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UNLV Has a Challenging OOC Schedule for 2015

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One of the best teams in the Mountain West last season has put together one very good and challenging schedule. When a team is at the top of its game, it usually wants to play the best and not just pad its schedule with sure wins. At least, that's how I feel it should be. The Rebs have done just that. Oooh, the season waits.

Coach Chambers has put together a good schedule as well as a good team
Coach Chambers has put together a good schedule as well as a good team
courtesy UNLV Athletics

Rebels Plays a Challenging Mix for OOC Schedule in 2015

The Rebels just missed last season. I don't want to say they were a shoo-in l as I was quite impressed with their pitching, but they were close. They stumbled in the last two games of the conference championship games against SDSU but still made it into the Corvallis Regional where they lost two of three. Not bad, but I expected a bit more and I bet they did too. Coach Chambers ain't done yet. Look at this schedule. There's not a dud in the bunch. In fact, Oklahoma State, Nebraska, Grand Canyon, Arizona State, and Loyola Marymount should all compete for their respective league titles. That's some bar he's setting for his team. Read on, McDuff.

2/13/205 - 2/15 Nebraska
The Rebels start out the season with a good one with the Huskers. This team finished a strong second place in the Big 10 and made it to the final of the conference tournament. That was enough to get them into the Stillwater Regional where the team went 1-2. Yes, they're tournament tested and have a pre-season AA on the roster. The Huskers finished 20 games above .500 at 41-21 which is great by most standards. They hit well (.293) and pitching was just fine (3.50). They had six .300 hitters and return four of them. That spells danger to the pitchers of the Big 10. Blake Headley (.323 and 2), Ben Miller (.316 and 2), Ryan Boldt (.311 and 2), and Christian Cox (.300 in part time duty) are the returnees and that's a good place to be, if you're the coach trying to put together a lineup. Of the pitchers with the most starts, only two of four return but one is a pre-season AA pick. Chance Sinclair was 9-1 and 2.15 in 16 starts and will surely be the Friday guy. The other starter should be Kyle Kubat (5-2 and 4.55). Closer Josh Roeder also returns so this is a veteran squad that should prove equal to the task of taking on the Rebels in Las Vegas. Thumbs definitely up.

2/17, 3/17 Grand Canyon (home and home)
I borrowed the following from the New Mexico write-up. Here's a team that is new to the WAC and D1 baseball as of last year. They did well in both as a 30-23 record (19-8 WAC) is strong evidence. The WAC is not exactly the SEC but, still, they won. They had decent hitting (.283) and even better pitching (3.58). They had three .300 hitters and the top two return. Chad De La Guerra (.373) and David Walker (.360) led by a lot over the others on the team so the lineup could be something special. All three weekend starters return and they were good. Coley Bruns (6-0 2.24), Andrew Naderer (9-3 3.26), and Ethan Evanko (6-1 3.42) got the lion's share of the starts and should this season also. Now, let's see here; they get their two top hitters and the rotation comes back experienced and complete. I think they might push for the WAC title and will be good competition for the Rebels. Thumbs up.

2/20 - 23 Pacific
The Tigers were a .500 team last year which is better than the last few years. Hitting was ok and so was the pitching which is about what you'd expect from a .500 team. Top hitter Brett Sullivan returns to wreak havoc on opposing pitching. The weekend rotation comes back intact so expect big things from the pitching. This could be the Tigers' year to make some noise. Thumbs up.

3/3 - 4 at Oklahoma State
I thought I might start and say the good old days of the Cowboys are in the past. But, no, they are still here. The boys from Stillwater were 48-18 last season and one pre-season poll has them at #5. This could be a nice pair of games. So, last year; they made it to the Big 12 title game, hosted a regional (which they won), and host a super regional (which they lost). That ain't too shabby and they are expected to do more of the same this year. ANOTHER good series for the Rebels. They retain two of their top hitters but lose two that had pop. The team could hit (.275) and pitching was pretty good too (3.29). The three weekend starters return and that is always a good sign for the future. Unfortunately they will need to find a replacement for one of the best closers in college baseball in Brendan McCurry who has moved on. Thumbs up.

3/11, 4/7 Arizona State (home and home)
The Sun Devils will be a tournament-tested Pac 12 team. Yeah, a real test. They hit decently (.284) and pitched ok (3.88) in a tough conference. They return two .300 hitters in Nathaniel Causey (.323) and Christopher Beall (.305) neither of whom have any pop in their bat. In this day and age, that's forgivable. All three of the starters return so, off hand, I'd say watch out for the Sun Devils this year. Mark my words, by cracky! Thumbs up.

3/20 - 22 Northwestern
Northwestern got whacked around last year at 19-33 and 7-16 in the Big 10. Decent hitting (.276) was offset by mediocre pitching (4.73). They had three .300 hitters and they return which should help the offense a lot. They had four starters who had just about an equal number of starts and two (Reed Mason and Brandon Magallones) return. That will offer some stability to the rotation and they should start both games in the tournament. That's barring injuries, grades, and all the other usual stuff. Thumbs sideways.

3/31, 5/5 Long Beach State (home and home)
More old stuff. The Dirtbags had a decent year at 34-26 and play in the super competitive Big West. So, they are a good program. They hit average, at best, at .260 but the pitching was outstanding at 2.97. If they could have garnered a few more .300 hitters, they might have done some big things. Oh, well. Of the four .300 hitters they did have, only Garrett Hampson (.308) returns. The rotation bragged three excellent arms and they are gone. Whoops! The weekend needs to be rebuilt. The closer, Ty Provencher, returns and I always wonder if that means he might get a look at starting. This is a program that might suffer a bit of a downturn as most of the stats are gone. Thumbs sideways.

4/10 - 12 at Ohio State
The Buckeyes will be the third team the Rebels play from the Big 10. They were just a step above .500 at 30-28 and the stats reflect that middle of the road season. They hit ok (.267) but had pretty fair pitching (3.61). Here's where things get better; the top three hitters return so coach should feel good about that. Two of the rotation guys return and one was very good. Tanner Tully (6-3 and 2.22 should be the Friday guy but Ryan Riga (4-4 and 4.33) comes back after starting 11 games so the rotation is in pretty good shape. This team looks to improve. Thumbs up.

4/14 Loyola Marymount
I stole this from my SJS write up. I pick LMU to possibly win the WCC this year as I think their pitching is just fabulous. They have one of the premier pitchers in the west in Tyler Megill over whom the pros drool. They also have his kid brother who may start one of the games. The recruiting class is also highly rated (I agreed) so they have a lot going for them. The team hit close to .300 also so this will be a big challenge. The Lions should make it to the NCAA's this season. Thumbs up.

4/21, 4/28 UC Riverside (home and home)
More stealing from myself; oh, well. The Highlanders had a sub-.500 year but the big news is the hiring of their new coach. Troy Percival is a name that should be familiar to fans of MLB. Yeah, it's that Troy Percival. The one who was one of the best closers in the American League during the 1990's and early 2000's. He started out as a catcher so he knows both ends of the battery. Very important. I also looked at his assistants and there are no young guys there either; lots of experience and that should prove most beneficial. I like guys who are long in tooth but you gotta start somewhere and sometime. Back to the team. Good hitting at .282 but only ok pitching at 4.05. I see that improving no matter who is on the mound. Pitching is so much philosophy and situations. Percival will help here. Of the top three hitters, only Thomas Walker returns (.328). The rotation had, I emphasize had, three starters with 14 starts each. They are gone as is the closer. That leaves a lot of work for the coaching staff to see who steps up at bat and on the mound. Because of the coaching staff alone, I will give this a thumbs sideways. You know, wait and see.

The Rebels schedule is a good one. No real cupcakes and a few real good challenges. Ohio State and Nebraska are the best of the week-end series and there are a few good single games that should be watched. Anyway, I tip my cap to the coaching staff for putting this together.

This is the last of the schedule posts and now I'll move on to possible line ups. This is where I usually have little knowledge of what's going to happen and rely on the coaching staffs to help me out. Some do and some don't and I'm cool with either. It makes for interesting talk in any event. Give me some time.