San Diego State hosts Oregon State in a four-game baseball series starting Thursday, and it is a big deal. Oregon State is ranked in the top of various college baseball rankings. So, to get a better look at the team I reached out to Building the Dam to get some info on who the key players are for the Beavers.
1. Oregon State is a highly regarded team ranked in the top-10, what are the expectations of this team, and what makes them so good.
This year's edition of the Beavers is expected to contend for the Pac-12 title, but more importantly, contend to not only host a regional, but also a super regional. Most think there is a reasonable chance for this team to be the one that goes back to Omaha.
Its a veteran team, with 24 returning players, including 9 seniors and 8 juniors (this doesn't count the transfers). 4 of the seniors are pitchers, and 3 are juniors, making it one of the deepest staffs Oregon St. has ever had. These guys have all been to the post-season time and again, and there's not much they haven't seen.
2. Michael Conforto and Jake Rodriguez are off to very good starts, are these field players expected to be the leaders of this team in terms of production?
Conforto has power and Rodriguez has pop to his bat, and yes, they are expected to be leaders in production, and in terms of clutch production. Both are very solid defensively as well.
3. Newcomer Andy Peterson is off to a great start in his first few games, was this expected of him to make such an impact in his first Division 1 series.
Peterson did have a good first weekend; it will be interesting to see if he can sustain it the next couple of series. Most didn't really know what to expect from him, but then anyone Coach Pat Casey is willing to send out is expected to be capable of playing well, and doing so right away, or Casey wouldn't have put them into the game in the first place.
4. Oregon State spread out the innings during the games last week amongst their starters, who particular stands out from that group.
Freshman Andrew Moore was particularly impressive. Big things are expected of him, but what he did the first time out was still a pleasant surprise.
Its important to remember that Oregon St.'s #1 and #2 starters did not play on opening weekend, as Ben Wetzler developed a stiff back and Taylor Starr had some soreness in his shoulder, and so the decision was made to not take a chance with them. Its still unsure if we will see either, and if so for how long, this weekend either.
As a result, Casey turned to senior Matt Boyd, whom he had planed to use for some starts this year anyway. Boyd is the Swiss Army Knife of the program, having been a starter, the long reliever, the inning eater, the matchup lefty, the setup guy, the closer, and even the guy called upon to make a single pitch, in his career. Whatever pitching role Casey needs Boyd fills.
5. How do you expect Oregon State to fare in this four-game series against San Diego State.
It may depend somewhat on whether the Beavers get either of their starters back, otherwise the pitching staff might get a bit stretched. Its also likely that Casey will do some more experimenting with all his newcomers, both transfers and freshmen, and that could backfire at some point. But that's the objective of the first few series, to find out who can do what.
San Diego St.'s ability to generate runs is a concern, and Oregon St. is a small-ball team that lacks the power to keep up in shootouts. A split is possible, and so is an Oregon St. sweep, though that would be a substantial surprise. The Aztecs taking 3 of 4 would be less of a surprise, especially if the OSU starting pitching is lacking. The Beavers taking 3 of 4, with at least 1 being a tight game they pull out by 1 run, seems most likely. But San Diego St. I think is going to be a more telling challenge than the mixed bag that Oregon St. faced last weekend in Palm Springs.