Senior slugger Geoff Wagner of defending Pac-10 champion Oregon State looks to lead Beavers back to CWS

Oregon State shocked the baseball world last spring by winning the Pac-10 and appearing in the College World Series (the Beavs first CWS appearance since 1952). There won’t be any surprises this spring as the Beavers have been ranked from the season’s first pitch. Overnight, the Beavers went from hunter to hunted.

Senior outfielder Geoff Wagner was part of last season’s magical run. While last year’s club was led by senior Andy Jenkins this year’s edition is Wagner’s. As of March 27, the left-handed hitter has appeared in all but one game and is hitting .284 with 4 doubles, 1 HR and 9 RBI.

Wagner has developed his skills for the last four summers with his hometown Bend Elks. Last summer, Wagner was named first-team All-WCCBL and to the WCCBL DeMarini Sluggers team. He led the Elks in hitting with a .329 average, walks with 27, stolen bases with 9 and featured a team leading .515 on base percentage.

Geoff was gracious enough to take time from his busy spring class and baseball schedule to talk baseball with wccbl.com. The fun loving and articulate Wags responded with a home run of an On Campus online interview. Check it out below.

wccbl.com: Are the Beavers ready for Pac-10 play?

Wagner: Yes, we are ready to go. I think ourarms are right on track and offensively we will be able to put up some runs.

wccbl.com: You spent four summers playing for Bend, how would you describe your Elks experience?

Wagner: I loved it. Bend is the best place in the world to play summer ball, in my opinion. That is why I never went anywhere else. I had chances to play in Alaska or on the East Coast, but after my experience playing in Bend, I would have never chosen anywhere else. The local support for the team is outstanding, Bend is a place that is hungry for baseball, and they can’t get enough.

wccbl.com: Who is a better hitter, you or your brother Mychal?

Wagner: That’s a tough one. ME.

wccbl.com: What’s the toughest hitter’s park in the Pac-10 and why?

Wagner: Let’s do this. In Arizona, the ball flys. At ASU, it carries very well, at UA, they have huge gaps that make for a hitter friendly park. They also have incredibly fast cut grass that the ball really moves fast thru. Stanford plays like a cracker box the way balls fly out of that yard. I’ve heard at Cal, the ball carries very well to left field. At USC and UCLA, the ball carries extremely well in the day time, and in the night games, not so much. UW has a very hitter friendly park as I remember good carry on balls in the gap. With all that said, I really think the toughest hitters park in the Pac-10 is in Corvallis. You will not get a cheap one in our park. To hit a double or triple you’ve got to hit it on the screws to get it through our thick heavy grass. I’ve never seen anyone except Larish (Arizona State) take a ball out to dead center. In that’s only in batting practice.

wccbl.com: We heard you and some of your teammates met Barry Bonds in Arizona. How did that go?

Wagner: It was awesome. I’m a huge fan of Barry. But my teammate Cole Gillespie is an avid fan, he’s even in the Barry Bonds official fan club. We were out to dinner with TG’s aunt at a very nice steak house near our hotel while playing Pepperdine and Barry was there. Gillespie interrupted him during his meal because he just could not bare to have him be in the same room without talking to him. After that we requested his presence outside for a picture. We waited 10 minutes and Barry came outside. We talked about hitting for a good 10 minutes after we took a couple group photos. He was a very nice guy. He told us how to get ahold of him and that after his career is over, he will be happy to tell us all of his hitting secrets, until then, he would not budge. He did give us one drill to do, and he does the same one every day.

wccbl.com: What stadium gets louder, Goss the home of the Beavers or Genna the home of the Bend Elks?

Wagner: On average, I think that Genna makes more noise consistently. However, during our run to Omaha in the post season, Goss Stadium was a riot. They are both great parks to play at with the home field advantage.

wccbl.com: Who is the toughest pitcher you faced in the Pac-10 last spring and WCCBL last summer and what makes these hurlers so tough?

Wagner: Ian Kennedy of USC was very good last year. In the WCCBL, the guy from Aloha, Hanson I believe it was, he was very good. I remember him throwing 3 different pitches for strikes, and locating very well.

wccbl.com: Who has the best sense of humor on the Beavers and why?

Wagner: Besides myself, I would lean towards Dallas Buck. I love his sense of humor. He has a little bit of country bad ass in him that makes him very comical in my book.

wccbl.com: How would you compare this year’s Beavers to last season’s Pac-10 champs?

Wagner: Alot of the same guys, different team. Right now, we are still trying to find our identity as a club. We have had streaks of playing great baseball, and we have shown that when we don’t come out to play, we can get beat by average teams. I am very confident that we are on the right track. We have a chance to make a very serious run at the Pac-10 title.

wccbl.com: What did you think of the WCCBL’s first season and how did the competition compare to the Pac-10?

Wagner: I enjoyed it. The stadiums and teams involved are very nice. I don’t think the competition is to the point of Pac-10 play obviously, but the quality of players in the league is very high. I think that the WCCBL is going to continue to get quality players and it is a very nice way to improve your game in the off-season.

wccbl.com: What’s Geoff Wagner’s dream baseball moment?

Wagner: I dream of walking out of the tunnel in Omaha in “06, going onto the field to play in front of thousands of fans and TV viewers across the country for a National Championship. I dream of contributing in some fashion, whatever it may be, a sac bunt, wearing a pitch, a 3-run homer, anything that would help us win.