Oregon State is ready for challenge of slowing down the Auburn Tigers offense

The Oregon State Beavers showed a lot of grit and resilience after not playing their best last weekend in games against Vanderbilt and New Mexico State.

When it counted, the Beavers defeated the Commodores 7-6 in an elimination game to advance to the Super Regionals. Now comes an entirely different test this weekend, as they're two wins away from going to the College World Series in Omaha.

Oregon State (47-16) will host an Auburn (40-19) team with one of the better offenses during the regionals. In its three regional victories against Southeastern Louisiana, Florida State, and UCLA, Auburn averaged 17 runs per game.

"Their offense right now, as everyone has seen, is on fire," Oregon State coach Mitch Canham said. "They're getting guys on base, they're driving them in. They also take their walks.

"They've got a big power hitter (Sonny DiChiara), he's got 20 homers. There are some tough outs. They hold their ground in the box.

"Just like we see with our guys, momentum is big, energy is big, and when you're on a roll, that provides a lot of strength."

While Oregon State was expected to be near the top of the Pac-12, Auburn was picked last in the SEC West Division, with only Missouri having fewer preseason votes entering into the 2022 season after a disappointing 2021 campaign (25-27).

Bad news bears

Lead by seniors Brody Moore, Kason Howell and Carson Skipper, along with new players like DiChiara and Brooks Carlson, the Tigers came up with the railing cry called "Bad News." The term isn't because the team has been bad on the field this season, but because they believe it is bad news when opposing teams play them.

Auburn even has a Bad News Bears jersey in its locker room and dugout for motivation.

“We kind of break it down and that’s kind of our team motto right now," Moore said via 247Sports. "We are not scared of anybody and we want it to be bad news for whoever we play that day. It kind of put a chip on our shoulder when we saw that, but we wouldn’t want it any other way.

"We want to shock some people. This Auburn family is behind us and that’s all we need in our corner. Just keep it small, keep it tight, put your head down and go to work.”

Oregon State pitching

Oregon State can score a lot of runs itself as the team ranks 27th in the nation in runs (478). But the Beavers rely on their pitching and defense to win games.

Left-hander Cooper Hjerpe is Oregon State's ace and will get the start in Game 1 of the series against Auburn on Saturday. Hjerpe is one of three finalists for the prestigious Golden Spikes Award after leading the nation with 155 strikeouts this season. He also has a 10-2 record with a 2.40 earned run average in 17 games, 16 of which have been starts.

Hjerpe's one relief outing came against Vanderbilt on Monday where he not only helped the Beavers advance to the Corvallis Super Regionals and earned his first career save, but he struck out five batters in two innings.

Not only will Oregon State have Hjerpe on the mound this weekend, but Jake Pfennings and Jacob Kmatz have been just as successful. The three combined for a 22-4 record this season.

"Our staff, they've been unreal," Oregon State outfielder Justin Boyd said. "They've had some slumps here and there, but they've been unreal pretty much all year and done their thing.

"It's hard to hit Cooper, Pfen and Kmatz all in one weekend. Then we've got a bunch of arms out of the bullpen that are ready to go."

While Auburn enters the Corvallis Super Regional one of the hottest teams in the country, Oregon State had its challenges advancing in games against New Mexico State and Vanderbilt. It took 10 innings to defeat New Mexico State 5-4 in the regional opener.

Then after winning 12-3 against San Diego on Saturday, Oregon State was routed by Vanderbilt 8-1 before defeating the Commodores in a winner-take-all game Monday. Because of all the adversity the Beavers have faced in recent weeks dating back to their Pac-12 Championship Tournament loss to Stanford, they feel like those moments have prepared them for the Super Regionals against Auburn.

"I feel like that's a little bit of an advantage for us," Boyd said. "Having that elimination game and facing the Pac-12 Tournament, too. I think it prepared us for this moment and we're ready.

"This has been our goal since Day 1 -- get to Omaha, so it's just another weekend for us."

Oregon State vs. Auburn

When: Saturday and Sunday 7 p.m.

TV/Radio: ESPN2/1240 KEJO

Contact Register-Guard sportswriter Antwan Staley at astaley@gannett.com and follow him on Twitter @antwanstaley.

This article originally appeared on Register-Guard: Oregon State is ready for challenge of slowing down the Auburn Tigers offense