Civil War Baseball: Pretty Cool Huh?

Civil War Baseball: Pretty Cool Huh? »Play Video
Oregon State's Andrew Moore pitches against California during a 5-0 victory in a college baseball game at Goss Stadium in Corvallis, Ore., Saturday, May 4, 2013. (AP Photo/Corvallis Gazette-Times, Andy Cripe)

CORVALLIS, Ore. (AP) — There's a certain civility to the Civil War baseball rivalry between Oregon and Oregon State.

Since the Ducks brought back baseball in 2009, the rivalry with the Beavers has been growing. But this season both teams are nationally ranked in the top 10 and sit 1-2 in the Pac-12 standings.

The outcome of this weekend's Civil War series between the two teams could lead to the league championship and have postseason implications.

Yet there's no trash talk between the Beavers and the Ducks. Oregon coach George Horton and Oregon State coach Pat Casey agree: This rivalry is really about mutual respect.

"It's just kind of cool that it happens to be that we're both up here in the Pacific Northwest, and not too long ago, even as recently as 10 years ago, people didn't think this was a place you could find big baseball games," Casey said. "I think it's great for the state of Oregon and we're excited about playing a big series."

Oregon State, which became just the fifth college program to win back-to-back College World Series titles in 2006 and 2007, is the wily veteran of the rivalry. Casey, in his 19th season in Corvallis, is vying to take his team to the postseason for a school-record fifth year in a row.

The Beavers are 41-8 overall and 20-4 for the Pac-12 lead after opening the season with a 15-game winning streak. Coming off a series sweep at Stanford last weekend, Oregon State — ranked No. 6 by Baseball America — heads into the Civil War with a 12-game winning streak.

On the other side, the Ducks are the upstart newcomers.

When Oregon reinstated its baseball program four seasons ago after a 28-year hiatus, the Ducks brought in Horton, a proven veteran who led Call State Fullerton to the College World Series championship in 2004.

After holding open tryouts for the team in his first season, the Ducks surprisingly went all the way to the postseason the very next year. Last year, Oregon advanced to a Super Regional but dropped the three-game series to Kent State.

Last weekend, the No. 10 Ducks (42-11, 19-5) went out of conference to sweep Ohio State in Columbus. Then they swept Gonzaga in a two-game series at home for an eight-game winning streak.

"On paper you think whoever gets that series has a heck of a chance to be the conference champion, so there's a lot at stake. But it's not revenge, it's not the rivalry and the bitterness in the Civil War — for me, anyway; I don't know what they think — but it's more about the respect we have for them being a good baseball team," Horton said.

Both teams have managed to play the spoiler in past seasons.

Last year, Oregon needed one win to claim the league title and Oregon State swept in Corvallis. The prior year, the Beavers were vying for the league championship and the Ducks swept them in Eugene. That handed UCLA the Pac-12 championship both years.

But those Civil Wars each concluded the season. This year Oregon State will host Washington State in the final regular season series, while Oregon will visit Utah. Before that, they'll play each other again in a strange nonconference game on Tuesday evening.

"Right now we're trying to treat it like any other series, but sometimes that's hard to do," Oregon State senior Tyler Smith said. "I think the intensity will pick up once we get there and get into that atmosphere. It's going to be a great series. We're excited about it."

Oregon won the lone prior meeting this year, a 6-3 nonconference victory in Corvallis.