Coming off of a sweep of Pac-12 rival Washington, the Beavers hope to keep that momentum going in a midweek series against San Diego State. The Aztecs should not be taken lightly, as this strong program has won the Mountain West conference five out of the last six years. SDSU was in the Corvallis regional last year, where they were the #3 seed and went 0-2 (although they did give LSU a run for their money in the first game of the weekend, losing 6-4).
This year’s Aztecs team appears to be a bit down, sporting a record of 15-12 and an RPI of 113. Digging into that record a little bit, they’ve feasted on lesser competition to some extent, going 2-9 against teams inside the RPI top 100, and 13-3 against everyone else.
Despite these subpar results, there is talent on this SDSU roster. Third baseman Casey Schmitt was named to multiple preseason All-American teams. Leadoff hitter Matt Rudick brings a 19 game hitting streak into the series, and has hit .345 on the year. Expect this team to be able to take advantage of poor pitching performances, and to have good at-bats throughout the lineup.
On Tuesday, the Beavers will face Brian Leonhardt, a Freshman two way player who has struggled on the mound this year (6.75 ERA) in limited work. It wouldn’t be surprising to see him have a short outing, and for the Aztecs to then bring in some of their weekend starters for short stints to try to get a big win for their tournament resume. Significant injuries to the SDSU pitching staff may leave them shorthanded as the two game series wears on.
The Beavers have the luxury of a deep pitching staff and are able to roll out Sam Tweedt, a Senior with plenty of experience and who was good, if not great, in the weekend rotation to start the year. Don’t expect to see too many of OSU’s top-line bullpen or weekend starters in a series sandwiched between important Pac-12 series.
It will be interesting to see if Pat Bailey continues to try new combinations in this young OSU lineup, or if the fairly consistent lineup we saw against Washington will solidify. Either way, expect there to be an emphasis on putting the ball in play after a strikeout filled weekend in Seattle.
The series gets started at 5:35pm on Tuesday (tonight), assuming the rain holds out.