As the Pac-12 continues to remain the ultimate bizarro world in a lot of sports, the Arizona Wildcats became the first baseball team to reach ten conference wins after sweeping the California Golden Bears in Berkeley this weekend.
The weekend started out with a nice and tidy 3-0 shutout. Then things got weird. A 13 inning, break-out-the-rule-book type of game was decided with a Ryan Aguilar home run that he was jammed on in reality, giving Arizona a hard-fought, 8-5 win. Then on Sunday, the two teams traded five-run innings in the bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth, resulting in a 7-6 Wildcats win to get the sweep.
Plenty of guys performed well, and there are a lot of positives that came out of the weekend heading into this last month of conference play. Here's a look at the best, plus some guys who maybe didn't have the weekend they were looking for individually:
1. Zach Gibbons
This is a team being led by its seniors right now, and Gibbons is at the forefront. The right fielder was 7-for-11 with four walks. Like, what is that? He also drove in three runs, and scored twice. The best part about Gibbons is that he's a two-out machine. And he's going to be in the hunt for the Pac-12 batting title, and will start climbing the top ten on Arizona's all-time hit leader list. This is his world right now, and we're just living in it.
2. Nathan Bannister
It could also be Bannister's world. He struck out a career-high 11 batters in his first career shutout. He's starting to miss a lot more bats than he used to, which is a development that Arizona fans and MLB scouts should love. He scattered three hits and three walks in his nine scoreless innings. Over his last 26 innings, he has allowed just one run and 11 hits.
3. Louis Boyd
Arizona needed a new name to step up in the order this weekend, and that guy turned out to be Boyd. The SS/3B went 6-for-12 at the plate, walked four times, scored four times, and picked up a couple RBI. He was just 2-of-37 in conference play prior to this weekend, so that's a huge step up, and a much-needed one as Arizona continues to search for the best defensive/offensive combo.
1. Alfonso Rivas
As the DH in the first two games of the series, the star freshman was just 1-for-8 against the Cal pitching staff, and stranded a couple runners on base. As a relief pitcher in the finale, six of the 13 batters he faced reached base. He only threw 22 of his 43 pitches for strikes. He got it together for the ninth inning though, retiring the side in order, and getting credit for the win.
2. JJ Matijevic
Just when we thought Matijevic was turning the corner, he put up a 1-for-10 mark at the plate this weekend, struck out four times, and stranded nine runners on base. I still think he'll be a force down the stretch, but this was a pretty big bump in the road.
3. Ryan Haug
Haug started every game behind the plate, which makes you wonder if Cesar Salazar is struggling with his injury, especially since Haug caught all 13 innings Saturday night, then was right back out there on Sunday. Unfortunately, Haug was 2-for-13, and struck out five times. The catching situation is at least a little bit interesting right now.
Arizona returns to action on Tuesday night with a single game at Arizona State. First pitch is scheduled for 7 PM on Pac-12 Arizona. Then the Wildcats will head to L.A. for three games against USC Thursday-Saturday, all being broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.