This Week in the Pac-12, Mar. 23: Arizona Baseball takes on first-place Oregon Stateby Scott Terrell on Mar. 23, 2012, under Sports
The Arizona Wildcats baseball team is suddenly scuffling after losing two midweek home games to unranked New Mexico State. The good news is the Pac-12 standings didn’t change with the upsets so the Cats could still end up in first place this week with a series win at Oregon State.
As the Pac starts eating its own, teams will shift around in the national rankings. Here is your TWIT-Pac look at this week’s polls:
And then there were six. Cal and USC didn’t crack anybody’s top 25 after suffering losing weeks. If it wasn’t for an undefeated Kentucky team Stanford would be the unanimous #2 behind unanimous #1 Florida.
The upcoming weekend series:
#9.4 ARIZONA (16-6 / 2-1) at #20.4 OSU (14-5 / 3-0)
This one lost some of its national sizzle when the Cats got swept by NMSU. The Beavers, on the other hand, have done their part by winning four straight and nine of their last 10.
Cal (12-7 / 0-3) at #18.6 ASU (13-7 / 1-2)
The Bears got a dose of reality by getting swept at home by Oregon State. Cal has lost five of seven overall while ASU has lost three of five.
USC (13-6 / 1-2) at #2.2 Stanford (13-2 / 0-0)
This is a Saturday-to-Monday series. Besides Cal, USC was the most disappointing team last week. They had a lovely non-conference record, a top-25 ranking in the coaches’ poll and Utah at home, which was supposed to be as close to an automatic win as you get in this league. Oops. The Trojans went out and scored one total run in a doubleheader and the Utes said, “I got your 12 national championships right here!”
Utah (6-13 / 2-1) at #21.6 Oregon (13-5 / 1-2)
Utah can’t do it again, right? The Ducks don’t have any national championships for the Utes to get right here.
WSU (10-8 / 1-2) at #10.4 UCLA (15-4 / 2-1)
Last year the Bruins won two of three against ASU to win the Pac-10 title. Will their series win over the Devils this year ultimately lead to the same result? Three of the conference’s top five home run hitters will be on display in Wazzu’s Derek Jones (5) and Taylor Ard (4), and UCLA’s Jeff Gelalich (4).
Cal State Bakersfield (7-11) at Washington (12-7 / 2-1)
The Huskies had a very solid series win against Oregon and were a 13-inning loss away from a sweep. It was a really good weekend for the unranked teams.
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A strong win at Rice didn’t translate into a fast start in the Washington State series so two losses to New Mexico State doesn’t mean the Cats are doomed at Oregon State.
The weather in Corvallis has been cold but a couple Beaver hitters have been red hot. Shortstop Tyler Smith leads the Pac-12 with a .446 batting average and left fielder Michael Conforto is third at .426.
The Arizona pitching staff’s primary goal is to throw strikes. It’s the biggest cliché in baseball but there’s a very good reason why. The UA has allowed 35 walks in its six losses (5.8 per game) and just 33 bases on balls in the 16 wins (2.1 a game).
Kurt Heyer needs to set the tone tonight after an uncharacteristically poor performance against Washington State. The junior right-hander issued two walks in the Pac-12 opener after walking just four in his previous four starts (all wins).
The game times for the series are 5:30 p.m. Pacific/Arizona time today, 2 p.m. tomorrow and 1 p.m. on Sunday.
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