We get a bit of a break this weekend from Pac-10 play as four teams have a bye in the conference schedule that they will fill with non-conference opponents. There are only three Pac-10 series on the slate this weekend, but each includes one of the three teams battling it out for second place in the conference (with an outside shot at first place). Those three teams, UCLA, Washington St. and Oregon St., play teams they should take the series from, but if one can come up with a sweep they could get some breathing room for that coveted second place spot.
CAL BEARS (20-26, 5-15) @ UCLA BRUINS (23-22, 13-8)
Here’s a series of two teams going on opposite directions. UCLA has won 13 of their last 18 games and seven of their last nine conference games to move into second place in the Pac-10. On the flip side is Cal who has lost 16 of their 21 games played since April 1st to play themselves from in a regional to not even in the discussion. The Bruins have made their run on the back of strong pitching and suddenly adequate fielding. Fr. RHP Trevor Bauer moved from the closer’s role into the rotation and has sparkled with seven wins, two complete games (including one last weekend) and a team-best 2.53 ERA. Cal’s offense has gotten the job done and has done so with plenty of oomph. The Bears lead the Pac-10 with 60 home runs and are second in the league in runs, but their pitchers have a 6.06 ERA, nearly a half run worse than any other conference team. This looks like quite the mismatch with a hot team versus a cold team in the hot team’s backyard, but the Cal offense could salvage a win this weekend.
Friday 6:00 pm: RHP Erik Johnson, Fr. (3-5, 5.19) vs. RHP Gerrit Cole, Fr. (4-4, 3.64)
Saturday 2:00 pm: TBA vs. RHP Trevor Bauer, Fr. (7-3, 2.53)
Sunday 1:00 pm: TBA vs. RHP Charles Brewer, Jr. (3-4, 3.60)
PREDICTION: UCLA 2-1
#24 OREGON ST. BEAVERS (28-12, 11-7) @ WASHINGTON HUSKIES (21-23, 10-8)
Before Oregon St. and Washington conclude their series with a pair of games at Husky Stadium, the two teams will open their three-game set on Friday night at Safeco Field, home of the Seattle Mariners. OSU and UW last played at Safeco two years ago and attendance was over 10,000, which was then a Pac-10 record. These two teams come into the weekend with vastly different offenses. Washington is second in the Pac-10 in home runs, but eighth in runs, while Oregon St. is last in home runs, but fourth in runs scored. The Huskies have struggled to score because of their inability to make contact on a consistent basis, having struck out 403 times this season, 70 more than the next closest team. Oregon St. hit a rough patch with consecutive series losses to UCLA and USC, but they bounced back last week by handing Arizona St. their first weekend series loss of the season and they’ll bring that momentum with them to Seattle this weekend. The Beavers’ starting pitching is in a state of flux though and head coach Pat Casey had been coy for most of the week as to who would start because of the starting staff’s struggles, although odds are it will be Jr. RHP Jorge Reyes and So. RHP Greg Peavey. Only 0.5 games out of second place, the Beavers have a lot on the line this weekend
Friday 6:30 pm: LHP Tanner Robles, So. (0-1, 4.50) vs. RHP Jorden Merry, Sr. (1-1, 6.35)
Saturday 2:00 pm: TBA vs. RHP Jason Erickson, Sr. (3-4, 4.53)
Sunday 1:00 pm: TBA vs. RHP Andrew Kittredge, Fr. (3-3, 2.98)
PREDICTION: Oregon St. 2-1
OREGON DUCKS (14-31, 4-14) @ WASHINGTON ST. COUGARS (22-20, 11-7)
Washington St.’s series win at USC two weeks ago moved them comfortably into the regional field, but last week’s series loss to Stanford at home has them back on the bubble and in need of a series win this weekend when they take on lowly Oregon. The Ducks have been awful of late, losing 16 of their last 18, but it hasn’t been because of their pitching. Led by Jr. RHP Erik Stavert and his 2.48 ERA, the Oregon staff has been respectable all year, but their offense ranks in the bottom 10 in the country in runs. The Cougars don’t do anything exceptionally, but they are solid in all aspects of the game, ranking either fifth or sixth in the Pac-10 in every major category. Wazzu has been oustanding at home this season, having won 14 of their 19 games at Bailey-Brayton Field. With a defense that shouldn’t give away any free runs, the Cougars should hold the Oregon offense down and work the Ducks’ starters enough to prey upon Oregon’s weak bullpen.
Saturday 7:00 pm: RHP Erik Stavert, Jr. (5-3, 2.48) vs. LHP Matt Way, Sr. (6-4, 2.04)
Sunday 2:00 pm: LHP Tyler Anderson, Fr. (2-6, 5.43) vs. RHP Chad Arnold, So. (5-2, 5.10)
Monday 12:00 pm: RHP Madison Boer, Fr. (1-6, 5.16) vs. LHP David Stilley, Fr. (2-1, 3.10)
PREDICTION: Washington St. Sweep
OUT OF CONFERENCE SERIES
Winthrop Eagles vs. #5 Arizona St. Sun Devils (Friday 6:30 pm, Saturday 6:30 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm)
New Mexico Lobos vs. Stanford Cardinal (Friday 5:30 pm, Saturday 1:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm)
USC Trojans vs. Cal St. Northridge Matadors (Saturday 1:00 pm, Sunday 1:00 pm)
Loyola Marymount Lions vs. Arizona Wildcats (Saturday 7:00 pm, Sunday 7:00 pm, Monday 6:00 pm)