Palm Springs has been a perfect site for February winter baseball this weekend.
UC-Riverside (1-1) vs. #6 Oregon St. (2-0) / 1:00 PM PST / Palm Springs / KEJO 1240 AM & KPOJ 620 AM
Oregon St. continues their stay in Palm Springs, with the first of 2 games against UC-Riverside this afternoon, before facing the Highlanders again Monday morning at 8:30 AM.
It's the second game of the day, and could start late, depending on how the Gonzaga-Utah valley St. game goes. Here's the Gametracker for that one.
The Beavers have built some good early season momentum, backing up their opening day 5-2 win over Utah Valley St.with yesterday's 9-2 win over Gonzaga, as Michael Conforto and Jake Rodriguez continued to have good opening weekends at the plate.
UC-Riverside bounced back from their opening evening 6-3 loss to Gonzaga with a back and forth 8-7 win yesterday against Utah Valley St. A big part of the punch came from down in the order, as center fielder Phil Holinsworth, hitting 8th in the order, delivered 3 RBIs and scored twice for the Highlanders.
The game was tied at 2 after the 3rd inning, and 3 after the 4th, before Utah Valley St. took a 5-3 lead in the 5th. UC-Riverside bounced back with 3 runs in the 7th, but the Wolverines tied it at 6 in the top of the 8th.
The Highlanders scored twice in the bottom of the 8th, and then held on for the 1 run win. UC-Riverside used 3 relievers in the game, and are 6 pitchers deep into the staff this weekend already, compared to 5 by Oregon St.
The stat that jumped off both of the Highlanders' box scores is errors. UC-Riverside had 5 errors in their opener, and 4 more yesterday. Expect Oregon St. coach Pat Casey to really emphasize putting the ball in play, and runners in motion, trying to force UC-Riverside to execute, and expecting there will be miscues the Beavers can capitalize on.
Having had to shake up their rotation with both Ben Wetzler (stiff back) and Taylor Starr (shoulder soreness) spectating this weekend, Oregon St. will send freshman Andrew Moore from Eugene out for his much anticipated first college action as today's starter.
Last year, Moore, the Oregon 5A Player of the year was 9-1 with a 0.76 ERA in 72 2/3 innings, and allowed only 8 earned runs, 39 hits, and 14 walks, while striking out 125 for North Eugene High.
UC-Riverside plans to counter with LHP Ben Doucette. Doucette, a 5'10", 180 lb. junior, led the Highland Bears in saves, appearances, games finished, and games in relief last year, with an ERA of 1.69. Starting will be a big change, given that he only threw 26 2/3 innings in 24 appearances last year.
An Oregon St. win will mean the 34th 3-0 start in school history, but the first since 2007, the Beavers' second national championship season.
The Beavers last meeting with the Highlanders was in March of 2010, in Surprise, AZ, when then Freshman Matt Boyd, who happened to also get the win yesterday, in only his third career start, made his first start, and picked up the win in what turned out to be a 10-3 Oregon St. victory. Oregon St. is 7-4 against UC-Riverside in the 19 year Pat Casey era.
Coach Casey has shaken up the lineup today. Dylan Davis will make his first start, and Nate Esposito will catch. Jake Rodriguez, who caught the first 2 games, will take a turn at 3rd base, with JC transfer Jared Casper, who played third the first 2 games moving across to 1st base. It will be interesting to see what Danny Hayes' role will be.
Here's today's lineup: