OMAHA, Neb. — It's tough to walk off the field short of your goal.
But that's what the Oregon State baseball team had to do early Friday evening after dropping a 4-1 decision to Mississippi State in the College World Series.
While the Beavers fell short of winning the program's third national title, they had a season that should always be remembered in Beaver Nation.
OSU won the Pac-12 title outright, losing just one series all season. The 52 wins are two more than the 2006 club had, setting the school record.
The Beavers will lose a valuable group of seniors that includes pitcher Matt Boyd, first baseman Danny Hayes, shortstop Tyler Smith, center fielder Max Gordon and designated hitter Ryan Barnes.
They helped guide the Beavers back to the CWS for the first time since 2007.
"I think it's just going to write our name in stone and tell people that this is a good baseball school and we're always going to be competitors," said Gordon, the former Ashland High standout. "I think the future of Oregon State baseball is only going to go up."
The returning players learned a lot from the group.
"Especially Boyd coming back speaks immense to his character and the type of guy he is," sophomore Dylan Davis said. "He was a leader the whole year and Danny was a leader and Barnes, just bringing the energy and making sure everybody knows what it takes to get to where we are today."
Junior pitcher Ben Wetzler, drafted in the sixth round of the major league draft, could turn pro as well as junior catcher Jake Rodriguez and junior pitchers Scott Shultz and Dan Child, who were also drafted.
Still, the Beavers will have a strong nucleus coming back, led by outfielders Michael Conforto and Davis, and pitchers Andrew Moore, Jace Fry and Max Engelbrekt.
"With Mike and Jace and Dylan leading the charge next year, it would be a disappointment if they didn't make it back, honestly," Barnes said. "They've got great guys, great talent. Expect them to be back."
Getting a taste of playing at TD Ameritrade Park and the CWS will be motivation to get back.
"It's huge," Conforto said. "To have guys who know how to get here and know how to play here and know how to win in Omaha is something a lot of teams don't have. With a coach who knows how to get there, how to win the whole thing. I guess it's a recipe for coming back here and doing the thing right.
"It's an incredible experience coming to Omaha," said Moore, who finished the season 14-2 with a 1.79 ERA. "A game like this is just going to make us work harder next year. And we have a solid core coming back."