Less than a month ago, Oregon State was facing the grim reality that they might not get the chance to defend their national championship.
At the same time, the Titans of Cal State Fullerton were fretting whether they would earn a trip to Omaha.
This weekend the two teams will meet in the College World Series at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium, having become hot at just the right time.
"Just because we had a bump in the road didn't change our minds about ending up in Omaha, again," said Beavers catcher Mitch Canham.
The Beavers' bump came late in the season, when they lost seven of nine and were facing a road trip to UCLA. Though they beat the Bruins twice in the three-game series, they still weren't a lock for the NCAA tournament.
Their status as defending national champions probably helped the Beavers, who finished the regular season 38-17 and sixth in the Pacific-10 Conference.
"There was no comfort at all sitting in the middle of the Pac-10 wondering if you're going to get in," Oregon State coach Pat Casey said.
But the Beavers were selected, starting a run through the Charlottesville regional which would see them stave off elimination with three wins in the space of about 24 hours &
capped by a 7-3 victory over Virginia.
Riding the momentum, the Beavers swept Michigan in the Corvallis super regional to earn the trip to Omaha.
Cal State Fullerton lost 11 of 17 down the stretch, including a pair of losses to rival Long Beach State to end the season. The Titans also finished in the middle of the pack in the Big West Conference.
"This year we plateaued, or leveled off, late &
which is uncharacteristic of a Cal State Fullerton team," said coach George Horton.
But the Titans (38-23) have won every game since to advance.
Fullerton has won four national titles and has been to the College World Series 15 times. The Beavers have gone to Omaha four times, and won their only national title last year.
Norton believes the fact that the NCAA selected the Titans gave the team a new lease on the season.
"What is different is that the NCAA gave us a chance," he said.
In the all-time series between the two teams, Fullerton owns a 4-0 advantage. The teams have never met in the postseason.
Oregon State, known more for defense than offense, is led by returning starters Canham and shortstop Darwin Barney. Canham is batting .319 with nine homers and 54 RBIs, while Barney is batting .298 with four home runs and 51 RBIs.
The Titans have an Oregon native at third base, Evan McArthur of Medford, who is batting .253.
"I don't know if I feel like I have something to prove because I'm from Oregon, but it's going to be a good battle," he said.
The Titans will likely start right-hander Wes Roemer (11-6), while Oregon State could go with Mike Stutes (10-4) or lefty Joe Paterson (10-6).
Barney and Roemer both played on Team USA last summer.
Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton took similar routs to CWS