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Ellsbury donates $1 million to OSU baseball

New York Yankees center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury has donated $1 million to help Oregon State baseball expand its locker room facilities, according to an athletic department news release.

"We are tremendously thankful," coach Pat Casey said in the release. "Great facilities are at the core of great programs, and with Jacoby's generous gift we will be able to continue to offer our student-athletes a world-class experience."

Goss Stadium, the nation's oldest continuous ballpark, has benefitted from several improvements in recent years due to donor support. A thousand seats were added down the left and right field lines in 2009, and the Omaha Room tacked on about 70 seats.

Still, Casey said that OSU has outgrown its lockerroom space. The Beavers have proposed a $2.8 million project that will "expand and enhance the locker room, update the equipment room, add team meeting space and include both a new recruiting area and a centralized main entrance."

To recognize Ellsbury's sizable gift, OSU will name its locker room facilities after the Beaver great.

"OSU baseball has given me so much," said Ellsbury, OSU's career runs leader with 168. "I am thrilled I am able to help my alma mater carry on its proud tradition; and perhaps, this expansion will convince a few more Pacific Northwest recruits to wear OSU orange and black."

Ellsbury has earned World Series rings with Boston in 2007 and '13. In 2011, he was runner-up in American League MVP voting.

He signed a $153 million contract with the New York Yankees last year.

"Oregon State is where I got my start," Ellsbury said. "It's where I learned — from coach Casey, teammates, and assistant coaches — how to be a successful athlete, a successful person. For that, I am forever grateful."

Casey praised

As UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie was finishing up his opening statement on Monday night, he paused before making sure to talk about the job Oregon State's Pat Casey has done in Corvallis over the past 20 years.

Gillespie, who is in his seventh season at UC Irvine and guided them to a third super regional appearance with Monday's 4-2 win over the Beavers, coached at USC from 1987 to 2006 and has seen the growth of the Beavers' program up close.

In fact, Gillespie's USC team lost to the Beavers in 2005 as OSU made the first of three straight trips to the College World Series.

"I was here, so to speak, when the roll began here, when things really got good, got great even, and (they have) stayed sensational," Gillespie said.

"It's clear the people of this community and certainly the people at this university recognize how sensational this program has become, as witnessed by the following and what's been done to this facility.

"So this, to me, is a reflection of an elite and premier coach and I'm sure I'm preaching to the choir and everyone recognizes that."

While Gillespie was excited for his team moving on, he also realized how tough a loss it had to be for the Beavers, the No. 1 overall nation seed in the NCAA baseball tournament this season.

"I'm sure this a very, very difficult night for him and for them," Gillespie said. "But I would be remiss, I think, if I failed to point out the absolute top-drawer program, none better in the nation than what this program is and what they've done."

Conforto a finalist

Oregon State junior left fielder Michael Conforto is one of three finalists for the Golden Spikes Award, given to the nation's top amateur player.

The other two finalists are LSU pitcher Aaron Nola and Kentucky infielder/pitcher A.J. Reed. The winner will be announced July 17.

Conforto finished the season with a .345 average with seven home runs and 56 RBIs. He also walked 55 times, a new school record, and had an on-base percentage of .504.

He is the first OSU player to be named a finalist for the award.