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Hardball Preview games 5-6-7-8: #25 Oregon (3-1) at Hawaii (1-3)

Note:  No radio tonight, but the game should be streaming live here  Guess not.  You lie, Oregonian, you lie!

Thurs. 8:35  Tyler Anderson (1-0, 4.76) vs. Nate Klein (0-0, 3.38)

Fri. 8:35       Justin LeTempa (0-0, 0.00) vs. Matt Sisto (0-1, 9.53)

Sat. 3:05      Christain Jones (0-1, 8.10) vs. Josh Slaats (0-0, 0.00)

Sun. 3:05     Zack Thornton (0-0, 4.76) vs.  Sam Spangler (0-1, 1.93)

After a surprising weekend down in LA, in which the Ducks took 3 of 4, including a win at #4 Cal State Fullerton, the Ducks take their shiny new ranking into the islands for a weekend series with the mighty Warriors of Hawaii.  Hawaii comes off a weekend series with Oregon State, in which they lost three out of four games.

Hawaii has been a good, though not great, baseball team the last few years, hovering within a few games of .500 in each of the last three seasons.  Its a lineup that can definitely hit, as first baseman Kevin MacDonald had 12 doubles, 14 home runs, and drove in 60 last season while hitting .271, he also hit a grand slam in the first game of the season against the Beavers.   However, the real star of the team is center fielder/second baseman Kolten Wong.  The sophomore was a freshman All-American last year, as well as first team all-WAC, hitting .341 with 11 homers, 21 doubles, 52 driven in, and 11 steals to round it out.  Other notable players are three year starting shortstop Greg Garcia (17 extra base hits) and  newcomers Collin Bennett (OF) and David Frietas (C), who are starters in their first seasons after being junior college All-Americans.

Their starting staff isn't as fearsome as their lineup.  Senior Nate Klein has a history of inconsistency and Tommy John surgery, and could look great or terrible tonight.  Sophomore Matt Sisto had a very good freshman season last year, posting a 3-1 K/BB ratio with a 5-4 record and ERA in the low 4s.  This game could be very telling.  He's not going to walk anyone, so we'll get a chance to see how much our lineup has improved since last season.  They'll get strikes, can they hit them?  Sisto looks like their best pitcher.  Josh Slaats is a first year starter as a junior, with a history of control meltdowns and career ERA in the mid 7s.  Sam Spangler is also a career reliever, though he was very good at it, averaging over a strikeout an inning, once going sixteen innings in a row without giving up a run, and being a 20th round draft pick by the Pittsburgh Pirates.  It'll be interesting to see if he can replicate that success with a starter's workload.

This series should be a good test for our team.  Hawaii is good but not great.  Their lineup is going to put up some runs, but their pitching staff is inconsistent and will give us a lot of opportunities.  This series will hinge on how far our offense has come in the last year, as a good offense should put up a lot of runs against these guys (the Beavers put up 26 in four games).  A road split should leave you feeling very satisfied with that progress.  If we can manage to take three, our ranking is completely justified, at least for another week.

In any case, should be more fun than watching our basketball team get stomped twice more.