It is base-ball time. Tomorrow at 3 Michigan opens a three game series against Oregon State in Corvalis. In search of the scoop on the Beavers, Building The Dam and MGoBlog viciously questioned each other. The results... below! Check BTD for the mgoversion of these later today.
Were you a big baseball fan before the Beavers won it all last year? Personally, college baseball hasn't appeared on my radar screen until the past couple years, since Michigan hasn't really done anything since the mid-80s. Is the sport a big deal at OSU and, more generally, the Pacific Northwest?
Baseball has always been one of my favorite sports, so yes, I followed the Beaver baseball team before they won the CWS. Obviously, the '05 trip to Omaha made Beaver Nation follow the team more closely, so the '06 and '07 seasons have definitely had a much larger fan base in general.
The sport is a big deal at Oregon State now... when we were 2-3 after the first five games of this year's football season, everyone sort of had a "at least we have baseball to look forward to" attitude. As it ended up, we finished the season out 10-4 and won the Sun Bowl. Beaver fans are feeling pretty good about the athletic program now, with the exception of the basketball team. (3-15 in the Pac-10 this year)
As far as baseball in the Pacific NW is concerned, it depends on what level you are talking. We really only have one MLB team, and that's the Mariners, but youth baseball is very big at least where I live, although it is being overtaken by Lacrosse to some extent. If you've looked at the Beavers roster before, you'll see that we are having all this success with local guys, and that's something our team takes great pride in. Twenty-eight guys on our roster are from Oregon and Washington, and the rest aren't from much farther away. These talented college players are coming from great high school programs around the Northwest, so yes, baseball is a big deal here.
Oregon State didn't seem to get much respect from the committee after winning the national championship, managing only a three seed despite having a 39-17 record. Was the schedule weak? Was the seeding unfair?
Although the Beavers had a 39-17 record, most of those wins came in the non-conference part of the schedule. OSU was 28-3 in those games, leaving their Pac-10 record at 10-14, which is not very good. We went down to UCLA for the last series of the season thinking we needed to sweep to make the field of 64, but we won two. On Selection Monday we thought we would be lucky to be one of the last teams in, but the 3 seed was actually a surprise for many fans. We knew that the team could compete at a Omaha level, but we didn't know if our season was good enough to earn us a spot. So to get straight to the point, no our schedule was not weak, we beat some very good teams, but we didn't win enough of the games we should have. The seeding was very fair, they actually skipped over two teams to get to the Beavers.
Who will Michigan face on the mound in games 1, 2, and 3 and how good are they? Who are some key relievers to know?
For the regular season, our Friday starter was Mike Stutes, and our Saturday guy was Joe Patterson. At the beginning of the season Daniel Turpen went on Sundays, but as the season progressed, freshman Jorge Reyes beat him out for the spot. The three starters you will see will likely be Stutes, Patterson, and Reyes, but the order is what I am not for sure about. In Charlottesville, the coaching staff decided to go with Patterson the first day of the tournament to get better match-ups. This descision was made the day before the game by the coaches, so it's really hard to tell. We've done some funky stuff with pitching in the past, so it's very unpredictable.
As far as relievers, we will have Turpen if he is not starting Sunday, along with guys like Blake Keitzman, Mark Grbavac, Greg Keim, Anton Maxwell, and Eddie Kunz. Keitzman, Keim, Maxwell, and Grbavac are all middle relief guys, and Eddie is the closer. But really, you could see any of these pitchers at any time. Eddie is the veteran of the bunch.
[Editor's note: These pitchers are pretty impressive. Reyes has a 3.48 ERA, Turpen 3.65, Patterson 3.81, and Stutes 4.05. One thing to watch: Stutes strikes out a ton of guys, basically nine per nine innings, but also walks a ton.]
How is the lineup, who are key players to watch, and are there any holes?
Just like our season, our line-up has gone up and down as well. I've come to the conclusion that we either hit well, or we don't hit at all. For example, the Beavers were 9/82 in the Arizona State series, which comes out to .110 overall. We either show up like we did in Charlottesville and at UCLA, or we don't.
As far as the line-up is concerned, it's all over the board. The coaching staff likes to move people around like crazy, but generally, they will select players based on their defensive skill before they will play someone because of their bat. This is one of the reasons that Oregon State's fielding percentage has been near #1 all year.
Behind the plate, Mitch Canham is our guy. He's in a major slump as of late, but if he heats up, watch out. Against UNLV when we played a Sunday double header, Mitch hit a grand slam in both games. That's a quick way to pick up 8 RBI's. He has led our team in batting average for most of the season, but as a result of his recent slump, he comes in third on the list. If Canham need a break behind the plate, you're going to see Erik Ammon, who is just as good of a defensive catcher as Canham. If this happens, there's a 99% chance that Canham will DH. He's such a big part of our team on and off the field that Pat Casey hardly ever takes him out of the lineup.
In the infield, we'll start with Jordan Lennerton at first base. He's hot right now, and hit a home run in Charlottesville. He's second on our team in batting average, at .325 on the season. Joey Wong is our second baseman, and he hasn't had that great of a season at the plate, but he is a baller on defense. He's only had three errors the entire season in over 250 chances, leading the Beaver infield. He's a good #2 hole hitter, but if he's not there, he's usually at #8 or #9 in the lineup. He's hitting .283. We also have a beast of a shortstop in Darwin Barney, the junior who was drafted 125th by the Cubs. He has great range at short, and is a great leader along with Canham. He's got a hot bat as well, currently hitting .296. Our usual third baseman is Lonnie Lechlet, although you may see Drew George. The position has been open most of the year, but Lonnie is beginnign to pull away both offensively and defensivley. Lechelt has always been the better defensive player, but he's never swung the bat that well. Last weekend heading into Charlottesville, Lonnie was somthing like 1-25 in his last 25 at bats, or something bizarre like that. He went on to hit two home runs on the weekend, and was the Beavers hottest hitter. Funny how that works.
In the outfield, our regular guys are Mike Lissman (Sr.) in left, and Chris Hopkins (jr.) in center. Hopkins has all kinds of speed, but he's in a slump right now. Lissman is another leader of the team, and he's currently the #1 hitter right now, at .327 with 8 home runs. Right field is usually either Scott Santschi, Braden Wells, or Koa K
ahalehoe. Depends on the pitcher matchups, usually.
Jason Ogata is the normal DH for the Beavers. He's at .295 on the year, and he has spurts when he is just lights out at the plate.
The holes in our lineup will be present, I guarantee you, but it's impossible to tell who the hot hitters and who the cold hitters will be this weekend.
How is the Beaver home field configured? Are there any anomalies we should be aware of? Is it a hitter's park or a pitcher's park?
Goss Stadium is a relatively standard ballpark, although the capacity is probably in most cases smaller than most parks in the Big 12 and such. Reports from campus say that it's in top notch shape for this weekend, including bleachers they've brought in for the outfield as well as the outfield foul lines. The way the park plays really depends on the wind. There are days when lazy pop flies clear the fence, and days when you have to have the starts aligned to hit a ball out. I'm not completely certain where the ball flies out the best though.
Does Oregon State consider itself a "northern" team? Geographically it is, but the Pac-10 doesn't seem to be a virtual mid-major in baseball like the Big Ten is.
I would say that yeah, we're a northern team, but we know that we can play with any team in the country. We already swept Georgia in three games this year, as well as victories over the Bulldogs, Miami, Rice, and North Carolina in Omaha last year. The confidence our program has gained with experience against east coast schools is great-- and last weekend's two victories over Virginia only helped that.
The Pac-10 is a very good baseball conference. We had four teams make the Regionals, and three of those move on to the Super Regionals, so the Pac-10 represents almost 20% of the teams remaining in the tourney. If all teams continue their success, Omaha could be very interesting.
Disclaim and you shall receive: Michigan's released next year's hockey schedule. The nonconference:
- Icebreaker tourney @ Minnesota. First round versus BC (welcome to college hockey, enormous freshman class), second game versus Minnesota or RPI.
- Home series against BU.
- Showcase @ home.
- Providence, then Tech/MSU in the GLI.
Seems stiff for a team that will be young and lacking any established stars except maybe Porter if you believe he's more than a product of Hensick. BU in Yost should be fun, though. Our clustermates are MSU, NMU, and LSSU.
One positive: they spread the games out much better than they did a year ago, when it seemed there was hockey every weekend early in the year and then very few games in the winter semester.
So, yeah, it's 1 PM and I haven't found anything of note to mention today. Am preparing various things but none approach completeness. Back on tomorrow.
Super Schedule. Michigan takes on Oregon State in Corvalis this weekend. Times and channels of interest:
Saturday, 3 PM: ESPNU.
Sunday, 4 PM: ESPN.
Monday, 7 PM: ESPN (or ESPN2).
I do not get ESPNU, like everyone else in the universe, and will be taking in the game at the Arena. So, like, if your stalking is just so lame on the internet: 3 PM Saturday at the Arena.
Highlights. Reader Evan Sipple put together a double-montage of ESPN highlights from Michigan's Vandy victory:
The opponent. ... can be found in blog glory over at Building The Dam, which takes baseball seriously. I'm trying to set up a conversation to get the scoop on the (heh) Beavers.
The talkin'. Articles in the News...
"We don't have the luxury of getting more polished, experienced players from the South or out West. We get the in-state kids who play multiple sports. They're talented kids, but we have to groom and develop them," Maloney said.
"It's a much harder challenge to be a coach in the North because you can't make many mistakes (when recruiting) and be in the position we're in. We've had a lot of things fall in place and the kids really believe in the program."
...News, Ann Arbor variety...
"I told them they needed to enjoy it," coach Rich Maloney said. "That's something special they'll never forget. They'll be talking about it in 20, 30 years at alumni outings. You have to enjoy it now. They accomplished something special."
...and the Port Huron Times-Herald.
Also. There is a super-strong baby in Roosevelt Park. He's on the draft of the 2016 recruiting board.
Eh.The Capital Times asserts that Big Ten recruiting is down, though Lemming's phrasing is kind of weird:
on the whole, Lemming doesn't anticipate many state players attracting offers, at least not from BCS schools. And Wisconsin isn't alone. "The state of Iowa is down again,'' Lemming said. "Minnesota has been down, too. But there are some good players and a great player in Michael Floyd (Cretin-Derham High in St. Paul). Michigan is OK. It's a slightly above-average year for Ohio, not great. Chicago is much better after being horrible the past two years. And Indiana is OK for Indiana.''
Michigan is actually quite a bit better than OK with three Rivals 100 guys and four more in their top 250; other than last year's bumper crop (for universities other than Michigan) this is the best year for talent in the state since I've been paying attention. And how much talent is there in Iowa, Minnesota, and Wisconsin on a yearly basis? Very little that shows up on Michigan's radar. Sounds like it's more a problem for the mid-level schools than M -- already with more four-stars than they had a year ago -- and OSU, which is really cleaning up.
Um. I was cajoled into participating in Ladies Dot Dot Dot's, um, "hot blogger bracket." I know. I know. This can only end badly. And, probably, start badly. Also the middle is likely to be pretty bad as well. I am a nine-seed here (versus a 14 seed in this cracked-out 22-dudes-in-a-bracket system the Ladies have set up, go fig). Do what you will, and let us never speak of this again.
Etc.: Keith Jackson:
Remember when Cartman accused ginger kids of being soulless monsters capable of nothing but evil? Yeah... this appears to be the prevailing opinion in the UK.
A day after losing out on Georgia DT Omar Hunter, Michigan has picked up a commitment from instate tackle Mike Martin. Michigan's primary competition was Penn State, but as soon as Michigan offered, Martin's recruitment was widely regarded a foregone conclusion:
Martin said Michigan could be the team to beat if the Wolverines stepped up an offered, especially since he's got some family ties to the school and he grew up a Wolverine fan.
"A lot of my family went to Michigan, so I watched them a lot growing up," he said. " I think that could really play a role in my decision. I really have liked Michigan for a long time. They have always been in the back of my head. And they're only like half an hour away so they are definitely in my mind."
(So was Hunter, but sometimes foregone conclusions are actually correct.)
What does Michigan have in Martin? He's actually rated higher by Rivals than the departed Hunter, surprisingly, as a member of their top 250. He's a powerlifter with upper echelon strength:
"I bench max 420," Martin said. "I'm working a lot to get my reps up on 225. The most I did unofficially is 26, but officially I did it 23 times at Michigan and 19 times at a combine. I'm hoping to really impress some coaches at some combines and camps." Martin also possesses a 550-pound squat max.
For comparison, many defensive tackles at the latest NFL combine didn't clear 26 reps. OSU's David Patterson did 21, first rounder Justin Harrell did 24 (though he did have that bicep tear), and ND's Derek Landri also did 24. Martin, right now, is about as strong as most players who have spent four years in a collegiate strength program. He's also a state champion wrestler. As of now, he is around 6'1" and 290 or 300 pounds depending on which snapshot in time you'd like to pick. I've made this comparison before: Martin seems an exact replica of current starting NT Terrance Taylor, though the recruiting services aren't quite as high on Martin as they were Taylor. ESPN has put him on their top 150 watch list and doled out high praise($), calling him "disruptive and productive":
He moves very well laterally and at times looks like a crab. He has the ability to work along the line of scrimmage and keep his shoulders square and remain in a position to make plays. He is not a fire up field one-gap penetrator, but plays with a great motor and controlled fury.
There are some technique concerns expressed. Uh... looks like a crab. This is good? I guess it is.
Hey, wow. Don't I feel stupid for, um, not watching the baseball game last night. Evidently I missed a game worthy of Kirk Gibson hyperbole, with extra-innings home runs from pinch hitters and threatening hitters lacing balls into the outfield that get snatched out of the air just before they clear the wall and well, just... dammit, man. That's not something you really want to miss.
Sam from BC&RS goes "squee":
Michigan baseball! They won Regionals!
I know nobody who reads this cares, but eeeeeeee! First time since 1989! They had to beat NUMBER ONE RANKED Vanderbilt.... twice!
"Squee" is literally deployed later. Meanwhile, the Vandy official site goes anti-squee; if they were to accidentally meet up with Sam they would annihilate each other and release enormous quantities of energy:
One second you think you are watching the best baseball player in school history in the midst of his most heroic performance and then you are watching a .188 freshman pinch hitter circle the bases with an improbable home run.
You hold your breath as the most feared hitter in college baseball launches a bomb to left center and you blink in disbelief when a 6-foot 5-inch left fielder steals that dream 380-feet away.
They also have a photo gallery up. The Daily's blog also has some pictures up. ESPN has an article that focuses exclusively on the Commies; we still gets no respects; Rivals also has an article.
Next weekend Michigan will travel to either Oregon State or Virginia to participate in a best two-of-three super-regional; victory there and it's the College World Series.