"These guys look like they are pretty good; what do you think we should throw to them?" - Oregon St. will face a significant upgrade in competition when they square off against Arizona this weekend to start the Pac-12 season. - (OSU Facebook Picture)
#3 Oregon St. (16-1) at #20 Arizona (15-5) / 6 PM MST (6 PM PDT) / Hi Corbett Field, Tucson, AZ / KEJO 1240 AM & KPOJ 620 AM
Oregon St. and Arizona open their Pac-12 campaigns tonight, with the first of 3 games against each other at Hi Corbett Field in Tucson, where the 'Cats have played 16 of their first 18 games, winning 14 of them.
Both teams are legitimately looking at both a Pac-12 Conference Championship and a deep run in the NCAA Tournament, and this game will represent by a big measure the toughest test yet for both.
It's also the second most significant weekend series in the country, behind only the SEC showdown between #7 LSU and #13 Mississippi St.
The Beavers saw their 14 game win streak snapped in the opener of a 2 game series by San Francisco, when the Dons pounded out a 5-1 upset Tuesday night. Oregon St. bounced back to win a 6-5 squeaker Wednesday.
The 'Cats swept a 2 game series from Butler, beating the Bulldogs in both games by 14-2 scores Tuesday and Wednesday. It was a bounce back type of effort, after the defending NCAA National Champions got quite a battle from Columbia of the Ivy League last weekend.
The Lions took the Saturday game 8-4, after almost snagging the opener, which the 'Cats clawed out with 4 runs in their last 2 at bats. Arizona took the series with a 7-5 win Sunday, but had to work hard for that one as well.
Oregon St. will start senior LHP Matt Boyd (3-0, 1.67). Though Beavers head coach Pat Casey has been hesitant to commit to his pitching plans much in advance, Boyd has been Oregon St.'s best pitcher so far this season, and went 2 outs deep into the 6th inning of the Beavers' 16-4 win over Texas St. last Friday night, allowing 6 hits and 2 runs, while striking out 5, and allowing just 1 walk. Boyd has been able to go deep in most of his games, preserving bullpen options for later in the weekend, as well.
Arizona will counter with junior RHP Konner Wade (2-0, 3.41). Wade, who was the MVP of last year's College World Series, went 8 innings in his last start, the 4-3 win over Columbia last Friday, giving up 7 hits, and all 3 runs, though only 1 was earned, against only 2 walks, but just 3 strikeouts.
Last year, when the teams met in Corvallis, for a series the 'Cats took 2 of 3 in, there was snow on the warning track at Goss Stadium, and a snowman sitting in the Arizona dugout. The temperature is expected to still be 90 when the first pitch is thrown tonight. Will the road team be able to take 2 of 3 games in weather conditions totally foreign to them again?