Oregon wins National Club Baseball Association World Series
After winning their first Northern Pacific regional title since 2008, the Oregon Ducks headed to Kentucky for the National Club Baseball Association World Series. The players were “awestruck” to be there, but their nerves manifested in game one of the single-elimination tournament. They found themselves down 4-0 to No. 3 Florida State with five innings left to play.
“We went down in the first inning and that kind of demoralized us,” junior Jason Ross said. “We started to second guess whether we could actually do it.”
The Ducks scored a run in each of the next four innings and trailed 6-4 in the ninth, when junior Cam Russ golfed an inside, knee-high fastball over the fence in left for a go-ahead three-run home run.
“After that, we felt we like we couldn’t lose,” said Mikey Finneran, one of four rostered seniors and the club coordinator. “That was by far one of the most exciting games I’ve ever played in.”
With momentum rolling in their favor, the Ducks flourished. They outscored their next three opponents 28-6 and captured the NCBA championship with a 7-4 win over Arizona State.
“After winning the national championship, seeing everyone’s reactions was awesome,” third baseman Cam Russ said. “We had a huge dogpile, and got to bring home a nice big trophy and everyone got to take turns passing it, holding it and kissing it a little bit.”
Ross was named tournament MVP after picking up a save in game one and wins in the quarterfinal and championship. In 17 innings, he struck out 14 batters and walked none. He allowed 10 hits and four earned runs for a tournament-low ERA of 1.64.
Ross effectively employed a strategy of “pitching backwards” in the postseason. If he found himself in a fastball count, like 2-0, he’d throw anything but a fastball. For the most part he threw sliders and curveballs, and mixed in fastballs.
“That kid’s unbelievable,” said Russ. “He’s a bulldog, he’s a warrior. The best thing about him is his attitude. He stays calm at all times, and never really gets down when things are going south. Without that kid, I don’t know where we’d be.”
The Ducks’ bid to the national championship was somewhat of a cinderella story to start. Oregon State won two out of three against Oregon and took control of the conference with just a few games remaining in the regular season.
“Mikey told us if we don’t win out our season is over,” Russ said. “Once we heard we’d be kicked out if we lost another game, the team came together and said ‘Let’s go.'”
After Oregon State dropped two out of three games to Central Oregon Community College, the Ducks swept its series with COCC and won the conference outright.
“It’s the culmination of a perfect team coming together,” Finneran said. “All the right pieces, all the right attitudes—really a selfless team.”
On top of their medals and trophy, the Ducks are rewarding themselves with personalized championship rings for every player.
“It’s so big for the whole program to be able to say we can beat anyone,” Ross said. “We are the best team in the country.”