Archive for: March 2014

Sun Devil Baseball’s Late Game Heroics Trumped by Washington

Darrin GilliesTEMPE, Ariz. — For the second game in as many days, Washington jumped out to an early lead on Arizona State shaking the confidence of the starting pitcher. The Huskies (12-5-1, 2-1 Pac-12) won the opening series of Pac-12 play and moved up the conference standings. The Sun Devils (9-8, 1-2 Pac-12) have now lost four of its last six games and look to get back in the win column with a mid-week two-game series against Wichita State.

Arizona State starting pitcher Darrin Gillies (1-1) surrendered two hits and three runs, all unearned, in the first two innings before settling into a groove. The junior RHP then tossed four consecutive shut-out innings, conceding only two more hits and racking up six total strikeouts in six innings of work.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Braden Bishop Leads Huskies in Win Over Arizona State

Braden Bishop - Photo courtesy Wahington Athletics

TEMPE, Ariz. — The Washington Huskies jumped on four Arizona State pitchers in the eighth inning to win 9-3 and pull even with the Arizona State Sun Devils in the Pac-12 Conference opening series.

Huskies junior right-handed pitcher, Tyler Davis pitched six innings of eight-hit baseball giving up three runs, all unearned before being relieved by Will Ballowe who was then relieved four batters later by the eventual winner, Troy Rallings. Rallings pitched two 1/3 innings giving up only two hits and fanning two Sun Devil batters. >>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Arizona State Baseball: Brett Lilek Leads Sun Devils to Pac-12 Win

Brett LilekTEMPE, Ariz. — The Friday night lights were bright at Packard Stadium as 2,928 fans gathered to watch the newly crowned “Mr. Friday Night.” Sophomore left handed pitcher Brett Lilek moved into the Friday night spot after fellow sophomore Ryan Burr’s attempt to make the transition from closer to starter was met with mixed reviews.

Lilek (3-0) allowed only four hits and one earned run through seven innings. Lilek’s streak of 20 2/3 scoreless innings was broken in the top of the seventh inning by a two-out RBI by junior shortstop Erik Forgione. Freshman right handed pitcher Eder Erives pitched a perfect eighth inning and Burr came out in the ninth to record his third save. >>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Pac-12 Baseball: Conference Play Begins – Preview

ASU Cover - Sun Devil Athletics

The non-conference slate of Pac-12 baseball games, for the most part, was completed on Wednesday night giving way to the beginning of intra-conference play. The University of Arizona hosted Air Force for a pair of games on Tuesday and Wednesday. The Wildcats defeated the Falcons 14-2 and 10-2 on consecutive days.

Arizona State University was the last team to complete non-conference play on Wednesday night, when they hosted the University of New Mexico. The Sun Devils exacted revenge on the Lobos, equaling the season series at one game apiece. >>>Read More on College Baseball Central.

 

Big West Baseball: Cal State Fullerton Has Tough Competition in 2014

Thomas Eshelman-Fullerton AthleticsThe Cal State Fullerton Titans have long ruled the roost in the Big West Conference and the national polls have taken notice. A top-five favorite in every preseason poll, the Titans are feeling the heat in 2014.

Since joining the Big West Conference 38 years ago, CSUF has advanced to the postseason 34 of those years including the past 21. It has won 26 conference championships and seven of the last 10. The Titans are no strangers to Omaha either, as it has made 16 College World Series appearances and are 4-1 in CWS Championship Games. >>>Read more on College Baseball Central

Softball Week Four Update: Five of Seven Top Teams from the Pac-12

UCLAOregon and UCLA held strong over the weekend and both received No. 1 votes this week in the USA Today/NFCA Coaches Poll released on March 11. The Bruins (23-1) received three top votes and the Ducks (18-2) received two. There are now five Pac-12 teams in the top seven in the country.

Here’s how the best from the Pac-12 fared is this week’s USA Today/NFCA Coaches poll:

The No. 3 Bruins easily swept their competition in the joint UCLA/Cal State Northridge Invitational after suffering their first loss to Michigan on Wednesday 9-4. Friday’s doubleheader against UNLV and Loyola Chicago were both called due to the mercy rule, while Saturday’s double dip saw the Bruins outscore their opponents 11-2. Sunday’s games were much closer, but UCLA prevailed over CSU Bakersfield and Georgetown, 4-2 and 3-1, respectively.

The No. 2 Ducks traveled to Orlando, Fla., to participate in the Diamond 9 Citrus Classic with top-ranked Florida, No. 24 Auburn, Maryland, Illinois State and Bradly University from Peoria, Illinois. Sophomore standout pitcher Cheridan Hawkins delivered her fourth shutout of the season and struck out 12 batters in the opener against Auburn,but picked up her second loss in an extra innings battle with No. 1 Florida. Oregon (18-2) would win the next three games by outscoring its opponents 14-2.

Dallas Escobedo

Dallas Escobedo

No. 7 Arizona State, along with several other nationally-ranked teams, was invited to the 20124 Judi Garman Classic in Fullerton, Calif., over the weekend and the Sun Devils (26-3) absolutely dominated the competition. Senior righthanded pitcher Dallas Escobedo was the star of the tournament as she swept the national awards. Escobedo notched four wins in the week along with a 0.26 ERA and 38 strikeouts. Numerous accolades were showered on Escobedo including the Louisville Slugger/NFCA Division I Player of the Week, the USA Softball Player of the Week and Pac-12 Conference Pitcher of the Week.

The No. 6 Arizona Wildcats hosted Ball State for a doubleheader on Tuesday night and decimated the Cardinals in consecutive run-rule games. The Wildcats (23-3) also played in the Judi Garman Classic over the weekend, but didn’t fare as well as the rival Sun Devils. Friday’s double bill saw Arizona drop back-to-back games to Big Ten schools in previously-No. 5 Michigan and Wisconsin. The Wildcats would come roaring back with three straight victories, outscoring their opponents 29-6. Junior first baseman Hallie Wilson was named Pac-12 Player of the Week, hitting 13-for-20 with three triples and 14 RBI.

Kasey Stanchek

Kasey Stanchek

The Washington Huskies jumped a spot from No. 6 to No. 5 this week even though it dropped two of five games in the Judi Garman Classic. Pitching sensation Bryanna Walker dispatched Michigan 7-1, winning her 11th game on Friday night and then picked up her first save of the season Saturday night in relief against Texas. Washington (19-4) lost two one-run games over the weekend, 2-1 to Nebraska and 1-0 to Fresno State.

No. 21 Stanford hosted a tournament of their own in Palo Alto, welcoming BYU, Portland State, North Dakota State and UC Davis. The Cardinal finished 5-1 with two run-rule victories over Portland State. Stanford lost a 4-0 heartbreaker to North Dakota State in the Friday night nightcap despite a complete game from Madi Schreyer who fanned 10 batters and only walked one. The Cardinal defeated BYU twice over the weekend and finished the tournament with a 3-2 win over UC Davis, fueled by Erin Ashby’s 2-for-3 performance with a triple and a RBI.

Rams softball dominates at home; baseball falls in Gilbert

SB Tourney Champs

Maricopa High School softball hosted and won the Krystin Diehl Softball Tournament over the weekend with teams from across the state in attendance.

The Rams (5-3) invited Page High School, Camelback High from Phoenix and Florence High School in Pool A. Carl Hayden High from Phoenix, Higley High, Holbrook High and La Joya Community from Avondale were in the opposing pool.

The tournament honors former Maricopa High softball player and sophomore class president who was killed in an auto accident in 2006.

The first game of the tournament on Thursday night saw junior Isabel McCloskey hit the Rams first home run of the season as Maricopa went on to run-rule Camelback High School.

The ladies hosted a doubleheader on Friday and handily defeated Page High in the early game 14-3. The late game against Florence High was highlighted by Madison Byrd’s grand slam home run as the Rams went on to another run-rule victory.

The three double-digit victories enabled the Rams to a berth in the Championship Game on Saturday night vs. La Joya Community High School. The Rams and Fighting Lobos met previously in the Sun Blast Tournament in Anthem, with the Rams pulling out an 8-1 victory.

The Fighting Lobos were looking to avenge the earlier loss, but the Lady Rams jumped all over La Joya starting pitcher Alyssa Villareal with six runs in the first inning. La Joya would battle back, scoring three runs in the third inning, but Maricopa’s five-run sixth inning spelled the end of the game when the Fighting Lobos were blanked in the bottom of the sixth.

The mercy rule was called after six innings.

photo courtesy of Karyn Sather Speer

photo courtesy of Karyn Sather Speer

The varsity baseball squad (4-3) traveled to Gilbert Saturday for the 4th annual Game on Germann baseball tournament at Campo Verde High School. The host Coyotes invited Maricopa High School along with 10 other teams.

Junior Nick Diaz knocked a two-run home run in the opener against Tucson High on Thursday night, but that was the only scoring Maricopa would see as senior pitcher Tristan Hartley would give up five hits, five walks and seven runs through five innings. Noah Anderson pitched two scoreless innings to end the game, but the Rams offense couldn’t catch up.

Saturday’s game against Campo Verde didn’t fare much better as the Cougars scored early and often off of starting pitcher Dillon Moran (0-2). By the time Moran was pulled in favor of Michael Gunter, Moran had given up six hits and eight runs, four earned. The Ram bats were once again silent as Cougars pitcher Eric Lamberson went the distance, giving up three hits, two to Friday’s pitcher, Hartley.

Monday night’s game against Agua Fria High School from Phoenix saw the Rams return to their winning ways, defeating the Owls 11-2. The next game will be 4 p.m. Wednesday vs. Mesa High School with the championship game on Thursday

Pac-12 Baseball: Oregon State Alone On Top Entering Conference Play

Jace Fry-Dave Nishitani OSU Ath.

The Oregon State Beavers (14-3) completed a four-game sweep of Northern Illinois over the weekend and is now alone atop the Pac-12 Conference standings. Baseball America and the USA Today Coaches Poll have the Beavers ranked No. 4 while Collegiate Baseball ranks them at No. 7 and College Baseball Central ranks them at No 6.

Oregon State, who played their first eight games on the road in Arizona tournaments has now played nine straight at home and has only lost one.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central.

Arizona Baseball: Wildcats Drop Doubleheader on Final Day of Classic

Cats Dogs

TUCSON, Ariz. — The Arizona Wildcats were having a good run on the first two days of the inaugural Hi Corbett Classic over the weekend, until Sunday arrived. Arizona had outscored its opponents, No. 17 Mississippi State (11-7) and UC Santa Barbara (10-2) by a score of 22-8  in the nightcap games on Friday and Saturday nights but couldn’t maintain the momentum coming into Sunday’s doubleheader.

The Wildcats were blown out 10-2 by the Gauchos in the early game and lost a close one to the Bulldogs, 6-4 in the later game.

Three Arizona pitchers were used against UC Santa Barbara and starting pitcher Tyler Crawford was ran from the game before he was able to record his second out of the game. Crawford walked the first batter he faced and hit the next.>>>Read more on College Baseball Central.

Pac-12 Tournament: Matchups, TV Coverage, Predictions and More

NJ BallThe regular season is over. The games have been played, the arguments have been made, and as much as Arizona wants to take their ball and go home, the Ducks, Golden Bears and Cardinal need the Pac-12 tournament to solidify their NCAA tournament fate.

The final day of regular season play saw several close games and was highlighted by a few upsets that could make or break teams’ seasons.

The Pac-12 tournament begins March 12 in Las Vegas, Nev., and here is a comprehensive list of seedings, matchups and everything else you need to know about the tourney.

No. 8 Seed Utah vs. No. 9 Seed Washington

 

  • Russ Isabella-USA Today Sports

    Russ Isabella-USA Today Sports

    Date: March 12, 2014

  • Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena

 

The opener for the the Pac-12 tournament will feature teams struggling for an identity in the conference. Utah (20-10, 9-9 Pac-12) has been a dominant force at home, going 18-2 with wins over three of the top five seeds in the conference, but has only won twice away from Huntsman Center.

Washington (17-14, 9-9 Pac-12) has lost six of its last 10 games, but things may be looking up for the Huskies as they have won three of the past four including humiliating their in-state rival, Washington State, 72-49.

The teams split the series in the 2013-14 season with the home team winning each game. The Huskies lead the all-time series 8-7.

Prediction: Utah

No. 5 Seed Colorado vs. No. 12 Seed USC

 

  • Mark J. Terrill-Associated Press

    Mark J. Terrill-Associated Press

    Date: March 12, 2014

  • Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena

 

The glorious 5-12 seed matchup.

This game has perennially been a blowout with the lowest-ranked team in the conference looking for some sort of redemption. First-year coach Andy Enfield went from recruiting walk-on players with fliers posted at Florida Gulf Coast University to a full stable of scholarship players.

The Trojans (11-20, 2-16 Pac-12) have had a tough year, to say the least. The highlight of their season reaches all the way back to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend in the Bahamas when it beat Xavier 84-78.

The Buffaloes (21-10, 10-8 Pac-12), on the other hand, were nationally ranked as high as No. 15 until point guard Spencer Dinwiddie went down with a torn ACL. The Buffs lost a heartbreaker to Cal in overtime to finish their season with losses in three of their final four games.

Colorado swept the 2013-14 season series by an average of 15 points and should have no problem advancing to the quarterfinals to face California.

Prediction: Colorado

 

No. 7 Seed Oregon vs. No. 10 Seed Oregon State

 

  • Scott Olmos-USA Today Sports

    Scott Olmos-USA Today Sports

    Date: March 12, 2014

  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena

 

The Ducks are back!

Oregon (22-8, 10-8 Pac-12) has won seven straight and has all but guaranteed an at-large bid for the NCAA tournament after Saturday’s 64-57 win over the No. 3-ranked Arizona Wildcats. During the streak, the Ducks have beaten the top three conference seeds by an average of six points.

Oregon State (16-14, 8-10 Pac-12), on the other hand, is rebounding from an epic overtime victory over Arizona State. The Beavers have lost six of their last 10 games but also claim victories over two of the top three conference seeds.

The teams split the 2013-14 season with the home team winning each game. No teams in NCAA history have played more basketball games than Oregon and Oregon State. Wednesday’s meeting will be the 342nd time that the teams will meet, with Oregon State leading the series 186-155.

Prediction: Oregon

 

No. 6 Seed Stanford vs. No. 11 Seed Washington State

 

  • Bob Stanton-USA Today Sports

    Bob Stanton-USA Today Sports

    Date: March 12, 2014

  • Time: 11:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena

 

Stanford was a lock for the NCAA tournament after beating then-No. 23 UCLA on Feb. 22. The Cardinal (19-11, 10-8 Pac-12) followed up that defining win with three straight losses. It was swept on the road in Arizona and lost a close game at home to Colorado. On senior day in Maples Pavilion, the Cardinal survived a scare with a one-point victory over Utah.

The Cardinal need a great, not good, showing in the tournament to assure their spot in the NCAA tournament.

Washington State (10-20, 3-15 Pac-12) shocked the world with a regular-season ending 18-point victory over UCLA. Prior to Saturday’s shocker, the Cougars had lost eight straight and 12 of their past 13 games.

Stanford won both games between the teams this year by an average of 22.5 points.

Prediction: Stanford

 

No. 1 Seed Arizona vs. Utah/Washington Winner

 

  • Casey Sapio-USA Today Sports

    Casey Sapio-USA Today Sports

    Date: March 13, 2014

  • Time: 3 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena

 

Arizona (28-3, 15-3 Pac-12) is the regular-season conference champion for the 13th time since joining the conference in 1978. Although Saturday’s loss at Oregon was disappointing, Coach Miller and his crew will shed it like a dirty shirt.

Following the loss to Arizona State on February 14, the Wildcats went on to win five straight by an average of 15.4 points. Arizona finished its second undefeated home stand in Miller’s tenure as head coach and looks to add tournament champion to its 2014 resume.

Arizona was 3-0 against Washington and Utah this season, defeating the Huskies by nine at home and being one of only two teams to beat Utah in Salt Lake City. The Utes took the ‘Cats to overtime before losing 67-63.

There is no bigger David and Goliath setup than if Utah were to get to face the Wildcats again but this time walk away with the win. The Runnin’ Utes will need to get past Washington first and will once again put up a valiant fight.

Prediction: Arizona

 

No. 4 Seed Cal vs. Colorado/USC Winner

 

  • Kelly L. Cox-USA Today Sports

    Kelly L. Cox-USA Today Sports

    Date: March 13, 2014

  • Time: 5:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena

 

The California Golden Bears are an anomaly. Last year’s dragonslayer looked to repeat the 2013-14 season in the same role with early season wins over ranked teams in Oregon and Arizona. The Bears were a shoo-in for the NCAA tournament before losing losing three of their past five games.

Fate smiled on the California squad with a one-point overtime victory over Colorado, handing them the No. 4 seed and the first-round bye.

Colorado will be looking to avenge Saturday’s loss as the loser of this game will most likely be headed to the NIT, snubbed by the NCAA tournament.

Prediction: California

 

No. 2 Seed UCLA vs. Oregon/Oregon State Winner

 

  • Stephen Brashear-Associated Press

    Stephen Brashear-Associated Press

    Date: March 13, 2014

  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena

 

UCLA was embarrassed at home on Saturday, or at least they should have been. The Bruins (23-8, 12-6 Pac-12) put forth an abysmal performance against a Washington State team that has struggled to score 60 points per game in 2014. The Bruins enter the tournament losing three of their past five games, including a double-overtime loss at home to Oregon.

As the No. 2 seed in the conference with 23 overall and 12 conference wins, the Bruins will most likely receive a NCAA bid regardless of how they fare in Las Vegas.

The Bruins are ripe for an upset, but if it is Oregon that the Bruins will be playing in the quarterfinals on Thursday, I don’t see UCLA losing again to the Ducks.

Prediction: UCLA

 

No. 3 Seed Arizona State vs. Stanford/Washington State Winner

 

  • Matt York-Associated Press

    Matt York-Associated Press

    Date: March 13, 2014

  • Time: 11:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • TV Coverage: Fox Sports 1

 

Behold the mystery that is Arizona State.

The Sun Devils (21-10, 10-8 Pac-12) have lost four of their past six games and are still considered at least a No. 10 seed in the NCAA tournament. Coach Sendek’s squad has lost its last five games on the road and six of its past seven, needing overtime to defeat Cal on January 29. The Sun Devils, however, finished the year 16-1 at home with victories over No. 2 Arizona, Oregon, Colorado and Cal.

The Daily BPI for Arizona State took a hit after the Oregon State overtime loss on Saturday, dropping the Devils below Utah at No. 35. Its RPI dropped even farther to No. 46, one spot behind Stanford.

If Stanford advances to the quarterfinals, as predicted, the Devils will have a fight on their hands. The two met in the first round of the Pac-12 tournament last year with Arizona State escaping with a one-point overtime victory.

The teams split the 2013-14 series with the home team winning each game.

Prediction: Arizona State

Semifinals, Finals and Champion

RHJ UCLA

 

Semifinal One

 

  • Date: March 14, 2014
  • Time: 9 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • TV CoveragePac-12 Networks
  • Online StreamPac-12.com
  • Prediction: Arizona vs. California
  • Projected Winner: Arizona

Arizona decimated California at home on February 26 as a “thank you” for handing the Wildcats their first loss and dethroning them from their nine-week stay atop the NCAA rankings. The ‘Cats will add insult to injury by knocking the Golden Bears out of the conference tournament and most likely ending their NCAA tournament hopes.

Semifinal Two

 

  • Date: March 14, 2014
  • Time: 11:30 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • TV Coverage: Fox Sports 1
  • Online StreamPac-12.com
  • Prediction: UCLA vs. Arizona State
  • Projected Winner: UCLA

It’s like déjà vu all over again for the Sun Devils in the Pac-12 tournament. If Arizona State advances to the semifinals against UCLA on Friday as predicted, they will face the same two teams in 2014 that they faced to start the 2013 tourney. As the No. 9 seed, the Sun Devils led No. 1 seed UCLA by as many as 15 points before falling apart down the stretch.

I think the Bruins will end the Sun Devils’ conference title hopes for a second consecutive season.

Conference Final

 

  • Ashley injuryDate: March 15, 2014
  • Time: 6 p.m. ET
  • Location: MGM Grand Garden Arena
  • TV Coverage: Fox Sports 1
  • Online StreamPac-12.com
  • Prediction: Arizona vs. UCLA
  • Projected Winner: Arizona

 

The Wildcats defeated the Bruins 79-75 in Los Angeles on January 9. With the newly-added conference teams, the two only played the one time this season. Arizona’s Brandon Ashley played 29 minutes in that game but didn’t wow with his numbers that evening, so his absence shouldn’t make a difference in this matchup.