Pitching, defense and clutch hitting is what postseason baseball is all about. Once you reach Super Regional level, your are facing some of the best baseball talent in the country, so you better bring your "A" game.
This weekend's Super Regional match-up between Oregon State and Vanderbilt pit two of the top overall baseball programs in the country against each other and one common factor about both program's is the fact that they are both known for great pitching. That is no different headed into this weekend's action in Corvallis, Oregon.
While Vanderbilt sports possibly the top overall draft pick in next week's draft in Kyle Wright and a 10 game winner in Patrick Raby, the Beavers have a one-two punch that is as formidable as anybody in the country. If you want stats and gaudy numbers, Oregon State's top two pitchers bring that and then some.
The Beavers top guy is the Pac 12's pitcher of the year in Luke Heimlich, who has an 11-1 record and an ERA under 1.00 at 0.76. Those are insane numbers and yet he isn't the only guy in the rotation who dominates from the mound.
1st-team All-Pac 12 selection Jake Thompson could easily be the number one guy in somebody else's rotation, if it wasn't for Heimlich. Thompson might of had a better year overall compared to Heimlich. The junior pitcher sports a record of 13-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 110.2 innings pitched. Those too are insane numbers, so you can see why Vanderbilt has a big task ahead of them in Corvallis.
It's not just Heimlich and Thompson that should scare Vanderbilt fans but their bullpen is outstanding as well. The Beavers have six guys with ERA's under 3.00 with closer and leader in ERA, Max Engelbrekt leading the way. He currently has an ERA of 0.48 in 16 appearances on the season along with five saves. Engelbrekt earned 1st-team All-Pac 12 honors this season after leading the Beavers in the bullpen but he is not alone. Names to remember include Jake Mulholland (1.32 ERA; 26 App/6 SV), Mitchell Verburg (0.93 ERA; 14 App), Brandon Eisert (2.18 ERA; 20 App;4 SV) and Sam Tweedt (3-0; 2.65 ERA).
Oregon State has a great mixture of pitching between their rotation all the way into the bullpen. It's a deep roster of pitching and the staff is a big reason why they earned the top overall seed in the NCAA Tournament.
If they have any weakness what so ever, it would be their No. 3 starter Bryce Fehmel and that's honestly stretching it. Fehmel went 4-2 on the season in 11 games started. He currently posts an ERA of 4.21, striking out 35 while walking 17 batters. He doesn't have terrible numbers and is a solid pitcher but if their is any crack in pitching armor of Oregon State, it could be pushing this to an actual three game series and taking a shot at Fehmel.
Either way, it will be a great match-up between both the Beavers and Commodores because both teams sport pro caliber pitching staffs and coaching staff's that have been there and done that. A key to Vanderbilt advancing past this weekend is getting to the Beavers pitching staff but that is easier said than done.