Being the weekend that it was, the Sun. & Monday game recaps will be combined into this series/weekend review. With the series win over UC Irvine and the first mercy rule win of '12 over Cal State Northridge, the Dawgs have joined the PAC, quite literally. The race has begun, hope you have your heart med's. Some of the major polls have eight PAC-12(11) teams ranked right now, with Washington on the fast track to join them. The SEC may have three teams in the top-10 to our one right now, but the PAC is the deepest conference in the land without question, and that will change. The '12 Diamond Dawgs will go as far as their pitching takes them through the war zone that will be conference play; expect cardiac fluctuations a plenty.
That being said, the Dawgs fulfilled the "resounding success" requirement for the road trip with an explosive finish bright enough to catch the attention of the national media, if the series finale rubber match win over UCI didn't. Ya couldn't ask for a better champagne to hit the new digs and lockers with to launch the season.
While the writers reflected and changed their perceptions of Washington and the PAC, I too reflected and did some self-evaluation on my first few weeks while out of town. My apologies for the tardiness of this post, next time I will post a mini-recap as a place holder for the meat n' potatoes version. It's been a long time, and I have a lot of rust to brush off yet, so please bear with me while fluidity is achieved. Most notably I need to remember this is the college game, not the pro's, and as such remember the more team oriented approach as opposed to individualism. A little different format this time around, hopefully a little easier reading on the eyes.
Sunday 2/26/'12 UW 4-3 (#26)UC Irvine, Washington wins series 2-1
Win - Voth (1-0), Save - Fredendall (3)
Little side note to throw in first: SDSU & San Diego dropped a couple bombs on #19Oregon State 18-2 & 13-2 this weekend. Maybe I was too rough on the pitchers last week, that team has some bats.
If the second game of the season against SDSU told this team they could do it, then the win Sunday over UCI told everyone else they could. The most impressive stat? The 0-0-0-0 next to UCI for the last four innings. All three phases performed at a high level, rising up in the moment and not folding.
My notes on this game are long, It was a good one, but I'm going to condense as best I can. Starter Austin Voth came out looking like same pitcher who lasted 2/3 inning his first start, walking the lead-off batter on a 3-1 count. Then the Cape Cod League All-Star he was last summer took over. Just like that, first pitch strikes, getting ahead in the count and next 3 down. Austin was locating his fastball to get ahead, letting him successfully use the slider, which he also had good command of. When he pitches like that he is going to be tough to hit and can keep his pitch count low, allowing him to go deeper into games like this one.
Voth gave up one run in the second, and might have been more if not for B.K. Santy gunning down a steal at 2B to end the inning. UCI as a team might have the most speed we see all year. Their 1B is a speedster...They tried to run as much as possible all weekend, and have the wheels to do it.
Anteater DH Connor Spencer lead off the 2nd inning, going down a quick 0-2. He hit a soft liner that died right in front of Ray in CF on the next pitch, and advanced to second on a sac-bunt. LF Ryan Cooper jumped on the first pitch he saw bouncing a double a foot inside the line over first base for an easy double to drive in Spencer, but made a crucial base running mistake in hindsight. UCI had a runner on second, one out and Voth just threw a beautiful curve to go ahead 1-2 in the count. Cooper for some reason goes on the next pitch, and its a game changing double play for Voth-Santy with a strike 'em out throw 'em out to end the threat. This was just one of many moments the Anteaters had a great chance to get runs across. Problem was, they couldn't get past out stellar pitching and defense again.
Voth proceeded to gun 'em down 1-2-3 in the 3rd, and would have set six down in order if not for a bloop single in the 4th with two outs. Spencer learned his lesson that Voth was throwing first pitch strikes apparently, wasting no time to jump on the first pitch before getting behind in the count the second time around. Smart move, and even though it didn't pay off this time, it would later for the Anteaters.
Anteater starter RHP Crosby Slaught is the Doug Fister of UC Irvine. He now has gone two starts with only 3 runs of support from his teammates: 0-2 | 1.54 ERA | 11.2 IP | 6 H | 7 R | 2 ER | 7 BB | 8 K's. I normally won't give a stat line for the opposition, but that's some great pitching and horrible Off/Defensive support.
The offense came out swinging, aggressive for the Dawgs as well. Didn't do them much good in the first 3 innings either; some great glove work and pitching early on from both sides. It was noted heavily during the entire series by the UCI broadcasters that the Dawgs were only swinging at fastballs, at least when they could. If they did get behind in the count, the lineup collectively did a good job fouling off junk and not missing the fastball when they got it.
Overall I'm very impressed with the pitch recognition, selection and patience displayed by the hitters. Working the count deep and tiring down a pitcher when needed, yet swinging early so as not to fall behind a pitcher who is throwing strikes. A vast majority of the hits this weekend were off fastballs, and I might be right if I said all of them were. When the word gets out about this facet of our bats, and not just the raw power, I think the Dawgs will start to get more respect. With respect will come adjustments, and our ability to hit junk (any pitch besides a fastball) will be tested assuredly.
Another game winning inning for the offense when batting around. Ray grounded out, followed by Brown who turned hard on a 1-2 pitch to hit a one-hop laser off UCI 3B Rabago. The ball ricocheted off his leg into the LF line black hole and Brown stretched it out, ending up at 2B with a great hustle play from the Senior, leading by example all series.
2B Robert Pehl had a much better weekend in the field and on the base paths (he stole a base Monday!) to go along with his bat. It was never a question whether the ball would leave the yard after he swung, it was how far it would go. His second HR of the year and Dawgs are up 2-1, with the lead for good. Camporeale walked and stoke second, Mitsui hit a single, Lamb was HBP and Santy hit a 2 RBI single through the left side with the bases loaded to make it 4-1.
Mitsui, Pehl and Berry are all as advertised, and are a very talented core of power bats to build our lineup around for next couple years. These three are not hitting like first year players, and any Husky fan has to be very excited and optimistic for this team moving forward. Small ball + home runs = even more enjoyable offensive displays. You know where the ballpark and bleachers are...
UCI fought hard to come back in the 5th, mixing in a double, sac bunt and two singles between two nice strikeouts by Voth, the last one to end the inning on a 1-2 fastball for his sixth and final K. If West, Asmus and Voth pitch like this all year, we have a fighting chance with the bullpen looking this deep. The Dawgs don't have a lot of power arms atm to complement the stock of command types, but the potential is there to mix up velocities in the later innings, over multiple games. Having a good Friday set is nice, but if you want to win with the big programs you have to have good Sat. and Sunday rotations as well.
The bullpen played a major role in this game, can't forget them; last but definitely not least. Just because they play at the end of the game I might have to talk about them first more often. After writing that, I realized it is a very good sign and problem to have. If you have to talk about the 'pen in the first half something went wrong. I believe Swift was going to come out of the game early after his start Monday anyway, it appeared to be a pitching-by-committee game using whatever arms had juice left in the tank.
I feel a pitch-crush coming on with the curveball from Tyler Davis. Whenever I hear someone praise it I am jealous, for they were able to watch it and I was not. My favorite pitch is 12-6 curve that drops off the table with alacrity, and Tyler has a nasty one. A looking K, Santy pick-off to 2B and ground ball to Pehl finished the 5th. He tried to start the 6th, but after a single he was replaced with the other Tyler, So. RHP Tyler Kane of Mill Creek, WA. After two walks on 8 pitches the bases were loaded with one out for JC transfer Jr. RHP Steven Swift to make his Dawg debut.
Swift was said to have great command of four pitches coming into the season. Apparently he does have just that, as he used 'em all to perfection parlaying the final Anteater charge into the ground. A swinging K and ground ball to Lamb who stepped on third for the force out and it was up to Fredendall to get the last six outs.
You know how nice it is to have a closer that can come in and make two innings of work look like child's play? Three quick pop flies and the UCI 8th was done in about 6 pitches. The Anteaters hit a lead-off single in the 9th, but Fredendall calmly struck the next two batters out swinging on 1-2 counts before getting a ground ball to Lamb at third to end the game. Series won; nation, coaches and conference shocked. Objective achieved, new locker rooms unlocked.
Monday, 2/28/'12 UW 18-6 Cal State Northridge, 7th Inning, Travel Curfew
W - Wright (2-0)
"This is why he's called the cleanup hitter, people get on base and he cleans 'em up!"
That was the best line from the CSN broadcaster. I can't fault the guy, he sounded like someone who learned baseball in two weeks and never played the game, trying his best to provide a good commentary. He did his best in an obviously unnerving situation and will learn by osmosis I'm sure.
With that said, my audio recording doesn't have much in the way of details to pass along. I do know that the wind was blowing from home to LF, helping Lamb break out with a homerun. That one made me smile, man did he deserve and need that.
The Matadors sent a LHP to the mound, but Peterson struggled early and has a very high leg kick. Add a catcher with an ok arm, and we can cue the stolen bases. His SS let him down defensively a few times as well, and even though the box score will show no errors, the Matadors didn't have their best game in the field Monday. The Dawgs had 17 hits, and they can thank the UCN defense for a few of 'em. They know that, but that's a great part of the game, let the mashing begin! Hits, runs and RBI's for everyone to fly home with as souvenirs.
18 R | 17 H | 17 RBI | 3 2B | 3 HR | 9 BB | 4 SB | 6 RBI w/two outs
Camporeale: 3-5 | 1 Grand Slam | 7 RBI | 2 R
It was two familiar faces and one new with the home runs: Lamb, Wiggins and Camporeale respectively. Campo hit a grand slam in the 7th to douse any hopes the Matadors had left and "end the game", on his way to a career night at the plate. Every starter had a hit except Forgione, who should have had a couple.
Washington went up 2-0 in the 1st, 6-3 after the 3rd, 11-6 after the 5th and added 7 runs in the 6-7th to cruise in this one. The result was never in doubt, only the matter of when it would end. From the first inning you could tell it was a mismatch on all levels. By the 7th inning even the broadcast noted the dejected looks from UCN, and you could tell it was time to call it a game. Hats off to the Matadors, they fought hard and put up three runs in an inning twice, and didn't give in until it was obvious.
Steven Swift earned the starting nod finally, and again I am not able to view the action with my own eyes. He did great the first 2 innings, but the strain of pitching in back-to-back games caught up with him in the 3rd. Swift got out of the frame yet didn't have the gas to earn the win. Wright came in for 2 innings in the 4th, followed by another scoreless inning from Tyler Davis. Nick Palewicz came in to throw a perfect 7th inning and the ballgame is finally over. Congrats to Palewicz for the great performance with 2 K's. I really hope he is ready to start throwing heat and give us a late-inning power arm besides Fredendall.