baseball

CBD Column: SoCal Wk 7 Weekend Preview

An abbreviated version for the Week 7 weekend preview. Find out where all the Southern California teams are playing, what we’ll have our eyes on and then take a trip around the horn.

Where They’ll Be This Weekend:

In SoCal:
Cal State Northridge at #13 Cal State Fullerton
St. Mary’s at Loyola Marymount
Pacific at UC Irvine

On the Road:
San Diego St. at Air Force
Long Beach St. at Cal Poly
Pepperdine at Gonzaga
#24 San Diego at San Francisco
UC Riverside at UC Santa Barbara
#6 UCLA at Utah
USC at Washington St.

(* denotes conference series)

All Eyes On:

San Fran Showdown - Can San Diego continue its strong play when the Toreros face a potential No. 1 overall pick? Calvin Drummond will be tasked with facing off with San Francisco’s Kyle Zimmer, a big righty that is a likely top 10 MLB Draft selection.

A win against Zimmer could potentially move San Diego up in the Top 25 polls because is has yet to face anyone nearly as good as Zimmer. But even if the Toreros drop the series opener, they are still favored to win the series. Saturday, they will have an unconventional start time of 11 a.m. Paul Sewald will get the start in the opener of the Dante Benedetti Classic.

The two teams will be followed by some high school baseball as St. Ignatius College Preparatory and Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory, the oldest high school athletic rivalry west of the Mississippi River, battle each other.

Around the Horn:

1st Base: Cold & Rainy - Both Pepperdine and USC are in Eastern Washington this weekend. Pepperdine faces off with Gonzaga while USC is in Pullman to battle Washington State. The weather does not look like it is going to be friendly as there is rain and snow in the forecast. USC players and coaches have come prepared with bandit-style undergarments to try to shield them from the elements.

Pepperdine has lost four straight and will need look to ace Jon Moscot to get them back on track. If the Waves avoid the rain Friday, it will be Moscot’s first Friday night start under the lights.

2nd Base: Bats Waking? - Long Beach State scored a season-high 13 runs in the middle game at Wichita State last weekend. The bats were silent for the majority of the Sunday finale, but Long Beach put together three hits in the ninth inning to score the tying and go-ahead runs. After flying home, the Dirtbags played the next day against Washington State and were held to one run. Can they wake the bats up or was the Saturday game just a fluke?

Long Beach will need the bats to take a series from Cal Poly, who enters with a .289 team batting average and starters Joey Wagman (4-1, 2.57 ERA) and Kyle Anderson (4-1, 1.74 ERA) have been solid at the front of the rotation for the Mustangs.

3rd Base: First Time Ever - Two weekends ago, Utah played and won its first Pac-12 conference series when it took two of three from USC. Now the Utes get an opportunity to win their first series against a ranked Pac-12 conference opponent when they host #6 UCLA. It is also the first weekend series the Utes are hosting this season. Utah has only hosted two games so far due to the chilly mountain weather in Salt Lake City.

The Utes will have to bring the bats. They are only batting .233 as a team with Parker Morin (.333) their only hitter above .300. UCLA, on the other hand, is batting .312 on the season with six qualified batters above .300.

Home: SoCal Conference Showdown – The first conference matchup between two Southern California teams will take place this weekend when Cal State Northridge travels down the 101 to the 60 to the 57 (I’ve made this drive a lot recently) to play Cal State Fullerton at Goodwin Field. The Matadors come in having rotated wins and losses for the last six games. If that were to hold true, they would win the series.

However, Northridge’s offense has been inconsistent all season and is coming off a weekend when it managed only 11 hits. Fullerton fans will be used to seeing that as the Titans offense has been one of the most inconsistent units possibly in the nation — as evident by getting shutout in back-to-back games before bouncing back with 18 singles Wednesday.

Expect Fullerton to put up some runs this weekend as the Northridge staff enters with a 5.55 ERA. The most intriguing matchup may be Sunday when Grahamm Wiest faces off with Jerry Keel. Wiest made his first start Sunday since missing action due to elbow soreness. Keel has been the Matadors most consistent starter (1-1, 1.62 ERA).