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2013 Corvallis (OR) NCAA Regional Preview

OregonStatePreviewFeaturedOregon State is right where the Beavers want to be: at home for an NCAA Regional for the fourth time in school history, all since 2005.

As the No. 3 national seed, the Beavers are also set to host the Super Regional should they advance from the Corvallis Regional.

Standing against the Pac-12 Conference champions: No. 2 seed Texas A&M, No. 3 seed UC Santa Barbara and No. 4 seed Texas San Antonio.

Here’s a breakdown, team by team:

No. 1 Oregon State Beavers (45-10, 24-6 Pac-12)

The Beavers have advanced to Super Regionals in every Regional they’ve hosted. The last was in 2011, when they went to Nashville and lost to Vanderbilt of the SEC.

Last season, the Beavers lost to LSU in the Baton Rouge Regional final. Nineteen players returned from that team and were dedicated to playing the postseason in Corvallis from when they left the field in Baton Rouge.

OSU is a team built around pitching, starting with Friday night ace Matt Boyd and Saturday sensation Andrew Moore, plus No. 3 starter Ben Wetzler (who was the team’s Friday night starter in 2012) and extending more than nine deep. Nine pitchers have ERAs below 3.00 and eight have thrown 20 or more innings. Boyd and Moore have the most work on the staff, with 107 2/3 and 103, respectively.

A freshman, Moore has been dynamic. He finished the season with three complete-game shutouts (California, Oregon and Washington State) in his last four starts.

The Beavers reached the top of the Pac-12 early in the season and never dropped below third, that after a weekend of nonconference play following their one conference series loss. They opened the season 15-0 and were 20-1 before losing a second game. A 12-0 streak followed their only losing streak of the season.

Offensively, OSU seems to have found its identity at last with a steady lineup since shortstop Tyler Smith recovered from a hand injury early in the conference season. Left fielder Michael Conforto and second baseman Andy Peterson are the only players to start every game, while right fielder Dylan Davis has 52 starts. As a team, the Beavers are hitting .289 with Davis – batting fourth in the lineup – leading the way at .344 with a team-high 53 RBIs.

OSU has scored 323 runs – on 302 RBIs – while hitting 30 sac flies and 49 sac bunts.

Players to Watch

RHP Andrew Moore: 1-2, 1.22 ERA, 55K, 21BB

LHP Matt Boyd: 10-3, 2.09 ERA, 98K, 24BB

OF Dylan Davis: .344, 38 runs, 20 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 4 HRs, 53 RBIs

OF Michael Conforto: .332, 42 runs, 8 2Bs, 1 3B, 9 HRs, 42 RBIs

IF Andy Peterson: .341, 41 runs, 28 RBIs, 14 SH, 11 SB

No. 2 Texas A&M Aggies (32-27, 13-15 SEC)

When the field was announced, OSU coach Pat Casey was upfront on his expectation of an SEC presence in the Beavers future. The Aggies provide that.

Seeded second in the regional, A&M earned plenty of respect in the SEC tournament by handing No. 2 national seed Vanderbilt its first shutout loss of the season (5-0). The Aggies went 2-2 in the tournament, the final loss coming against Vandy.

Daniel Mengden (107 1/3 innings pitched, 15 starts) leads the pitching staff with an 8-3 record and a 1.84 ERA. Ray Parker (1-1) has a 1.83 ERA, but just five starts. Rafael Pineda (5-5, 3.14) and Grayson Long (4-2, 4.02) are second and third on the staff for starts.

A .270 team batting average is the product of five players hitting .283 or better. Mikey Reynolds bats .343, while Troy Stein (.299) has a team high five homers and Cole Lankford (.332) has driven in 34 runs. The Aggies do have 83 stolen bases in 112 attempts and 59 sac bunts.

Players to Watch

OF Krey Bratsen: .287, 28 runs, 22 RBIs, 20 sac, 17 SB

RHP Daniel Mengden: 8-3, 1.84 ERA, 91K, 21BB

RHP Jason Jester: 3-3, 2.32 ERA, 13 SV, 37K, 12BB

IF Mikey Reynolds: .343, 38 runs, 12 2Bs, 24 RBIs, 18 SB

C/IF Cole Lankford: .332, 24 runs, 15 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 3 HRs, 34 RBIs

No. 3 UC Santa Barbara Gauchos (34-23, 17-10 Big West)

Andrew Checketts is no stranger to Corvallis. He was an All-American pitcher for the Beavers in 1998, right before Goss Stadium was rebuilt. Sophomore left-hander Greg Mahle played for the Corvallis Knights in 2012, throwing a no-hitter.

Checketts first win as a head coach came against Oregon State in the 2012 season-opening series. That helped lay the groundwork for the Gauchos making their first postseason appearance since 2001.

But what the Gauchos did on the field – going 11-4 in May, including a sweep of UC Davis on the road to end the season – is what got them into the regional.

Mahle went 7-4 with a 4.03 ERA as primarily a relief pitcher. Sophomore righthander Austin Pettibone (3.11) and freshman lefty Justin Jacome (3.86) did the heavy lifting on the mound, combining for 187 innings in 28 combined starts with 14 of the Gauchos wins.

UCSB allowed 261 runs, but made up for it by scoring 310. As a team, they hit .280 – third best in the regional – with just three players getting more than 200 at-bats. Tyler Kuresa, Brandon Trinkwon and Cameron Newell are those three, while catcher Jackson Morrow leads the rest with 181 at-bats.

Joey Epperson has 15 stolen bases and the Gauchos have swiped 77, though they’ve been caught stealing 26 times.

Players to watch

IF Tyler Kuresa: .304, 35 runs, 16 2Bs, 3 3Bs, 5 HRs, 45 RBIs

OF Cameron Newell: .313, 37 runs, 6 2Bs, 1 3B, 25 RBIs, 12 SB

OF Joey Epperson: .317, 27 runs, 8 2Bs, 1 3B, 1 HR, 10 RBIs, 15 SB

RHP Austin Pettibone: 9-3, 3.11 ERA, 55Ks, 20 BBs

LHP Greg Mahle: 7-4,4.03 ERA, 44Ks, 19 BBs

No. 4 UT San Antonio Roadrunners (35-23, 15-11 WAC)

No team enters the regional on a hotter streak than the Roadrunners: they’ve won a season-high seven straight – sweeping through the WAC tournament – and 10 of 11.

An offensive-minded club, the Roadrunners have a regional-best batting average of .304 coming in. RJ Perucki leads the team at .349 with 12 homers and 46 RBIs, while Daniel Rockett (.338) isn’t far behind with 10 homers and 48 RBIs. They’ve scored 351 runs, but allowed 300.

Relief pitcher Matt Sims has the best ERA on the staff at 2.13. Brock Hartson, Michael Kraft  and Nolan Trabanino have combined for 45 starts. Hartson, Kraft and Jordan Pacheco have combined for 151 strikeouts.

The Roadrunners lost a single game to Texas A&M, but won a four-game series with Washington State. They also lost stand-alone games to Rice and Baylor. Those are – on paper – their most impressive opponents this season.

Players to Watch

IF RJ Perucki: .349, 49 runs, 12 2Bs, 12 HRs, 46 RBIs

OF Riley Good: .336, 46 runs, 82 hits, 11 2Bs, 6 3Bs, 2 HRs, 33 RBIs

OF Daniel Rockett: .338, 39 runs, 13 2Bs, 2 3Bs, 10 HRs, 48 RBIs

RHP Matt Sims: 6-2, 2.13 ERA, 8 SVs, 59 Ks, 23 BBs

LHP Michael Kraft: 5-5, 4.10 ERA, 62 Ks, 40 BBs


Big Takeaway

Oregon State has more pitching depth – and quality – than any other team in the field. Third starter Ben Wetzler was 2012’s Friday night ace and freshman all-American Jace Fry is coming out of the pen after offseason Tommy John surgery. There is too much depth in the Beavers bullpen for other teams in the field, and the home field advantage is likely to be too much. OSU was 22-4 at home this season, with just one loss to a team that did not make the postseason.

Projected finish:

1. Oregon State

2. UC Santa Barbara

3. Texas A&M

4. UT San Antonio

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