18th ranked Oregon St. (36-15-1, 17-9-1) opens their final series of the Pac-12 conference and regular seasons tonight, hosting 25th ranked California (33-17, 17-10) tonight at Goss Stadium, beginning at 7 PM.
It's a big series for both the Beavers and the Bears, with second place in the Pac-12 final standings to be determined by the outcome of the series. The series winner will capture second place unless its a 2-1 series and Arizona St. sweeps USC, as all applicable tie-breakers favor the Beavers and Bears against the Trojans and Sun Devils, since the tie on the Oregon St. record takes several of the possibilities off the table.
Oregon St. is riding a 10 game winning streak against California, having swept the series the last 3 years in a row, including twice in Berkeley. The Beavers have won their last 4 series, and 11 of their last 12 against the Bears, and have also won their last 5 series against the Bears at Goss Stadium. Going back a decade, the Bears were Golden in sweeping the Beavers in 2010, but have only 4 other wins, and 1 other series win, in 10 years.
Tonight's game is probably the biggest of the 3, as the 16 regional seeds, though not announced until Sunday, will be substantially decided Saturday, so influencing perceptions will be important; its hard to envision the team that finishes in the Pac-12 not hosting a regional, though California's facilities, and access difficulties, make it problematical, and Oregon St.'s 3-2 11 inning loss to Oregon Tuesday night didn't help the Beavers' case either.
Both the Bears and Beavers are going to the NCAA Tournament though, so while Sunday's game will probably get disregarded when the non-hosts are seeded, a series win by Saturday night would get attention, and that would have to start with a win tonight.
Oregon St. was on a roll until getting derailed by the Ducks, having swept Stanford last weekend, and won 4 in a row. The Beavers were 11-1-1 going into the final battle of this season's Civil War, which was claimed overall by Oregon late Tuesday.
California has also been playing well down the stretch, winning their last 4 series, including taking the last 2 games of their Pac-12 series against USC last Sunday and Monday, securing their tie-breaker over the Trojans. The Bears are 10-3 during that stretch, which also included a sweep at Arizona, and winning their series against Arizona St. to gain their tie-breaker over the Sun Devils.
With so much on the line, the Pac-12 Network will be at Goss all weekend with the tv coverage.
The Beavers will as always open the series with junior RHP Andrew Moore (6-2, 1,87 ERA) on the mound. Moore is second in the Pac-12 in ERA, behind only UCLA's David Berg. It will be Moore's 25th appearance at Goss, and his 24th start. During those outings, he is 15-4, which means a win tonight will elevate him to getting a decision in 80% of his starts, and a win in 80% of those decisions.
The Bears will counter with sophomore RHP Daulton Jefferies (5-4, 3.17 ERA). Jefferies got off to a good start earlier in the season, but while the Bears have been hot of late, that hasn't been the case in the first game of series this month. Jefferies was the starter in California's series opening losses against Arizona St., at Campbell, and vs. USC last Saturday, with Jefferies getting the loss in the last 2, after allowing 3, 4, and then 7 runs in those outings, which left the Bears having to rally to take 2 straight to save the series.
The pitching matchup clearly favors the Beavers tonight.