Might we have an actual battle for the Pac-10 crown? Well, Arizona St. still has a two-game lead in the conference race, but that’s the smallest lead they’ve had in weeks and second-place Washington St. is playing good ball. While those two do battle atop the conference, Oregon St. has seemingly wrapped up a regional bid, UCLA suffered a debilitating series loss to Cal last weekend and quietly Stanford has themselves back in the hunt for a regional berth. All of those teams are in action this weekend as eight teams playing in four Pac-10 series, while Cal takes the weekend off and UCLA plays three with #4 Cal St. Fullerton.
WASHINGTON ST. COUGARS (26-21, 14-7) @ #26 OREGON ST. BEAVERS (30-14, 12-9)
Washington St. can wrap up their regional bid this weekend with a series win, but you can bet their eyes are on Arizona St. and the conference title. Behind the stellar work of their ace, LHP Matt Way, and their closer, RHP Jeremy Johnson, the Cougs are experiencing success unlike anything they have in well over a decade, but success has become the norm for Oregon St. The Beavers are in a state of flux though. They had lost consecutive series, but then took two of three from a Josh Specne-less Arizona St. squad. Just when all seemed good again, OSU went to Washingon and lost the final two games of the series. Now, the Beavers are just looking for some form of consistency from a starting rotation that has taken a turn for the worse of late. Oregon St. is back at home though, where they are 15-3 this year.
Friday 5:00 pm: LHP Matt Way, Sr. (7-4, 2.16) vs. LHP Tanner Robles, So. (1-1, 3.42)
Saturday 2:00 pm: RHP Chad Arnold, So (6-2, 4.82) vs. RHP Greg Peavey, So (3-3, 5.30)
Sunday 1:00 pm: LHP David Stilley, Fr. (3-1, 3.09) vs. RHP Jorge Reyes, Jr. (5-2, 3.80)
PREDICTION: Oregon St., 2-1
STANFORD CARDINAL (27-21, 10-11) @ USC TROJANS (24-25, 10-11)
Left for dead, Stanford has bounced back and has snuck their way back into regional contention. There is still work to be done for the Cardinal, but nine wins in their last 12 games and a pair of series on tap that provides them an opportunity for a RPI jump that could net them a regional berth. The first of those series is in Los Angeles against a USC team in a free fall. USC has lost their last seven weekend games and as a result, the seat is getting awfully hot for their embattled head coach, Chad Kreuter. The Trojans continue to get pretty good outings from their starters, but their bats have gone quiet. That will have to change this weekend because the Stanford offense has caught fire in the last month and USC will have to score runs to stay in the ballgames.
Friday 6:30 pm: RHP Jordan Pries, Fr. (3-3, 4.28) vs. RHP Brad Boxberger, Jr. (4-3, 2.96)
Saturday 6:30 pm: LHP Brett Mooneyham Fr. (5-2, 5.16) vs. TBA
Sunday 1:00 pm: TBA vs. TBA
PREDICTION: Stanford, 2-1
OREGON DUCKS (14-34, 4-17) @ #3 ARIZONA ST. SUN DEVILS (38-11, 16-5)
First place vs. last place on the home field of the first place team. A team that is 8-2 in their last 10 vs. a team that is 1-9 in their last 10. Oregon battled valiantly early in the season, but the the Ducks have felt the pains of being a first-year program ever since conference play began. This series is a blow out waiting to happen and won’t be in most interesting to watch, but there is one MAJOR thing to keep an eye on. That will be the performance Arizona St. gets out of RHP Jason Franzblau. With Josh Spence likely out for the season, the Sun Devils’ will need Franzblau to pitch well if they want to retain hopes of being the last team standing at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Friday 6:30 pm: RHP Erik Stavert, Jr. (5-4, 2.46) @ RHP Mike Leake, Sr. (12-1, 1.47)
Saturday 6:30 pm: LHP Tyler Anderson, Fr. (2-7, 5.47) @ TBA
Sunday 1:00 pm: TBA vs. TBA
PREDICTION: Arizona St. sweep
WASHINGTON HUSKIES (24-25, 12-9) @ ARIZONA WILDCATS (25-23, 8-13)
Both Washington and Arizona got off to awful starts this year, but have been playing excellent ball of late. Washington is up to fifth in the Pac-10, having won eight of their last nine Pac-10 games, while Arizona has captured eight of their last nine weekend games. The Huskies pitching has taken a major step forward, especially in the bullpen, where they’ve been able to hold leads for a change. Arizona is an extremely young team that is starting to mature and as a result, they haven’t made the mistake that caused them to lose games early in the year despite their outstanding offense.
Saturday 7:00 pm: RHP Jason Erickson, Sr. (4-4, 4.91) vs. RHP Preston Guilmet, Sr. (5-4, 3.46)
Sunday 6:00 pm: TBA vs. RHP Kyle Simon, Fr. (3-5, 6.03)
Monday 12:00 pm: TBA vs. TBA
PREDICTION: Washington, 2-1
OUT OF CONFERENCE SERIES
UCLA Bruins vs. #4 Cal St. Fullerton Titans (Friday 7:00 pm @ Fullerton, Saturday 6:00 pm @ UCLA, Sunday 1:00 pm @ UCLA)