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Series Preview - Washington

Friday: 6:30 p.m., Safeco Field 

Saturday: 2:00 p.m., Husky Ballpark

Sunday, 1:00 p.m., Husky Ballpark

The Huskies (21-23, 10-8) and Beavers (28-12, 11-7) enter the weekend series both riding recent success. Washington has won seven of their last eight games, sweeping both Oregon and USC on that streak. The Beavers enter the game having just come off a series win against Arizona State and a frustrating victory over the University of Portland. However, the Huskies played the Pilots back on April 21, and narrowly escaped by the score of 6-5. 

The Huskies have been a streaky team so far this season, seemingly sweeping or getting swept every weekend. Let me explain: Washington lost a series two games to one against Stanford to start the Pac-10 season, then were swept by Arizona State, swept California, were swept by UCLA, swept Oregon, and swept USC. 

The Washington roster is composed with just twelve upperclassmen, meaning 23 of their 35 players are underclassmen. The Huskies roster is entirely composed of players who played their high school baseball in the state of Washington for the second straight year. 

The Huskies hit .267 as a team, putting them at No. 8 in the conference in batting average. They're in the lower half of the conference for almost every offensive statistic, but rank second in home runs behind Arizona State with 52 on the year. By comparison, the Beavers have only hit 14 home runs this season, yet have managed to score 37 more runs than the Huskies over the course of the year. 

Junior Kyle Conley leads the Huskies in hitting at a .348 clip. He's the Huskies biggest power hitter by far-- he has 17 of the team's 52 home runs, and ranks third on the all-time UW home run list.  Conley has started all 44 games in right field. Troy Scott comes in second on the home run list with eight on the season. 

Senior Jake Rife comes in to the Oregon State series hitting .338 with four home runs. 

On the mound, the Beavers will see senior righthander Jordan Merry on Friday at Safeco, senior righthander Jason Erickson on Saturday, and freshman righthander Andrew Kittredge on Sunday. Arizona State's team ERA is 4.17. 

Jordan Merry will get his first start since April 5 on Saturday. On the season, Merry has a 1-1 record with a 6.35 ERA. He's made seven starts, giving up 28 hits in 34 innings. His last start back in early April came against Arizona State, where he went 3.1 innings, giving up five runs and took a loss.

Jason Erickson was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week this week after eight shutout innings against USC last week. He gave up six hits and struck out nine in the game, a career hight for strikeouts. He also threw a complete game shutout to beat Oregon on April 25, going all nine innings allowing six hits with seven strikeouts. The complete game has been the only complete game by a Husky pitcher this season. Erickson enters the weekend with a 3-4 record and 4.53 ERA. 

Sunday's starter, freshman Andrew Kitterage, has made four starts on the year and has a 2.98 ERA.  Kitterage has a 3.8 strikeout to walk ratio, as he's struck out 54 batters and walked 18 on the season. In the series against USC, Kitterage came on in relief in Friday's game, earning a win, then started Sunday's game, getting a no-decision. In his start against the Trojans, he pitched seven innings, getting up six hits on two runs. The Huskies would go on to win that game 6-2 thanks to a late inning offensive surge. 

Remember-- the first pitch of the series is scheduled for Friday at 6:30 at Safeco Field. 

--Jake (jake.buildingthedam@gmail.com)