The standings say it all. First Place vs. Second Place. It’s the final time any of the four Pac-12 baseball contenders will meet this year and the winner of the series will be all alone in 1st.
And it all starts in Tucson tonight at 6.
The updated RPI numbers testify to the strength of the Pac-12:
|New Mex. St.||21||20||0-2|
|E. Tenn. St.||139||145||3-0|
|N. Dakota St.||162||146||2-1|
The rankings show the battle for regional hosting slots is fierce:
TWIT-Pac is ready for the showdown:
#10.8 Oregon (32-13 / 14-7) at #11.6 ARIZONA (29-13 / 12-6)
Uno vs. Dos.
#9.0 Stanford (28-12 / 10-8) at #23.2 OSU (28-14 / 9-9)
Do not ignore this series, Wildcat Universe. Stanford’s schedule eases up after this one so if the Cardinal doesn’t lose this weekend it might not lose the rest of the way.
Utah (12-30 / 6-15) at #23.0 ASU (26-17 / 11-10)
The Sun Devils are now counting down the days until their College World Series the final weekend of the season in Tucson.
Washington (23-18 / 8-10) at USC (22-18 / 7-10)
As an Arizona basketball fan the last few years you’ll recognize this matchup as a “bubble buster” series. Both the Huskies and Trojans have decent but not great PRIs. Neither is high enough in the Pac-12 standings to feel safe. It won’t get the headlines of Oregon/Arizona but this should be a very intense series in L.A.
Cal (23-18 / 7-11) at WSU (22-18 / 8-9)
Washington State and Cal aren’t completely out of the postseason picture but they have to win series just to get back onto the bubble.
#12.0 Purdue (34-7) at #13.6 UCLA (29-12 / 12-9)
Most Pac-12 teams have been using their “bye week” to play someone they can score 51 runs against. The Bruins will instead face a top-15 team in contention for a national seed. The entire Pac-12 should be rooting for UCLA as a series win would boost the conference’s profile and could help get an extra team in the field of 64 and/or increase the chances of hosting an extra regional.
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Usually when there’s a battle for 1st place you have two balanced teams. Many strengths, few weaknesses.
Oregon leads the Pac-12 in team ERA and fielding percentage but is 10th in team batting average. Arizona leads the league in hitting but the Wildcats are 9th in ERA and 10th defensively.
There is no question about what each team does well. When you look at the Pac-12 individual stats an Arizona player leads the conference in batting average, hits, triples, total bases and walks…and it’s five different guys.
Inspecting the top ERAs in the Pac among pitchers who have started at least 10 games you have Oregon’s Alex Keudell first at 1.87 and Jake Reed fifth at 2.26
The baseball axiom is good pitching beats good hitting. The Ducks also have confidence knowing they’ve already beaten UCLA and Stanford on the road.
The Cats have Hi Corbett Field and a revitalized fan base behind them.
It’s worth noting that Oregon has won five of its last six weekend series and each time it did so by winning the first two games. The Ducks have won the first game of six straight series but are just 2-4 in the third game of those series.
Kurt Heyer is the key. He’s the only Wildcat pitcher with the stats (8-1, 2.42 ERA) to match Oregon’s hurlers. Tonight should be a classic pitchers’ duel and you hope Arizona’s superior bats can be the difference. Two-out hitting with runners in scoring position will be big.
Big, big, big.
This is the type of series in the type of season you wait for as a fan. Quality players going head-to-head with big things on the line.
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