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Pac-12 Baseball Tournament: Arizona to face Stanford in semifinals

Cardinal blew a late lead to Oregon, or Wildcats would be playing Washington

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It took Arizona about 28 hours to earn its spot in the Pac-12 Tournament’s semifinals. The wait to find out who the Wildcats would face took a few hours longer, but now they know.

The UA will take on regular-season champion Stanford at 7 p.m. PT Friday at Scottsdale Stadium, with Oregon and Washington meeting in the first semifinal at 2:30 p.m. PT. The winners will advance to Saturday’s 7 p.m. PT title game, which will determine the Pac-12’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.

Arizona (32-23) was the lowest seed to advance to the semis, at No. 8, and thus gets to face the top advancing seed. That’s despite Stanford (38-15) falling 8-6 to Oregon in 10 innings on Thursday and not winning its pool, instead making the semifinals as the “wild card.”

The Cardinal led 6-3 late but allowed a run in the eighth, two in the ninth—the second coming in on a throwing error—and two in the 10th.

Arizona went 1-2 at Stanford earlier this month, dropping the first two before taking a 21-20, 10-inning victory in the finale. Had Stanford held that lead against Oregon the Wildcats would have faced Washington, whom they took two of three from at Hi Corbett Field in April.

The UA will start left-hander Bradon Zastrow (5-5, 5.30) against Stanford, which will send Pac-12 Pitcher of the Year Quinn Mathews (7-3, 3.20) to the mound. Arizona tagged Mathews for season highs in earned runs (five) and hits (10) on May 12, a game the Cardinal walked off 8-7 after the UA rallied from down 7-2.

Zastrow allowed four runs and eight hits over five innings the following day against Stanford, getting the loss. He won his last start, May 19 against USC, and threw 1.2 innings of relief in Tuesday’s 12-3 win over ASU.

At the end of Thursday, Arizona sat at No. 45 in the RPI, up 10 spots since the beginning of the week. It has eight Quad 1 wins, a number that dropped by two after USC fell out of the Top 50 following its loss to Washington earlier in the day.

The Wildcats’ RPI is better than that of ASU (47) and USC (52), teams that began Thursday projected to be in the NCAA field by both Baseball America and D1Baseball. Those publications had the UA as the eighth and fourth team out, respectively, prior to Thursday’s action, though late Thursday D1Baseball listed the Wildcats as the ninth of 12 teams fighting for eight bubble spots.