Oregon and Oregon St. start this season's Civil War series tonight at PK Park in Eugene at 7:30 PM, and ESPNU will be there to carry it nationally.
When the schedule was initially set, it doubtless looked like a great pickup to ESPN, given that the Ducks were ranked in the preseason, and the Beavers, though a bit of a darkhorse due to all the player turnover despite being the 2 time defending Pac-12 Champions, were still generally expected to be in the hunt to be ranked, and possibly in position to make a run at defending their title.
Now, Oregon (19-15, 27) is only 4 games above .500, is mired in 9th place in the Pac-12, and dropped 7 of 8 before taking an 11-3 win over the struggling Portland Pilots (last place in the West Coast Conference, and have only won 7 games all season) on Tuesday.
Oregon St. (22-9, 5-4) has lost 2 of 3 in each of their last 2 weekend series, and will need a strong stretch run to earn a post-season invitation this season.
But the Civil War is still the hotly contested Civil War, and the talent that merited lofty expectation is Eugene, and the promising youth produced a stretch where the Corvallis kids won 16 out of 18 games, is still there. Either team can compete with anyone on a given night; its been getting the consistency of performance that's been the issue for both teams.
Oregon St. starts the weekend squarely in the middle of the Pac-12 standings, which has no ties, and all 11 teams spread out. The Beavers sit in 6th place, 3 1/2 games behind conference leading UCLA,, after the Bruins took the last 2 games of last weekend's series in LA.
Oregon is in 9th place, 6 1/2 games back. The Ducks were swept by visiting Michigan St., a team the Beavers beat in Surprise, AZ, last weekend. The Spartans climbed just above .500 with the road sweep.
It's also an odd twist of the schedule, in that all 3 of the conference Civil War contests will occur before either of the non-conference meetings, both of which will come next month.
Beavers coach Pat Casey has decided to put KJ Harrison, Oregon St.'s best hitter, in the clean-up spot for tonight's game, with Gabe Clark moving up to the 3 spot. Caleb Hamilton not only gets the start at second base, he will hit second as well.
Oregon St. will go with their usual series opening arm, junior RHP Andrew Moore (3-1, 1.63 ERA. Moore was the only Oregon St. pitcher to get a win at UCLA, going 2 outs into the 8th inning in last Thursday night's 3-2 upset of the Bruins, allowing only 4 hits and 1 run, while striking out 8, and with no walks, in picking up the win. He also temporarily took over the conference lead in ERA, until both Grant Watson and then David Berg moved to even lower numbers as they got the wins for the Bruins the next 2 games.
Oregon will also go with their standard series starter, LHP Cole Irvin (1-2, 3.52 ERA). Irvin, who is back after "Tommy John" surgery last year, had a good outing against Michigan St. last Friday night, leaving in the 6th inning of what was still a scoreless game, after allowing only 3 hits and 3 walks. But the Duck bats never got going, scratching out only 2 hits all evening, and the Spartans eventually took a 2-1 win.