The Oregon Ducks will host No. 6 Oregon State Beavers this weekend in the first Civil War series at PK Park. To give Duck fans an in-depth look into the Beavers success this year and what to expect, ATQ caught up with Building the Dam's Connor Pelton.
1. The Beavers suffered their first weekend series loss of the season last weekend. In your opinion, what was the reason for that?
The main reason is that USC is a good baseball team. The Trojans have won 6 out of their last 7 series and were one of the most fundamentally sound teams I've watched all year.
Like a poster on Pure-orange.net said, the Trojans played like Oregon Sate usually does. Play, and execute, a lot of small ball, good pitching, and great coaching. Besides for a couple innings on Friday, the Trojans played near-perfect baseball the entire weekend.
With that being said, the Beavers definitely did not perform up to the level that we had seen in the past couple of months. Something about them just looked a step behind, whether it was watching too many strikes go by or mis-judging fly balls in the outfield, something was off with the team.
They also looked a little tight and nervous throughout the weekend, probably because of the fact that we would have moved up to #1 in the country with a series win.
2. Because that series loss came late in the year, is it cause for concern with regionals approaching?
We will definitely learn more after this weekend's series, but I don't think there should be any cause of concern yet. Baseball teams have weeks like that, especially in the course of a four-month season. Like I said above, we just looked a step slow. If that trend continues this weekend, I will be worried.
3. The Beavers aren't loaded with all-American talent. So, how have they been able to be so successful?
It really helps to have two great starting pitchers on Friday and Saturday. With Sam Gaviglio and Josh Osich on the mound, you know that if you put up two or more runs then you are going to have a great chance to win the game.
At the plate it has been a bunch of small things put together. Brian Stamps and Kavin Keyes have came up big in the past couple of weeks, but before that it has been Jared Norris and Michael Miller, and sometimes Ryan Barnes and Ryan Dunn. Sometimes all you need is some timely hitting to make up for the lack of all-American talent.
Besides for those reasons, we have a great coach. Pat Casey really understands baseball and I'm pretty sure he breathes it 24/7.
4. Who are a couple players that Ducks fans should should watch for this weekend, and why?
I'd say Andrew Susac and Kavin Keyes. Susac will go in the first round of next month's MLB Draft and is largely considered to be the best catcher in the nation, so this will be the last chance Duck fans get to see him. He's also still getting into the swing of things after sitting out a little more than a month with a broken Hamate bone, and he hasn't had a breakout game since the injury. He's shown glimpses of his old self, but I'd expect him to have a big game sometime this weekend.
Kavin Keyes should be playing for Alta High School in Utah's state tournament this weekend, but instead he will be in Eugene trying to lead the Beavers to a national seed. Keyes decided to skip his Senior year of High School and come to Corvallis, and he has arguably been the Beavers most solid hitter throughout the year.
5. What do you think are the Beavers chances of hosting regionals and super regionals?
No matter what happens this weekend, the Beavers will be hosting a regional next weekend at Goss Stadium. However, in order to host a super regional, the Beavers will have to sweep the Ducks this weekend. No team with an RPI higher than 17 has ever gotten a national seed into the NCAA Tournament, and anything less than a sweep would keep the Beavers above that mark. Even with a sweep, we still might be higher than 17, but there's no way the selection committee could pass on us then. Could they?
6. Prediction for the Civil War Series?
I think the Ducks put an end to the Beavers national seed hopes on Friday night. With Tyler Anderson facing Sam Gaviglio, there's no way that Anderson doesn't have the advantage, if only because Gaviglio has looked a little off in his last few starts. Something about this game just scares me. The late start, the home crowd, the Ducks still thinking that they have a shot at the NCAA Tournament, it all points to an Oregon win.
On Saturday and Sunday, however, I think the Beavers buckle down and take care of business. I love Josh Osich on the mound for Saturday's game, and whoever the Beavers decide to start on Sunday (Either Ben Wetzler or James Nygren), I think has a big game against a Duck team that struggles at the plate.