Oregon St.'s first opponent in the 2013 postseason will be UT-San Antonio. That's University of Texas-San Antonio. The Roadrunners are relative new-comers to Division I and the WAC, and certainly not a "blue blood" collegiate program with generations of tradition. The school was only opened in 1969.
But for the casual fan who might be thinking the Beavers are playing the South Texas equivalent of Western Oregon, it's worth knowing fast growing UTSA has an enrollment of over 30,000, and is the second largest school in the Texas state system. San Antonio, Houston to the east, and deep south Texas, is home to an enormous number of people, and is a region relatively unimpacted by the recent economic downturn, providing the various Roadrunner programs with a tremendous amount of resources, which they are using wisely to build their university on a variety of fronts. Don't be surprised to see UTSA popping up more and more in collegiate conversations in the years to come.
This year's Roadrunner program reached the NCAA post season by winning the WAC tournament, beating Dallas Baptist 11-4 in the championship game. UTSA was the 4th seed in the WAC tournament, but was arguably the second best team in the conference, posting a 35-23 overall record, behind only WAC regular season champion Cal-St. Bakersfield's 37-22. The Roadrunners finished 2 1/2 games behind in the conference race, with a 15-11 WAC record.
Their tournament run started with a 3-2 win over Sacramento St., and continued with a 13-3 thumping of San Jose St. A 1-0 win over Bakersfield set up their shot at earning their first ever WAC title.
UTSA comes into Corvallis on a roll, having won their last 7 games, and 10 of their last 11 overall, earning their 5th conference title in program history. UTSA previously won 4 titles as a member of the Southland Conference, before moving out of what is an FCS conference at the football level, as the Roadrunners took the step toward FBS level competition.
Oregon St. beat UTSA in the only meeting between the two teams, 10-7, in 10 innings, back on Feb. 28, 2011, at Wolff Stadium in San Antonio, when Carter Bell delivered a 3 RBI double to score Danny Hayes, Andrew Susac, and Parker Berberet.
Looking at this season, UTSA finished 1/2 game behind Texas St., a team both Oregon St. and Oregon fans are familiar with, as the Bobcats made a visit to both in the preseason. Texas St. lost all 5, but suffered a 1 run loss to the Ducks. The Beavers got a 6-3 win as well as a competitive 6-4 one, after the Bobcats dropped the series opener 16-4.
Texas St. took 3 of 4, including 2 of 3 in he WAC, against UTSA.
The reason the Bobcats had an odd, half game advantage in the WAC was one Oregon St. fans can understand, the Roadrunners got only 2 of 3 games in at Seattle, both wins over the Redhawks, another common opponent, before rain shortened the series.
The Roadrunners faced another team coming to Corvallis, losing an 11-4 contest at Texas A&M in their 30th game over the years against the Aggies.
The notable nugget from scanning the UTSA schedule for Oregon St. fans, though, is the Roadrunners' winning a 4 game series against Washington St. Beaver fans know how pesky the Cougs can be after 2 extra inning games and a loss this last weekend.
The Roadrunners dropped the opener 6-3, but then bounced back with 12-3, 13-10, and 4-3 wins.
Oregon St.'s pitching will face a legitimate test in UTSA, who have 5 players hitting .311 or better, led by RJ Perucki's .349, and 2 more Roadrunners are above .290. The Roadrunners have pounded out 618 hits, 351 runs, and 37 home runs, 22 of which have come from Perucki and Daniel Rockett.
Contrast that with Oregon St.'s 532 hits, 323 runs, and 25 homers. There's a considerable difference in the season-long level of competition, but also some commonality of opponents, and so its clear any mistake pitches are likely to get hammered.
The Roadrunners can run some too, led by Riley Good (.336), who has stolen 11 bases in 16 attempts. Jake Rodriguez will be keeping a particularly close eye on Good should he reach base, something he's likely to do at some point.
The ace of the staff is freshman RHP Brock Hartson (9-4, 3.10), their usual Friday night starter. It should be another good matchup for Matt Boyd.
As the #3 team in the country, Oregon St. "should" handle UTSA, and both/either Texas A&M, who is 32-27, and went 13-16 in the SEC, finishing 6th in the SEC West, and UC-Santa Barbara, who went 34-23, and 17-10 in the Big West, good for a tie with UCLA regional bound Cal-Poly for second place behind #5 National Seed Fullerton St., for that matter.
But all 3 opponents are quality, dangerous opponents, worthy of their spot in the Corvallis Regional, and teams the Beavers will need to be sharp to overcome, and capitalize on their National Seed, and a road to Omaha that goes directly from Goss Stadium, where the Beavers are unbeaten in the modern regional format, with no side trips to SEC or ACC cities.