Although playing Oregon in our Regional is not a given we still thought it would be a great opportunity to get insight into their baseball program as their history is a bit unique. Addicted to Quack and Takimoto from the SB Nation website Addicted to Quack.com were gracious enough to answer some of our questions regarding program history, style of play and the Pac 10. Our questions first and their answers follow in the shaded text boxes
Congrats on making the postseason in just your 2nd year back playing college baseball after nearly a 20 year hiatus. If you could please expain why Oregon baseball was absent for so long and what sparked its comeback.
Baseball was absent at Oregon for the same reason it cut at many other schools in the early 80s--massive budget cuts with a slice of Title IX thrown in. The inspiration to bring it back was twofold. Oregon State winning back to back national championships really brought out the demand for the baseball team. To see our in-state rivals doing that brought out a little jealousy and a sense of "we can compete at the highest levels here." Also, the hiring of Pat Kilkenny as AD, who is a big baseball fan (as well as one of UO's biggest boosters) had a lot to do with it, and baseball kind of became his pet project, and the demand created by the OSU titles was his opening.
How has the University of Oregon embraced the return? Do fans follow baseball closely and are they excited about earning a Regional spot?
Except for the hundred or so people who got really, really upset that wrestling was cut, baseball's return has elicited a great response. When our athletic department makes a move, we do it big, and this was no different. PK Park is a tremendous place to play college baseball, and bringing in a legend like George Horton proclaimed to the conference, "We are here to win, and win now." And the results speak for themselves. With football as huge as it is here, and the tradition and lore of the track and field program, it's tough for another sport to really burst through. But a good showing in these playoffs and continued success will push baseball to the front of everyone's minds.
The PAC 10 has been touted as the best conference in baseball despite having only 4 teams with winning records in conference play. Conference defenders claim parity while East Coast biased individuals claim that the conference is overrated. What is your stance?
It's funny. I will claim parity because I've gotten to watch the teams this year and know that no game is a gimme. But at the same time, SEC football is overrated in my eyes for similar reasons. I don't think this season has been the Pac-10's strongest overall when compared to past years, but it's hard to argue with 80% of our teams making the post season, including #1 overall seed Arizona St. (who the Ducks beat this year). I'll also add some pretty convincing evidence: The Pac-10 had a .728 winning percentage in non-conference games, and all eight Pac-10 tournament teams had top 40 RPI (Good article on the subject). So maybe not as strong at the top where you have several national championship contenders, but very deep and very good.
Oregon's style of play seems to be predicated on excellent pitching and playing small ball while other teams (FSU, UCONN) focus on utilizing metal bats and small ball parks to outslug teams. How do you think Oregon can compete with those types of teams in a tournament setting?
We aren't a team that can just unleash the long ball to cut into a lead. Two-out hitting will be key, along with pitching, defense, and good situational hitting and base running. If we're leaving runners in scoring position, it's going be tough to win. This team is built on pitching. It's a very good pitching staff (5th nationally in ERA). Oregon wants to win games 3-1, 4-3, etc. If Seminole or Husky hitters start teeing off on Duck pitching, I don't know that this team has the offense to play that style.
What key hitters and pitchers should opponents keep an eye out for?
Our starting pitching has been excellent this season, led by our ace Tyler Anderson (7-4, 2.76 ERA). Our entire pitching staff has an ERA of 3.28, which is astounding for college baseball. Offensively, the lineup is anchored by catcher Eddie Rodriguez, who leads the team in HR and RBI. Other names in the lineup to look out for are sophomore SS KC Serna, sophomore 2B Danny Pulfer, freshman 1B Jack Marder, and senior CF Curtis Raulanitis
I love it every time the Oregon football team breaks out a new uniform/color combo. What can we expect from the baseball team this weekend?
It's actually pretty basic as far as the uniforms go. Home whites and road grays, both in either a jersey or a vest, and an alternate green jersey. Hats can be all green with a yellow O, green with a yellow front panel and a green O, or gray with a green brim and a green O. Coach Horton's a pretty old-school guy, he wouldn't have OK'd a uni with the bells and whistles the football uniforms come with.
Many thanks to the guys over at Oregon for doing this. Oregon is definitely a program on the rise and should have continued success. As mentioned above they do things big, they went out and hired a legendary coach and Augie Garrido disciple in George Horton. He has been able to do a great job in recruiting by relying on relationships he had with many high schools during all his years spent in California while coaching at Cal State Fullerton, his current roster features 20 kids for California. If you have the time go watch this video of their new ball park, it shouldn't be too long before Oregon is hosting a Regional of their own.
Thanks again to Addicted to Quack and make sure to check out their site later in the week when we answer some of their questions regarding this year's Seminole team.