Just two days removed from their first home game of the year, a shutout of Cal State Fullerton, the Arizona Wildcats are set to host eight games over three days, as Northwestern State, Cal State Bakersfield and Saint Mary's come to town for the Wildcat Invitational.
Each team will be playing four games over those three days. Here's a look at when the Arizona games are (all times MST):
Friday vs. Northwestern State (6 PM): Arizona LHP Cameron Ming (0-0, 5.06 ERA) vs. NSU RHP Adam Oller (0-0, 0.77 ERA)
Saturday vs. Cal State Bakersfield (6 PM): Arizona LHP JC Cloney (1-0, 3.95 ERA) vs. CSUB RHP AJ Monarrez (0-0, 2.89 ERA)
Sunday vs. Saint Mary's (1:30 PM): Arizona Starter TBA vs. SMC RHP Jonathan Buckley (1-0, 4.26 ERA)
Sunday vs. Northwestern State (6 PM): Starters TBA
You should be able to stream all eight games here
Northwestern State preview
The Demons come to Tucson with a 3-4 record overall, but have dropped their last four contests. After sweeping Alabama State in the first weekend of the season, NSU dropped a single game to future Arizona opponent Sacramento State, then were swept at Southern Miss.
NSU's likely Friday night starter Adam Oller has been lights out in the two starts he's made this season. The junior righty has surrendered just one run in 11 2/3 innings. He did give up seven hits in five innings last week to Southern Miss, so it's not like he's untouchable, but he does seem to be able to pitch himself out of trouble when need be.
At the plate, the Demons have been hitting .250 as a team. Matthew Alford has been their most consistent hitter, picking up a knock in six of their seven games. In total, he's batting .346, and four of his nine hits have been doubles. Another guy to watch for is Daniel Garner. While his batting average is just .154, he's walked six times, by far the most on the team. Garner is a redshirt junior catcher, who played at Mississippi State for a year, and hit .273 for the Bulldogs in 2014. Garner was 0-for-1 as a pinch hitter against Arizona in the first of these four-team tournaments that year.
Cal State Bakersfield preview
The Roadrunners are an up-and-coming program, taking part in their first NCAA Tournament regional last season after winning the WAC tournament in Mesa. They boast a 4-3 record, winning series against both Cal State Northridge and St. John's this season. They fell to Fresno State 6-4 on Tuesday in Fresno.
With the Arizona game being their third of the weekend, it'll be interesting to see who the Roadrunners go with on the mound. Andrew Hansen has started both of their Saturday games this year, and has only given up eight hits and one earned run in twelve innings. But it appears that they'll go with AJ Monarrez. The fifth-year senior only started two games last year, and has already matched that total this year. He's only pitched 9 1/3 innings in those two games though, so Arizona might be able to get to the bullpen early.
Bakersfield has three hitters that Arizona should be weary of. Max Carter, Dustin Frailey and Cody White are all hitting .385 or better, and have started all seven games for CSUB. The trio has 31 of the team's 63 hits, eight of the 13 total doubles, the lone triple, and 44 of the 87 total bases. Safe to say that if the pitching staff can keep one or two of them in check, the Roadrunners will have trouble scoring runs.
Saint Mary's preview
The Gaels are 5-4. They're only 1-2 on the road, but that win came at UC-Santa Barbara, who was easily the best team I saw at the Tony Gwynn Classic last weekend, so that's pretty impressive. SMC is coming off a 9-1 loss at Stanford on Tuesday, and has already played three games in the state of Arizona this year, going 1-2 at the GCU Classic last weekend.
SMC is scheduled to start Jonathan Buckley against Arizona, and that could bode well for the Wildcats, as the freshman righty has not started a game this year, and has given up seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, including four doubles. He's also hit a couple batters.
The conversation about the Gaels' offense starts and ends with Zach Kirtley. Not only is he hitting .400 (10-of-25), but throw 12 walks and three HBPs in there to give him an on-base percentage of .625 this year. Like, damn. He has two of the team's four home runs, and even with all those walks, he's still tied for the team lead in RBI with six. That'll be THE guy to watch this weekend out of all the teams in my opinion.