This Week on TV: Pac-12 Baseball
Washington State at No. 3 Oregon State (Friday at 4 p.m. PT, Saturday at 1 p.m. PT, Sunday at noon PT) Pac-12 Networks The Pac-12 title is there for the taking for Oregon State (43-9, 22-5 Pac-12). The Beavers can clinch the deal outright as soon as Saturday, depending on whether or not second-place Oregon and UCLA -- tied two games outside of first place -- stumble against Utah and Stanford, respectively. Pitching has led Pat Casey's club to this promised land. The Beavers' 2.02 team ERA borders on absurd and bodes extremely well for their College World Series chances, especially considering the fact that at least one road to Omaha will likely lead through Corvallis. Washington State (22-30, 8-10 Pac-12) started the season off well, but it's become a forgettable season in Pullman. The Cougars' defense, which has accounted for a conference-high 82 errors, has failed them this season. Donnie Marbut's squad must pick it cleanly this weekend to avoid witnessing an Oregon State coronation firsthand.
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No. 11 UCLA at Stanford (Friday at 7 p.m. PT, Saturday at 7 p.m. PT, Sunday at 3 p.m. PT) Pac-12 Networks The Bruins (38-15, 20-7 Pac-12) epitomize the new BBCOR bat formula for success in college baseball. Although their .253 team batting average is tied for the league worst, superb pitching (2.73 ERA) and conference-leading defense (.980 fielding percentage) has this team contending for the Pac-12 championship on the regular season's final weekend. With a national seed not yet out of the question, UCLA will be hungry entering a road set against a desperate Stanford team. The Cardinal (30-21, 14-13 Pac-12) have won four straight after dropping six devastating games in a row, but it may be a classic case of too little, too late for a talented team on the Farm that has experienced a turbulent 2013 season. Friday's televised game may well be the last time fans get to see flamethrower Mark Appel in a Stanford uniform. He tied the Cardinal's career strikeout record last week, so his first punchout versus UCLA will break the mark (363) that he currently shares with ESPN analyst Kyle Peterson and Justin Wayne. No. 19 Arizona State at Washington (Saturday at 4 p.m. PT, Sunday at noon PT) Pac-12 Networks While Stanford will desperately be trying to sweep UCLA to vault ahead of Arizona State in the Pac-12 standings (necessary to potentially impress the NCAA Tournament selection committee), the Sun Devils look to cling to that fourth place spot. A return to the postseason seems safe for the Fork given at least one win here, but they'll be playing for valuable positioning against a Washington team that is coming on nicely after an ice cold start. The Huskies (22-31, 13-14 Pac-12) have a chance to finish over .500 in conference at home against an Arizona State team that has pounded a league-best 43 home runs on the season.
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USC at Arizona (Sunday at noon PT) Pac-12 Networks The defending national champion Wildcats (31-21, 12-15 Pac-12) have a very slim shot of returning to the postseason, but they'll certainly need a sweep of a disappointing USC club (20-33, 10-17 Pac-12) at Hi Corbett Field to make their case. Arizona, which again boasts the Pac-12's most productive offense (.300 team average, 93 steals, 6.5 runs per game), has just struggled on the mound this season. Andy Lopez has seen his pitching staff post a 4.52 ERA, which is the third worst figure in the conference. It's do-or-die time in the desert for the boys who stole Tucson's heart last summer. 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.