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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Arizona baseball slides below elite level

Stanford, CA - April 19, 2013 - Stanford University Baseball vs. Arizona at Sunken Diamond.  Stanford wins 4-3...
Shirley Pefley
Stanford, CA – April 19, 2013 – Stanford University Baseball vs. Arizona at Sunken Diamond. Stanford wins 4-3…

It’s not too often a team scores seven runs in an inning and loses. But Arizona found a way to do it Sunday afternoon as it lost to Stanford in Palo Alto, Calif., 12-8.

The loss ended the Wildcats’ three-series winning streak, but maybe more importantly, appeared to kill the momentum Arizona had built after starting the Pac-12 schedule 0-6.

Prior to this weekend, the Wildcats had beaten up on conference bottom feeders Utah and California, sweeping the two schools at the friendly confines of Hi Corbett Field.

Then they traveled to Pullman, Wash., and somberly took two out of three from a decent Cougars team, but a series win on the road is still a series win.

A late comeback in an absolutely ugly contest against rival Arizona State last week overshadowed the poor pitching and defensive performance the Wildcats put on. Nevertheless, winning nine out of their last 10 had the Wildcats quickly rising back to the top. That is, until this weekend when their flaws were exposed and consequently lost them two — almost all three — games.

However, the two losses to No. 21 Stanford only dropped the Wildcats from fifth to sixth place in conference standings. And thanks to a rough weekend by No. 13 Oregon and No. 7 Oregon State, Arizona stays only four games out of first place. But struggling to win even while scoring seven runs in an inning might be creating some doubt in the UA locker room if it can win with the pitching staff it has.

The series win for Stanford, however, did the complete opposite.

The Cardinal was starting to pick up some momentum heading into this series, but now with a series victory over the defending national champions and the increasing health of the heart of their order, Stanford can be seen as a legitimate threat. The only flaw that could hold it back is the inconsistency of pitching outside of ace starter Mark Appel and new closer Sam Lindquist.

Along with Stanford, No. 9 UCLA had a great weekend with a series win at Oregon. While Arizona is struggling to win against more talented teams, despite having a deadly offense, UCLA is winning 1-0 games because of the strength of its pitching staff.

UCLA claims the worst offense in the Pac-12 with a .248-team batting average, but is on the rise because of its second-best pitching staff (2.47 team ERA).

This weekend the Bruins beat the Ducks twice 1-0.

UCLA currently sits just 2.5 games behind first place Oregon, tied with Stanford. The Ducks and Cardinal face one another this weekend in Eugene, Ore.

If UCLA can handle business on the road this weekend at Washington State, either it will separate itself and join Oregon and Oregon State at the top of the conference or the Bruins and Cardinal will overtake the Northwest schools for prominence.

The biggest upset of this past weekend went to Washington, as it took two out of three from Oregon State at home by scoring 15 runs in the first two games of the series against the third-ranked pitching staff in the country. Oregon State’s troubles continued following the series lost to Washington as Seattle University took the Beavers to extras, only to lose in 14 innings.

— Luke Della is a journalism junior. He can be reached at sports@wildcat.arizona.edu or on Twitter via @LukeDellaDW.

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