Lake Oswego's Mike Stutes, Oregon State baseball champs headed to Hall of Fame
Lake Oswego High School graduate Mike Stutes has played in a lot of big games during his long baseball career.
The rest of the world will remember Stutes' days as a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies, days that saw Stutes throw Game 1 of the 2011 National League Division Series against the St. Louis Cardinals.
That game, along with his big league debut, will always be etched in Stutes' memory, too.
But there are other moments from his athletic career that he holds closer to his heart, among them his 2004 state championship victory (Stutes and the Lakers beat West Albany 9-1) and his back-to-back College World Series championships with Oregon State baseball in 2006 and 2007.
The Oregon Sports Hall of Fame & Museum agrees with Stutes — it will induct both the 2006 and '07 OSU national championship teams into the Hall as part of its 2017 class of inductees. The Hall of Fame announced its Class of 2017 in a press release on July 31.
The induction ceremony is scheduled for 7 p.m. Sept. 19 at the Multnomah Athletic Club. Also honored this year will be: Ashton Eaton, two-time Olympic Decathlon gold medalist and five-time World Champion; Brianne Theisen-Eaton, Olympic Heptathlon medalist and World Champion; Thurman Bell, Roseburg high school football coach (second in all-time wins); 2002 University of Portland NCAA champion women's soccer team; Aaron Paulson, adaptive sports Paralympic swimming gold medalist; and a special tribute to Harry Glickman, a 1986 Hall of Fame inductee and acknowledged "father" of professional sports in Oregon.
Looking back fondly
Needless to say, Stutes, now 30 and beginning a real estate career in Occidental, Calif., looks back on his years as a Beaver with great fondness and credits that experience for helping launch his professional career. His Major League Baseball tenure, first slowed by shoulder surgery and then tendinitis, ended in 2014 due to thoracic outlet syndrome, a group of disorders that occur when blood vessels or nerves in the space between the collarbone and first rib (thoracic outlet) are compressed.
Oregon State "obviously put me in a position where there was a lot of exposure, playing in the World Series and winning in my sophomore and junior years," said Stutes, who's now married with a 1 1/2-year-old and another baby on the way. "With everyone watching like that, it amplifies everything."
Two special teams
There were a lot of things about those two Oregon State teams that were special and significant, with the 2006 Beavers winning the first World Series title in school history and the 2007 team becoming just the fourth team in history to win back-to-back championships (there are now five).
"It was a pretty unique mix of guys. The majority (of the players) were from Oregon, and a lot of them were from the Three Rivers League and the Metro (League), which was pretty crazy," Stutes said. "A lot of us grew up playing against each other … and then we ended up playing together in college."
In addition to Stutes, the 2006 team included another 23 players from Oregon, and another 20 Oregonians joined Stutes on the 2007 roster.
"It was very unique — so many of us were from a 15-mile circle," he said. "We didn't really talk about it then, but I remember playing against (Southridge High grad) Darwin Barney ever since we were 10. We were two of the better guys and our teams were always some of the better ones around. It was great to finally get to play on the same team with him."
The first championship
And play they did. The Beavers went 50-16 in 2006 and rallied from a game-one loss in the World Series and another loss in the first game of the best two-of-three championship against North Carolina to win it all.
Stutes did his part there, going 8-2 on the year (the third-most wins on the team) with a 3.10 ERA and 77 strikeouts in 81 innings pitched. Included in that was a 2-0 record in the postseason, one of those an 8-1 win over Miami in a World Series elimination game in which Stutes allowed just five hits to the team that had beaten OSU in its Series opener.
"That 2006 team was probably more talented straight across the board, but we hadn't done it (won the World Series) yet," Stutes said. "They'd gotten there before (OSU went 0-2 in the 2005 Series) and there was a sense that we were really good but we weren't sure how good.
"Then we started beating Arizona and USC and we got the No. 1 seed and thought 'I guess we are pretty good.'"
"He was a big part of our team," said Cole Gillespie, a West Linn graduate and a member of the 2006 OSU team. "I was glad we got him to transfer in (from Santa Clara). He was a big part of what we did."
The second championship
Despite some significant losses to graduation and the MLB draft at the end of 2006 (including Gillespie), the Beavers came back strong — and supremely confident — for 2007.
They opened the '07 season on a 27-1 tear, faltered a bit at the end of the regular season, then rallied again despite the pressure of the postseason.
"Everything was falling into place. We were rolling," Stutes recalled. "It was like 'This is what you do. Show up on the weekend and win."
Oregon State came back from another early playoff loss — this a 7-4 defeat to Virginia in regional action — beat the Cavaliers twice in a row to win the regional, swept past Michigan in the Super Regional, then hit the accelerator hard in the World Series.
This time, there no missteps in Omaha, Nebraska, longtime home site of the Series. The Beavers opened with a 3-2 win over Cal State Fullerton — their only close game of the Series — outscored their next four opponents 39-14 and went 5-0 to secure a second consecutive national championship.
"We were rolling. We just kind of kicked back and enjoyed it," Stutes said. "We knew the field, we knew the media guys and what the interviews would be like, everything. Everything just kind of lined up a little cleaner."
In the middle of it all
Again, Stutes was right there in the middle of it all, going 12-4 (the most wins on the OSU staff) with a 4.01 ERA and 129 strikeouts in 132 innings. He was a power in the postseason, too, going 3-0 with a 4.50 ERA and 28 Ks in his 30 innings. Included in those three playoff wins, Stutes beat Michigan 8-2 to seal up the Super Regional, then beat both Arizona State (12-6) and North Carolina (9-3) in the World Series, the last of those three capping the Beavers' unbeaten Series run.
The biggest, best memories
Even now, 10 years later, those teams and those wins remain alive and important in Stutes' memory.
"They're right up there with just about anything else," he said. "We won state my senior year (of high school) and that was a big deal … and those two national championships were right up there.
"Getting called up (to the Phillies) and going in that first day was an incredible moment, but I'd probably put (the state title and OSU championships) ahead of even the Major League Baseball stuff," Stutes added.