College : : Story
Thursday, May 30, 2013

Corvallis Regional preview

Kendall Rogers        


Team Conference Record Berth Last NCAA appearance
1. Oregon State Pac-12 45-10 Automatic 2012
2. Texas A&M Southeastern 32-27 At-large 2012
3. UC Santa Barbara Big West 34-23 At-large 2001
4. Texas-San Antonio Southland 35-23 Automatic 2012
Oregon State
1. Oregon St.
2. Texas A&M  


As usually is the case nestled in the Pacific Northwest, Oregon State has quietly put together a phenomenal 2013 campaign. Pat Casey's Beavers are balanced and have one of the nation's elite pitching staffs, entering the Corvallis Regional with a fantastic 2.15 staff earned-run average. Oregon State has one of the nation's purest pitchers in veteran left-hander Matt Boyd, who can touch 90, but is more known for his ability to throw good secondary pitches for strikes. Boyd pounds the zone and has a 2.09 ERA in 107 2/3 innings, along with 98 strikeouts and 24 walks. Meanwhile, fellow lefty Ben Wetzler, also a guy who can touch 90 on the gun, has bounced back nicely from an injury during the early part of the season, and has a 2.10 ERA in 73 innings. The real surprise of this pitching staff is freshman right-hander Andrew Moore. Moore was a decently ranked guy out of high school, but has blossomed in his first year with the Beavers. He has a fastball anywhere from 90-93, good pitchability, and has a 1.22 ERA in 103 innings. Bullpen-wise, the Beavers have plenty of quality arms, from freshman Max Engelbrekt (1.46, 19 apps), veteran Tony Bryant (1.76, 21 apps), Scott Schultz (2.13, 10 saves) and of course, lefty Jace Fry, who's back from injury and could be used out of the bullpen. Offensively, the Beavers won't wow you, but this team is very opportunistic with some upside. Outfielder Michael Conforto is an elite hitter with a .332 average, nine homers and 42 RBIs, while Dylan Davis actually leads the team in hitting with a .344 mark, four homers and 53 RBIs. I'd also keep an eye on catcher Jake Rodriguez. Though Rodriguez is only hitting .272, he's the type of guy who could have a breakout weekend.
Texas A&M
Texas A&M is a rather interesting club to watch this weekend. The Aggies seemed to be done a few weeks ago, but finished the regular season by winning 10 of their last 15 games, and winning two games in the SEC tournament over Florida and Vanderbilt. That was enough to get them into the postseason field, and now they hope to surprise some folks. The Aggies aren't a great offensive club, but have found more of a groove here lately with imposing freshman third baseman Hunter Melton on a power surge, hitting .272 with six homers and 19 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Krey Bratsen, who has played well down the stretch and is hitting .287 with a home run and 22 RBIs, along with 17 stolen bases, while Mikey Reynolds, in addition to being an exceptional defender, also leads the team offensively with a .343 average, a home run and 24 RBIs. Also keep an eye on first baseman Cole Lankford, who's hitting .332 with three homers and 34 RBIs. Pitching-wise, the Aggies have a very good ace in right-handed pitcher Daniel Mengden. Mengden sits anywhere from 91-95 with his fastball, and has a good changeup/slider combination. Fellow right-handed pitcher Parker Ray, who can get up to 92 on the radar gun, pitched well in Hoover, Ala., last weekend, and has a 1.83 ERA in 59 innings of work, while the rest of the rotation certainly is a huge question mark. In the bullpen, right-hander Jason Jester sits in the low-90s and has a 2.32 ERA and 13 saves in 42 2/3 innings of work, while AJ Minter (2.84, 24 apps) and Matt Kent (4.50, 32 apps) are other guys to watch. The Aggies must pitch much better overall to take care of business in Corvallis this weekend.
UC Santa Barbara
UCSB head coach Andrew Checketts has earned his wings under a pair of very good coaches in George Horton and Doug Smith, and now he's working some magic with the Gauchos. UCSB put together a solid regular season campaign. From a position player standpoint, the Gauchos have one of the better shortstops in the country in Brandon Trinkwon, though, he's only hitting .287, while Robby Nesovic and Woody Woodward lead the offense with batting averages of .343 and .335, respectively. Meanwhile, keep an eye on tall and imposing first baseman Tyler Kuresa, who's hitting .304 with good power, as indicated by five homers and 34 RBIs. Also keep an eye on catcher Jackson Morrow. Thought he's only hitting .238 this season, Morrow is a solid backstop for the Gauchos. Pitching-wise, the Gauchos have a solid one-two punch in sophomore right-handed pitcher Austin Pettibone and freshman left-hander Justin Jacome. Pettibone doesn't have overpowering stuff, but has good pitchability with a 3.11 ERA in 110 innings, along with 55 strikeouts and 20 walks. Meanwhile, Jacome has a 3.86 ERA in 77 innings, along with 49 strikeouts and 15 walks. In the bullpen, keep an eye on Greg Mahle (4.03, 29 apps), Dylan Hecht (1.93, 27 apps) and Domenic Mazza (4.02, 17 apps).
Texas-San Antonio
UTSA coach Jason Marshall is a rising guy in the industry, so it's no surprise he guided the Roadrunners to the NCAA postseason. The Roadrunners hope to surprise some people this weekend with a solid offensive lineup entering the weekend with a .304 batting average. UTSA has some legitimate power in the way of RJ Perucki and ultra talented Daniel Rockett. Perucki is hitting .349 with 12 doubles, 12 homers and 46 RBIs, while Rockett, who was suspended earlier this season, is hitting .338 with 13 doubles, 10 homers and 48 RBIs. Also keep an eye on Riley Good, who's good in all facets of the game and has a .336 average with two homers and 33 RBIs. Pitching-wise, as is the case with most mid-majors, the Roadrunners don't have a ton of depth. However, they have a few arms to watch, including Brock Hartson and Michael Kraft. Hartson has a 3.10 ERA in 101 2/3 innings of work, along with 49 strikeouts and 25 walks, while Kraft has a good changeup with a 4.10 ERA in 68 innings, along with 62 strikeouts and 40 walks. Also keep an eye on Jordan Pacheco, who has a good fastball, and has a 4.25 ERA in 25 appearances and three starts this season. Matt Sims serves as closer for the Roadrunners, and as you'd like to see from a closer, he's been consistent. In 27 appearances this spring, he has a 2.13 ERA and eight saves in 55 innings.
The thing I like to see from teams going into the postseason is consistency, and the Beavers have mastered that craft with a strong run to the Pac-12 title. OSU has a solid offensive lineup, but what makes this team so special is the pitching staff, which just has elite arm after arm to throw out there against teams. That's what differentiates OSU the most from the rest of this field. Texas A&M, UC Santa Barbara and UTSA can't match the Beavers arm for arm, so someone will need to step up for all of those clubs. OSU isn't invincible, but it's certainly very difficult to beat.


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