Breaking down OSU’s regional opponents
Published: Thursday, May 31, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, July 24, 2012 21:07
Louisiana State Tigers
Regional seed: 1 (No. 7 national seed)
No. 3 LSU is the host and number one seed in the regional. The Tigers’ overall record of 43-16, and conference record of 19-11, is impressive considering they play in the powerhouse SEC.
LSU is an offensive juggernaut and is a threat to light up the scoreboard regardless of who’s on the mound. The Tigers average 6.3 runs per game and have an impressive team batting average of .295. If Oregon State sees LSU, keeping SEC player of the year Raph Rhymes off the base paths will be imperative. The shortstop has the best batting average in the nation at .459 as well as three home runs and 50 RBIs. Mason Katz supplies a lot of the power for LSU, with 11 home runs to accompany his .335 batting average and 48 RBIs. Either freshman left-hander Jace Fry or sophomore right-hander Dan Child will likely get the start if OSU plays LSU in the second game, and getting deep into the ball game will be crucial if Oregon State wants to pull the upset.
But the Tigers are no slouches in the pitching department, either. The Tigers will likely save their number one starter for Oregon State, as opposed to using him against Louisiana Monroe in their first game, assuming both teams win game one. Right-hander Kevin Gausman has dominated the SEC all year with a record of 10-1, a 2.84 ERA, 125 strikeouts, and only 24 walks in 107 2/3 innings this year. Right-hander Ryan Eades is the other possible starter for LSU if they play Oregon State, with a record of 5-2 this year and a 3.36 ERA. Like Belmont, getting to the bullpen will be key for an OSU victory, especially if the Beavers want to keep up with the Tigers high scoring offense.
Regional seed: 3
Oregon State’s first matchup in the Baton Rouge regional is a ballclub that is very similar to the Beavers. The Bruins enter the regional with an overall record of 39-22, home record of 24-8, away record of 13-13, and neutral site record of 2-1. In contrast, Oregon State has an overall record of 38-18, home record of 18-6, away record of 15-11, and neutral site record of 5-1.
The Bruins are a pitching and defensive minded squad that, like Oregon State, has relied on superb starting pitching to keep them close enough in games to win from scoring the necessary runs with small ball. The Bruins have a team era of 3.11, but their starters have even better numbers. Left-hander Chase Brookshire has an era of 2.45 on the season and is expected to start against OSU. The freshman has recorded 78 strikeouts and only walked 24 batters in 101 innings, while opposing hitters are only hitting .222 against him. Like Oregon State, the Bruins pitching weaknesses lie within the bullpen, so getting Brookshire out of the game early will be key for OSU.
Offensively, Belmont lacks elite power, and relies on bunting runners into scoring position and timely hitting to score runs. The Bruins have a team batting average of only .266 with 32 home runs on the year. But the A-Sun opponent has still managed to score runs –– averaging 5.5 runs per game on the year –– thanks to their offensive execution. Belmont is tied for 31st in the nation with 66 sacrifice bunts on the year. Senior infielder Zac Mitchell is the key to the Bruins’ offense with a .361 average, 5 home runs, and 36 RBI on the year. Keeping Mitchell in check will be another key for OSU.
Regional seed: 4
Though Louisiana Monroe is the clear underdog in the four-team regional, the Warhawks have won six of seven entering Friday –– including the Sunbelt Championship –– and are dangerous despite their mediocre record of 31-28.
UL Monroe is solid across the board, with both strong pitching and hitting. The Warhawks have a team ERA of only 4.18, but have solid starting pitching. Either left-hander Kendall Thamm or left-hander Randy Zeigler will likely start if OSU is to play UL Monroe in game two. Thamm has used an ERA of 3.18 and 47 strikeouts to amass a record of 6-3. Zeigler has an ERA of 3.65 on the year, but only has an average record of 5-6.
Offensively, the Warhawks have produced runs largely with the top of their lineup. Jeremy Sy and Joey Rapp have combined for 95 runs scored, 86 RBIs, and 13 home runs. UL Monroe is capable of scoring runs –– averaging 5.9 on the year –– but often times struggle when Sy and Rapp can’t get things going. If Oregon State can keep those two guys off the base paths they should be able to keep the Warhawks offense off the scoreboard.