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Oregon State isn’t used to flying under the radar, but that’s precisely the case as it readies for a midweek affair against rival Oregon.
At 9-3, the Beavers have one of the nation’s best records. However, it’s no secret they haven’t played a great schedule, with the exception being a 2-0 victory over Connecticut -- who was struggling then -- down in Texas just two weekends ago.
Since the win over the Huskies, the Beavers are 6-1, with four of those wins coming against Hartford, and the lone loss coming against Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
“I thought we would hit a little better than we did down in Texas,” Oregon State coach Pat Casey said. “We did a nice job at the plate in scrimmages, so I was expecting more. Pitching wise, I’ve been pretty pleased with what we’ve done as a group.”
The Beavers have left some strong impressions on the mound through the first three weeks. Ace pitcher Sam Gaviglio still hasn’t allowed a run in three starts and teams are hitting just .130 against the veteran right-hander.
OSU also is pleased with freshman hurlers Cam Booser and Ben Wetzler, who have ERAs of 3.52 and 4.40, respectively. Booser is expected to start against the Ducks after missing his start against Hartford last weekend because of back stiffness.
“Booser is a guy we really like. He’s 89-91 with his fastball and has a surprisingly good with his changeup. Also, he is making some progress with his cutter,” Casey said. “If he gets his changeup where he wants it to be, he’s going to be a fantastic arm this season.”
Junior left-handed pitcher Josh Osich, a highly touted draft prospect, has been the most pleasant surprise this season. Osich missed last season with an injury, and there was some concern that he might be behind with his mechanics. That’s not the case, though.
“He’s up to a 60-pitch limit and he has been up to 97 at times, consistently 94-96 mph, though. We honestly thought he’d be a bit behind from a mechanical standpoint,” Casey said. “He has been pretty good and his location and command have been solid.”
While the pitching staff is in fantastic shape, the offense still leaves something to be desired with just a .273 average. However, the Beavers are pleased with the fact sophomore catcher Andrew Susac has taken a step forward this season.
Susac leads the Beavers in hitting with a .441 average. He also has five doubles, three homers and 14 RBIs. Additionally, he’s slugging .853 and has a .571 OBP. On top of his offensive attributes, Susac has been solid behind the plate.
“I think confidence is the main positive about Susac right now,” he said. “Last year I think he was a little concerned and wrapped up in what was expected of him. Now he’s just playing baseball, and that has had a positive effect.”
Casey added that Garrett Nash, Carter Bell and Brian Stamps, who each are hitting below .260, must improve at the plate for the Beavers to reach their goals.
As with most teams, Oregon Still is still work in progress. But it’s an offense away from again being a legitimate threat on the elite stage.
No. 12 Clemson vs. No. 8 South Carolina: After two days of hearing about nothing more than the bat-gate between Clemson and South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr., the two rivals put the cleats back on and will finish their three-game series Tuesday night in Greenville, S.C. Clemson will send David Haselden to the mound, while South Carolina counters with weekend starter Adam Westmoreland. It doesn’t get better than this during the midweek.
Georgia Southern at No. 1 Florida: The Eagles are coming off a tough home series loss to Big East representative St. John’s, and could use a midweek win over Florida to forget about the weekend. Unfortunately, the Gators have been fantastic on the mound so far this season and have the edge in the contest with talented left-handed pitcher Nick Maronde on the mound. Maronde has a 3.86 ERA this season.
Elon at No. 16 North Carolina: After another solid weekend, the Phoenix hope to record a solid midweek win over North Carolina. It’s the first ranked opponent the Phoenix has faced this season, and they will send sophomore left-handed pitcher Dylan Clark (0-2, 1.00) to the mound. UNC will counter with talented young pitcher Kent Emanuel, who has a 1.93 ERA in 14 innings. This should be a low-scoring affair.
No. 15 Arizona at UNLV: This is a huge midweek two-game set for both teams, but even more so for the Rebels. Arizona already has a solid road series win over Long Beach State this season, while UNLV is off to a hot start but has yet to defeat an elite opponent. This is the Rebels’ chance to do that, and it’s at home to boot. Tim Chamber has gotten the Rebels off to an incredibly hot start this season. Now we’ll see if they can handle a big step up in competition.
No. 24 Connecticut at UC Irvine: It was just a week ago many wondered if the Huskies would go the way of last year’s Ohio State team. Now, it looks like the Huskies are back in business after some dominant wins, most recently thrashing San Diego 17-0. The Huskies have another stiff test on Tuesday when they face a UC Irvine team that has generated more offense than expected. With the way both teams are performing right now, look for some runs to be scored in this one.
Cal State Bakersfield at No. 24 Fresno State: If you’re looking for an early National Coach of the Year winner, Bakersfield skipper Bill Kernen should be on the list. Kernen has done a phenomenal job so far this season, as the Roadrunners have an 11-2 record entering Tuesday’s contest against Fresno State. After beating Arizona State over the weekend, Bakersfield has a chance to earn another great win.
No. 23 Oregon at Oregon State: The first edition of the Civil War in Oregon will be played tonight, as the reeling Ducks take on the Beavers. The Ducks were unable to get timely hits in a series loss to Long Beach State last weekend, while the Beavers continued to beat up on inferior opponents. It’ll be interesting to see how the Ducks fair at the plate, and how the Beavers perform in their biggest test of the season to date.
Santa Clara at No. 19 California: The Broncos finally could be in position to take a step forward this season. They started the year with an 0-3 record at South Carolina, but since are 6-2 with a series win over San Jose State last weekend. Cal, meanwhile, hopes to bounce back from a tough weekend down in San Diego. Both teams could use a marquee win on their resumes at this point in the season.
Illinois State at Miami: This quietly is one of the better midweek matchups to watch. The Redbirds and Hurricanes will engage in a two-game midweek set, and the Redbirds have a solid 7-3 record so far this season. Mark Kingston has done a solid job at ISU, and his team is off to a good start despite the struggles of stud hitter Kevin Tokarski, who is hitting well below .300. Miami, meanwhile, hopes to rebound from a winless weekend. The ‘Canes need to show some offense.
Baylor at Texas State: Another big midweek for the Bobcats is on the horizon. The Bobcats wasted a golden opportunity to earn a great win a couple of weeks ago against Rice, but have since been fantastic. The Bobcats pummeled Baylor in Waco, Texas, last week, and return home to face the Bears in this bout. Baylor went 2-1 at the Houston College Classic and looks to earn another nice win. Look for the Bears and Bobcats to have a closer contest this go-round.
Troy at Alabama: A classic in-state bout will take place when the Trojans and Crimson Tide butt heads. The Trojans have been fantastic so far this season, sitting at 9-2 with three series win, including a two of three series win over Southern Miss. ‘Bama, meanwhile, has struggled to start, but got back on track last weekend with a series win over Northwestern State. Alabama desperately needs to put together a streak with a tough trip to Mississippi on tap to being SEC play in two weekends.
No. 1 Florida at South Florida: The Bulls will have revenge on their mind when the Gators arrive on Wednesday. The Bulls faced the Gators opening weekend and lost all three games of the series. USF is coming off a solid week, where it defeated Miami and earned a home series sweep over Florida A&M. The Bulls, who are 5-5, could earn an impressive midweek win over the nation’s top-ranked team.
St. John’s at No. 16 North Carolina: It’s a busy midweek for the Tar Heels, who start things with a home contest against a solid Elon club. They finish midweek action against St. John’s, who has a solid three-man punch at the plate with Jeremy Baltz, Joe Panik and Paul Karmas leading the way. Though the Johnnies are coming off a road series win over Georgia Southern, they could use a midweek win over UNC to bolster their early-season resume.
Florida International at No. 14 Rice: The Golden Panthers have been fantastic since Garrett Wittels’ hitting streak was ended and they lost a weekend series to Southeastern Louisiana. But things get much more difficult this week as they face Rice before heading up the road to College Station, Texas, to face Texas A&M. Key hitters Pablo Bermudez and Wittels must have a productive road trip.
UC Riverside at Pepperdine: This is an important midweek game for both teams moving forward. The Waves are coming off a tough road series loss to East Carolina, and have just a 5-6 record. UC Riverside, meanwhile, had a positive trip to Arizona last week and enters the contest at 8-5. The Waves especially need a big week with this game and a series against Louisville on tap this weekend.
Louisiana-Lafayette at Southeastern Louisiana: The Ragin’ Cajuns started the season with a dismal home series loss to Southeast Missouri State, but have since played a much brand of baseball. Still, they have exactly one good win to their credit, and that was a weekend split against Southern Miss. The Cajuns could use a midweek win over a Southeastern Louisiana club that has been slightly better than expected so far this season.
Kendall Rogers is the managing editor of college baseball for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at email@example.com