Washington State’s visit to Washington will be the only series played exclusively for bragging rights.
All the other matchups, though, will give an early taste of postseason baseball. Stanford, obviously, hosts Cal at Sunken Diamond. But aside from dominating the Golden Bears, the Cardinal would be enthused to see several other dominoes fall their way to ensure home-field advantage all the way to Omaha. Mark Marquess’ squad is currently two games behind league-leading Oregon, one back of second-place Arizona, and deadlocked with third-place UCLA.
It’ll take a top-two finish for Stanford to position themselves perfectly for the postseason, so here’s a timeline of games to keep an eye out for with the Cardinal fan in mind:
Cal at Stanford
In the Friday tilt, Mark Appel (9-1) looks to become the first Stanford starter to win 10 games in a season since Jeff Gilmore accomplished the feat in 2005.
Oregon at Oregon State
There’s still an outside shot that Stanford can win the Pac-12 title outright, yet that would require an Oregon State sweep of the conference-leading Ducks, who enter the weekend two games ahead of the Cardinal. That’s not entirely impossible, but the toughest game of the three for the Beavers will be Friday, when Oregon sends Alex Keudell (10-3, 1.80 ERA) to the mound.
USC at UCLA
Stanford fans are only asking for USC to squeak out one win against UCLA so that the Cardinal can break the tie. Along those lines, it appears that the Friday matchup would be USC’s best chance since leading starter Andrew Triggs (4-4, 3.90 ERA) is on the mound. Then again, the game the Trojans took against Arizona last weekend came on Saturday, so there is more than one hope.
Arizona State at Arizona
This is a truly intriguing matchup. The Sun Devils are a combined 1-8 against Oregon, Stanford and UCLA this year and 16-2 against everyone else. Their 9-11 road record isn’t anything to write home about either. However, though this series is in Tucson, don’t count out Arizona State just yet. Tim Esmay’s squad may be banned from the postseason, but that will make this matchup with the Wildcats their World Series. Remember that this is a program with considerable swagger. Kole Calhoun (Los Angeles Angels) just became their 100th big leaguer, and expect the Sun Devils to truly honor their tradition by “bringing it” to spoil the dreams of their second-place rivals.
About the Author: David Lombardi is a Stanford and Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for several years and is currently contributing to the Cardinal Channel. You can check several of his Stanford calls out at www.davidmatthewlombardi.com, where you can also read his West Coast-oriented blog via this direct link. For Stanford baseball insights, follow David on Twitter at davidmlombardi.
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