Red-hot Michael Conforto flourishes wherever he bats in New York Mets' order

Red-hot Michael Conforto flourishes wherever he bats in New York Mets' order

PHOENIX -- All Michael Conforto needed to hear was, "How 'bout those Beavers?"

With wide eyes and big smile, he started talking about what one New York Mets beat writer said is his favorite subject -- his college baseball team.

"What a season," he said. "Forty-one and four? I remember when I was there we were ranked No. 1 and I think we lost 13 or 14 games and it seemed like we never lost. I don't know what just four losses would feel like."

Conforto is proud of his alma mater and its coach, Pat Casey. "He's just what everyone says he is -- someone who cares about you on and off the field. He transformed me as a player and a person."

Conforto broke in with the Mets in 2015 after a meteoric rise through their farm system. He made an immediate impact at the age of 22, hitting .270 with nine home runs in 56 games. And when he followed that by hitting .333 with two homers in the World Series, the New York hype machine kicked into high gear. He came into the following season as a rising star. In New York, which is a bigger deal than anywhere else.

But the 2016 season was anything but easy for Conforto. He hit just .220 and found himself back in Triple-A.

"I learned a lot," he said. "I think I was trying to do too much. Then I started pressing. But I went back to the minor leagues and played well. I think some of that was good for me."

Evidently it was because he's off to a terrific start this season. He went to spring training knowing he was going to have to scrap just to get into the team's starting lineup. With Yoenis Cespedes, Curtis Granderson and Jay Bruce making big money in the New York outfield, Conforto seemed a good bet to be the odd man out.

"I knew I would have to battle to play," he said Monday before the Mets' game against the Diamondbacks.

And battle he did. He's hitting .343 (sixth-best in the National League) with nine home runs, a .686 slugging percentage and a whopping 1.116 OPS. A big part of that story is his move to the leadoff spot in the batting order. And this from a player who has always projected as more of a power hitter, a No. 3-4-5 hitter in the order. Well, actually, he still is a power hitter, as his slugging percentage proves.

Conforto has started 19 games in the leadoff spot this season and has hit three leadoff homers. He's hitting .471 with four homers, six RBI and 10 runs scored just in the first inning!

"It doesn't really matter where I hit," he said. "I'm just trying to be patient."

He moved to the No. 3 slot in the batting order Sunday and responded with a double, triple and home run at Milwaukee, missing the cycle by the easiest of the four hits. But Monday night he was right back in the leadoff spot.

"It doesn't matter," he said. "I haven't changed my approach at the plate much."

And while acknowledging that living in New York is nothing like living anywhere else, he's made the adjustment.

"It's nothing like Corvallis," he said with a laugh. "All the media and everything. But I've grown to like it. I like New York."

And he still loves his Beavers.

"I try to keep up with what's going on," he said. "There's only one player left there who I played with but I know a lot of the guys there now. We were recruiting them while I was there. They have some really good players."

N’diaye, Tinkle granted medical hardships

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Oregon State Beavers

N’diaye, Tinkle granted medical hardships

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State men's basketball players Cheikh N'diaye and Tres Tinkle were officially granted medical hardships by the Pac-12 Faculty Athletics Representative Committee.
 
"I'm happy that Cheikh and Tres got their years back," Oregon State head coach Wayne Tinkle said. "It's why the rule exists and we're sure that both student-athletes will take advantage of it from an academic standpoint as well as athletically."
 
Both were eligible for a medical hardship because they played in nine games or less during the first half of the season and suffered season-ending injuries.
 
N'diaye played the first nine games of the season, with eight starts, before missing the final 23 contests with an injured left shoulder. He was averaging 3.6 points and 2.2 rebounds before the injury, while shooting 52.2 percent from the field.
 
The Dakar, Senegal native is eligible to be a redshirt senior next season. He has played 80 games in his four-year career and has a career shooting percentage of 64.9 percent (48-for-74) from the field.
 
Tres Tinkle was injured in the sixth game of the season when he suffered a broken right wrist in the final minutes against Fresno State. He was averaging 20.2 points, 8.3 rebounds and 2.3 assists before missing the final 26 games with the injury.
 
The Missoula, Mont., native was named the first Pac-12 Player of the Week this past season after averaging 23.0 points and 13.5 rebounds in wins over Prairie View A&M and UTSA. He will be a redshirt sophomore next season.
 
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As program and stadium improve, so too do Pat Casey's goals and ambitions

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USATI

As program and stadium improve, so too do Pat Casey's goals and ambitions

It's back! The Podfather GodCast with Dwight Jaynes has made its return! This week, Dwight sits down with Oregon State head baseball coach Pat Casey, who recently tallied his 800th win with the Beavers. 

As the program continues to grow, so too do Pat Casey's ambitions for Goss Stadium. As the amenties continue to grow for both players and alumni, Casey shares his vision both on and off the field.

Have a listen! 

Former OSU CB Kendall Hill to transfer to Grambling State

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USA Today

Former OSU CB Kendall Hill to transfer to Grambling State

Former Oregon State defensive back Kendall Hill has found a new home, announcing on his Instagram page that he will be transferring to Grambling State.

Hill, who came to Corvallis in 2012, had a rough start to his career at Oregon State. He redshirted his first year on campus while he took time to rehabilitate a knee injury he suffered the previous spring. The following season Hill injured his knee during spring ball and would miss the entire season once again.

Hill did not see real game action until 2014; a year that saw him switch from safety to wide receiver and play in eight games, mostly on special teams.

In 2015 Hill switched back to defense and had his most productive year as a Beaver, playing in 11 games (five starts) and recording a career best 39 tackles.

Due to his injuries in 2012 and 2013, the NCAA granted him a sixth year of eligibility prior to the 2016 season. He played in 12 games that season for the Beavers, before deciding to play his sixth season elsewhere.

https://www.instagram.com/p/BTiOynSFtjv/

Hill was in attendance for Grambling State’s spring game last month, in what was an unofficial visit to the program, and is expected to join the team early this summer.

Since Grambling State is in the FCS, a lower division than Oregon State, Hill will be immediately eligible to play for the Tigers. 

USC hits the "bull's-eye" on Beavers' back in extra innings

USC hits the "bull's-eye" on Beavers' back in extra innings

CORVALLIS -- Something very unusual happened at Goss Stadium Saturday afternoon on the campus of Oregon State University. The Beavers, ranked No. 1 in the country, lost a baseball game.

As you might expect, the USC Trojans (19-21 overall and 6-11 in the Pac-12) had quite a celebration on the field after the final out in the 10th inning of their 7-5 win. And why not? When you're No. 1, you're the biggest game on everyone's schedule. There isn't anybody in sports who doesn't get excited about playing against the very best team in the nation. And the Beavers have been dealing with that for weeks.

"We've got a bull's-eye on our backs and we're No. 1 in the nation and we need to embrace that," said OSU third baseman Michael Gretler, who had a home run and a single in a losing cause. "That's what we want. That's why a lot of us came here. That's our goal every year. We just need to do a better job of coming out and being ready to go."

Oregon State Coach Pat Casey had a  more succinct way of putting it:

"We've got to respond to everyone's desire to kick our ass every day and we probably didn't do that today," Casey said. "You don't play anybody in this league who can't beat you."

"I say this every day... USC, if they're playing somebody else, there's probably not that kind of energy, We didn't do some of the things we typically do well and it caught up to us today. Baseball's an unforgiving game, that's for sure.

"We've got to do some things better."

To be fair, the Beavers are 33-4 overall and 17-3 in the conference and should be forgiven for a loss once in a while -- especially when it's the first home defeat of the season. Stanford sits a distant second in the conference at 11-7 and California is 12-8. Oregon State has responded to challenges all season, but this wasn't its usual day. In front of a regular-season record crowd of 3,420 the Beavers didn't play the way they normally do.

"Pitching and defense win games and offense determines by how much," Casey said. "We needed to pitch and defend and we didn't do it. You're playing a team that's offensive as heck and when you give them extra opportunities..."

A two-out, nobody-on throwing error cost the Beavers two runs in the middle of the game and then a bobbled grounder led to two more in the 10th.

It really wasn't the Beavers' day. But there haven't been many of those this season.

The rubber game of the series is scheduled for 1:05 Sunday at Goss.

Sydney Wiese taken 11th overall in WNBA Draft

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USA Today

Sydney Wiese taken 11th overall in WNBA Draft

Sydney Wiese is trading in the small town of Corvallis for the glitz and glamour of Hollywood. The former Beavers star was selected by the Los Angeles Sparks with the 11th overall pick in the 2017 WNBA draft, becoming the highest ever selection for an Oregon State player.

Wiese had quite the career at Oregon State, setting the Pac-12 record for career three pointers made (373), was named to the Pac-12 all-conference team four times, and helped lead the team to its first ever Final Four appearance in 2016. That 2016 team also won the Pac-12 Tournament for the first time in program history.

In her final season at OSU Wiese averaged 15.2 points, 4.9 rebounds, and 4.5 assists per game, and was a finalist for the Naismith Award given to the national player of the year. For her career, Wiese averaged 13.3 points, 3.8 rebounds, and 4.8 assists per game. When it was all said and done Wiese finished her career with 626 assists, a program record, and 1,824 points, good for fifth al-time in OSU history.

Wiese becomes the third former Beaver currently in the WNBA, joining Ruth Hamblin (18th overall pick in 2016 by the Dallas Wings) and Jamie Weisner (17th overall pick in the 2016 by the Connecticut Sun).

In a press release prepared by the Sparks, Executive Vice President and General Manager Penny Toler, and Head Caoch Brian Agler had high praise for Wiese. “Sydney is one of the best point guards in the country,” said Toler. “She is a very good passer, penetrator, and three-point shooter that has shown that she can affect the outcome of a game be either her scoring or passing ability.  She will be a great addition to our team now and for years to come.”

 “We are excited to get Sydney as a part of our team,” said Agler, “We like her ability to play the point guard spot, shoot the three-point spot and distribute to her All-WNBA teammates.” 

The Sparks open up the WNBA regular season on May 13  with a home matchup against the Seattle Storm.

Defense edges the Offense 72-69 in OSU Spring Game

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USA Today

Defense edges the Offense 72-69 in OSU Spring Game

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Spectacular touchdown plays started and concluded the Oregon State football team’s Spring Game on Saturday before an appreciative crowd on a sunny day at Reser Stadium.

Junior tailback Ryan Nall kicked off the 100-play workout by gunning a 60-yard scoring pass to senior Hunter Jarmon on a brilliantly executed option play. Redshirt sophomore tight end Tuli Wily-Matugi closed it with a diving catch of a 2-yard pass from senior Darell Garretson in the back of the end zone for the final score.

The Defense edged the Offense 72-69, using a modified scoring system that rewarded touchdowns, 20-yard gains, interceptions, defensive stops and various other categories.

“I asked the guys to compete at a high level like it was an aggressive spring practice, and they did,” OSU coach Gary Andersen said. “They handled the thud part of it very well, in fact so well we went longer than we were going to.

“These kids practice a lot against each other and it is very worthwhile film to be provided with. I think they will go back and study the tape.”

Garretson and redshirt juniors Marcus McMaryion and Jake Luton shared the bulk of the quarterbacking duties and each had outstanding moments.

  • Garretson complemented his closing TD pass to Wily-Matugi with a 13-yard TD strike to redshirt freshman wideout Connor Laverty. He was 8 of 11 for 66 yards.
  • McMaryion hooked up with Jarmon on a 68-yard scoring strike. He was 9 of 14 for 126 yards.
  • Luton hit senior wide receiver Jordan Villamin with a 6-yard scoring pass. He was 13 of 21 for 118 yards.

“It is awesome to have quarterbacks who can manage the game,” Andersen said. “I truly believe we have three quarterbacks who can manage a football game in the Pac-12.”

In addition to throwing for a score, Nall added a 37-yard touchdown run and gained 72 yards on seven carries. Sophomore Artavis Pierce gained 28 yards on seven carries.

Jarmon had five receptions for 155 yards and two touchdowns. Hodgins had four catches for 69 yards as they combined for 224 of the offense’s 399 total passing yards.

Other big plays were:

  • A 39-yard gain on a fly sweep by senior wide receiver Xavier Hawkins.
  • A 37-yard reception by freshman receiver Isaiah Hodgins on a crossing pattern from Luton.
  • A 21-yard catch by redshirt junior tight end Quinn Smith on a pass from redshirt freshman quarterback Mason Moran.

Redshirt freshman cornerback Jaydon Grant and senior linebacker Wesley Payne had interceptions for the defense. Grant also had two picks in a March 11 scrimmage

The Beavers open the 2017 season at Colorado State on Aug. 26; their home opener is Sept. 2against Portland State. Other home games are Minnesota (Sept. 9); Washington (Sept. 30); Colorado (Oct. 14); Stanford (Oct. 26), and Arizona State (Nov. 18.)

OSU closed the 2016 season with impressive home victories over Arizona and over Oregon in the 120th Civil War. Season tickets for a team that returns 55 lettermen are available at BeaverTickets.com
 
FOOTBALL FUND FOR EXCELLENCE

The Football Fund for Excellence is a program essential to keeping Oregon State football on the cutting edge and prepared for success on and off the field. For more information, please contact Our Beaver Nation at 541-737-2370 or ourbeavernation.com
 

SCORING PLAYS

Hunter Jarmon 60-yard pass from Ryan Nall

Jordan Villamin 6-yard pass from Jake Luton

Ryan Nall 37-yard run

Hunter Jarmon 68-yard pass from Marcus McMaryion

Tuli Wily-Matagi 2-yard pass from Marcus McMaryion

Connor Laverty 13-yard pass from Darell Garretson

INDIVIDUAL STATISTICS

RUSHING (No-Yds-TD)

Ryan Nall 7-72-1; Artavis Pierce 7-28-0; Tanner Walker 1-5-0; Kieran Yancy 10-13-0; Jordan Pace 2-3-0; Jaylynn Bailey 2-12-0; Jake Luton 1-6-0; Marcus McMaryion 3-27-0; Conor Blount 1-1-0; Xavier Hawkins 1-39-0

PASSING (Att-Comp-Int-Yds-TD)

Ryan Nall 1-1-0-60-1; Jake Luton 21-13-2-118-1; Marcus McMaryion 14-9-0-126-2; Darell Garretson 11-8-0-66-1; Conor Blount 1-1-0-8-0; Mason Moran 3-1-0-21-0

RECEIVING (No-Yds-TD)

Artavis Pierce 4-10-0; Ryan Nall 2-6-0; Tuli Wily-Matagi 1-2-1; Quinn Smith 1-21-0; Kieran Yancy 3-21-0; Isaiah Hodgins 4-69-0; Hunter Jarmon 5-155-2; Trevon Bradford 3-26-0; Jordan Villamin 1-6-1; Koby Tripp 1-6-0; Noah Togiai 3-22-0; Xavier Hawkins 2-22-0; Andre Bodden 1-15-0; Connor Laverty 2-18-1

INTERCEPTIONS

Jaydon Grant, Wesley Payne

Beavers add pair of tight ends to fall roster

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Beavers add pair of tight ends to fall roster

CORVALLIS, Ore. – Oregon State head football coach Gary Andersen announced Wednesday a pair of in-state additions to the 2017 recruiting class. Tight ends Bryce Bramscher of Medford and Jack Holum of Lake Oswego will join the program when the team reports this summer.

“Recruiting young men from Oregon will always be a priority for us and we are excited to have Bryce and Jack join Beaver Nation,” Andersen said.

Bramscher (video) was St. Mary’s High School’s team’s MVP last season after compiling 19 touchdowns and over 1,200 yards receiving. He was a three-year letterman during his career at tight end, wide receiver, strong safety and outside linebacker. The two-time team captain earned first team all-state and he played in the East-West Shrine Game last season.  The 6-4, 210-pound Bramscher is also a standout in basketball helping the team to the state title a year ago.

“I’m looking forward to the college experience at OSU and playing football for an outstanding coaching staff,” Bramscher said.

Holum (video) was a three-year starter at Lakeridge High School. As a senior in 2016, the 6-6, 240-pound team captain earned Three Rivers League honors at tight end and defensive end. He also earned all-league honors on the offensive line as a junior.  The Honor Roll student has earned three varsity letters in basketball as a forward/center and in lacrosse as a defender.

“Oregon State University is a great school with an amazing coaching staff,” Holum said. 

The Beavers’ annual Spring Game (details) is Saturday at 1 p.m. and will air live on Pac-12 Oregon and online.   Admission is free with the day beginning with the popular Surplus Sale at 9 a.m. in the Merritt Truax Indoor Center.

Oregon State leaves Las Vegas betting on a bright future

Oregon State leaves Las Vegas betting on a bright future

LAS VEGAS - No. 12-seed Oregon State had no business hanging close with No. 5-seed California in the first-round of the Pac-12 Tournament Wednesday afternoon at T-Mobile Arena.

But there the Beavers were trailing by just two points with a minute remaining and the ball in hand with a chance to steal a season-making win at their fingertips. 

Instead of seizing the moment, however, OSU freshman guard Kendal Manuel's three-pointer on a fast break resulted in an air ball that led to a Cal fast break the other way. Golden Bears senior guard Jabari Bird threw down a dunk and was fouled to give Cal a 62-57 lead following the made free throw with 54 seconds remaining. The Beavers were cooked and so to was their disastrous season. 

An emotional Wayne Tinkle responded after the game not by lamenting the loss but instead by praising his team for how it played today and how it responded all season to a series of adversities. OSU was hit hard by injuries and player departures, forced and unforced, that depleted the roster and led to a 5-27 season just a year after going 19-13 and reaching the NCAA Tournament. 

"Absolutely love each and every one of them," Tinkle said. "We went through quite a storm this year with a lot of curve balls thrown at us. They brought it every day. Great attitude. Great effort. Great energy. I'm supper proud for them for hanging in there."

As fate would have it, OSU had another player go down on Wednesday when forward Drew Eubanks injured his knee after scoring six points with four rebounds in 22 minutes. 

"We're playing our tails off and right there we lose one of our leaders," Tinkle said.

That was the story of the season. Players dropping like flies and the rest of the group trying to keep the ship afloat. Tinkle said that one of the key elements that held the team together was the support of the fans. 

"The majority of them stayed behind us," he said. "This is just an incredible group that's going to grow leaps and bounds with all we've faced."

The Beavers are a young team led primarily by sophomores and freshmen. Their best player, Tres Tinkle, the coach's son, played just the teams first six games before a foot injury did him in.

"We had some crap not go our way and you learn how to deal with it, be a better person because of and move on," Tinkle said. 

Tres Tinkle will be back, along with Eubanks, a sophomore, and freshman guard Kendal Manuel and sophomore guard Stephen Thompson Jr.   Forward Gligorije Rakocevic is also a sophomore. 

The realities of being so young and so banged up gave Manuel and Thompson reason to be optimistic about the team's immediate future.

"We've had a lot thrown at us this year. The main thing we can take from this year is that we kept battling," Thompson said. 

Said Manuel: "This is just going to help us go into the offseason and have that mindset that we don't want to ever have something like this happen again."

Oregon State will get healthy. It will get bigger, stronger, faster and more skilled.  Mostly, the Beavers will have the sting of a 5-27 season to learn from. The future, they believe, is bright. 

"Hopefully," Thompson said, "we got it all out of the way and come back next year and if everyone stays healthy, I think we can be a special team." 

Oregon State falls short of an upset, loses 67-62 to Cal at Pac-12 Tournament

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USA Today

Oregon State falls short of an upset, loses 67-62 to Cal at Pac-12 Tournament

California 67, Oregon State 62

How Oregon State lost: The No. 12-seeded Oregon State Beavers (5-27) hung tough with No. 5-seed California (20-11) today during the first round of the Pac-12 Tournament at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., before the Golden Bears pulled away late to win 67-62. 

OSU shot just 40.4 percent from the field but its defense made life difficult for Cal, holding it to 39.7 percent shooting. The Golden Bears made just 8 of 23 three-point attempts and committed 13 turnovers. 

The killer for OSU was making just 14 of 24 from the free throw line. 

Senior guard Jabari Bird led Cal with 20 points. 

What it means: The Beavers ended a disastrous season that raises questions about the future of the program. However, OSU will return plenty of young talent to present a reasonable chance at making a quick turnaround. 

Key sequence: The Beavers trailed just 41-39 with about 10 minutes remaining in the second half when Cal's Charlie Moore hit a three-point basket only to be followed up with a three from Bird following a missed jumper from OSU sophomore guard Stephen Thompson Jr.  The sequence gave Cal a 47-41 lead with 10:31 remaining.  

OSU hung though, however, and with about a minute remaining trailed just 59-57. The Beavers had a chance to take the lead on a fast break following a defensive stop, however a three-point attempt from freshman guard Kendal Manuel resulted in an air ball and a fast break the other way. Bird ended the break with a dunk and was fouled by Manuel. Bird made the free throw to give the Golden Bears a 62-57 lead with 54 seconds remaining in the game. 

Top Beavers: Thompson led the Beavers with 25 points on 7-of-12 shooting. Sophomore forward Gligorije Rakocevic had 10 points and nine rebounds. 

Up next: Oregon State will lick its wounds and figure out a way to rebound next season.