By: Ryan Rosenblatt
As we head into week five of the Pac 10 season, it’s becoming increasingly clear that the conference is in the midst of a major down year. We knew the conference would take a step back, but it’s gone to an extreme this year and right now it looks like only two teams, Arizona St. and Oregon St., will make a regional. There are a few teams trying to salvage what’s left of their season and make a late run for that third place conference finish and possible regional spot that could go with it. Those clubs are Washington St., Stanford and USC and each one of them dearly needs to pick up a series win this weekend.
STANFORD CARDINAL (14-13, 7-5) @ #4 ARIZONA ST. SUN DEVILS (25-8, 10-2)
Arizona St. has separated themselves from the rest of the pack in the conference and are on track to pick up their third consecutive Pac 10 title. Meanwhile, Stanford has won eight of their last ten to play themselves back into regional contention after a disastrous start. The Cardinal currently sit tied for third in the conference, three games behind the Sun Devils. Can the Stanford offense plate enough runs against ASU’s star pitchers Mike Leake and Josh Spence to match the Sun Devil bats? It’s doubtful, but that’s why they play the games and you can bet Stanford will play with some fire knowing what a series win over the Sun Devils would do for their resume.
Friday 6:30 pm RHP Jeffrey Inman, Jr. (1-4, 4.79) vs. RHP Mike Leake, Jr. (8-1, 1.53)
Saturday 6:30 pm RHP Jordan Pries, Fr. (3-0, 4.11) vs. LHP Josh Spence, Jr. (7-0, 1.01)
Sunday 1:00 pm LHP Brett Moneyham, Fr. (3-1, 3.94) vs. RHP Seth Blair, So. (3-1, 2.77)
PREDICTION: Arizona St. 3-0
USC TROJANS (17-16, 7-5) @ #14 OREGON ST. BEAVERS (22-7, 7-2)
Here we are in yet another match-up between an upper echelon Pac 10 team and a team trying to play themselves back into regional contention. The Trojans had to reel off six consecutive wins to get back into the discussion, although they did lose a pair of midweek games against Fullerton and Pepperdine since. The USC rotation has gone to a new level of late, led by ace Brad Boxberger and their lineup has found ways to score even without much power. Oregon St. isn’t exceptional in any phase of the game, but they are solid all around and 14 wins in their last 16 prove it. In Corvallis, OR, the Beavers will be the favorites, but each game figures to be close.
Friday 5:00 pm RHP Brad Boxberger, Jr. (2-3, 2.60) vs. RHP Tyler Waldron, So. (3-1, 4.76)
Saturday 2:00 pm RHP Andrew Triggs, Fr. (3-1, 4.29) vs. RHP Greg Peavey, So. (3-2, 4.23)
Sunday 12:00 pm RHP Robert Stock, Jr. (3-1, 2.41) vs. RHP Jorge Reyes, Jr. (5-1, 3.43)
PREDICTION: Oregon St. 2-1
ARIZONA WILDCATS (16-16, 3-9) @ WASHINGTON ST. COUGARS (15-16, 5-4)
In a series between programs in unfamiliar territory, Arizona is all but out of the running to make their third consecutive regional, while Washington St. is on the bubble despite having not made the postseason in the Super Regional era. Washington St. is currently fifth in the Pac 10, but only trail the two third place teams by a half a game. They are led by pitcher Matt Way and an offense whose numbers aren’t spectacular, but puts the ball in play and pressures defenses. Arizona’s 3-9 record is a pretty good indicator of their recent play, but they do have a potent offense that bats .317 as a team.
Friday 5:30 pm RHP Preston Guilmet, Sr. (2-3, 3.78) vs. LHP Matt Way, Sr. (4-3, 2.41)
Saturday 2:00 pm RHP Joe Allison, So. (2-0, 2.60) vs. RHP Chad Arnold, So. (3-2, 5.68)
Sunday 12:00 pm RHP Kyle Simon, Fr. (2-3, 6.63) vs. TBA
PREDICITION: Washington St. 2-1
WASHINGTON HUSKIES (14-19, 4-5) @ UCLA BRUINS (14-19, 6-6)
While there were some differing opinions on UCLA prior to the year, few would have predicted that they would essentially be out of the regional race this early in the season, but that’s the case. Washington was seen by some as a dark horse in the conference this year, but it hasn’t panned out due to sub-par hitting that hasn’t masked their deficiencies on the mound. This series will come down to Washington’s ability to hit the Bruins’ young pitchers and UCLA’s ability to keep from shooting themselves in the foot. Neither seems likely.
Friday 6:00 pm RHP Aaron West, Fr. (1-0, 6.00) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole, Fr. (2-3, 4.15)
Saturday 2:00 pm RHP Jason Erickson, Sr. (1-3, 5.88) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer, Fr. (5-3, 3.10)
Sunday 1:00 pm RHP Andrew Kittredge, Fr. (1-2, 3.03) vs. RHP Charles Brewer, Jr. (1-4, 4.22)
PREDICTION: UCLA 2-1
OREGON DUCKS (12-21, 2-7) @ CAL BEARS (7-16, 3-9)
First year program Oregon expected to be in this position at this point in the season, but Cal surely didn’t. The Bears got off to a good start in the non-conference against some quality teams an appeared destined for the Pac 10’s third regional berth, but an eight game losing streak to begin the month of April dashed those hopes. Cal relies heavily on their offense, partly because it’s the third best in the Pac 10 and partly because their pitching is near the bottom. Oregon has had surprisingly strong pitching, but their offense ranks last in the Pac 10 with a .232 batting average. The Ducks have been horrid on the road, amassing a 3-9 record so this series between two of the Pac 10’s worst has to favor the home team.
Friday 2:30 pm LHP Tyler Anderson, Fr. (2-3, 3.16) vs. RHP Erik Johnson, Fr. (2-3, 5.28)
Saturday 1:00 pm RHP Erik Stavert ,Jr. (3-2, 3.16) vs. LHP Chris Petrini, Jr. (1-2, 4.58)
Sunday 1:00 pm RHP Alex Keudell, Fr. (0-2, 3.86) vs. RHP Kevin Miller, So. (1-2, 4.06)
PREDICTION: Cal 3-0