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Arizona baseball: Frisco Baseball Classic preview and open thread

A big weekend for the undefeated Wildcats

College World Series - Arizona v Coastal Carolina - Game One Photo by Peter Aiken/Getty Images

After starting the season 8-0 against a couple of teams with no pitching depth, the Arizona Wildcats will have their work cut out for them this weekend when they travel to Texas for the Frisco Baseball Classic.

Over the course of five days, Arizona will play four of the top programs in the country, including three of them in Frisco at Dr. Pepper Ballpark.

Here are the game times and matchups for each of those contests. We’ll have updates and conversation about these games in the comments section below. Friday’s game will be shown on channel 1382 on Cox in Tucson. All three games will be on Watch ESPN nationally. (Actually appears to be on channel 379 if you get it).

- Baseball America preview

Arkansas had won their first six games this year, but then split a midweek series against Louisiana Tech on Tuesday and Wednesday.

No starter is listed, but Blaine Knight has started the first two Friday games for the Razorbacks. In nine total innings of work, he’s allowed three earned runs and seven hits to Miami (Ohio) and Bryant.

The early strength for Arkansas has been scoring with the long ball. They rank 8th in the country in home runs, smacking 14 balls out of the park already. Grant Koch has three of those 14, and sports an .806 slugging percentage. Three other Razorbacks have multi-HR years already, so as long as Cloney is working low in the zone, he should be okay despite the small dimensions of Dr. Pepper Ballpark, according to Wikipedia:

Left – 335 feet

Left Center – 364 feet

Center – 409 feet

Right Center – 364 feet

Right – 335 feet (102 m)

Arkansas is also apparently the reason that this weekend is even a thing.

Arizona and Oklahoma State got quite familiar with each other in last year’s College World Series, meeting three separate times, and the Wildcats outscoring them 14-5 in those games.

This year, OSU is 4-4, having dropped two of three to the Grand Canyon Antelopes on opening weekend in Phoenix before smacking Arizona State 18-4 that Tuesday a few miles down the road. The Cowboys have since taken a series against Texas State, but lost a midweek game to Saint Louis, all in Stillwater.

The Cowboys’ early season forte has been drawing walks. They have received 55 bases on balls, the fourth-most in the nation. OSU pitching has done the opposite, posting a Big 12-best 3.24 strikeout-to-walk ratio thanks to 10.4 Ks/9IP.

The Wildcats close this one out with Nebraska, which is a team they’ll face in an early season tournament for the second straight year. Arizona faced the Huskers in San Diego at the Tony Gwynn Classic last year, winning that game by a score of 11-10 in ten innings.

This year, Nebraska has only played in the state of Arizona so far. The Huskers opened the year by completing just two games against UC-Riverside at Tempe Diablo Stadium, courtesy of head coach Darin Erstad’s Angels ties. Nebraska split those two games. The following weekend at the Big Ten/Pac-12 Challenge in Surprise, they split two games with Utah and were swept by Oregon State.

Nebraska has been very underwhelming in every way possible this year, so this could be an interesting weekend for them. Their team batting average is a full 135 points lower than Arizona’s, which leads the nation at .378. The Wildcats are scheduled to face Jake Meyers, who has an opponent’s batting average allowed of .400 in just 3 13 innings of work. He gave up six hits (including a HR), walked a batter, and hit another against Oregon State last Saturday.

Arizona notes:

  • The Wildcats have the best batting average in the country with a whopping .378. Nick Quintana is tied for the Pac-12 lead at .500
  • As a team, Arizona also has the most doubles (30) in the nation, tied with Baylor. Jared Oliva is second in the country with seven of those 30.
  • Other categories the team is top-ten in: On-base percentage (2nd), runs and runs per game (3rd), triples (5th), hits and slugging percentage (6th)
  • Louis Boyd is expected to miss about six weeks due to an injury to his non-throwing (left) arm. He injured it on Sunday against McNeese State diving for a blooper in short left field. This likely means Cameron Cannon plays more shortstop with Kyle Lewis taking over at second
  • After this weekend, Arizona heads to Lubbock to play a top-ten Texas Tech team on Tuesday evening. The Red Raiders play in a loaded field in Houston this weekend for the Shriners Hospital for Children College Classic