This is a battle between Pac 10 rivals. USC is playing the perennial leader while OSU is playing newcomers role. There is not many publications (if any) in the country who predicted that Oregon State would be the 8 seed in the NCAA Tournament. OSU won the season series 2 games to 1. The scores were 5-4 and 10-7 in favor of the Beavers while the game to the Trojans was a 12-2 game.
The Trojans of Southern California are led by superstar catcher Jeff Clement who was the number 3 pick in the entire draft this year by the Seattle Mariners. Clement is a catcher who has a .347 average and only 13 homers. Clement throws out runners around the 41% mark which is a solid number. Oregon State will not try to test Clement too much this weekend.
Baseball America’s take on Clement
Clement generates light-tower power with a short, compact lefthanded swing. He stays inside the ball well and gets excellent backspin. As a major league hitter, he projects to hit .270-.280 with 30-35 home runs. Clement has outstanding makeup and has worked hard to shore up his weaknesses. He has shown his biggest improvement behind the plate. His set-up, mechanics, blocking and arm quickness are all much improved. He still has only a 40-50 arm on the standard 20-80 scouting scale, but threw out almost 50 percent of basestealers this year.
The biggest issue for USC is going to be their pitching for this series. There top two pitchers are Ian Kennedy (12-2 with a 2.58 ERA) and Jack Spradlin (6-3 with a 4.14 ERA) will likely start Games 1 and 2 for them. What happens if the series goes to a game 3? Is USC going to start Brett Bannister? Anyone know?
The Beavers are hosting the Super Regional for the first time in their long history of Baseball. They are trying to reach the College World Series for the first time since 1952. Oregon State enters the game with a 44-9 record on the season and a 24-4 record at home. The Beavers are led by the junior outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury who was a first round pick of the world champion Boston Red Sox this past week. Ellsbury leads OSU in batting average (.415), OBP (.504), and many other categories.
Baseball America’s opinion about Ellsbury
Ellsbury has few holes in his game and is capable of beating teams in a lot of ways. He has excellent makeup and instincts. His best tool is his speed, and it’s evident both on the bases and in center field, where he catches everything hit his way. He has been clocked in 6.55 seconds over 60 yards. He has become more patient, rarely swings and misses and is comfortable hitting with two strikes. His style of play and physical appearance have drawn comparisons to Johnny Damon at a similar age, but scouts say Ellsbury has a better swing. They question whether he’ll grow into the same power, though.
Oregon State’s pitching rotation this weekend has Dallas Buck (11-1 1.97 ERA) on Friday, Anton Maxwell (11-1 4.07 ERA) on Saturday and Jonah Nickerson (9-1 2.03 ERA) on Sunday if necessary.
The pitching has been the story all year for the Beavers and will continue as OSU knocks off USC in two straight games to take the series 2 games to none. This is the year of the impossible happening just like the Sox winning the World Series, I think OSU makes it back to the CWS and really puts a scare into some teams.