|SUPER REGIONAL PREVIEW |
|HOW KANSAS STATE GOT HERE: The Wildcats have one of the nation's premier offensive lineups and showed that in the Manhattan Regional opener against Wichita State. KSU went 3-0 last week, including wins over Bryant and Arkansas. |
HOW OREGON STATE GOT HERE: The Beavers didn't blow anyone away last weekend, but as usual, they played a very crisp brand of baseball, and pitched very well in wins over UTSA, UC Santa Barbara and Texas A&M.
|Starting pitching |
If there's one area where the Beavers have such a distinct advantage, it's in the starting pitching category with the talented trio of pitchers in Matt Boyd, Andrew Moore and Ben Wetzler leading the charge.
Boyd has had a phenomenal campaign for the Beavers, sitting at a 2.20 ERA in 114 1/3 innings, along with 106 strikeouts and 28 walks. Meanwhile, Boyd, though he only tops out around 88-89, sometimes touching an occasional 90, spins the ball well and has great command of the zone.
Freshman right-handed pitcher Andrew Moore is having a campaign to remember. Moore is a mature pitcher who has great command of the strike zone, along with a fastball anywhere from 90-93. Moore has a 1.22 ERA in 111 innings, along with 61 strikeouts and 23 walks.
Wetzler is another intriguing arm to watch. The talented lefty, like the other OSU arms, tends to have very good command of the zone, and was even up to 93-94 last weekend against Texas A&M. The lefty has a 1.98 ERA in 82 innings of work this season, along with 72 strikeouts and 25 walks.
For the Wildcats, they'll once again mix things up when it comes to the starting rotation, starting senior left-hander Joe Flattery, who has a good arm in the opener. Flattery has started 12 games this season and has a 3.87 ERA in 74 1/3 innings of work, while fellow starting pitcher, freshman right-hander Levi MaVorhis has been both good and not so good this spring.
MaVorhis has a 4.05 ERA in 53 1/3 innings of work, while teams are hitting him at a high .319 clip. Though the Wildcats haven't decided who potentially could start a series finale, they'll likely look to freshman Blake McFadden, who has a 4.40 ERA in 4.40 ERA in 57 1/3 innings.
Both the Wildcats and Beavers have some solid options out of the bullpen, but we're giving the edge to Oregon State in this category.
The Beavers have one of the top young arms in the country in Max Engelbrekt. Though Engelbrekt won't blow you away with a high velocity fastball, he has good command and reminds the OSU coaches a lot of a younger Matt Boyd. Engelbrekt has appeared in 21 games and has a 1.32 ERA in 27 1/3 innings of work.
Meanwhile, Scott Schultz has appeared in 23 games and has 10 saves with a 2.09 ERA in 38 2/3 innings, while Tony Bryant has appeared in 21 games with a 1.76 ERA in 30 2/3 innings of work. I'd also keep an eye on left-handed pitcher Jace Fry, who could be called on to pitch at some point despite only having four appearances this season because of an injury.
For the Wildcats, freshman right-handed pitcher Jake Matthys is a bulldog they very much like. Matthys has appeared in 32 games and has a 1.96 ERA in 55 innings, along with nine saves. Meanwhile, Nate Williams has a 2.98 ERA in 63 1/3 innings, Tanner Witt has a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings, along with seven saves, and both Jared Moore and Gerardo Esquivel are quality arms the Wildcats consistently have counted on this season.
K-State has plenty of options out of the bullpen, but OSU has the star power.
Kansas State certainly has the better offense of the two teams, but Oregon State has a rather deceptive offensive lineup with a team hitting .290, but very opportunistic, especially in the latter innings.
But beginning with the Wildcats, this squad enters the weekend hitting .324 with a very aggressive style of play. Austin Fisher leads the charge at the plate with a .363 average, two homers and 37 RBIs, while Ross Kivett is a spark plug with a .363 average, three homers and 39 RBIs, while he also is 26-for-36 for stolen bases.
Also worth noting, Shane Conlon is hitting .350 with seven homers and 17 stolen bases, while Tanner Witt (.336/1/32), RJ Santigate (.327/0/29) and Jared King are big-time hitters. King is the top prospect on this club with a stocky frame and big-time bat. He's hitting .327 with six homers and 51 RBIs, along with 14 stolen bases.
As for the Beavers, Andy Petersen (.336/0/26), Kavin Keyes (.306/2/32) and Tyler Smith (.301/2/24) are guys to watch, while Dylan Davis and Michael Conforto are the key bats to watch. Davis is hitting a team-high .349 with four homers and 55 RBIs, while Conforto is a big-time 2014 prospect with a .326 average, nine homers and 42 RBIs.
Also keep an eye on Danny Hayes and Jake Rodriguez, who are just hitting .270 and .268, respectively, but who both have potential to put together big-time performances.
Both the Wildcats and Beavers are more than serviceable from a defensive standpoint, with the Beavers getting the ultimate edge.
The OSU infield is solid with shortstop Tyler Smith and second baseman Andy Petersen leading the charge, while catcher Jake Rodriguez is a solid backstop.
In the outfield, left fielder Michael Conforto had a couple of errors last weekend against A&M, but is typically solid out there, while center fielder Max Gordon has a knack for making acrobatic plays.
For the Wildcats, Austin Fisher and Ross Kivett are very solid up the middle, while in center field Jared King has very good command of the outfield. Though I wouldn't classify King as a speed demon, he has good instincts in the outfield and tends to make most plays.
|WHAT COACHES ARE SAYING |
|On Kansas State: "Those guys just play with a ton of confidence at the plate. Everyone in that lineup steps in the box like they're going to get a hit, and it's really really tough to pitch to them from the top to the bottom of that offensive lineup. K-State's eight-hole hitter is still hitting around .315, so that lineup is pretty good. When we played them, they were still looking at some roles to fill, but they've got some guys pitching well for them. They can probably go eight or nine deep out there, and none of their arms are super stars, but they do enough to hold you down. At the plate, keep an eye on Austin Fisher. He's a guy who looked very good when we played them. Now he's back and healthy." |
On Oregon State: "They're starting pitching with three starters is as solid as anyone we saw this season, and what's interesting about OSU's rotation is that one didn't seem infinitely better than the other. They're all pretty good. Michael Conforto is a big leaguer at the plate, and Dylan Davis is a really talented guy who has a chance to be a big leaguer. I feel like the rest of the team is just filled with a bunch of very good college player. Tyler Smith is the heartbeat of the team it looks like each day, while overall, the Beavers are just the type of club who aren't going to beat themselves. They're not going to walk or hit guys, or put runners on. They're going to throw strikes and they're going to field the ball."