It's opening day for college baseball, and has been their recent pattern, Oregon State is starting their season with a series of games in Surprise, AZ, in the spring training home of the Texas Rangers and the Kansas City Royals.
This year, the 5th ranked Beavers open up at 1 PM AST (noon PST) against Ball State from the Mid-American (MAC) Conference.
It's the first of 4 day games between today and Monday, with a game tomorrow against Utah Valley State of the WAC at 2 PM (1 PM PST), Sunday at 1 PM (noon PST) against Minnesota of the B1G 10, and finally a preview of a Pac-12 series Monday at noon (11 AM PST) when the Beavers take on Utah. Oregon State will then stay over in Surprise for next week's Big XII-Pac-12 Challenge, with a pair of games against Kansas State next Thursday and Friday, and then Kansas, both from the Big XII, next Saturday and Sunday.
There will be no video of the games from Surprise, but there will be live streaming audio (unfortunately, still no replay) with Jay Reese again calling the pre-season while Mike Parker finishes out the basketball season, and live stats.
(The familiar similar links for the rest of the weekend will appear in "just not quite in time" mode on game day.)
Oregon State went 39-18-1 last year, including 19-10-1 in the Pac-12, good for second place behind UCLA, and went to the Dallas Baptist regional as the 2 seed, where they beat Texas, but then saw their season end on May 31, when they lost to both Virginia Commonwealth and Dallas Baptist.
The Beavers return most of their roster, with the most notable exceptions being pitcher Andrew Moore and center fielder Jeff Hendrix, both off to professional baseball, as well as one of their highest rated recruiting classes ever, and including freshman All-American RHP Drew Rasmussen, who went 7-4 with a 2.80 ERA as the Beavers' #2 starter last year.
Rasmussen moves to the Friday starter slot this season following the departure of Moore.
Ball State, possibly best known as the alma mater of retired TV com median and Indy Car team owner David Letterman, it should be realized, is actually Ball and bat State. The Cardinals, while not a mid-western powerhouse, have at least 1 upset of a ranked team each of the last 3 seasons, and have 4 players in D1Baseball.com's top 300 prospect list.
The top rated of them is junior RHP Zach Pleasac, who will take the mound today. Pleasac led the Cardinals last year in wins (5), pitching starts (16), innings pitched (107.1), strikeouts (77), and ERA (3.27), and made the Mid-American All-conference second team. Pleasac was 5-5 for the year.
This year, Ball State is picked to finish 2nd in the MAC West behind Central Michigan. Last year, the Cardinals were 33-25, and finished 3rd in the MAC West, with a 14-13 conference mark.
Ball State under current coach Rich Maloney, who also won 3 B1G Ten championships at Michigan, has won the MAC regular season 4 times, including as recently as 2014, and went to the NCAA Tournament, 4 times in a row from 2005 thru 2008.
It's a worthy opponent for Oregon State coach Pat Casey to fine tune his revamped outfield and batting order.
Freshman Steven Kwan will get the start in center field, and redshirt sophomore Jack Anderson will begin in right. Christian Donahue, last year's everyday second baseman, will instead leadoff as the DH, with freshman Nick Madrigal making his much anticipated debut at second. Another freshman, Cadyn Greiner gets the start at 3rd., while more familiar faces, catcher Logan Ice, shortstop Trevor Morrison, and Kyle Nobach in left rounding out the lineup.
Here's today's lineup: