Pac-12 at the Plate: Bouncing Back, Pushing Forward

Photo Courtesy: University of Arizona Athletics

Pac-12 baseball has entered the final month of the regular season. Here on, Pac-12 at the Plate is the place to keep up with how ASU and Arizona baseball are stacking up in the conference. This week No. 19 Arizona hosts Washington and ASU hosts No. 14 Stanford. Here’s what you need to know about last weekend’s conference series and what to watch for this weekend:

Wildcats Looking to Right Ship

After getting swept at No. 14 Stanford last weekend and against Utah at home the previous weekend, Arizona is looking to get back to their winning ways in conference play this weekend against Washington.

The Wildcats battled against the Cardinal all weekend, but defensive miscues and Stanford’s pitching were enough to slow them down.

Washington is heading to Tucson with a series win against Cal giving them momentum. The Huskies have had their ups and downs this season, but have managed to stay towards the top of the Pac.

Washington has a solid defense leading the country with the lowest number of errors at 23. The Huskies’ pitching staff is third in the Pac-12 with a 3.32 ERA. At the plate for Washington, keep an eye on catcher Joey Morgan. He has a .443 batting average in Pac-12 only play.

Wildcat first baseman JJ Matijevic still leads the Pac-12 in batting average at .395. Matijevic will look to keep his bat hot along with Jared Oliva and Alfonso Rivas. 

This series will be huge for Arizona who needs to improve their Pac-12 record to be in contention to host a regional.

ASU Pushing Forward

ASU put up a fight in Eugene against Oregon last weekend. After Ducks’ pitcher David Peterson retired 20 Sun Devils in nine innings pitched on Friday night, ASU got the win on Saturday to split the series going into Sunday.

On Sunday, the Sun Devils couldn’t keep the momentum going after freshman outfielder Hunter Bishop homered in the seventh to put ASU within one and fell 3-2 dropping the series to the Ducks.

This weekend the Sun Devils have a tough matchup against Stanford. The Cardinal are coming off a sweep of Arizona and head to Tempe with a nine-game win streak. 

Stanford’s pitching has been on and will be the biggest challenge for the Sun Devils. Last weekend against Arizona, senior pitcher Chris Castellanos recorded a career-high 12 strikeouts and sophomore Kris Bubic pitched a career-high seven innings, allowing only one earned run on eight hits with four strikeouts. Junior reliever Colton Hock has been a threat, with 12 saves on the season and 1.98 ERA in 36 1/3 innings pitched.

If ASU can get a win against Stanford, it’ll be a huge momentum shift for the Sun Devils as the regular season wraps up.

Around the Pac

UCLA @ USC: UCLA took game one on Thursday, 2-0. Junior ace Griffin Canning pitched a complete game with 10 strikeouts. UCLA has been solid in conference play, taking a series from Stanford and one of three from No. 1 Oregon State. For USC to avoid losing their fifth straight series, they’ll have to figure out a UCLA pitching staff that has been doing well.

Oregon @ Washington State: Oregon is coming off a series win against Arizona State, while Washington State is coming off a series win against Utah. Washington State took the series against Washington two weeks ago and after beating a Utah team that was coming off a sweep of Arizona, the Cougars are looking to keep that hype going by taking this series against Oregon.

Cal @ No. 1 Oregon State: The Golden Bears will look to be another California school that avoids the sweep against the Beavers. Both UCLA and USC have taken one of three against OSU. Oregon State remains the unanimous No. 1 across all the polls, and still has the best pitching in the country with a 1.89 ERA.