Cal faces the potential end of their season tomorrow morning against the Aggies of Texas A&M. Michael Wacha, a strong sophomore right hander, will likely be the one pitching for the Aggies with their season on the line. Texas A&M is the favorite in the game and will not go down without a fight.
Wacha has been dominant all year, and he sealed the Aggies ticket to Omaha with a victory in a potential elimination game. He’s 8-3 this year with a 2.10 ERA and a 8.56 K/9. He’s stingy with his walks, only walking 1.79 per 9. The ball never leaves the park, with a .16 HR/9 mark. Those numbers indicate a pitcher who is very good; striking out many, walking few, and keeping the ball in the park. What does Wacha accumulate those numbers with?
Michael primarily works off his fastball, which goes from anywhere from 91 to 95. It has slight 2 seam movement in on right handed hitters, although it doesn’t have the kind of ridiculous movement we see from some Bay Area 2 seamers (Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson). It’s a power pitch, and he can work it up in the zone or down in it. His change-up sits between 83-86, and is a solid pitch that can work down in the zone. ESPN 3 wasn’t working after the first inning, so I didn’t get a chance to look at his slider, but I’ve heard it’s also a quality pitch. It’s a solid three pitch mix; with a power fastball, you don’t need great secondary offerings, and his are solid anyway.
Kyle Porter will be taking the hill, as the freshman look to keep the season alive. He’s left-handed, which probably played a big part in the decision. Also in account is recent form; Kevin Miller has struggled all tournament, and Dixon Anderson has been unreliable all year. With Justin Jones out, and the Aggies having some quality left-handed bats such as Tyler Naquin (their best hitter), Jacob House, and Kenny Jackson it’s a solid move. In all honesty, Texas A&M isn’t a line-up that can be neutralized by a pitcher’s handedness; they have a solid balance of left and right. But eliminating Naquin, who’s a .384 hitter, could swing the scales in the Bears favor. With Texas A&M being the favorite, we need all the help we can get.
My keys to the game are simple. The Bears need to execute; making the simple and tough plays on defense are going to be key behind the freshman. If Cal can save a run or two with their collective defensive play, then they give themselves a chance to win. Offensively, they need to be thinking fastball and jump on one when they get one at the belt. Luck has to be on their side if they’re going to get a bunch of runs against Wacha, so the team just needs to take a good approach and hope the bloopers fall and the TA&M defense fails.
Kyle Porter has a lot of weight on his shoulders. The Bears are playing to keep their season alive, and a freshman is the one leading them. This game should be a dogfight between two quality teams that don’t want to go home or go “two and barbecue”. The game should be great, and we can all root for the Bears to take home a victory. Go Bears!