Oregon has turned their season around, minus a couple one run losses in a 4-game set with Wichita State last weekend. The overall sense of worry on the Duck program has dissipated after they reeled off eight straight wins, but have their first real test in a while as they fly to Tempe to take on Arizona State. Junior LHP Tyler Anderson has pitched well in his last few starts after picking up no decisions, and is shooting up draft boards with a 4-0 record, 1.02 ERA and 59 K’s over 44.1 innings pitched. I trust that a lot of Phoenix area scouts will be at Packard tonight to see what he can do against pro prospects. A dominant performance over the Sun Devils could put Anderson in Top 10 discussion. Stefan Sabol, who has been out since late February with a broken hand, could return this weekend for the Ducks. The always tough-at-home Sun Devils took 2 of 3 against rival Arizona this past weekend, and with catcher Austin Barnes and surprise DH Joey DiMichele powering the lineup, Oregon could be off to a rough start in Pac-10 play.
Prediction: Arizona State wins 2 out of 3
#27 Oregon State at #18 Arizona
The talk of the Pac-10 this year has been Sam Gaviglio, and his matchup Friday night with Kurt Heyer should be a fierce pitching duel. Gaviglio brings his 5-0 record and miniscule 0.39 ERA to Tucson to test the most potent lineup he has faced all season. Arizona leadoff man CF Joey Rickard has been an under the radar menace for the Wildcats posting a .477 batting average and 1.128 OPS. Couple that with Cole Frenzel dominating in the three hole and Steve Selsky returning to form, and Arizona could be primed to make a run. I’ll be shocked if Gaviglio can maintain his stellar numbers against the Wildcats.
Arizona wins 2 out of 3
#19 Stanford at Washington State
The Cougs have been struggling immensely after a 9-4 start, dropping six in a row on the road to Fresno State and Cal before picking up a 17-11 win in their return to campus on Tuesday. They host an up and down Stanford team that has had to play on the road most of the year, but it’s tested youth seems to be answering the bell. Freshman Brian Ragira hit for the cycle on Tuesday against Santa Clara. While their pitching staff misses Brett Mooneyham’s strikeouts, they’re still getting the job done with a 3.28 team ERA. Cougar Senior Chad Arnold is still recovering form a chip on his elbow, and looks to get his first win of the season this weekend. Washington State can do a heckuva lot to improve it’s chances to make the field of 64 with a series win here, I just don’t think that’s going to happen.
Stanford wins 2 out of 3
Washington at #20 UCLA
Washington was expecting to get ace Andrew Kitteredge back for Pac-10 play, but he will be out for the year with academic issues. This leaves the Huskies to rely on their youth as Sophomore Aaron West is still looking for his first win of the season after taking a loss in a complete game last week against Nevada. UCLA has a very favorable schedule to start Pac-10 play, as they took 2 of 3 at USC last week, and by all accounts look to sweep the Huskies this weekend.
Prediction: UCLA sweeps
USC at #21 Cal
Rick Oropesa finally got a couple notches in the homer column last weekend, with a blast off Gerrit Cole in Friday’s contest as well as going yard in a win against UCLA on Sunday. The Trojans travel up to Berkeley to face a bandsaw in a Cal program that is coming off a sweep of Wazzou and has won seven in a row, and is 9-1 at home and just provides a steady attack of an offense to go along with a pitching staff that has thrown shutouts in five out of the last seven games. USC is going to have it’s hands full up north, and I predict Cal to continue it’s dominance.
Prediction: Cal sweeps.