The Pac-12 baseball season is five weeks old and up to this point there has been a head-to-head battle for 1st place every single week. Finally, the three leaders of the Pac get a couple weeks away from each other.
The Arizona Wildcats, Oregon Ducks and UCLA Bruins all hope to keep pace with each other and create some separation with the rest of the league.
But first, here’s the updated RPI of every team on Arizona’s schedule plus the UA’s record against said teams:
|New Mex. St.||24||19||0-2|
|N. Dakota St.||153||130||2-1|
|E. Tenn. St.||149||146||–|
UCLA was rewarded for going 3-1 against Arizona and Cal State Fullerton last week. The Wildcats’ RPI actually inched upward are losing to the rising Bruins. Stanford is also riding high. Seventh place in the Pac-12 pays a lot better than it used to.
This is what we know about the polls:
Since Oregon beat UCLA who beat Arizona, that’s how I’d rank the tri-leaders but the national folks do have the Ducks moving in the right direction compared to last week.
No top-10 clashes this week. But TWIT-Pac says the way to look at it is you get three series with 1st place on the line instead of one.
#12.6 ARIZONA (24-12 / 10-5) at Washington (19-15 / 5-7)
The Huskies started the season strong with wins in five of their first six weekend series but they’ve lost the last three.
#8.2 UCLA (25-8 / 10-5) at #23.6 OSU (24-11 / 6-6)
Oregon State has the longest active winning streak in the conference at six games, but none are against Pac-12 foes.
WSU (18-15 / 5-6) at #10.0 Oregon (26-10 / 10-5)
Oregon has the longest active no-hit innings streak at 11. With a stat like that it doesn’t matter who you’re playing.
#21.2 ASU (24-13 / 9-6) at #12.8 Stanford (22-10 / 5-7)
The Devils have won five straight but are just 1-5 in Pac-12 road games. Their next two conference series are away from home.
Utah (10-25 / 5-10) at Cal (20-15 / 4-8)
Cal won its first conference series of the year last week against Washington. The Utes better pray for rain as they have not won on consecutive days all year.
USC (20-15 / 5-9) – bye
Southern California says, “Oh, no league games this week? Fine, we’re not going to be play anybody.”
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It was the best of innings, it was the worst of innings for the Wildcats against Arizona State Tuesday night. Seth Mejias-Brean’s three-run home run highlighted a six-run 5th but it was countered by the Sun Devils’ touchdown (and extra point) in the 7th. ASU has now won five straight and 13 of 16 against Arizona dating back to 2009.
The UA’s midweek woes continue as the Cats haven’t won a non-weekend game in over a month. The good news is Arizona only has one midweek game left the rest of the way. The bad news is that one’s against ASU too.
After combining for 11 innings without allowing an earned run, UA relievers Stephen Manthei and Mathew Troupe (a.k.a., Andy Lopez’s entire bullpen) have given up 9 earned runs in the last two games. Each guy has surrendered five walks in his last four appearances.
But the message today is the same as four days ago: Tied for 1st place. All is right in the world again if Arizona can win the series in Seattle.
The Cats need to leave the last two weeks in Tucson and start over fresh. The relievers need to ignore the last two months and come to the ballpark ready to give Manthei and Troupe some help (and they need to be given that chance). With the upcoming three-week break from midweek games it’s time to give Tyler Crawford a shot in middle relief. Lucas Long should get another look after having some success early in the year. Augey Bill looks like he can be a 6-foot-9 change of pace. A team with a five-man pitching staff is not going to stay in contention.
This Washington series feels like a crossroads for the 2012 BatCats. The UA plays out of conference next week so the results of this weekend will linger for two weeks. You want to go into the Oregon series confident, not smelling of desperation.
The game times at Husky Ballpark are 5 p.m. today, 2 p.m. tomorrow and 1 p.m. on Sunday. Listen on 1290 AM radio or follow me on Twitter for game updates.
Tied for 1st place… Tied for 1st place… Tied for 1st place…
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