This Week on TV: Pac-12 Baseball
Arizona State at Cal: Saturday, 7 p.m., Pac-12 Networks; Sunday, 12 p.m, Pac-12 Arizona/Pac-12 Bay Area Arizona State (30-14-1, 12-9 Pac-12) cannot afford to be deflated by last weekend's home series loss to Stanford. The Sun Devils entered that set maintaining a shot to win the conference title, but those hopes are now a long shot. Instead, the Forks' focus must turn to ensuring a good NCAA tournament seeding in their first year back from postseason probation. Cal (21-26, 9-15) is the opponent. The Bears have won only two Pac-12 series, and they sport below-average offense (4.5 runs/game) and pitching (4.50 ERA). Those mound struggles aren't good news considering the Sun Devils' 34 home runs and .453 team slugging percentage, which both lead the Pac-12. This is a made-for-TV match-up that may feature the long ball. It's also Arizona State's final tune-up before a critical five-game home stand that features visits from Texas Tech, BYU and in-state rival Arizona, so Tim Esmay's club is trying to peak at just the right time. You can be sure that last weekend's hard-fought setback will have his Sun Devils swinging hard. Speaking of powerful offense, don't miss Cal catcher Andrew Knapp in this series. He's quietly putting together a fine campaign: .352, 7 HR, 38 RBI. That .972 OPS certainly is helping his draft stock. Utah at Washington: Saturday, 12 p.m., Pac-12 Networks; Sunday, 12 p.m., Pac-12 Mountain/Pac-12 Washington Neither of these teams will make the postseason, but this is a battle to stay out of the Pac-12 cellar, and that always has the potential to provide some spirited play. Utah (16-26, 5-19) has only six conference games remaining to do the trick, while Washington (17-29, 8-13) can theoretically still finish in the middle of the pack given a hot final stretch. Both of these ball clubs have proven dangerous this season: the Utes won a series at Stanford early in the year, while the Huskies took two of three from Pac-12 juggernaut Oregon State at home. Washington, in fact, has somewhat improved as the season has progressed. After slogging their way to a collective .244 batting average throughout non-conference play, the Huskies have hit at a .283 clip against the Pac-12 schedule. But although that second number is good for fourth in the league, it hasn't translated to the figure that matters: Lindsay Meggs' club is still dead last in run production. The Huskies are decent on the mound, though (3.78 ERA), and that doesn't bode well for Utah's anemic attack. The Utes, last in most conference offense categories, have managed to hit only 10 sacrifice flies on the season. David Lombardi has covered Pac-12 baseball since 2007. He’s a play-by-play voice and on-air reporter in the San Francisco Bay Area. He’s on Twitter @DavidMLombardi.