Matt Boyd will lead the Beavers against Gonzaga today. - (Photo by Andy Wooldridge)
Gonzaga (1-1) vs. #6 Oregon St. (1-0) / 12:30 PM PST / Palm Springs / KEJO 1240 AM & KPOJ 620 AM
Oregon St. moves on to their second game and day of the baseball season in sunny Palm Springs. Today's game shouldn't see the delays that pushed yesterday's 2nd and 3rd games well back from their scheduled start times, as its the first game of the day, and is starting earlier to avoid pushing everything hours beyond schedule.
Gonzaga went 34-22 last year, and 14-10 in the West Coast Conference, tied for third with Loyola Marymount and San Francisco, but only 2 games behind first place Pepperdine, and just one behind San Diego. So while the 'Zags missed the postseason, it wasn't by much.
Oregon St. is 18-11 against Gonzaga in their 19 years under coach Pat Casey, and have won the last 3 meetings.
The 'Zags opened a 5-0 lead by the 5th inning, and fought off the Highlanders' late night rally.
The Beavers wiped out an early 2-0 Utah Valley St. lead with a 3 run 3rd inning, showing the offensive punch in the middle of the lineup they hope to unleash with regularity. Michael Conforto got the first RBI of the season, driving in Tyler Smith, and Jake Rodriguez followed up with a 2 RBI single, scoring both Conforto and Danny Hayes.
Oregon St. added 2 more in the 5th, on their way to a 5-2 win over the Wolverines. Dan Child went 5 good innings for the first win of the season, and Tony Bryant got his first work in relief, but the impressive good news for Beaver fans, several hundred of whom have made the winter escape trip to Palm Springs for the weekend (attendance for the Utah Valley St. game was 1,522), was the strong 2 2/3 inning effort from freshman Max Englebrekt, who allowed only 1 hit while striking out 3 and not allowing a walk in picking up the save in his first ever collegiate game.
The Pac went 5-6 on opening day. Here's the rest of the scores:
Arizona St. 5 Bethune-Cookman 4 (11 innings)
Arizona 16 Coppin St. 0
California 5 Michigan 4 (11)
Minnesota 6 UCLA 2 (10)
Oregon 3 Hawaii 0
Fullerton St. 3 USC 2
Rice 5 Stanford 1
Utah 6 Loyola Marymount 3
UC_Davis 8 Washington 4
Western Carolina 8 Washington St. 5
Oregon St. will go with senior LHP Matt Boyd today on the mound. Boyd, who is 11-1 all time, has been the Swiss Army knife of the Beaver pitching staff during his career, being used for everything from long relief down to being called upon to make a single pitch, and has been the setup man, the closer, the inning burner, the matchup arm, and whatever else coach Casey needs. This year, Boyd will get the call to start, something he has only done twice in his 82 appearances, back in his freshman season.
It will be a duel of lefties to begin with, as Gonzaga plans to send junior LHP Marco Gonzales from Fort Collins, CO out to the mound. Gonzales, a combination pitcher/first baseman, is on multiple pre-season All America teams and watch lists, having gone 8-2 with a 1.55 ERA on the mound, and hitting .325 at the plate for the Bulldogs, in 2012. This after an 11-2, 2.57 ERA 2011 freshman campaign.
Gonzales will hit for the 'Zags as well as pitch, something seen in high school, but rarely above that level. Says something good about him as an overall athlete.
The Beavers had chances to blow the Utah Valley St. game wide open, but couldn't capitalize on scoring opportunities in several innings. Getting a solid win over a quality opponent in spite of that, while breaking in new defenders Jered Casper at third and Andy Peterson at second was a good way to shake off the rust for a team that Casey admitted he would rather have had some more time to get some scrimmage action in with.
Another day of building today would be good, and is certainly a reasonable prospect, especially with Boyd, a pitcher the team trusts, setting the table, even with one of the best pitchers in the west going against them. At the least, we should learn a lot more about this year's Beaver team.
Today's starting lineup features the first appearance of 2 more new Beavers, as freshman Gabe Clark is the DH, and in the #5 spot, and sophomore transfer Joey Jansen, who played at Columbia Basin Community College last year, is in center field, batting 8th: