Thursday, February 15, 2007

Series Preview – Ohio Bobcats v. VANDERBILT

Vanderbilt begins a three game series with the Ohio University Bobcats tomorrow at 4 pm at Hawkins field. The Commies are coming off a full practice week after opening the season by sweeping the Houston College Classic and a 3-0 start. Coach Corbin should have his players ready to continue the current three-game winning streak and improve on their #4 National Ranking (#3 by

This is the Bobcat’s first series of the 2007 season and they’ll come ready to play. They have high expectations of a better season then their 22-25, 3rd place finish in the Mid-Atlantic Conference (MAC), in 2006. There are eight of nine returning starters from last year along with 10 seniors on the team. Unfortunately for the Bobcats, they’re picked to finish 3rd in the MAC for the second straight year. It may be tougher then originally thought to accomplish even that feat. The Bobcats lost double threat All-American Anthony Gressick (.372BA, .587SLG, 8HR, 43 RBIs, 4.47 ERA, 4-1 as a starter, and 59 K’s) and their two Aces Yale Silverman (4-3, 2.62 ERA) and Derrick Witt (6-4, 5.01 ERA) whom they lost to the MLB draft (Reds & Tigers) and graduation, respectively.

As a team, Ohio hit .302 which was good for 81st and averaged 6.8 runs a game, ranked 74th. What they posses, or possessed in offense, they lack in fielding and pitching. The Bobcat’s had a fielding percentage of .951, ranked 229 out of 285 and have a team ERA of 5.47 (171/285). Their pitching staff this year is comprised of mostly sophomore arms that made very few starts, usually making appearances in relief. Vanderbilt should feast on the inexperience with a very potent lineup capable of putting up big numbers on the scoreboard.

A few players to keep on eye on will be Willie Walker, who led the team with a .377 BA and Matt Smith, a transfer who went 13-1 last year with a 3.37 ERA at Allegany College of Maryland.

The Commies, conversely, enter into the first regular season series in excellent shape. The incredibly deep pitching staff is led by aces, Casey Weathers and David Price, who is ranked as a top three pitching prospect and Pre-Season All-American. Pedro Alvarez anchors the offense and is off to a red-hot start after hitting .500 in the Houston College Classic.

Last season, the Commies hit .308 as a team (62nd overall) with a .451 slugging percentage and scored 424 runs and gave up only 308. The Commies true strength lies in their defense and pitching. They were ranked 32nd in all of D-I schools with a fielding percentage of 9.7, had a team ERA of 4.21 (60th overall), and 4th in strikeouts per nine with 8.9 a game.

The probably match-ups on the hill are:
Friday: 4 pm
#14 Matt Smith (Jr., LHP, 6-3, 190)
13-1, 3.37 ERA in 2006 (JUCO)
#14 David Price (Jr., LHP, 6-5, 215)
0-0, 4.76 ERA, 5.2 IP, 6 K, 3 BB

Saturday: 2 pm
#39 Dan Weiss (Sr., LHP, 6-2, 205)
2-1, 6.92 ERA, 26 IP in 2006
#11 Nick Christiani (So., RHP, 6-0, 185)
0-0, 9.82 ERA, 3.2 IP, 1 K, 4 BB

Sunday: 1 pm
#35 Zeke Isaacs (Sr., RHP, 6-2, 190)
0-1, 6.97 ERA, 10.1 IP in 2006
#21 Brett Jacobson (So., RHP, 6-6, 195)
1-0, 1.35 ERA, 6.2 IP, 6 K, 0 BB

They are led by Joe Carbone in his 19th season at Ohio where he has posted a 533-435-2 record, good for second all-time in the MAC in conference wins. Ohio finished 7-9 on the road in 2006, however, they are coming off a season-ending sweep at Bowling Green in 2006.

Coach Tim Corbin is in his fifth season as coach of the Commodores and has turned the program into one of the nation’s elite. He is 147-95 at the Commodore’s helm and off to a 3-0 this year.

You can catch the whole series on the Commodore Webcast:

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