It’s the Western Athletic Conference against the PAC-12 this weekend on the diamond. At least, that is what it feels like. Four WAC schools take on PAC-12 schools in the second weekend of the 2021 baseball season. This comes one week after WAC schools had series wins over teams from the Big 12, SEC and WCC. Is another big weekend for WAC baseball in store for us? Let’s check it out.
Seattle University (2-1) at Oregon (0-0)
The Redhawks continue a trip down Interstate 5 this weekend for a four-game series against the PAC-12 Oregon Ducks. Seattle U won the first and final games in the series in the Rose City. Julian Kodama went 4-12 in the series with a couple of key RBI’s in game one. The contributions from Gavin Rork hit .375 overall in the series to help lead the offense for Seattle. The Redhawks pitching staff pitched well overall in the series with a team ERA of 2.42.
Oregon did not play last weekend, with the opening series against Omaha cancelled. The Ducks coming off an 8-7 year, are led by second-year head coach Mark Wasikowski and were picked to finish seventh in the PAC-12 this year. Kenyon Yovan hit .429 in with 4 home runs in the short-season last year. Aaron Zavala returns as a secondary offense option after hitting .418 with 22 RBI’s a year ago. The arms for the Ducks were impressive last year as Brett Walker had 0.84 ERA in three starts. The Ducks team ERA sat at 3.85 last year.
Oregon State (3-1) at Grand Canyon (3-1)
Oregon State stays in the sunshine of Arizona, where the bats came alive last weekend. The Beavers dropped a 3-2 opener to Kansas State. But, then outscored New Mexico and Gonzaga 39-7. It could set up an offensive series between two good programs. OSU hit .377 as a team last week. Preston Jones, Troy Claunch, and Andy Armstrong all hit over .500 in at least ten at-bats. The Beavers have one of the lowest team ERA’s in the PAC-12 at 2.25 and are led by Kevin Abel who is rated the #36 draft prospect by D1baseball.com
Grand Canyon coming off a series win against Missouri out of the SEC. The Lopes brought an offensive show of their own and will feature Rylan Zaborowski, named Ticketsmarter WAC Hitter of the Week. This series could show some fireworks and high scoring. However, Ticketsmarter WAC Pitcher of the Week Zach Barnes could have something to say about the high scoring. Both teams feature good offense and a good pitching staff, and it should be a great series in Phoenix this weekend.
Washington State (3-1) at Dixie State (0-0)
The Cougars make the trek down to St. George for the first game of the Dixie State D1 Baseball life. WSU went to UC Davis and took three games from the Aggies. Kyle Russell, Brady Hill, and Kyle Manzardo all hit over .400. WAC fans will remember Tristian Peterson, an NMSU transfer who is hitting .353 after the first weekend. The starting pitching threw well, but the bullpen had a tough time in the opening series.
Dixie State comes in a little bit of an unknown but should not be taken lightly. The Trailblazers have had success in the DII ranks. Tyson Fisher has some good pop in the bat and will have some help from the lineup’s middle part. The starting pitching staff will look to quiet a talented Brian Green Washington State offense.
Update – Washington State won game 1 of the 4-game series on Thursday, 6-3.
South Dakota State (1-2) at Northern Colorado (2-1)
This matchup will come in the Summit League provide an early preview of what both teams have to look forward to in the upcoming years. The Jackrabbits dropped two out three to Kansas last weekend. Drew Beazley had was four for thirteen on the weekend. The pitching staff for SDSU had a tough time containing the offense for Kansas.
Northern Colorado was loaded with offense last week against Colorado Christian. While the Bears the first Division I opponent of the year. Jake Gitter and Josh Glenn both hit well last weekend has UNC won a couple of offense-filled games a week ago.
New Mexico State (0-0) at Abilene Christian (3-1)
New Mexico State looks to get the season started by traveling to Abilene Christian. The Aggies will turn to Chris Baraza on opening night after being the Saturday starter a year ago. Barraza was 2-0 with 2.66 ERA will look to help the Aggies pitching staff. We will get our first look at Noah Haupt and the Aggies offense, which has traditionally been one of the best in the WAC.
The Wildcats will join the WAC next year. It has already been a great week for ACU, as the Wildcats went to College Station and beat Texas A&M 6-5 earlier this week. Abilene Christian has used a balanced attack this year, hitting .333 as a team and led by Hunter Gieser, who is hitting .500 on the year.
Saint Mary’s (2-2) at California Baptist (2-1)
The Gaels spilt a hard-fought series with Utah Valley. Saint Mary’s had a tough time scoring against a tough pitching staff for Utah Valley. The Gaels were able to get some key hits in timely situations to score runs. The pitching staff will be tested against a tough CBU lineup. The Friday Night matchup will be a good one to watch.
Bryan Pope had nine strikeouts in the season debut against Carlos Lomeli. The offense will likely favor the Lancers as Damon Keith was 6-15 in the opening weekend, and Chad Castillo and Michael Carpentier were not too far behind.
UTRGV (2-1) at Washington (0-3)
UTRGV took two out of three from Baylor this last weekend. The Vaqueros now head to the Pacific Northwest to take on Washington.
Opening weekend was a nice series for UTRGV. They dropped game one but then won the next two to take the series. Christian Sepulveda got off to a quick start on the weekend, going 4-10. As a team, UTRGV hit .304 to help jumpstart the offense. The pitching staff had an elevated ERA but against a good Baylor offense. The ERA might drop in a cold and damp Seattle. It could provide for some closer games against UW.
The Huskies were swept by UC Irvine last weekend to start the season. Will Simpson had a great weekend offensively for UW. Braiden Ward is a tough out at the leadoff spot. The Washington pitching staff struggled to get into the middle innings of the game. It is early still in the season, and this is a better UW team than last weekend showed.
Tarleton State (1-4) at Northwestern State (1-3)
The Texans had a challenging week after taking the final game of the series against Abilene Christian. They would drop games to UT-Arlington, and Texas A&M in ten innings. Wade Raburn and Blake Burns led the offense. Tarleton State had a tough time keeping runs off the scoreboard. The team ERA is currently at 10.31.
A slow start for Northwestern State dropping games at Southern Miss and UL-Monroe earlier this week. The Demons hit .167 as a team. Tarleton State will hope to improve pitching to help the Texans take a couple of games in the series.
Texas State (3-2) at Sacramento State (1-2)
Texas State spilt a four-game series against BYU last weekend and beat Sam Houston State in a neutral site game on Wednesday. Jaxon Williams hit .455 on the weekend, and John Wuthrich and Justin Thompson aided the offense. The Bobcats had starting pitcher Zachary Leigh strikeout ten hitters a week ago.
The Hornets played well at Arizona State but fell on a short side of a couple of games. Sacramento State will need to boost the offense this weekend as that remains one of the biggest questions for the Hornets. Aaron Zeidman hit well last week for the Hornets. The pitching staff will continue to be tough and give the Hornets a chance to win the game.
Utah Valley had a series canceled this weekend at CSU-Bakersfield.