By: Ryan Rosenblatt
It’s week six of the Pac 10 season and all eyes are on Los Angeles where a pair of series will have a major impact on both the Pac 10 standings and the regional prospects of some conference teams. Washington St. visits LA and Dedeaux Field where they will take on a USC team in a series that could determine which team makes a regional. Both teams are either one of the last five in or last five out in just about every regional projection and with the Pac 10 looking ever more like a three bid league, this weekend’s series could determine which club gets that berth. On the other side of town, #25 Oregon St. visits UCLA for three games at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Oregon St.’s series loss last weekend allowed Washington St. to move into a tie for second place with the Beavers, while UCLA’s sweep of Washington has them tied for fourth with USC. Elsewhere, Stanford will visit Arizona in a match-up of struggling teams, Call will look to slow down streaking #3 Arizona St. at home and Washington will head to Oregon.
WASHINGTON ST. COUGARS (19-17, 8-4) @ USC TROJANS (20-17, 9-6)
As described above, this series is of massive importance for both clubs as they look to claw their way into a regional. While it’s conceivable that the loser of the series could overtake the other later in the year or play well enough to make the Pac 10 a four bid league, the winner of this series will certainly be in the driver’s seat for postseason play. USC is in the midst of a stretch that has them playing 12 of 16 on the road and this series presents their only opportunity in this stretch to play a weekend at home. The series opener will pit two of the conference’s best pitchers against each other as WSU’s Matt Way takes on USC’s Brad Boxberger. The Trojans appear to have the pitching advantage on both Saturday and Sunday, but they also lead the Pac 10 in errors by a wide margin so you’re never quite sure when SC will shoot themselves in the foot. The Cougars can count on a couple runs this weekend because of shoddy USC defense, but if they want to win this series, they will likely need Way to deliver them a win on Friday night. In the end, these are two pretty evenly matched teams, making home field the difference.
Friday 6:30 pm LHP Matt Way, Sr., (5-3, 2.22) vs. RHP Brad Boxberger, Jr. (3-3, 2.73)
Saturday 2:00 pm RHP Chad Arnold, So. (4-2, 5.52) vs. RHP Andrew Triggs, Fr. (4-1, 3.96)
Sunday 12:00 pm LHP David Stilley, Fr. (1-0, 3.14) vs. RHP Robert Stock, Jr. (3-1, 2.14)
PREDICTION: Southern Cal 2-1
#25 OREGON ST. BEAVERS (23-9, 8-4) @ UCLA BRUINS (17-20, 9-6)
One team, Oregon St., is looking to bounce back and insure a #2 seed in their regional, while the other, UCLA, is trying to forget the early part of the year and rise from the ashes to a regional Oregon St. had been extremely hot, winning 14 of 16 before dropping their series to USC at home last weekend. After playing much of their first half on the road, UCLA returned home last weekend for a lengthy stretch and began in fine fashion with a sweep of Washington. Likely needing 30 wins to just get in the regional picture, the Bruins will need a series win this weekend at home. Oregon St. has the fewest home runs in the Pac 10 with only 12 in 32 games this season, but they’re fourth in runs because they have the most walks and fewest strikeouts in the conference. Tyler Waldron has been shaky on Fridays for the Beavers, but he, along with the rest of the OSU pitchers are backed by the Pac 10’s best defense. The two UCLA freshman who start on Friday and Saturday were sensational last weekend, throwing a combined 17 innings, striking out 22, allowing only one hit each and no earned runs. They’ll each need another strong performance this weekend to compensate for a UCLA offense that’s mediocre at best with their best hitter, Casey Haerther, still battling a broken toe. This is the type of series that Pat Casey’s teams tend to win, even if it’s not in the prettiest of fashions.
Friday 6:00 pm RHP Tyler Waldron, So. (3-2, 4.81) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole, Fr. (3-3, 3.51)
Saturday 2:00 pm RHP Greg Peavey, So. (3-2, 3.94) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer, Fr. (6-3, 2.64)
Sunday 1:00 pm RHP Jorge Reyes, Jr. (5-1, 3.68) vs. RHP Charles Brewer (1-4, 3.86)
PREDICTION: Oregon St. 2-1
#3 ARIZONA ST. SUN DEVILS (29-8, 13-2) @ CAL BEARS (18-20, 5-10)
While it’s not mathematically a done deal, I think it’s pretty safe to declare Arizona St. the 2009 Pac 10 Champions, their third consecutive title. The Sun Devils have a 3.5 game lead over the second place teams, Oregon St. and Washington St., and they don’t have an overly challenging finish. Right now, Arizona St. is focused on trying to secure a national seed for the postseason. Cal is a team wondering what happened to their season. They began strong and looked on track to qualify for a regional for the second consecutive season, but they’ve had a horrible go of it in April and are just playing out their schedule at this point. The Bears do have the Pac 10’s second best offense, but it will be tested this weekend against the fantastic one-two punch of Mike Leake and Josh Spence. Meanwhile, Cal will have to throw their second to last pitching staff against a good Arizona St. offense, but at least it won’t be in the jet stream of Packard Field in Tempe, AZ. Cal was able to pick up their first series win in a month last weekend, but that was against lowly Oregon. The Bears just aren’t good enough to hang with the surging Sun Devils.
Friday 2:30 pm RHP Mike Leake, Jr. (9-1, 1.61) vs. RHP Erik Johnson, Fr. (3-3. 4.42)
Saturday 1:00 pm LHP Josh Spence, Jr., (8-0, 1.56) vs. LHP Chris Petrini, Jr. (1-3, 4.81)
Sunday 1:00 pm RHP Seth Blair, So. (4-1, 2.56) vs. RHP Kevin Miller, So. (2-2, 3.63)
PREDICTION: Arizona St. 3-0
ARIZONA WILDCATS (17-19, 3-12) @ STANFORD CARDINAL (17-16, 7-8)
It will be a less than compelling series in Palo Alto, CA this weekend as both teams are playing for nothing more than pride at this point. Arizona’s disastrous Pac 10 play has had them out of regional contention for some time, while Stanford needed to make a statement with a series win over Arizona St. last weekend, but were instead swept. The Cardinal struggled to put runs up on the board early in the season, but their bats have come around in the last month and they were able to score six against Josh Spence last weekend. They’ve also seem some strides taken by their two freshman pitcher, Jordan Pries and Brett Mooneyham, but both are a year away from being able to dominate a game. Arizona’s offense is still the best in the Pac 10, but their pitching ranks last in the conference and their fielding percentage is only one spot away from the bottom. Stanford isn’t a bad team, just not a very good one. Luckily for them, Arizona is a very bad team right now and the series is being played in California.
Friday 5:00 pm RHP Preston Guilmet, Sr. (2-4. 2.93) vs. RHP Jordan Pries, Fr. (3-0, 3.43)
Saturday 1:00 pm RHP Kyle Simon, Fr. (2-3, 6.07) vs. LHP Brett Mooneyham, Fr. (3-2, 4.58)
Sunday 1:00 pm RHP Daniel Workman, So. (1-1, 2.08) vs. RHP Jeffrey Inman, Jr. (1-5, 6.12)
PREDICTION: Stanford 2-1
WASHINGTON HUSKIES (15-22, 4-8) @ OREGON DUCKS (13-25, 3-9)
If there wasn’t some sort of rivalry between these two schools that is traced back to every other sport the two compete in this would be a series to miss. As is, it’s possible that the distaste for each other that both schools have could make this a watchable series. That’s the only thing that could save this series though because both teams are bad that have been playing poor ball. Washington was swept at UCLA last weekend and Oregon has lost 10 of their last 11. This series won’t see many players cross home plate as they rank #9 (Washington) and #10 (Oregon) respectively in Pac 10 offense. Oregon’s pitching staff has been solid though and has been in the top half of the conference for much of the season. Combined with the home field advantage, Oregon’s pitching staff should give them a slight advantage in what very likely will be a forgettable series.
Friday 3:00 pm RHP Aaron West, Fr. (1-0, 5.64) vs. LHP Tyler Anderson, Fr. (2-4, 4.85)
Saturday 1:00 pm RHP Jason Erickson, Sr. (1-4, 6.52) vs. RHP Erik Stavert, Jr. (4-2, 3.03)
Sunday 1:00 pm RHP Andrew Kittredge, Fr. (1-3, 3.43) vs. RHP Alex Keudell, Fr. (0-3, 4.21)
PREDICTION: Oregon 2-1