College : : Story
Saturday, June 09, 2012

Preview: Eugene SR

Kendall Rogers        
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Kent State (44-17) vs. Oregon (45-17)

National rank by PG: Kent State (19), Oregon (8)
When: Saturday (6/9), 11 p.m. (ESPNUHD) -- Sunday (6/10), 10 p.m. (ESPNUHD) -- Monday (6/11), 7 p.m. (ESPNUHD)
Where: PK Park (4,000) in Eugene, Ore.
College World Series appearances: Kent State (0), Oregon (1)
The pick: Oregon

Eugene Super Regional: Who has the edge?
Starting pitching

You'll thoroughly enjoy this series if you're a fan of good starting pitching.

Both the Flashes and Ducks possess some of the nation's most impressive starting pitchers, but overall, we give a very slight edge to Oregon at home.

The Ducks have an outstanding rotation led by senior Alex Keudell, freshman Jake Reed and Jeff Gold. Keudell is 11-4 with a 2.38 ERA in 117 1/3 innings of work. Teams are hitting him at a .226 clip. Meanwhile, Reed has a 2.93 ERA in 107 1/3 innings and Gold has started 12 games and has a 3.50 ERA in 74 2/3 innings of work. Teams are hitting .250 against him.

Kent State is just a hair behind Oregon in this department.

The Flashes have an excellent ace pitcher in left-hander David Starn, who has a 2.01 ERA in 107 2/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 118 and walked 38, while teams are hitting him at a .213 clip. Meanwhile, Ryan Bores is 9-2 with a 3.29 ERA in 98 1/3 innings. Tyler Skulina is yet another quality arm for this program, and he has a 3.84 ERA in 96 innings. He also has struck out 93 and walked 38, while teams are hitting .240 against him.

Once again, this is another category where the two teams are very similar.

And once again, this is a category where we give the Ducks a very slight edge.

Oregon has one of the nation's elite relievers in Jimmie Sherfy. He has appeared in 33 games and has a 2.16 ERA in 58 1/3 innings of work. He also has recorded 18 saves. Meanwhile, Joey Housey has appeared in 21 games and has a 1.85 ERA in 34 innings, while Thomas Thorpe has appeared in 32 games and has a 2.25 ERA in 40 innings. Teams are hitting Thorpe at a very low .181 clip.

For the Flashes, Brian Clark is the leader with four saves in 18 appearances and a 0.69 ERA in 26 innings of work. Meanwhile, Josh Pierce has a 3.04 ERA in 26 2/3 innings, Eric Dorsch has a 3.15 ERA in 20 innings and Casey Wilson has appeared in 26 games and has a 3.77 ERA in 31 innings of work.

Look for both bullpens to have success this weekend.

The Ducks may be a lot of things this season, such as a good team in terms of pitching, defense and other aspects, but they're certainly a little challenge from an offensive standpoint.

That isn't the case with Kent State.

The Flashes have a very solid offensive lineup, entering the weekend hitting .306. George Roberts leads the club with a .369 batting average, 22 doubles, seven homers and 62 RBIs, while Jimmy Rider is hitting .367 with 27 doubles, five homers and 53 RBIs.

Also keep an eye on Evan Campbell, who's hitting .339 with 19 doubles, four triples, seven homers and 40 RBIs, while David Lyon is only hitting .284, but is a big-time power producer for the Flashes, having already hit 10 homers and knocked in 41 runs this season.

As for Oregon, it enters the weekend hitting just .268 as a club with Brett Thomas (.314/1/24) leading the way. Meanwhile, first baseman Ryon Healy is hitting .307 with four homers and 39 RBIs, while Aaron Jones and Kyle Garlick each have six homers with batting averages of .303 and .297, respectively. Kent State could be in good shape this weekend if it gets off to a hot start from an offensive standpoint.

Both of these teams pitch at an extremely high level. They also are outstanding clubs from a defensive standpoint, as Oregon enters the weekend with a .979 fielding percentage as compared to a .974 mark for Kent State.

For Kent State, shortstop Jimmy Rider and second baseman Derek Toadvine formulate one of the best middle infield duos in the country, while catcher David Lyon is a veteran and third baseman Sawyer Polen has committed just nine errors this season.

For the Ducks, Aaron Jones is one of the best in the business, while shortstop J.J. Altobelli has been a vacuum at his position with a .970 fielding percentage. Also keep an eye on second baseman Aaron Payne, who has a .972 fielding percentage, and third baseman Ryan Hambright, who has yet to commit an error in 22 starts this season.

Though the race in this category is close, we give a slight edge to Oregon.

What a series this ought to be with two of the nation's elite head coaches butting heads -- Kent State's Scott Stricklin and Oregon's George Horton.

Stricklin's club has a lot of veterans and they're hungrier than ever after taking yet another step forward by winning an NCAA Regional. Meanwhile, Horton's club has been extremely tough this season, dealing with several key injuries and maintaing their consistent ways.

It's also important to add in the home-field factor in addition to the Horton factor. Horton has been in this exact position many times in the past, and he knows exactly which buttons to push to get the Ducks to get to the College World Series.

For that reason and more, the Ducks get the edge here.

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