BSB Preview: Ducks return to PK park for four game series with Northwestern State

By: Saul Galvan

Written Preview – KWVA Sports

After a three game series in Pullman last weekend, the Oregon baseball team returns to PK Park for a four game series with Northwestern State (13-7). The Ducks were able to take two of the three games against Washington State, including a comeback victory in the rubber match on Sunday. This will be the second and last opponent the Ducks play from outside the West Coast region

Oregon: The series against Pullman gave life to this young Oregon team. After losing two out of three against UCLA, then dropping a midweek contest with Niagara and the series open at Washington State, hope started to dwindle for the Ducks. It is still early in the season, but looking at the upcoming schedule, Oregon needs to be consistent if they wish to make it to the top of the Pac 12 standings. Sunday’s comeback victory started and should spark the fire for this team to make a run that will hopefully get them in the top 25. Rikku Nishida, Josiah Cromwick and Tanner Smith have led the charge and will be looking for a big weekend. Cromwick had five hits in the series over Washington State, bringing his batting average to .333 on the season. Freshman shortstop, Carter Garate who made his debut against San Diego and has since been a huge help for the Ducks. He recorded 5 RBI’s this past weekend, and has averaged .889 fielding percentage since Coach Wasikowski made the move to put him in the lineup.

Northwestern State: This series will be unfamiliar territory for the Demons, as this will be the first time they leave the Southern region this season. Northwestern State comes in with a record of 13-7, winning eight of their last nine games. Third baseman, Michael Dattalo currently leads the team in batting average (.427) along with 32 hits and 18 RBI’s. The Demons pitching also looks promising as three of their starters have a 2.77 ERA or lower. Other notable names to keep an eye on are Jeffrey Elkins and Daunte Stuarte. Both are behind Dattalo in batting average, but combine for 55 hits and 6 home runs.

Prediction: The key advantage for the Ducks in this series will be atmosphere. Northwestern State has not played an opponent more than a few states over and outside of the southern region. This will also be one of two games they play that includes a preseason Top 25 team (LSU). Oregon will still need to be sharp however, especially around key hitters such as Dattalo and Elkins. Pitching for the Ducks has been inconsistent over the past week, especially for the freshmen, but this a great opportunity to gain confidence before the rest of the season. Oregon’s offense will need to keep their groove going as the pitching woes continue to improve. The Ducks however are very capable of winning or sweeping the series, so long as they remain smart and vigilant against this Demon team. Chase Stoffal takes the mound in the series opener on Friday at 4:05 local time.