Oregon State beat the Arizona Wildcats, 5-0, Saturday afternoon to put another nail in the UA’s postseason coffin.
Beaver pitchers recorded 16 strikeouts as the Cats were shut out for the third time this year, wasting starter Kyle Simon’s big-game performance. The sophomore pitcher gave up just one earned run in 6.1 innings but his teammates were only able to muster five hits, all singles.
The Wildcat offense is in a really bad place right now.
But it gets even worse for Arizona. Cal has risen from the dead to win two straight at Oregon. Couple that with the events in Corvallis and the up-to-the-minute Pac-10 standings look like this:
The Bears have gone from falling off the bubble to being one victory away from a winning conference record which is going to be really hard to ignore. And Cal series always end in sweeps.
It will be very interesting if Cal beats Oregon and Arizona beats OSU on Sunday. That would give the Ducks, Beavers and Wildcats identical Pac-10 records with similar RPI numbers. How do you tell them apart? Do you just take all three?
At this point the UA would gladly suffer through that uncertainty. Lose one last time and it’s an easy call to leave out the 11-16 team that’s sitting in 8th or 9th place.
But is it already too late? Realistically, is the tournament selection committee going to wait until 6:30 Eastern to decide if Arizona is in the field?
I say yes.
A top-25 RPI and 12 wins against the RPI top 50 should get you in. But you can’t take a team that has lost six out of seven and 14 of 19 to end the season. You’re not going to extend a bid to a team that finishes five games under .500 in league play. You can crunch the numbers all you want but at the end of the day your job is to select the teams most deserving of the opportunity to play for a national championship.
To be deserving you have to win.
The playoffs start on Sunday for the Wildcats. And for one day, it’s single-elimination.