OSU Athletics--Wiggins

JP's Weekly Walk-Off: USC

The number one ranked Oregon State baseball team returns home to Goss Stadium to take on USC in a three game series. JP has everything you need to get ready for the action in this week's JP's Weekly Walk-Off.

The Beavers survived a pair of serious scares in Los Angeles last week, but clawed out another series win to retain their consensus #1 ranking. Now the Beavs look to settle in for what will hopefully be an extended stay in the Willamette Valley that sees them never further than about an hour from home until the calendar is well into June.  This week sees the other SoCal school, the struggling USC Trojans, pay a visit to Goss for what hopefully will be a successful series for the Beavers, and ideally one where we also don’t have to even talk about rain delays.

THE WEEK THAT WAS

The Beavs sandwiched a pair of nail-biter wins around their worst performance of the season to record their 6th conference series win in a row (and 8th over-all dating back to 2016).  Friday, Jake Mulholland blew his first save opportunity of the season as UCLA got a pinch-hit HR in the bottom of the 9th to tie it, but both the offense and Mulholland responded to the adversity as OSU scored 2 in the 10th and the lefty from Snohomish held the Bruins scoreless.  Michael Gretler’s 9th inning RBI single provided the winning run Sunday, as the Beavers used five different pitchers to secure the final three outs as the game ended with the bases full of Bruins.  Saturday… let’s just not talk about that one.

  • Friday:  OSU 4 – UCLA 2 (10 innings)
  • Saturday:  UCLA 7 – OSU 1
  • Sunday:  OSU 2 – UCLA 1
  • Tuesday: OSU vs. UO – Rained Out

THE WEEK AHEAD

Game Times:

  • Friday: OSU (LHP Heimlich 5-1, 0.75) vs. USC (RHP Stubbs 0-2, 4.73) 5:35pm PDT
  • Saturday: OSU (RHP Fehmel 4-2, 3.96) vs. USC (RHP Clarke 4-1, 5.40) 1:35pm PDT
  • Sunday: OSU (RHP Thompson 8-0, 1.06) vs. USC (RHP Crouse 2-5, 7.23) 1:05pm PDT
  • Tuesday: OSU (TBA) vs. UO (TBA) 5:30pm PDT

Notes:

  • USC’s somewhat meager series notes mentioned that Stubbs would be starting Friday, but there was no mention about the rest of the rotation.  Clarke had been pitching Fridays and Stubbs Saturdays so my assumption is those two will simply switch nights.
  • Stubbs worked one inning in relief last season retiring the three batters he faced, while Clarke (freshman) and Crouse have not previously faced OSU.
  • The Beavers won the 2016 series 2-1 at Dedeaux Field via Friday and Sunday wins.  The teams have split the last ten series – each side winning three of five at home and 2 of 5 on the road.
  • No TV coverage this weekend, but there will be video via: http://pac-12.com/live/oregon-state-university-2 . Tuesday’s non-conference game vs. UO will be televised by the Pac-12 Network.

OPPOSING PLAYERS TO WATCH

  • 2B Brandon Perez: .361, 9 2B, 18 RBI (.409 in conference play)
  • 1B Lars Nootbaar: .317, 3 2B, 2 3B, 5 HR, 25 RBI
  • SS Frankie Rios: .355, 11 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 20 RBI

RANDOM TOPICS OF THE WEEK

USC notes…

The Trojans took a big hit when they lost projected staff ace Mitch Hart to injury back in March, and their pitching has been a mess.  During their recent 2-8 skid, they surrendered 89 runs.  Last weekend their starters were hammered at Cal, combining for 25 H and 14 ER in just 11.1 combined IP.  As bad as the starters were, late inning relief work might have been worse, as relievers took the loss in each of the three games as Cal scored 12 runs in the 8th-10th (series finale’ went 10) innings of the series.  Adding insult to injury, 6 of the 12 runs came on walk-off home runs in the first and third games (those were just two of the 8 HR Cal hit during the series).

USC, as you’d expect, does have some talented offensive players on the roster, but they have benefitted a fair bit statistically (thought not so much in terms of wins) from their conference schedule on that end. Their five series thus far have come against the teams ranked 3 (Stanford), 7 (UA), [USC is 8] 9 (Cal), 10 (WSU), and 11 (ASU) in ERA.

While I won’t blather on as much as I did about the Diekroeger brothers at Stanford, it makes me happy to see USC with another Nootbaar on the roster (Lars’ brother Nigel was a pitcher 2012-14).

Beaver notes…

Pat Casey indicated to the media this week that they are attempting to re-schedule the rainouts with Portland, Gonzaga, and Oregon (I assume he meant he hoped to get one or maybe two of them in, which will be tough enough).  I’d rule out Gonzaga – they don’t have anything on the schedule that would tie-in with a trip to Corvallis.  They start a 10 day home stand this weekend before finishing their regular season with a road game at Fresno State 5/22 before they start Big West Conference Tournament play in Stockton on 5/25.  We shall have to see what Portland and/or Oregon might be willing/able to squeeze in but I honestly don’t see a slam-dunk option with either team.

Is it just me, or does the Beavers’ 6-game stretch without a home run feel A LOT longer than that?  Maybe in part it’s the fact that over the past 20 games they have just 2 HR hit by players other than Cadyn Grenier (Rutschman and Harrison with 1 each).  Probably time for that drought to come to an end as last weekend was not an aberration and USC has been prone all season to giving up the long-ball.

Tip of the hat to Steven Kwan who has really come up big since conference play began (.356 average and a ton of the “little things” that don’t stand out as dramatically).  Coach Casey is fond of saying that it is the players that ultimately set the lineup, and Kwan has really stood out of late even among a deep and talented pool of outfielders as a guy that belongs in the lineup regularly.

Short of three complete game shutouts from the starters, the much anticipated return to the mound of Drew Rasmussen seems as certain this weekend as death and taxes.  Coach Casey’s remarks to the media this week sounded like he felt he maybe looked too hard/waited too long for “just the right situation” to put Drew in.

PAC-12 NEWS/NOTES/STATS

Pac-12 Offensive Category Team Rankings

Ave.

Slg %

OB %

Runs

2B

3B

HR

BB

K*

OSU

4

6

6

T-8

T-7

T-3

11

9

2

USC

5

8

7

5

10

10

5

8

T-9

*1st = fewest/best 

 

Pac-12 Pitching/Defense Category Team Rankings

 

ERA

Ave.

K

BB*

WP*

HBP*

HR*

Fld.

SB*

OSU

1

1

4

2

3

2

2

5

3

USC

8

9

6

11

6

7

T-10

2

11

*1st = fewest/best 

It hasn’t been hard to pick up on the fact that I’m really not a believer in Cal – they just don’t have the pitching (IMHO).  They enter the weekend 2nd in the Pac-12 standings at 11-7, but things are about to get very ugly.  They finish with 15 of their final 16 games against teams currently in the top-50 RPI: UW (50), OSU (1), Stanford (18), TCU (11), and Arizona (10).  Oh and by the way, they are currently 1-12 against top-50 RPI teams.  There’s not much you can do about how the conference lays out who you play and when… but, boy does adding that TCU series to the mix late in the season seem like a fireable offense for whoever lined it up. 

My spot on the Utes making a run to get into the tourney bandwagon only grows more solid as they’ve won 7 of 8 since the Beavers swept them.  They notched a big series sweep last weekend in Tucson, and showed a bit of grit Thursday night losing a 1-0 lead to Wazzu in the 9th, to win it in the 10th to open that series.

The other series starting Thursday saw Stanford take the opener 3-2 at Sunken Diamond against Arizona.  The ‘Cats are in a bit of a skid, as that’s their fourth consecutive conference loss, and the offense that was so prolific scoring runs early in the year hasn’t been able to put enough runs on the board (12 total in those 4 losses) to make up for their just “so-so” pitching staff.

Everyone’s second favorite team this weekend is ASU, which heads to PK Park and hopefully will keep their mini-resurgence (winners of 6 of 8) going.  The quacks have dropped 8 of their last 10 conference games and they seem to have developed serious trouble pitching beyond series openers – 65 runs given up in their last six Saturday/Sunday conference games.

UCLA has to be stinging from settling for just one win in a series that could very easily have been a sweep against the nation’s #1 team, but they get a break from Pac-12 play and can perhaps take their frustrations out on sub-.500 Cal Poly.

PARTING SHOTS AND PREDICTIONS

While UCLA’s pitching is solid, OSU did a lot to make them look better than they are during their rather anemic 7 run, 18 hit weekend in LA.  However a home series against a team with a young and struggling staff like USC’s should be just what the doctor ordered.  When five of the six pitchers that have logged double-digit innings in Pac-12 play have an ERA above 5.20 in those games, which is not good.

USC ranks 9th nationally in fielding, so for the third time in four weeks the Beavers will find themselves in the unusual position of facing a team with a better fielding percentage than their own.  However, in those three series, OSU committed the same number or fewer errors than the “statistically better” team during the series, and we will hope to see that trend continue.  

All and all, the crystal ball is crystal clear with a Beavs series win prediction.  For those that think I jinxed us against UW by predicting a sweep, go ahead and assume that I’m thinking 2-1 Beavs.  For those that think we only won 2 at UCLA because that’s all I predicted last week, go head and assume I’m thinking sweep.  ;-) 

As always, if you have questions/comments/suggestions you’d like me to cover, by all means feel free to let me know either on the board or you can always e-mail me at jp@beaverblitz.com.    

NUMBERS TO GNAW ON…

 

OREGON STATE

USC

Wins and Losses

Overall Record

32 – 3

12 – 20

Pac-12 Record

16 – 2

5 – 10

Home

13 – 0

13 – 8

Away/Neutral Site

19 – 3

4 – 12

Last 5 Games

4 – 1

1 – 4

Last 10 Games

8 – 2

2 – 8

Streak

Won 1

Lost 4

Offensive Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Runs/Game

5.31  (5.16)

5.24  (4.73)

Batting Ave.

.286  (.292)

.275  (.276)

OB %

.364  (.360)

.355  (.350)

SLG %

.392  (.394)

.382 (.378)

HR Per Game

0.34  (0.28)

0.61  (0.67)

Stolen Bases

34 – 43  (14 – 19)

29 – 47  (9 – 16)

Pitching Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Team ERA

1.88  (2.30)

5.28  (5.31)

Opponent Bat. Ave.

.193  (.201)

.278  (.288)

Team WHIP

0.99  (1.08)

1.63  (1.67)

K per 9 Innings

8.24  (7.71)

7.38  (6.24)

BB per 9 Innings

2.72  (2.84)

5.15  (5.10)

HR Allowed Per Game

0.40  (0.39)

0.76  (0.86)

Defensive Stats (Pac-12 games in parenthesis)

Fielding %

.976  (.980)

.981  (.982)

Stolen Bases Allowed

13 – 16  (7 – 8)

43 – 64  (17 – 28)

Rankings

RPI*

1

99

SOS*

27

41

ISR*

1

88

Polls**

1 – 1 – 1 – 1 – 1

NR – NR – NR – NR – NR  

*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]


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