CORVALLIS — Unless the wheels completely fall off, the Oregon State baseball team shouldn’t have to sweat the NCAA tournament selection process this time around.
Saturday’s series-clinching victory at Washington was the top-ranked Beavers’ 30th win in 32 tries. OSU (30-2, 14-1 Pac-12) has a five-game lead over Arizona (26-9, 9-6) and UCLA (16-16, 9-6) in the standings halfway through the conference slate.
The Beavers sit atop the NCAA RPI — Arizona is ranked second — and are 19-1 against the RPI top 100. OSU can add to that figure during this weekend’s three-game road series with UCLA, which is 73rd in the RPI.
Friday’s opener is scheduled for a 6 p.m. first pitch.
A season ago, OSU had collected just 13 Pac-12 wins entering its final league series with UCLA. The Beavers went on to sweep the Bruins but weren’t selected for a regional despite a 35-19 overall record and a mid-40s RPI.
But last year is ancient history for the Beavers, who are in excellent position to claim their fifth conference title since 2005. OSU won consecutive Pac-10 crowns in 2005-06 and were the Pac-12 champions in 2013-14.
The Beavers hosted regionals in all four of those seasons and made the College World Series in the first three.
Washington (20-14, 7-5), which snapped OSU’s 23-game winning streak Thursday before dropping the next two at home, would need to go 15-5 the rest of the way to match the Beavers’ 2016 overall record.
The Huskies are firmly on the NCAA tournament bubble while OSU, Arizona, Oregon (23-10, 6-6) and Stanford (19-12, 5-7) possess strong resumes. UCLA, California (16-17, 8-7) and USC (17-16, 5-7) all have work to do.
The NCAA tournament selection show will be held Monday, May 29.