#6 Oregon St. (4-0) at San Diego St. (3-0) / 6:00 PM PST / Tony Gwynn Stadium / KTHH 990 AM & KPOJ 620 AM
Oregon St. continues their season opening road trip with a 4 game series at San Diego St., starting tonight. The series will continue with another evening game Friday night, and then day games Saturday at 1 PM and Sunday at Noon. Sunday's game was moved up an hour from the originally announced schedule to afford Oregon St. more time to make it to the airport for their flight home, after having been on the road for a week and a half. The Beavers stayed in southern California this week after playing last Friday through Monday morning in Palm Springs.
The Beavers will be looking to make amends, and possibly extract a measure of revenge, for last season's 18-2 blowout loss to the Aztecs in the San Diego
tournament series of games. San Diego St. jumped all over then 21st ranked Oregon St. starter Cole Bayliss for 4 runs in the first inning, and never let up. The Aztecs poured it on, including a 7 run 7th inning, and got a full 4 hours of domination over the Beavers on TV on the now defunct The Mt. Mtn. Network. San Diego St. was avenging the 22-3 pasting the Beavers had put on them the last prior time they met back in 2008.
Odds are most of the games in this weekend's series will be more competitive than either of those no-contests.
Both teams come in unbeaten, after highly successful opening weekends.
San Diego St. swept cross-town rival San Diego, knocking the Toreros out of the top 25 in the process. Baseball America (the poll Buildingthedam uses for rankings) didn't elevate the Aztecs, who were only 26-34 last year, and went 12-12 in the Mt. West, in which they finished 3rd, into the top 25, but Collegiate Baseball, who has Oregon St. at #9, did, putting San Diego St. at #22.
San Diego St. had wins by scores of 8-1, 4-2, and 5-3, after jumping out to early leads in all 3 games, as head coach and area baseball legend Tony Gwynn appears to have a very potent team this season. Gwynn, an All-American alum from San Diego St., returned to coach his alma mater in 2001, after a 20 year career with the San Diego Padres that included numerous All-Star years.
Opening weekend for the Aztecs produced both the Mt. West Player of the Week and Pitcher of the Week, as second baseman Tim Zier hit .429 for the weekend, going 6 of 14, with 7 RBIs, and freshman pitcher Bubba Derby picked up a pair of saves in his first 2 collegiate appearances.
Oregon St. downed Utah Valley St. 5-2, defeated Gonzaga, and All-American pitcher Marco Gonzales, 9-2, and then took 2 from UC-Riverside, winning 14-3 in a game called after 6 1/2 innings on Sunday, and then pulling out a 5-4 11 inning win that re-balanced the inning ledger Monday morning.
Jake Rodriguez was one of the stars for the Beavers, catching very soundly in 3 of the games, and hitting .462 with 5 RBIs. Pitching staff depth was a factor as well, and it looks like it will need to be again, as both Ben Wetzler and Taylor Starr, Oregon St.'s #1 and #2 starters, were held out last weekend, and aren't initially projected to pitch this weekend either.
Just like in Palm Springs, junior RHP Dan Child (1-0, 3.60 ERA) will get the start in the series opener. Child was effective with less than his best stuff in working 5 innings against Utah Valley St., but there's no doubt Oregon St. coach Pat Casey is looking for a better overall performance from Child tonight. Child struck out 4, and only walked 2, but gave up 2 runs, both earned, and 6 hits.
San Diego St. will counter with sophomore RHP Michael Cederoth (1-0, 1.80), who took over as the Aztecs' #1 starter after 3 weeks last year. In the opener, Cederoth went 5 innings, giving up 4 hits and 1 run, with 6 strikeouts against 5 walks and 1 hit batter.
Senior LHP Matt Boyd will again get the second start for Oregon St., and freshman Andrew Moore, who had a strong outing in his first collegiate appearance, is projected to take the mound Saturday. Sunday's starter is still to be chosen.
Oregon St. pitching coach Nate Yeski has said Wetzler looked and felt good in practice this week, and seems ready to return, and Yeski also said Starr feels good, and his return is up to him. Getting some work for one or both seems like a good idea, but whether we see that, and if its in a late inning appearance or on Sunday, is an unknown.
It's likely that Casey will wear out a couple of pencils changing up his lineup card this weekend, continuing to experiment with combinations and evaluate the newcomers to the team, and adjusting both pitching and defense according to how successful San Diego St. is.