Ben Eshleman

JP's Weekly Walk-Off: Arizona

A battle of two top 10 teams this weekend at Goss Stadium as the #7 Arizona Wildcats come to town to take on the #1 Beavers. JP will get you ready for the series with an in-depth look at the match-up.

The red-hot Beavers return to Goss after a series sweep at ASU to open conference play, and will play host to the other Grand Canyon state school, the Arizona Wildcats.  The match-up pairs not only two top-10 opponents, but also will pit the nation's stingiest pitching staff against the highest scoring team in the country. 

The Week That Was;

  • Thursday: OSU 2 – ASU 0
  • Friday: OSU 10 – ASU 1
  • Saturday: OSU 4 – ASU 0

The pitching was as dominant in this series as any I can remember covering the past 12 seasons.  As a staff the Beavers allowed just 9 hits, 1 run, and 6 BB while striking out 25 in 27 innings of work.  Jake Thompson's 7.1 IP of 2 hit, 3BB, 10 K shutout work garnered conference pitcher of the week accolades.

The Week Ahead

Friday: OSU vs. Arizona 7:00pm

Saturday: OSU vs. Arizona 4:00pm

Sunday: OSU vs. Arizona 11:00am

Tuesday: OSU @ St. Mary's 3:00pm

  • Neither team listed their projected rotation, but I'll touch on that below.
  • The Beavers were swept in Tucson last season, but have won 7 of the last 10 series and 4 of the last 5 at Goss.
  • All three weekend games will be televised by the Pac-12 Network. Tuesday's game will not have any video coverage. 

Players To Watch

  • DH Alfonso Rivas: .441, 7 2B, 2 HR, 25 RBI, .593 OB%
  • 3B Nick Quintana: .408, 8 2B, 1 3B, 2 HR, 20 RBI
  • CF Jared Oliva: .396, 12 2B, 2 3B, 3 HR, 31 RBI
  • 1B JJ Matijevic: .386, 12 2B, 2 HR, 23 RBI

Looking At The Wildcats

While neither team listed projected starters, there's no reason to think that OSU will change from the Heimlich/Fehmel/Thompson rotation that started at ASU.  For Arizona, the options/probables look like this: 

Friday: LHP JC Cloney (5-0, 1.12 ERA) – was the winning pitcher last season in the Saturday game via 6.2 IP of 5 hit, 0 BB, 4 K shutout ball.  

Saturday or Sunday: LHP Rio Gomez (2-2, 3.49 ERA) – did not face OSU last season.  Has been erratic (lasted just 0.1 IP against Hartford, for example), but seems as close to a certainty to get one of the starts as anyone on their roster.  Started the Sunday game last weekend at UCLA and did not factor in the decision (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K).

Options for the remaining slot:

  • Michael Flynn moved into the weekend rotation three weeks ago, but after a bad outing against UCLA last Saturday (1.1 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 HBP) he worked 2.2 innings in relief in the 'Cats' Tuesday game against New Mexico State so he looks to be back in the pen.
  • RHP Taylor Megill (0-1, 11.88 ERA) and LHP Alfonso Rivas (0-1, 8.31 ERA) made multiple starts early in the season, but the results were not at all good.
  • The move of Flynn to the bullpen Tuesday and the poor results from Megill and Rivas make me wonder if Jay Johnson isn't starting to think lefty closer Cameron Ming (4-0, 2.00 ERA, 2 saves) is going to have to move to the rotation.  Ming made 8 starts last season, so it would not be uncharted territory for him.  Ming got the win in the Sunday game last season against OSU via 6 innings of 1-hit, shutout relief.
  • Or, it's none of the above – really, their starting situation beyond Cloney and Gomez has been a mess.

Defensively, Arizona ranks last in the Pac-12 in fielding, but it would appear a fair portion of the fielding woes can be attributed to the difficult conditions at Hi Corbett field.  Of the Wildcats 38 errors, 25 have come at home (2.1/game) and 9 on the road ( 1.13/game).

That being said, OSU still has a solid defensive advantage.  After a slow start in the field (11 errors in the first 6 games), the Beavers have committed just 8 errors during the 12-game win streak with 7 error-free efforts in that span.

To circle back to the Hi Corbett impact on the Wildcats stats, as bad as Arizona's home fielding has been, their opponents have fared worse (27 errors in 12 games).  Of the 37 unearned runs UA has scored, 31 of them came in their 12 home games (2.6 unearned runs/game).  All told, the 37 unearned runs have certainly helped their gaudy run totals (comparatively, OSU has scored 13 unearned runs via their opponents' 20 errors). ;

I don't have the home/away breakdown handy, but the fact UA leads the nation in doubles per game... yep, that has a ton to do with paying at incredibly spacious Hi Corbett.

Don't get me wrong; Arizona is a very good offensive club.  However, scheduling certainly hasn't hurt them any.  Eastern Kentucky (49 runs in 4 games), McNeese State (41 runs in 4 games) and Hartford (63 runs in 3 games) accounted for 153 of 203 runs scored (13.9 runs/game). Even with double-digit runs against Oklahoma State (10) and UCLA (18), their runs per game figure is a far less “video game like” 5.56 runs in contests not against EKU, McNeese St. and Hartford.

Beaver Notes

OSUProf7 posted a great thread earlier in the week showing where the Beavers ranked nationally as a team and various players individually.  If you missed it, give it a look CLICK HERE

It was a positive development to see Elliott Cary back in action in Phoenix after missing the prior two series due to injury.  The layoff did not seem to affect him, as he was 3 for 8 at the plate. 

The Beavers have outscored the opposition 25-3 in the first inning, and 40-5 in the 1st and 2nd combined.  There is something to be said for getting off to a good start.

One of my favorite moments in recent memory came in the second inning of the opener against ASU, following a wobbly inning that saw Luke Heimlich walk two and throw a wild pitch.  As he strode off the mound (having K'd the last two batters to end the threat), at two points on his walk to the dugout he raised his mitt to cover his mouth and yelled into it (appearing more frustrated with his struggles early in the inning as opposed to happy with the strikeouts).  

You always want your starters to be somewhat unflappable when things got a bit sideways, but I loved that bit of fire and emotion he showed.  Certainly he didn't dwell on the control issues that inning, as he did not walk another batter and allowed just two singles the rest of the way.     

Parting Shots And Predictions

As the old saying goes: good pitching beats good hitting. That, plus the home field advantage, should add up to a series win for the Beavers.  Mark me down for a 2-1 OSU series win.

NUMBERS TO GNAW ON…

OREGON STATE

ARIZONA

Wins and Losses

Overall Record

17 – 1

16-4

Pac-12 Record

3-0

2-1

Home

7 – 0

12-0

Away/Neutral Site

10-1

4-4

Last 5 Games

5 – 0

3 – 2

Last 10 Games

10-0

6-4

Streak

Won 12

Won 1

Offensive Stats

Runs/Game

5.61

10.15

Batting Ave.

.293

.352

OB %

.383

.441

SLG %

.408

.512

HR Per Game

0.389

0.500

Stolen Bases

26-31

24-29

Pitching Stats

Team ERA

1.06

4.19

Opponent Bat. Ave.

.168

.263

Team WHIP

0.81

1.39

K per 9 Innings

8.44

8.52

BB per 9 Innings

2.00

3.16

HR Allowed Per Game

0.28

0..50

Defensive Stats

Fielding %

.972

.956

Stolen Bases Allowed

5 – 7

14-20

Rankings

RPI*

2

4

SOS*

42

4

ISR*

1

8

Polls**

2-2-1-2-1

6-6-9-9-6

*RPI via NCAA.com - SOS via Warren Nolan - ISR via boydsworld.com

** Polls = ESPN/Coaches - Baseball Writers - D1 Baseball - Baseball America - Collegiate Baseball  [NR = Not Ranked; RV = Rec’d Votes]


BeaverBlitz Top Stories