This week, as part of our preview of this weekend's baseball series between UCLA and Oregon St., we have a Q&A with Jake from Building The Dam. I sent Jake a few questions and he was good enough to answer them. You can check out my preview of this series, then read this Q&A because it's got some pretty good stuff about this year's Oregon St. team.
Rye: Oregon St. had won 14 of their last 16 before dropping their home series with USC last week. What went wrong and was last weekend just an abberation or does OSU have a couple issues that we should keep an eye on this weekend?Jake: Well that's an easy one... I went to both of those games. That's the obvious answer, but really, we didn't execute and the Trojans did. It was one of those things where we just beat ourselves, pretty much. No discredit to USC, we just failed to execute bunts and get hits in key situations, and it all compounded into two tough, frustrating losses. This weekend, they'll need to work on the little things-- getting the bunt down, moving runners, and hitting them in with one or two outs.Rye: We can look at the numbers and get a pretty good idea of who's who for the Beavers, but who is the one guy whose impact goes beyond the numbers?Jake: There's a few guys. Shortstop Joey Wong is a guy who can always be relied on in clutch situations, and hits at the top of the lineup. Adalberto Santos, who was added to the roster over the summer, has the potential to be great at the collegiate level, but he's been slowed down by a shoulder injury that has him limited to playing DH.The Beavers have a lot of guys who are capable of doing big things, like Stefen Romero, Jared Norris, and Michael Miller, it's just a matter of where and when.So the numbers pretty accurately tell the story for the Beavers so far, as there aren't many guys who are going under the radar to do big things. Almost anyone in the lineup is capable of going 3-for-4, it just doesn't happen every game.Rye: Jorge Reyes was everyone's darling at the 2007 College World Series and I thought he was bound for greatness, but he had a rough sophomore campaign last year. What has he looked like this year?Jake: He has been much improved this year. I don't have his numbers in front of me right now, but he's been fantastic in his last four or five outings. It's good to seem him recover after being the CWS MVP in '07 then struggling in '08. He's still our Sunday starter, but he's capable of starting on Friday. There just hasn't been any reason to switch things up.Rye: The Beavers have hit the fewest homers in the Pac 10 with only 12, but their 237 runs rank fourth in the conference. How have they managed to score without much power?
Jake: I think it all boils down to Pat Casey's small-ball style... the Beavers just aren't a big power team. With that being said, when we aren't getting our bunts down and moving runners and such, that's when we struggle. We rely on the small game so much that it's often the difference between winning and losing games.
Rye: OSU is 11-2 at home, 8-4 at a neutral site and 4-3 on the road, which is a solid road record, but not up to par with their other records. Is the Beavers' road record just an anomoly or are their questions about the team's ability to play on the road?
Jake: Again, I'll take the blame for the two home losses... we should be 13-0 there. As for playing on the road, I don't really know the reason. There may be a reason why the Beavers don't play as well, but if there is, I haven't picked up on it. I'd say there are probably some little things you could point at in each road game, but no correlation.
Rye: I don't want to put you on the spot with a prediction for the weekend so instead, if there is one game that Oregon St. needs to win to capture the series (whether it be due to pitching match-up or something else), which game would it be?Jake: I'd say it's the first one on Friday. After last week's series, the Beavers need to open the series with UCLA on a positive note to get the confidence back. Sunday's win vs. USC was good to get, but we still made a lot of mistakes and went on to win the game on an error. If the Beavers can win the first game, one would think that it would do a lot for their confidence and allow them to look for a series win on either Saturday or Sunday.