Arizona baseball: Wildcats to host Oregon State

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Jen Pimentel and Jen Pimentel | The Daily Wildcat Arizona catcher Cesar Salazar races toward second base during Arizona’s 11-5 victory over St. Mary’s on Sunday, March 6.

After dropping two out of three at USC last weekend, the Arizona Wildcats baseball team will return home for a pivotal three game set against the Oregon State Beavers this weekend at Hi Corbett Field.

The Wildcats won the opener last Thursday night against the Trojans, but dropped the next two to fall to 12-11 in Pac-12 Conference play and 28-16 overall. The series loss was the Wildcats’ first since they got swept by Utah at the beginning of April.

Despite falling to the Trojans, the Wildcats still come into this weekend bearing confidence as they were riding a six-game winning streak up until last Friday. The streak, which included a sweep of California and a shut out win over ASU, launched the Wildcats into the discussion of Pac-12 title contenders.

The Pac-12 is virtually wide open, with the last place team, Washington State, being within four wins of the first place Utah Utes with the rest of the conference in between. The Wildcats sit in fourth place despite being tied for the most wins in the conference.

Their 11 conference loses are what separates them from Utah, Washington and Oregon State at the top of the division.

If the season were to end today, the Pac-12 would most likely send four or five teams to the NCAA Tournament. With four weeks left in the regular season, it will be a dog fight to determine who will sit atop the Pac-12.

The always competitive Beavers are coming off a series win over Stanford in Corvallis, Oregon, in which they scored 14 runs in the finale to top the Cardinal and remain in third in the Pac-12.

The Beavers have relied on top-notch pitching to shut down opponents and propel themselves to the top of the Pac-12. However, the Beavers still showcase a strong pitching staff and are also getting it done at the plate this season.

OSU is first in the Pac-12 in batting average and slugging percentage while second in runs scored, on base percentage, and runs batted in coming into this weekend.

The Beavers trail only the Wildcats in the three categories mentioned above. In addition to explosive offenses, both teams aren’t throwing any slouches either. The Beavers currently are first in the Pac-12 in opposing batting average and third in runs allowed.

The Wildcats’ ace, Nathan Bannister, has taken home Pac-12 Conference Pitcher of the Week honors twice this year while midweek starter Kevin Ginkel is coming off a shutout victory over ASU last Tuesday. Ginkel’s performance earned him the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honor of his own.

With both teams bringing talented arms and dangerous lineups to the stage this weekend, it will be interesting to see which side will prevail.

First pitch on Friday is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Hi Corbett Field. All three games of the series will be televised on Pac-12 Networks.


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