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Arizona baseball tries to break through on road at first-place Stanford

Even one win would be huge for Pac-12 tourney seeding

arizona-wildcats-baseball-preview-stanford-cardinal-2023-road-record-pac12-standings Photo by Zac BonDurant/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Winning on the road is hard. For Arizona, it’s been nearly impossible, and the last opportunities to do so this season don’t looking very promising.

The Wildcats (26-20, 9-15 Pac-12) wrap up the road portion of their regular season schedule this weekend when they play three games at league-leading Stanford and then a single contest at UC-Irvine. They head into that swing 2-12 in true road games in 2023, including 1-11 in conference play.

Stanford (32-13, 18-6) has won 18 of 24 games at Sunken Diamond, including a sweep of second-place Oregon State as part of a 10-2 league mark at home. Irvine (31-14) has beaten UCLA and USC at home.

Arizona’s only road wins were a 12-10 victory at Grand Canyon in early March and a 14-8 win at Washington State on April 16. But until losing 3-2 in 12 innings at GCU on May 2, on the tail end of a winless 4-game trip, the Wildcats had held a lead in every road game. They were twice walked off at Oregon State ahead of the GCU walkoff loss.

Being able to steal even one game at Stanford, which can clinch the Pac-12 regular-season title and No. 1 seed in the conference tournament, would be huge for the UA. That’s because getting swept by the Cardinal would very likely drop Arizona outside the top nine that make the conference tourney.

The Wildcats are currently tied for eighth at with Cal, whom they swept at home in March and thus own the tiebreaker. A half-game back, at 8-15, is Washington State, and WSU visits Cal this weekend.

Assuming the UA gets swept at Stanford, it will fall into 10th place unless either Cal or WSU sweeps the other. The Wildcats finish the season at home against USC (28-20-1, 13-11) while Cal is at Washington (29-14, 13-10) and WSU hosts Stanford.

Scouting Stanford

The Cardinal have won five straight, the last four on the road, following up a sweep at ASU with a wild 20-17 win at Santa Clara on Tuesday.

Stanford is hitting .294 in Pac-12 play, fourth-best in the league—Arizona is first at .311—and its 5.18 ERA ranks fifth compared to 6.77 for the Wildcats. It has four players with at least 10 home runs, topped by Alberto Rios’ 13 homers and 51 RBI, and Friday night starter Quinn Mathews leads the conference with 107 strikeouts in 84.2 innings.

Wildcat stat watch

  • Left fielder Chase Davis, who had two home runs in Wednesdays’ 10-9 win over Nevada, is tied for 5th in school history with 34 bombs. Another homer will tie him for fourth with Nick Quintana, and one more after that moves him into a tie for third with Kenny Corley.

Davis has reached base in 58 consecutive games, one off what’s believed to be the school record of 59 set by Todd Trafton in 1984-85 and matched in 2010-11 by Cole Frenzel.

  • First baseman Kiko Romero, whose 68 RBI is 11 more than any other Pac-12 player, is seven off the single-season top 10 list with seven regular-season games (and hopefully a few conference tourney contests) left. The school record is 86, by Ron Hassey in 1974.
  • Right-hander Cam Walty, who will start Friday night’s opener, allowed three runs in his last start against Air Force to end his scoreless streak at 22.1 innings, but he still went seven innings in that victory. He’s gone seven in three of his last four starts since moving into the rotation, including the last two, and doing so again Friday would make him the first UA pitcher with three consecutive starts of 7-plus innings since JC Cloney in 2017.