Coming off their three-game set to start off the season, the Tennessee Diamond Vols look to continue to build on a successful start when they go on the road to take on the Oregon State Beavers this weekend. The Diamond Vols’ bats were on full display as they scored 40 runs in their three contests against defending Atlantic 10 champions Xavier. The second game produced the most drama. Freshman Cody Stubbs hit a walk-off, two-RBI single to help Tennessee win a tight affair, 7-6. Head coach Todd Raleigh noted the importance of winning that game.
“It was huge because we still have a lot of young kids, and with young kids, you just want them to stay in the game, stay in the game and know we have a chance to win,” he said. “By seeing that they stayed focused and stayed in it and we did win, now we don’t feel we’re out of any game. We’ll fight to the end.”
The Beavers, ranked 10th in the nation, pose a formidable challenge to the Diamond Vols this weekend in Corvallis, Ore. Oregon State started off the season with a 3-1 series win against the Hawaii Warriors. The Beavers were led offensively by junior Stefen Romero and senior Rob Folsom, who drove in six and four runs respectively. Tennessee’s junior pitcher Bryan Morgado, the Vols’ Friday starter, spoke of the challenges in trying to eliminate the Beaver offense.
“Oregon State is very similar to Xavier hitting-wise,” he said. “They’re not going to hit for power. They’re going to try to be scrappy. Bunt the ball and put the ball in play. So as long as I throw strikes, keep the ball down and make them hit the ball, I’ll let my defense do the work.”
Though the Beavers may not have a dominant offense, their pitching staff rates as one of the best in the nation. Oregon State has a lot of depth in their rotation and features sophomore Sam Gaviglio, who has yet to surrender a run, along with juniors Tyler Waldron, Greg Peavey and Tanner Robles, who have been drafted into the major leagues.
The Diamond Vols counter with SEC player of the week, left fielder P.J. Polk, and a middle of the order that boasts catcher Blake Forsythe, third baseman Matt Duffy and first baseman Stubbs. Polk, whose .750 batting average and nine hits are tops on the Diamond Vols, noted the differences in going up against Beaver pitchers in this series.
“It’s a little more important this weekend just because of their staff,” he said. “But it’s nothing we can’t handle. We’re confident. We feel like we can match up with them, so not much is going to change.”
Despite the fact that the Diamond Vols-Beavers series has the looks of being competitive, one unknown is the status of junior Cody Hawn. Hawn hurt his shoulder on Opening Day, and the team is unsure of his availability for the series. Hawn has been getting treatment, and if he does travel, he will only have a designated hitter role.