If you're like me, you're probably wondering what happened to our baseball team. We had young, but talented pitching and a program that worked, only surrendering 14 losses all season long. Oregon was the only national seed not to advance to the super regional and a lot of it comes to rest, on the shoulders of three hitters. Those three hitters are Ryan Hambright, Connor Hofmann, and J.J. Altobelli.
I omitted the catching combo of Chase and Graham because their splitting time made their sample sizes too small in what is ultimately a small sample size already.
These three batters combined for 53 at bats, and in those at bat got only 9 hits, 3 RBI and struck out 15 times over the course of 5 games. Their combined OBP came in at just .301 for the regional. Hambright was the only one of the three to have more than 1 hit in the regional but his strikeouts; which were more than Hofmann and Altobelli combined, (8) still outnumbered his walks combined with his hits (5). Mix that in with a few poor defensive plays and it was a forgettable regional for him. He also accounted for 1 of the 3 RBI the bottom third tallied.
The other two were chipped in by Connor Hofmann. Hofmann only recorded a single hit in the regional in his 10 appearances, striking out twice. While Hofmann found himself in the lineup primarily for his defensive abilities, his inability to hit the ball may have been more of a liability than it was a benefit, especially considering how the fifth and final game started defensively for Oregon.
Before the pitchforks and torches are grabbed I want to say that J.J. Altobelli had a great career at Oregon. This is why it was so shocking to see the way J.J. went out. TV broadcasters labeled J.J. as "not your typical 9 hitter," but he sure hit like one. Altobelli reached base only twice in a five game span, which saw him account for no RBI, 3 strikeouts and a OBP of just over 15%. It's unclear whether the combination of pitchers challenged Altobelli or what the problem was but he just seemed to come up small in big spots. Altobelli struck out the least of the three but his contact with the ball was largely fruitless when he was at the plate.
HRD had commented during the game last night that when the bottom half of your lineup is all sub-Mendoza, a scouting report isn't really required. I take nothing away from Rice. They came in to Eugene and took what they came for. However, Oregon underachieved what their potential was and are left sitting at home while someone else goes to Omaha.