Oregon (33-26, 11-16) completed a 3 game sweep over Oregon St. (38-17, 17-10) with a 6-0 win Sunday, which gave the Ducks 4 of 5 wins over the Beavers for the season. As a result, UCLA (32-21, 18-9) backed into the Pac-10 Championship, after losing a 10-5 decision in Tempe to Arizona St. (39-16, 17-10).
To their credit, the Bruins had muscled their way into position to claim the title, their first in 25 years, by beating the Sun Devils 10-3 and 7-0 in the first two games of their series.
Earlier in the day, UCLA, Oregon St., and Arizona St. all learned that they will be host sites in the NCAA regional first round next weekend, joining Cal-State-Fullerton as the 4 western regional sites.
The sweep, which gave Oregon 8 wins in their last 10 games, kept the Ducks hopes for a post-season berth alive, with tomorrow morning's 9:30 AM PDT selection show on ESPN to reveal the answer to their prayers.
For Oregon St., who held the tie-breaker over both Arizona St. and UCLA, and would have claimed the Pac-10 with a single win any time over the weekend, it was a disappointing end to what had been a spectacular regular season that saw the Beavers, originally picked to finish 8th in the Pac-10, eventually climb to #2 in the nation.
But a rainy end to the second game of a double header in Seattle saw the Huskies rally from 6 runs down to steal a soggy win that would prove to cost the Beavers the conference championship, after Oregon St. lost their last 5 games, and 6 of their last 7.
The Beavers had not lost more than 2 consecutive games at any time in the season, and had recovered from their only other real slump, where they lost 3 of 4 games, at the first of the month.
Losing streaks followed by success are not unprecedented for Oregon St. Last year, it took a sweep of Oregon in the Civil War to get the Beavers into the post season.
Even in 2007, Oregon St. suffered through a stretch where they lost 8 of 11 games, and 3 series, before a season ending series win. That worked out pretty well once the Beavers won their way to Omaha.
But the team wide slump, where hitting was not only soft, but untimely, and defensive lapses didn't help what was at times less than the spectacular pitching that Oregon St. had had much of the year, has lasted, and worsened, for a couple of weeks. Throughout the season, the Beavers had suffered the same kind of play that punctuated their late game skid, but it rarely lasted more than a game or two.
Whether they can find the magic that made them one of the country's best teams much of the season again is sure to keep a lot of Beaver players, coaches, and fans awake at night this week.