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Arizona baseball: Wildcats host Oregon Ducks for three-game set

The best opponent to come to Tucson this year

Arizona third baseman Nick Quintana
Jason Bartel

The Arizona Wildcats are a perfect 17-0 at Hi Corbett Field this year, but their toughest home challenge to date comes this weekend when the Oregon Ducks visit for a three-game Easter Weekend series.

With the unknown status of JC Cloney’s left arm, Arizona has (predictably) not announced any starting pitchers, but Oregon will roll out its typical weekend rotation.

THURSDAY (7 PM PT): LHP David Peterson (7-1, 2.06 ERA) vs. TBA

FRIDAY (7 PM PT): RHP Matt Mercer (5-1, 2.15) vs. TBA

SATURDAY (NOON PT): RHP Isaiah Carranza (2-0, 1.80) vs. TBA

As you can see by the numbers, this is likely the best weekend rotation Arizona will face this side of Oregon State all year as well.

Peterson, a junior from Denver, gave up nine of his 12 total earned runs in his first two outings. Since then, he has thrown 42 13 innings over six starts, surrendering just three earned runs and two walks while striking out 68 batters. These kind of numbers made him one of 40 players on the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list, along with Arizona first baseman JJ Matijevic.

“He’s pretty good but our offense is also really good,” Matijevic said about facing Peterson. “We’ll make it hard for him on Thursday, we’ll take really good ABs, and we should be set up really good for this weekend.”

Combined, Oregon pitchers allow opponents to hit .236 against them. By comparison, Arizona’s team batting average this year is .328. So something will give there.

Nothing really has to give on the other end of things. The Ducks are hitting .256 as a team this year, which is the exact same average Wildcat pitchers are allowing to opponents.

Matt Dyer is Oregon’s leading hitter, but has only played in 18 of their 30 games this year. He missed the Ducks’ series against Washington and Utah due to a strained abdominal muscle, but returned this past weekend to play in a couple games against UC-Irvine, and also went 1-for-2 with a two-run double against Portland on Tuesday.

Behind Dyer in the stats is Jake Bennett, who is slashing .313/.400/.383 thanks to a team-high 18 walks. Bennett has the most runs scored on the team as well with 20. Freshman Spencer Steer is the big hit threat in the lineup though, leading the team in slugging percentage, doubles, triples, and RBI.

With the uncertainty facing Arizona’s pitching situation this weekend, it will be interesting to see if Oregon will be able to score enough runs for its elite pitching staff.

No matter what happens, the Wildcats will be halfway through the conference slate after this weekend, and are feeling pretty good about where they sit at this point of the season.

“It’s very exciting,” Matijevic said of the team’s vibe heading into this series. “We’re just coming in here every day coming in here trying to get better as a team and as individuals, and it’s going really well right now and we just gotta keep it rolling right now and have a good weekend.”

This weekend’s games won’t be on TV, but you can stream them here. You can also listen to the games on the Arizona IMG Sports Network.

I appeared on Alec White’s show “In the Zone” to talk baseball and preview this weekend. You can also check out some of the latest tidbits around this team in my latest notebook.

Here’s a look at the Pac-12 standings. Washington hosts Oregon State this weekend to headline the conference slate. Cal goes to Utah, WSU faces ASU in Tempe, and UCLA and Stanford clash in Palo Alto. USC is the non-conference series this weekend, hosting Cal State Fullerton for three games.

Pac-12 Baseball Standings

Team Conference record Overall record
Team Conference record Overall record
Oregon State Beavers 27-3 46-4
Stanford Cardinal 19-9 38-14
UCLA Bruins 18-10 29-24
Arizona Wildcats 15-12 36-17
California Golden Bears 13-14 23-28
Washington Huskies 13-15 27-25
Utah Utes 12-15 24-24
Oregon Ducks 11-17 29-24
Washington State Cougars 10-18 24-27
Arizona State Sun Devils 8-19 23-29
USC Trojans 7-21 20-33