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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Arizona baseball readies for next Pac-12 series against USC

Stan Liu/Arizona Athletics
Arizona pitcher JC Cloney (27) pitches against UC Santa Barbara on June 22 in Omaha, Nebraska at the College World Series.

After getting swept by then No. 2 Oregon State last weekend, the Arizona baseball team responded with a 3-2 win over Grand Canyon Tuesday night at Hi Corbett Field. The No. 13 Wildcats will now look ahead to this weekend when they host USC for a three-game set at Hi Corbett beginning Friday night at 7 p.m.

The upcoming task won’t come easy as the Trojans come in winners of two straight conference series to open up Pac-12 play. USC took two-out-of-three against Washington State two weeks ago and versus Arizona State last weekend. Overall, the Trojans are 15-8 on the season.

The Trojans boast five hitters batting .300 or higher with outfielder Lars Nootbar and infielder Brandon Perez lead the way with .338 averages. USC’s offense is tied for second in the Pac-12 with the Wildcats in home (14) and second behind UA in runs with 126.

Arizona’s rotation is not set in stone outside of ace J.C. Cloney who has been dominant thus far. The senior left-hander has compiled a perfect 5-0 record with a 1.60 ERA and 30 strikeouts in 39.1 innings of work.

Rio Gomez has been a regular in the rotation but is coming off a quick outing against OSU in which he surrendered five runs (three earned) on six hits in 3.2 innings. Still, the left-hander has been strong for the Wildcats this year as he’s gone 2-3 with a 3.94 ERA and 32 strikeouts in as many innings pitched.

The last spot is up-for-grabs, however, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see junior college transfer Randy Labaut get the nod this weekend after an admirable performance last Saturday in his first career start as a Wildcat. In a 5-4 extra-inning loss to OSU, Labaut went five innings while allowing three runs on seven hits with three strikeouts. Up until Saturday’s start, Labaut worked exclusively out of the bullpen where he allowed only two earned runs in nine innings.

USC is expected to counter Cloney with ace Chris Clarke for Friday’s opener followed by Brad Wegman and Marrick Crouse to round out the series. On the season, Clarke is 2-0 with a 3.41 ERA in 29 innings of work.

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