Arizona baseball will look to capture its third consecutive Pac-12 Conference series win when it travels to Los Angeles for a three-game series against USC this Thursday through Saturday.
Probable Starting Pitchers: – Thursday, 7 p.m.
ARIZ: James Farris, RHP, Sr. (4-4, 4.59) USC: Wyatt Strahan, RHP, Jr. (2-3, 4.25) – Friday, 7 p.m.
ARIZ: Cody Hamlin, RHP, RSo. (5-2, 2.14) USC: TBA* – Saturday, 7 p.m.
ARIZ: Tyger Talley, RHP, So. (1-0, 4.73) USC: TBA*
P*ossible starters for USC:
Bob Wheatley, LHP, Sr. (2-3, 4.54)
Brent Wheatley, RHP, So. (3-1, 2.79)
The Wildcats (17-20, 6-9 Pac-12), who are fresh off of a series victory against then-No. 22 UCLA, have shown more offensive prowess and solidification on the mound this month as opposed to last.
Over the first seven contests in March, Arizona held a 2-5 record. The Wildcats finished the month dropping nine of 15 games played.
Arizona’s progress has been evident, and the Wildcats have posted a 5-2 record over their first seven games this month. A sweep of the Trojans would push the UA to .500 on the year.
While Arizona’s performance has improved in April, USC’s (17-17, 6-9) has faltered. Regardless of the series victory the Trojans captured over Utah last weekend, they have lost seven of their last 11 games.
While USC leads the all-time series 113-107-1, Arizona has taken nine of the last 11 contests between the two.
The Wildcats’ league-leading offense has recently been piecing together timely hits after struggling to execute with runners in scoring position earlier in the season. Sophomore outfielders Zach Gibbons and Scott Kingery have led the UA’s offensive attack. The two have compiled 53 hits each this year — a three-way tie for the most in the league, with fellow Wildcat teammate Trent Gilbert representing the other player with 53 hits.
Last weekend, Gibbons gave the Bruins hell and combined to hit 6-for-11 (.545) with three RBIs in the three-game series. Gibbons leads the team with a .426/.481/.492 conference line and has hit .393 in April.
Kingery, who leads the team with a .390 batting average, ranks third among regular Pac-12 starters in individual batting and has amassed 15 extra-base-hits this season. He’s been explosive this month at the plate and is hitting 11-for-25 (.440); Kingery bruised a bone in his foot while running to first base in the fourth inning of Arizona’s 6-5 triumph over UCLA last Sunday.
While Arizona’s offense seems dominant compared to USC’s, the Trojans may have the upper hand when it comes to pitching. Arizona’s rotation is ranked last in the Pac-12 with an earned run average of 4.93. USC is in possession of a 3.77 ERA. The Trojans have allowed 47 fewer earned runs and 37 fewer hits than Arizona while playing only three fewer games.
However, recently UA pitchers have settled down and limited opponents to a .225 average with runners in scoring position over the last six games.
—Follow Evan Rosenfeld @EvanRosenfeld17