Friday, April 29, 2011
Series Preview UW-Oshkosh Titans Baseball v. UW-Whitewater 4/30-5/1 (4 games)
First thoughts: Once again weather is an issue for this weekend’s series, particularly on Saturday with rain in the forecast. After the Titans got swept by Stevens Point on Wednesday UWO is all but out of the WIAC title hunt. A sweep will even UWO with UWW but will still leave the Titans behind the Pointers in all likelihood with the Pointers playing at Platteville. As the Titan tile hopes have gone so has my interest level. After that series against Stout I was really looking forward to this series but now my interest has waned. The Titans do however find themselves in a fight for the final playoff spot with Lacrosse, which can make things a little more exciting but really is disappointing more than anything. Titan’s Ace Jeremy Rubens hasn’t pitched in 2 weeks and although I have no sources to confirm this I wouldn’t be surprised if he was hurt again. He is coming off of Tommy John surgery and has not yet gotten through a season without injury in my time at UWO. This means that the rest of the Titan’s pitchers, Phil Schreiber and Luke Westphal in particular, will need to step-up. All right lets look at the numbers.
Last meeting: 4 games April 21 and 28 2010 in Whitewater
Titans went 0-4 (1-2, 5-8, 6-22, 6-13)
The Titans were simply embarrassed in this series last year.
Unlike the Stout series from last year, you can gleam some information from this series. In game 1 UWO got some solid pitching from Mrkvicka and Murphy and UWW countered with a solid outing from Jeff Donovan, who is back this year. Titans lost the game on an unearned run, a problem for the team this year as well. Westphal was solid in game 2 pitching 5 scoreless innings but Mrkvicka and Kyle Kannenberg coughed up the lead late. Kannenberg, Grabig and Murphy got lit up in game 3 and that really is all there is to say about that. Westphal, Mrkvicka and Wells struggled in game 4. So UWW has seen these Titan pitchers for the most part and those pitchers have seen UWW’s hitters. I think that with the improvement in pitching and new bats in the college game that UWO’s pitching should do well against UWW but can the UWO defense hold up?
Record: 20-8 (9-7)
The Titan defense is what it is at this point with a .951 fielding percentage. One thing that worries me, beside Jeremy Rubens being out, is that of the 28 appearances by Titan pitchers Troy Mrkvicka has half at 14. The Titans have great depth at pitcher but Matt Wells, who has a 2.1 era, has only appeared 3 times. A more balanced rotation would probably help UWO. Iowa transfer Phil Schreiber has pitched the most innings but has a 4.05 era and a 3-4 record. He’s been a disappointment so far. I am not sure how UWO is still in the top-25 and I don’t expect them to stay there after this weekend.
Last time out: Swept 0-2 by UWSP in Stevens Point (2-11, 0-10)
Not much more to say about this that hasn’t already been said, terrible hitting, terrible pitching, and they kept their infamous error streak alive at 19 games. Grabig pitched game 1 inexplicably, he’s the worst pitcher on the team and he took the mound for game 1 in a crucial series against your biggest rival, I just don’t get it. Start Wells, Westphal, Murphy or Mrkvicka, anybody but Grabig who has become more of a position player this year. Just an awful outcome.
Record: 23-5 (13-3)
Whitewater is just a great team. I mean 9 runs per game. That is absurd. Donovan and Tincher are high quality pitchers but with relatively high ERAs. Donovan and Coe (another pitcher) can also just rake. Leadoff man Dan Putnam gets on more often than not, literally, he has an obp over .6 that is incredible. He hits over .500 too. Westphal might be in trouble because UWW does really well against lefties. They also play better defense than UWO.
UWW last time out: Swept Platteville 2-0 (12-2 (7), 7-6 (10))
Obviously a tale of two games, after having the first game cut short by the 10 run rule the next game went into extras. In game 1 Tincher and Lambert allowed no earned runs in the 7 innings while the top of the UWW lineup dominated. Errors did hurt UWW in game 2 as well only 4 of the 6 runs scored off Jeff Donovan were earned. Platteville rode a big 5th inning while Whitewater grinded it out over the 10 innings. UWW scored runs in the bottom of the 9th and 10th innings to get the win.
Final thoughts: That Platteville series shows what UWW has the UWO doesn’t, clutch performers. While UWO coughed up late leads to UWP, UWL, UWST, and UWSP this season UWW manages to win those games. A spilt with UWW, which is no guarantee, puts UWO in a 3rd place tie with Lacrosse heading into the final weekend in which UWO plays last place Superior and UWL plays UWW. Anything less than a split and this would be the most disappointing season in UW-Oshkosh baseball history.
Other WIAC games:
Point @ Platteville: Point will take at least 3 of 4
Stout@ Superior: A Battle for last place
Lacrosse @ Bethel: Non-conference
All eyes will be on UWO v UWW this weekend.