CWS trip since 1952 by winning consecutive Pac-10 titles for the first time in school history. This year's Beavers say getting to Omaha is no longer the goal -- winning there is. Much of the pitching staff that carried Oregon State last year returns and helped it to a 3.53 ERA to lead the Pac-10. Santa Clara transfer Mike Stutes (6-2, 2.71) added another arm to the combo of Dallas Buck (11-2, 2.92) and Jonah Nickerson (9-4, 2.61). Jacoby Ellsbury, the 2005 Pac-10 co-player of the year, was replaced by junior outfielder Cole Gillespie, who hit .370-11-50 with 20 doubles and 69 runs scored to win the award all by himself this year.

Kansas went from bubble team to No. 2 seed by winning its final seven games of the year and knocking off three top 20 teams in Oklahoma, Oklahoma State and Nebraska to win its first Big 12 tournament title. Senior right-hander Don Czyz closed the final victory for his NCAA-leading 18th save to go along with a 1.62 ERA and 59 strikeouts in 61 innings. Stanford transfer Kodiak Quick emerged as the staff ace, going 11-4 with a 3.36 ERA in his second year at KU. Seniors Jared Schweitzer (.358-9-37) and Gus Milner (.332-7-56) led the offense.

Of the four teams in this regional, Hawaii has gone the longest without reaching the postseason. The Rainbows last played in the NCAA Tournament in 1993. Junior right-hander Steven Wright (11-2, 2.30) has proven nearly unbeatable this season with a 123-19 strikeout-walk ratio over 110 innings. He could help upend Kansas, but there's probably not enough pitching or offense to win the region. Luis Avila Savino hit eight of Hawaii's 15 homers; he and Justin Frash (.368-3-53) are the main threats in the lineup.

Joe Smith is a pretty common name, but the junior closer for Wright State is anything but a common talent. He throws an 88-91 mph fastball from a submarine arm slot and chews up opposing hitters. He ranked fourth in the Horizon League with 62 strikeouts in 52 innings while posting 13 saves and an 0.69 ERA. Smith threw four scoreless innings to save a win at TCU and went three innings without allowing an earned run to lock up a win against Notre Dame. If Wright State keeps a game close into the late innings, it can unleash Smith and send its upset chances spiking upward.

Will Kimmey covers college baseball for Baseball America.

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