Oregon vs. Oregon State Game Thread (Game 3 @ 1 p.m.), and 5 things to look for from the Ducks

Quack fans, here is where you can find updates on today's third game of the Civil War Series. I will be in the press box of PK Park, posting updates as they happen.

The Ducks lead the series 2-0 and have raised their RPI to 58, according to Boyd's World. For the Beavers, their RPI has fallen to 28.

What does that mean for the Ducks? RPI is far form an exact science when determining regional selections. I would say the cut off for being selected to regionals is 60, so Oregon would have to complete the sweep in order to stay below that. Also, even if the Ducks stay below 60, that does not guarantee them a regional spot. The committee will take into account things like being swept by the UCLA Bruins and losing two out of three to the Washington State Cougars last weekend. 

Looking at the Pac-10 conference picture, the Bruins secured themselves at least a share of first place with a win over the Arizona State Sun Devils, last night. If the Bruins win today. Currently, the Beavers are one game back of the Bruins. A win for the Bruins today and they will stand alone at the Pac-10 conference champs. A loss and a win by the Beavers means a two-way tie for first place.

The Ducks sit alone in seventh place.

As far as the game today, the Beavers are not releasing who will be their starting pitcher. Because of that, Horton has decide he will wait as well. My hope is that Madison Boer will be on the hill for the Ducks. He spent much of the year as the Ducks dominant No. 2 pitcher--although he would be an ace on many other staffs. He was moved to the closer roll a before the Stanford series to relieve a struggling bullpen. But after Scott McGough's outing yesterday, the Ducks might be able to take the risk of moving Boer out of the 'pen.


However, my gut tell me that Alex Keudell will be the Ducks starter today. Keudell has a 3.20 earned run average and a 6-3 record. Boer has a 2.27 earned run average. 

I will have lineups and starting pitchers for all of you as soon as I get them.

I'm going to keep this brief, but here are the five things to look for: 

1. I see great things from Ryon Healy. The Ducks first baseman has hit home runs in the last two rubber matches at home. He seems to step up in the big games, and it's not every freshman that can say that. OK, so he doesn't have a hit in this series. That's just all the more reason for him to have that chip on his shoulder coming to the park today. Or he's caught in the midst of a slump and I'm an idiot. Guess we'll see.

2. Aaron Jones, keep producing runs. I guess I'm all about freshmen today. The Ducks right fielder has five runs batted in in this series. With the bases loaded in the fourth inning of Saturday's game, Jones cleared the bases with a double. On Friday, his two runs batted in were a little less spectacular (sacrifice fly and fielders choice). He'll be in hte four or five hole today, so opportunities to drive runs in will present themselves.

3. Defense. At times this season, the Ducks defense has proved fatal. If this game shapes up like the last two, an error could have major implications. this has been a series decided by extremely slim margins. Ducks third baseman J.J. Altobelli has been an every day starter because of his glove (Also, he has a 10 game hit streak, which might be the quietest double digit hit streak I've ever seen). Who knows how many runs his glove has saved this season?

4. Pitching & Luck. I'm combining these two things because I don't know who will be starting for the Ducks today. Christian Jones started for the Ducks on the mound yesterday, and he needed luck. His stuff was not sharp, and the Beavers hit him hard. But they were right at fielders, for the most part. Friday's game was decide by just a couple bounces in the Ducks favor. Granted, the Beaver bats have have really struggled in key situations, but the Ducks seem to have everything going their way in this series. 

My guess is that Ben Wetzler will start for the Beavers today. His number have been less than impressive (4.70 earned run average). If he does start, the Ducks will have the edge in pitching with either Boer or Keudell. That being the case, either guy needs to pitch to his potential. If they do what they are capable of doing, that might be enough for the Ducks.

5. Small ball. In a series decided by inches, small ball becomes unmeasurably important. The Ducks need to get guys over, scrap and find any way to score. Horton is a small ball guy. The Ducks can't rely on the big hit, so Horton will push the tempo of the game with bunting, hit-and-runs; anything that will get guys over. Also, look for at least ONE DELAYED STEAL today. I promise the Ducks will try it at least once. 

Prediction: Pitching will be the difference, and the game will go to the team with the edge on the mound. Ducks complete the sweep and hold their breath for tomorrows regional decision. 

Look here for all your Duck updates. I'll be typing with fire-fingers today (whatever that means). 

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