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Texas vs Oregon State Q&A with Building the Dam

The Longhorns begin what would be an exceedingly unlikely run to Omaha tomorrow in Dallas against two-time national champion Oregon State. We reached out to RVM and Andy of the excellent Oregon State blog Building the Dam for some insight into the matchup. For our answers to some questions they posed about the Longhorns, you can check out their companion post.

Dave Weaver-USA TODAY Sports

BON: Do you guys feel as if you win the Most Screwed by the Committee Award? Almost hosting, but instead flying all the way to Dallas to play a hot Texas team and a really dangerous host?

RVM: Oh, I don't know; I am sure someone like Michigan State is feeling even worse being totally left out! And sure there are others too out there feeling pretty screwed. At the same time it is all pretty lame for us fans who would have loved to have seen our team play at home, for what is it like 85% of host teams move on? But have to admit once the dust from my throwing things around the house settled down, and I really looked at the Dallas Regional match ups a bit more calmly, it does seem to be not a terrible overall draw for the Beavs.

If the team's pitching stays at more the top level (meaning does not have to go too deep into the pen), I think they will match up well with any team in this Regional, even with the travel. Is it my personal ideal? Nah, but it is all what it is now, and becomes about the team taking care of business wherever, and against whomever, they are playing.

Andy: The idea that the Pac-12 Conference, which is good enough to get half its teams in, and with all of them at least a 3 seed, doesn't get a second host is a bit difficult to swallow, and Coach Pat Casey said as much.

But Oregon St. has plenty of experience being on the road (was gone for nearly 2 weeks in one stretch at the start of the season), and though the many new players on this team weren't there, some players, and the coaches, have been to Omaha and LSU in the postseason recently, so they won't be in awe of anything in Dallas.

The real key is getting the first win, and as Robert noted, not getting real deep into the bullpen, and not just in a given game, but in terms of a 4th or 5th game (there IS no 5th starter). There are a number of pitchers who have come out of the pen, but freshmen Luke Heimlich and Mitch Hickey as the closer are the ones who will be counted on.

The Beavers lean heavily on solid starting pitching that generally delivers, and if Texas, or Dallas Baptist, fans see Oregon State pitching coach Nate Yeski on the way out to the mound, be assured everyone is in for an adventure!

BON: Obviously Friday's game looks to be ace vs ace, though Texas' Parker French threw some on Sunday so that's not a sure bet. What should Texas fans expect to see from the Beavs on the hill Friday?

RVM: Andrew Moore (RHP, 7-2, 1.73 ERA) and more Andrew Moore! Seriously, it will be all about getting Moore as deep into the game as possible. He is coming off one of his best performances this year, if not career, where he had 13 strikeouts, pitched a complete game 2 hit shutout, and he had full control of his pitches and his location, with no walks, and 60 strikes out of 99 pitches thrown.

Moore will not "overpower" the Texas batters in the traditional sense of having the 'rare back' and throw heat and hard sliders, but when he is on (which is most of the time), he will pick the order apart with placement and pitch selection. He has a decent enough fastball he combines with some very good off-speed stuff to keep a hitter guessing, but again his real strength is location, location, and more location. He is a very smart and very seasoned pitcher, he has thrown in Regionals before and has been to the CWS, it should be a challenge to get a lot of runs off of him.

Andy: Moore's National Pitcher of the Year performance Friday wasn't an isolated incident; he has been named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week 3 times this season. And his record isn't better because of no decisions due to lack of run support a couple of times. 2 weeks ago was another 99 pitch complete game shutout win.

Since he arrived on campus, he has had the ability Robert mentions to place any pitch any place around the zone. As a result, you can't go by the book as far as what pitch is coming next. That makes both his fastball and his off-speed stuff better because a batter must always be prepared for either one.

He can be hit when he elevates the ball a bit, but usually is able to work through such stretches.

Because he pounds strikes, and has a very "clean" delivery, he doesn't wear himself out. His average start has gone 7 2/3 innings, with 3 complete games.

BON: What's your immediate reaction to playing Texas? Are you excited to face a team that just barely made it into the tournament, a bit nervous going up against a team with a little momentum, or something else?

RVM: Initially I was a bit shocked and very nervous for it seems the Longhorns are hot right now, and everyone knows playing these type of "get hot at the last part of the season" teams can be a pain to face early in the postseason. Much better to get a team like this a bit later, after the "gloss" of recent play has been rubbed off. But thinking about it a bit more, and with some calming Andy feedback to my initial freakout, I do think it could be a favorable match up for Oregon State with Andrew Moore on the hill.

As noted above Andrew is smart and seasoned, so it will be (I believe) at the least a dog-fight and a low scoring affair with the Beavs in it all game, which I think plays to the Oregon State side with their ability to play good small ball and with their excellent defense. Also Texas did win four of those last seven games against a struggling Baylor program, but at the same time beating Oklahoma State was impressive in the conference tournament final.

Andy: Texas was 7-7 against teams Oregon St. went 6-1 against, so once the initial effect of going against a "big name" opponent wears off, it appears the Beavers can compete, and they have those common opponents to refer to.

And most of Texas's series openers haven't resulted in high scoring games, which makes it more likely to be a game that lends itself to Oregon St.'s model of winning with great pitching and defense, not winning a shootout.

Oregon St. is 13-3-1 down the stretch, so they are playing well of late, and better than they did last year, when hosting as the #1 overall seed didn't out-weigh playing not so well down the stretch.

BON: You guys seem deep and talented on offense. Who besides Jeff Hendrix should we fear?

RVM: One would seem to want to jump immediately to freshman first baseman KJ Harrison who had 10 HRs (third in the Pac-12) and led the Pac-12 in RBIs with 58. He struggled a bit at times with Pac-12 pitching, but overall is a very good hitter, and can slug the ball around the park.

But really I think I will go more to the view that in this postseason opposing teams need to fear the overall potential of the order. We have a good number of freshman playing and we have seen some inconsistency of course, but at the same time all of the guys have proven they can hit at timely times too. Case in point and freshman thirdbaseman Michael Gretler is batting .170, but he came up big in the Saturday game against Cal going 2 for 3 with a rip of a double to score two runs.

The team has struggled to find a true offensive chemistry and consistency, but of late they have been finding a more balanced attack. And the hitting has come from anywhere in the order, so at times it can be tough to figure out who to pitch around.

Andy: Oregon State isn't hosting because they let at least a half-dozen games get away by not hitting consistently. There were multiple episodes of leaving double digit runners stranded. You might expect that by having a lot of freshmen in the order, but in truth, the freshmen haven't always been the problem.

At the same time, a variety of players have come up big at times. Kyle Nobach his .307, with 13 doubles, and DH Gabe Clark has 8 home runs. 10 Beavers also have double digit walks, so while they look at way too many 3rd strikes, they also will wait out inconsistent pitching, and get extra base runners that way.

BON: OK, prediction time. The Tournament is upon us but not a pitch has been thrown, so fans of all 64 teams are busy convincing themselves that this is their year. What is your homer prediction for the Dallas regional, and then what is your intellectually honest prediction? (They can be the same, of course.)

RVM: Ah, as my Pac-12 SBN colleagues know, to their sometimes frustration, I don't really do predictions! As noted above I am feeling better about OSU's chances in this Regional versus when it was first announced we were going to Dallas. I think Texas and Dallas Baptist are solid teams, even with Texas having maybe not the full season resume, they still are a solid power conference team. And VCU is not a pushover either, and the Rams are playing some VERY good baseball right now too.

It won't be easy, but I think Oregon State has good shot at advancing if their starting pitching can go deep into games, the relief pitching does not over extend themselves and is able to take care of business over short bursts of play time, the hitting finds a bit more balance and consistency up-and-down the order, and the defense plays like it has for most of the season.

Andy: I'm not one for score predictions either, because too many things can happen in any game in any sport. But if Texas gets 5 runs, I think the odds are heavily that the Longhorns will win. 3 or less and the odds swing substantially in favor of the Beavers. If Texas gets 4, it will go down to the bottom of the 9th in all likelihood.

BON: Thanks for the information, guys, and good luck against DBU and VCU, preferably in the losers' bracket!