This Week on TV: Pac-12 Baseball
Oregon State at Oregon - 2 p.m. Saturday, Noon Sunday - Pac-12 Networks
This is the Pac-12 series that I've had circled on my calendar since last season. The 2013 dominance of both of these teams has only heightened the anticipation for a rivalry match-up that very well may determine the conference champion.
First off, these teams hate each other. Everyone knows that the No. 4 Beavers and No. 6 Ducks go together about as well as oil and water. The fact that both have had such great recent success on the baseball diamond has only poured gasoline on the fire. They're the only two teams who will finish the Pac-12 regular season with over 40 wins, and they're locked in a neck-and-neck race for the conference crown. Oregon State (41-8, 20-4 Pac-12) leads Oregon (42-11, 19-5 Pac-12) by only one game in a pennant race of epic proportions.
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Don't forget the context of the battle: during the final weekend of last season, the Ducks led the Pac-12 standings before the Beavers played spoiler. Pat Casey's club swept the Quack Attack right out of first place, even sealing one of the critical games by throwing a runner out at home plate. George Horton's boys certainly weren't pleased with what transpired. That happened in Corvallis; Oregon's opportunity for revenge comes at PK Park.
These are the two best pitching teams in the Pac-12. Oregon State's 2.06 staff ERA, in fact, is on pace to obliterate the program's previous record (2.64). The Ducks' 2.64 mark isn't bad, either, and they boast a rigid bullpen highlighted by closer Jimmy Sherfy. He may be a difference-maker at home in the late innings.
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On paper, these teams create a fascinating match-up against each other. The Beavers hold the starting pitching advantage (all three hurlers in their weekend rotation sport a sub-2.00 ERA), but Oregon plays better defense (.980 fielding percentage) and extremely effective small ball. Neither team has a glaring weakness, and both have offensive studs (Oregon State's Michael Conforto and the Ducks' Ryon Healy). With so much at stake, it's tough to say who has the edge in this Civil War matchup. Just enjoy hard-fought, postseason-caliber baseball between two teams not particularly fond of one another.
David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.