Tuesday, March 24, 2015

HarbourCats player updates - Pac-12 edition

Teams these days seem to change conferences as fast as the Kardashians change husbands. It wasn't too long ago that the Pac-12 was the Pac-10, and before that the Pac-8, then the Big Six, then the Big Five, then the Cro-Magnon Four...but I digress. Today, I will be focusing on the future 'Cats that have made their NCAA home the Pac-12 (est. 2011) this spring.

Gus did a nice job introducing the players in this division back a few weeks ago, so I will try to build on that and give a quick summary of how the lads are faring now that the season is in full swing and is staring to get into conference play.

The Pac-12 is a very strong baseball conference with five teams in the latest Baseball America top 25 - Oregon is ranked #22, Cal #21, Arizona State #11, UCLA #9 and USC #8. You will notice only eleven teams in the supposed Pac-12 and that is simply because Colorado does not have team as they must all be busy enjoying their Rocky Mountain High (cue the John Denver).

Recognize this guy? Hint: Gabe Clark

Victoria will have two members of the Oregon State (OSU) Beavers gracing Sports Traders Diamond this summer in Gabe Clark (1B/DH) and Michael Gretler (3B). Gabe "the Babe" is a consistent starter and is getting quite a bit of playing time, mostly at DH. He has backed this up with a respectable .270 average, tallying six home runs and a .619 slugging percentage in his 18 games played, both of which are good for second on the team. This past weekend was not a stellar one for Gabe as he went a combined zero for eight with three walks and a pair of strikeouts. I expect that this is a simply a blip on the radar which will be corrected in the upcoming series against San Jose State and Cal Poly, both of which are at home in the friendly confines of Corvallis, Oregon. We here in Victoria all know what Mr. Clark is capable of and I look forward to following him and the Beavers in their quest to qualify again for the College World Series. The Beavers continue to flirt with the Top 25 despite having to retool quite significantly from last year.

Michael Gretler plays a little less that Clark but has still appeared in over half the games so far this season, checking in with a .182 average over that span. In the recent series against Washington State, Gretler only played in the Saturday game but that let him contribute to something very special. At the plate, he was one for three with an RBI which was special because that is all the offense that freshman pitcher Drew Rasmussen needed in spinning a perfect game! That's right, 27 up and 27 down, striking out 10 in the process. It was the first perfect game ever for OSU and the first in the Pac-12 since 1973. And our boy chipped in with one of the three runs on the day. Well done Michael!

In Seattle, catcher Zach Bonneau saw a bit of action as he got into two of the three games for his Washington Huskies. He had the difficult task of pinch hitting with two out in the ninth in a one run game with a runner in scoring position, but couldn't pull the rabbit out of the hat as he struck out and the Huskies fell 3-2 to a much stronger Cal team. When the Sunday game got out of hand, he got a brief stint behind the plate going zero for one in his only at bat. The other Washington player, left-handed hurler Henry Baker, has not seen any action since starting back on March 10th against Seattle University where he went two innings, giving up no earned runs, walking two and striking out one. It will be nice having another big (six foot two inches, 235 pounds) lefty on the 'Cat mound.

Other than our known quality in Gabe Clark, it's hard yet to determine how these Pac-12 pieces will fit into the HarbourCat puzzle this summer. Hopefully the boys will see a few more innings as we get into the heart of the season so we can get some sort of indication of their mettle.

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