The Gophers have made it to their very first Super Regional in program history (this is a technicality because they have made it to and won the College World Series, but that was before the advent of the Super Regional). And they not have the privilege of facing the Oregon State Beavers who are one of the top 3 teams in the country. D1Baseball.com has the Beavers as #3 while the Baseball Writers rank them as the #1 team. Regardless of their rank, there is no doubt that this is an elite team and the Gophers have their work cut out for them.
What do we know about Oregon State? Well they are similar to the Gophers in that they have 2 dominant pitchers to go along with a lineup that is dangerous 1 through 9. The difference is that their top couple players were drafted in the top 20 of the MLB draft with probably 3 more expected to go fairly early. Their top pitcher may also have been a top draft choice were it not for some off the field issues that are affecting his status.
Minnesota will have 1 position player drafted early and then a few guys who go very late. But both teams are hot and playing excellent baseball, this should be an excellent two or three games.
The Beaver Lineup
In the lineup the Beavers have two guys who were drafted in the first round of Monday’s MLB draft.
Nick Madrigal is the team’s second baseman and was drafted 4th overall by the White Sox. Here’s what MLB.com had to say about Madrigal.
Madrigal is the best player in college baseball, and he’s the best pure hitter in this Draft, hitting a cool .406 this year for the Beavers with 13 walks and just five strikeouts. He may be only 5-foot-8, but size isn’t an issue because he can hit, he can really run and he can really play second base.
No big deal, we’re just going to be facing the best hitter in college baseball.
But that’s not all. The Beavers also have outfielder, Trevor Larnach was drafted 20th overall by the Twins. Larnach
Larnach has always had obvious power potential, and he began to deliver on it this season, propelling him into the first round after hitting 17 homers in 58 games for the Beavers. He also draws a healthy amount of walks and has an arm suited for right field.
They have more guys who will drafted early, this is a load team. Here is the expected lineup.
- CF - Steven Kwan - .349 batting average, 14 stolen bases and started all 58 games for OSU. Kwan has a .462 OBP which is really good and THIRD on the team. The junior is projected to be drafted around the 250-275 overall range. Oh, and he strikes out less than 5% of the time.
- SS - Cadyn Grenier - Will be drafted in the 2nd or 3rd round. Grenier started all 58 games, hit .328 and led the team with 60 runs scored.
- 2B - Nick Madrigal - we talked about Madrigal. He’s maybe the best position player in college baseball and he hit .406 this season (only playing in 32 games though)
- RF - Trevor Larnach - The future Twins power hitter banged out 17 HRs this season.
- C - Adley Rutschman - Sophomore catcher who can hit 4th or 5th, hit .380 and so far has edged Larnach for the team lead with 66 RBIs.
- 3B - Michael Gretler - Now is when the lineup get easy (sarcasm) as Gretler only hits .328 with 7 HRs while making the Pac-12’s All-Defensive team.
- DH - Tyler Malone - The sophomore started most games at DH and belted 5 HRs to go with this .273 average.
- LF - Jack Anderson - It looks like this spot is a platoon with Kyle Nobach, but considering Meyer and Fredrickson are right-handed pitchers I suspect you’ll see Anderson starting. The senior hit .268 on the season.
- 1B - Zak Taylor - A junior who hit .279 and can also play catcher for the Beavers.
A dangerous lineup indeed, with probably 6 guys who will be drafted.
The Pitching Match-ups
Game 1 Starters
OSU - LHP - Luke Heimlich - 15-1, 2.42 ERA, 142 strikeouts in 111 2⁄3 IP
MN - RHP - Reggie Meyer - 8-3, 2.62 ERA, 67 Ks, 103 IP
Oregon State will throw out the Pac-12s pitcher of the year Luke Heimlich. The senior actually pitched in game 2 of the Regional against LSU but typically was the Friday starter for the Beavers. He went 7 innings against LSU, giving up just one run as the Beavers cruised to a 14-1 win. Heimlich is a strikeout pitcher who was 6th among all NCAA pitchers this year.
Reggie Meyer has been the Gopher Friday starter all season and has really been hot as of late. His last 3 starts have been 25 innings pitched, 1 earned run and 19 strikeouts. He’s going to need that kind of pitching performance on Friday.
Game 2 Starters
OSU - RHP - Bryce Fehmel - 10-1, 2.77 ERA, 54 Ks in 97 1⁄3 IP
MN - RHP - Patrick Fredrickson - 9-0, 1.73 ERA, 63 Ks, 86 IP
Now Minnesota goes with their conference Pitcher of the Year. Fredrickson has been great all year, though was battling out of jams in his Regional start against UCLA. He ended up giving up just 1 run, giving his team a chance to win. Which they did.
The Beavers counter with their junior right-handed starter, Fehmel. You can see by his numbers that he also had an outstanding season and was Pac-12 All-Conference.
Game 3 Starters (if necessary)
OSU - RHP - Kevin Abel - 3-1, 4.13 ERA, 77 Ks in 52 1⁄3 IP and 5 starts
MN - RHP - Jake Stevenson - 1-1, 5.52 ERA, 15 Ks, 29 1⁄3 IP
Abel has not always been the Beavers third starter but he pitched Sundays in the last few Pac-12 series and game 3 of their Regional. Their record in game threes, as a team, is 4-5-1 in Pac-12 games.
For Minnesota, Stevenson pitched a great game in the Big Ten championship game against Purdue, but struggled in his Regional start against UCLA. If the Gophers can get to this game, I feel much better about this game than either of the first two.
These games will be played on Friday, Saturday and possibly Sunday. Here’s how to watch and when.
- Game 1 - Friday 4:00 CST - ESPN2
- Game 2 - Saturday 8:30 CST - ESPN2
- Game 3 - Sunday 8:00 CST - TV is TBD