The Wildcats come into this series with a 19-7 overall record, 1-2 in Pac-10 play, good enough to be ranked 18th by Baseball America. Coming off of a 1-2 performance against the in-state rival Sun Devils, Arizona will surely be looking to bounce back against the visiting Beavers.
We'll start the preview with a look at the Wildcats' series against Long Beach State, the only mutual opponent between Oregon State and Arizona.
The Wildcats, like the Beavers, went 2-1 in Long Beach. They lost 2-1, and defeated the Dirtbags 9-1 and 7-1. In the first game, Arizona faced Long Beach State starter Andrew Gagnon. Andrew Gagnon is similar to Sam Gaviglio, although Gagnon is 3 inches taller than Gaviglio. Both weigh 195 lbs. The two right-handers won't overpower you with their fastball, Gaviglio topping out at 90, Gagnon in the 91 range. Another similarity between the two is an approximately 81 mph changeup. Because of all this, I think that Gagnon's performance will be a good predictor of Gaviglio's performance.
Gagnon dominated Arizona, shutting them out through 7.2 innings. The Beavers managed to score 4 runs off of the Dirtbag starter, including back-to-back home runs from Susac and Danny Hayes.
Now, we'll compare the two teams position by position.
Kurt Heyer, a sophomore from Huntington Beach, is Arizona's Friday night starter, and has recorded a 4-1 record with a 1.34 ERA, he's having a great season. However, Sam Gaviglio can counter that, with a miniscule .39 ERA.
Junior Kyle Simon should be the Wildcats starter on Saturday, and he's been rock solid for Arizona, 5-1 with a 2.25 ERA. The Beavers will most likely send Ben Wetzler to the mound, although his last appearance against UCSB was rough. His ERA is at 4.15.
On Sunday, the Beavers will face sophomore Tyler Hale, who has a 2.70 ERA on the season. Oregon State has had a number of pitchers start Sunday games, but my bet is that the Beavers put Josh Osich on the mound to face Arizona.
Slight edge: Beavers. Maybe this is a hint of bias, but to me, the only question from a pitching standpoint is Wetzler, but it will be interesting to see how the freshman reacts to having a frustrating outing, and then being thrust into conference play.
Arizona's go-to man towards the end of the game is lefthanded redshirt junior Matt Chaffee. Don't let his 5.52 ERA fool you, Matt is a very reliable pitcher, allowing runs in just 4 of his 15 appearances. Tony Bryant and his stellar 1.44 ERA is as close as the Beavers get, however, Arizona's bullpen is much deeper, with pitchers like Jacob Doyle, Bryce Bandilla, and Nick Cunningham, while the Beavers have Ryan Dunn and an inconsistent James Nygren.
This series will showcase two great catchers. Junior Jett Bandy hasn't quite lived up to expectations this year, coming off a sophomore year in which he hit .356, earning him spots on several preseason All-American lists. But he's still been a very dangerous hitter, batting in the 3-hole for the Wildcats.
Andrew Susac is another All-American, and he's been tearing it up this season, batting .360.
Edge: Beavers. Death, taxes, and Andrew Susac.
The Wildcats sophomore Cole Frenzel has been great for Arizona this year. Batting second in the lineup with a .389 average, Frenzel will be a player to look out for in this series.
Danny Hayes will most likely start for the Beavers, and he has quietly been putting together a solid season, getting clutch hits, and showing his power.
Slight Edge: Wildcats.
Recovering from a back injury that kept him out almost half of 2010, Bryce Ortega is probably one of the most dangerous 9th batting hitters the Beavers will see. Batting .378, the senior can do it all, having stolen quite a few bases over his career as well.
I wouldn't be surprised to see Tyler Smith play second base for this series, but I'll use Kavin Keyes for this comparison. Keyes has been improving lately, after a rough start. This isn't very surprising for somebody who graduated from high school a year early.
Edge: Wildcats. Keyes is growing on me, and I think he'll step it up for this series, but Frenzel is a great player.
Sophomore Seth Mejias-Brean bats seventh for Arizona, and he's posted a .333 average so far this season, after being a Pac-10 honorable mention in 2010.
My guess as to who the Beavers start here is Jake Rodriguez, who has been putting up good performances every time he's gotten a chance to.
Slight Edge: Beavers. Mejias-Brean is good, but Jake Rodriguez is a scary hitter with power.
Batting behind Mejias-Brean is Alex Mejia, who may not hit for much power, but hit over .300 in his 2010 freshman year, and is having another solid year this year.
I think The Beavers revolving door at shortstop will land on Carter Bell for this series. Carter stepped up to be a leader of the Beavers' young team. It seems like whenever the Beavers score a run, he's always involved.
Freshman Johnny Field starts in left field and bats fifth for the Wildcats. His batting average of .333 certainly lives up to the hype he had coming into Arizona. He was named to countless lists as a senior in high school, including second-team All-American by Baseball America.
My guess is that Ryan Barnes will start in left field, and I really like him and his speed.
Edge: Wildcats. Johnny Field has been having a great year, and I see no reason why he'll stop now.
Freshman leadoff man Joey Rickard is batting .475, second place in division one. Constantly getting on and then using his speed to get around the bases is what Rickard does best, and he was Pac-10 player of the week on March 15th.
The Beavers leadoff man Garrett Nash will probably start in centerfield, and while he's good, he's no Joey Rickard.
Steve Selsky bats fourth for Arizona, and is another Wildcat that's been named player of the week. Selsky has been a force in the Pac-10 for four years, including 2011, his senior year. Selsky hits for power, like a cleanup man should, and if both Rickard and Selsky are hitting well, watch out.
I think the Beavers will start Michael Miller in right, who can hold his own up at the plate, and plays good defense.
Overall Slight Edge: Wildcats
Friday - Beavers win
Saturday - Wildcats win
Sunday - Beavers win