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Pac-12 Weekend Preview

Arizona @ Oregon State

Last weekend:

-Arizona took 2/3 from Washington State

-Oregon State swept Cal making them the only Pac-12 team to sweep its conference opener

This week’s match-up:

Oregon State is really starting to come together as a team, generating reminders of the strength of Oregon State’s ball club during the program’s back-to-back College World Series titles in ’06 and ’07. That’s not to say that this Oregon State team is necessarily at a CWS level yet, but they are definitely a team worth keeping on your radar. This weekend will serve as a good test to see just how strong of a team the Beavers have at this point in time as they host the Wildcats. Arizona is undoubtedly one of the strongest ball clubs in the country right now, but they struggled early in the series last weekend against Washington State. However, the Wildcats did adapt quickly to their struggles to bounce back from a loss in the series opener and an early 5-0 deficit in game two to take the series. Both the Beavers and the Wildcats have been batting extremely well. It will be interesting to see how both pitching staffs approach players that have been having great success at the plate including Arizona’s Robert Refsnyder and Oregon State’s Michael Conforto.

 Cal @ Arizona State

Last weekend:

-Cal was swept by Oregon State at home

-Arizona lost the rubber match at UCLA to drop the series 1-2

This week’s match-up:

The Golden Bears haven’t begun conference play on a good note, but it’s important to remember that last year Cal was the Pac-12’s lone representative in Omaha with a very similar roster to that of this season. However, the Golden Bears are on the road this week as they travel to take on Arizona State, who is coming off of a very strong series at UCLA despite dropping the series 1-2. The important thing to take out of the UCLA/ASU series is how both ASU and UCLA were extremely competitive in every game. That is just a preview of how competitive of a conference the Pac-12 is this season. Arizona State still has some options that they have been working with in their pitching staff. Once the starting pitching rotation starts to become more concrete, the Sun Devil bullpen will also become more consistent. Both Cal and ASU are strong programs this season, however with ASU hosting, the Sun Devils may have an edge on the Golden Bears this series.

Utah @ Oregon

Last weekend:

-Utah won their Pac-12 debut at USC taking two out of three games

-Oregon dropped its conference opener at Washington winning one of three games

This week’s match-up:

Utah winning their conference opener came as a bit of a surprise to the Pac-12 as the Utes were the only team to enter Pac-12 play with a record below .500. Utah now enters this weekend’s matchup with a better conference record than the Ducks who dropped their conference opener at Washington last weekend 1-2. The Utes have had trouble at the plate this season with a team batting averaging of only .230. That doesn’t mix well with a Ducks pitching staff that has a combined ERA of 2.72. Fortunately for the Utes, the Ducks’ hitting has cooled off in conference play with the team batting only .159 at Washington last weekend. The Utes pulled off the road win last week, but will Oregon get back in sync as they play host at PK Park this weekend? The matchup is intriguing to say the least with it all coming down to which team executes better. If Oregon plays the kind of baseball that they began the year with, they should rise above the Utes. However, if Utah can prolong the Ducks’ recent troubles at the plate, the Utes may be able to take their second Pac-12 series in a row.

 USC @ Stanford

Last weekend:

-USC lost their series against Pac-12 newcomer, Utah, winning one of three games

-Stanford did not play last week

This week’s match-up:

With USC dropping their series to Utah last week at home and Stanford being one of the most-hyped teams in the nation, the obvious pick for the series favorite would be Stanford. However, USC isn’t a team to look past. Despite their struggles last weekend, the Trojans have held their own against some of the top teams in the country including a sweep over Jacksonville and wins over North Carolina (may it be noted that they did lose the series at Carolina though) and Cal State Fullerton. Stanford has definitely lived up to their hype winning series over Vanderbilt, Texas, and Rice with only two losses on the season so far, holding opponents to a .198 batting average. Stanford also should enter the weekend well rested due to the fact that they haven’t played for nearly two weeks. Although USC shouldn’t be ruled out before play begins, it’s hard to see them winning the series over Stanford, however it wouldn’t come as a complete surprise if they didn’t get swept.

Washington State @ UCLA

Last weekend:

-Washington State won game one at Arizona but dropped the series as Arizona won the last two games

-UCLA won their rubber match of their Pac-12 opener as they hosted Arizona State, taking the series 2-1

This week’s match-up:

Both UCLA and Washington State are coming off of very competitive weekends. Washington State upset Arizona in game one of the series and nearly came out ahead in game two before eventually dropping the series to the Wildcats. Things went the other direction for UCLA who won game one on a walk-off homerun, dropped game two, and won the rubber match to take the series against ASU. The Cougars are an interesting matchup for the Bruins, but one thing that UCLA has working for them is that they are a strong team at home and they have been playing outstanding baseball. Before falling to ASU in game two of last week’s series, the Bruins were on a twelve-game winning streak. The question of pitching that hung over this ball club at the beginning of the season has been tossed out the window and UCLA is definitely hot at the moment. Washington State does show strength at the plate, however, which may pose some problems for the UCLA pitching staff. Derek Jones, Taylor Ard, Tommy Richards and Ian Sagdal will all be tough at-bats in the Cougars line-up.

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