Joey Rickard

Joey Rickard has been sliding in the Pac-10 batting race.
Photo by Crystal Ochoa/The Arizona Republic

It wasn’t a surprise that the Arizona Wildcats baseball team swept Alcorn State. It wasn’t a surprise that none of the three games were close.

It was a surprise who contributed.

‘Tis a tale as old as sport. A lightly-used player finally gets his opportunity and makes this most of it.

Sport, meet Bobby Rinard.

The senior outfielder from Indiana by way of Yavapai Community College had started just two games all season. He got the call only because Bobby Brown was hurt, who had only been playing because Steve Selsky was hurt.

Rinard took the three weekend starts and went 8-for-12 (.667) at the plate with two doubles, three RBIs, five runs scored and a stolen base.

“Rinard’s done a good job,” UA coach Andy Lopez said. “I’m really happy with him. Good to see a guy who doesn’t play a lot get a chance and – boom – jump right in and take advantage of it.”

The right-handed hitter almost doubled his season at-bat total and bumped his batting average up to an even .500 for the year.

“You can’t really take time off in practice,” Rinard said. “You’ve got to prepare yourself like you’re going to (get a shot) and that’s what I’ve been doing.”

Here are the other weekend shots from around the Pac-10:

OSU won two of three vs. Cal.
Scores: 3-0, 2-6, 4-2
The Beavers had to play a doubleheader on Saturday and ended up with a split. Oregon State’s lead over ASU is now down to a single game.

UCLA won all three at Oregon.
Scores: 7-1, 3-1, 4-0
The Bruins’ pitchers dominated to solidify their hold on 3rd place.

Stanford won all three vs. Washington.
Scores: 6-2, 8-7, 7-2
Mission accomplished for the up-and-down Cardinal who have now matched Arizona’s 9-9 Pac-10 record.

ARIZONA won all three vs. Alcorn State.
Scores: 10-2, 8-2, 15-2
The Braves were held to just a safety in each game.

ASU won all three vs. Long Beach State.
Scores: 6-3, 9-2, 17-9
It was no day at the beach for the Dirtbags.

WSU lost two of three vs. UNLV.
Scores: 1-4, 4-3, 3-6
The Cougars couldn’t maintain the momentum following their 9th-place showdown with Washington.

USC didn’t lose.
Sometimes the only way to win is to not play.

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What this week’s polls think of the Pac-10:

Team BAS COL NAT PER USA Average
OSU 2 3 10 5 7 5.4
ASU 6 7 5 8 7 6.6
UCLA 24 13 20 19 21.4
Stanford 22 25 28.0
ARIZONA 26 26 27 28.2
Cal 25 30 29 29.2

BAS = Baseball America
COL = Collegiate Baseball
NAT = National Collegiate Baseball Writers
PER = Perfect Game
USA = USA Today/ESPN coaches’ poll

The Beavers moved up in one poll to #2, and down in another poll to #10. NCBW has six Pac-10 teams ranked; Perfect Game (the poll formerly known as Rivals) only has two. I have no idea either.

I do know a batting race when I see one. Arizona’s Joey Rickard had been leading the league in hitting for most of the year but Pac-10 pitching has been eroding his lofty average.

The Wildcat leadoff man was passed over the weekend by another Joey. ASU’s DeMichele (pronounced “DeMichael”) torched LBSU with a 9-for-14 (.643) showing including going 5-for-5 Saturday night. The top Sun Devil’s season average is now .406 while Rickard’s has dropped to .390.

Cats and Devils make up 7 of the 10 leading hitters in the Pac-10 with the UA’s Cole Frenzel (.379) 3rd, Bryce Ortega (.355) 6th and Robert Refsnyder (.344) 8th, while ASU’s Austin Barnes (.362) is 5th and Deven Marrero (.340) is 9th.

It’s 8 of 10 if you include Bobby Rinard.

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Scott Terrell believes he hit a solid .328 with this article. Barrel up on Twitter and Facebook.