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3/28/2013 4:08:03 PM

ASU74
ASU74
Posts: 1035
By David Lombardi, special to Pac-12.com
on March 28, 2013


The first two volatile weekends of Pac-12 play have certainly not lacked surprises: Arizona State Canadian freshman left-hander Ryan Kellogg threw a road no-hitter against sizzling Oregon State, while defending national champion Arizona continued its initial stagger to an 0-6 record out of the gate. Washington State leads a cluster of emerging ballclubs looking to legitimately enter the pennant race this weekend. Three parts of the horse race will be featured on the Pac-12 Networks.

USC at Cal
Trojan football’s bi-annual visits to Berkeley draws plenty of fan interest, but USC’s struggling baseball team won’t create much attention on its own this weekend. Newly installed lights at Cal’s Evans Diamond, however, will spark plenty of literal and figurative buzz.

By now, almost all college baseball fans know the heartwarming story: Cal baseball was on the verge of extinction just two years ago, scheduled to be an unfortunate victim of the state’s budget cuts. Then a group of alumni and other supporters — some of whom included Stanford fans looking to keep their archrival alive — raised $10 million to save Golden Bears baseball. To cap off the extraordinary season, David Esquer’s team miraculously qualified for the 2011 College World Series.

Now, Cal is operating on a healthy profit that has enabled them to install lights at 80 year-old Evans Diamond. The first night game at the fabled ballpark is tonight against USC, a team coached by Dan Hubbs — the former Bears’ pitching coach who was in the middle of the Bears’ 2001 resurrection.

Game three of the series will be aired on Sunday on the Pac-12 Networks. First pitch is at noon, so the new lights unfortunately won’t be necessary for that one.

Washington at Oregon
This Pacific Northwest battle features a pair of teams coming off critical early-season series victories. Washington pummeled USC at home, while the Ducks swept away defending national champion Arizona at home to improve to 5-1 on the early conference season. Shockingly, the Wildcats are 0-6, but the Ducks are right back where they spent almost all of the 2012 season: the top of the Pac-12 standings.

An anemic offense characterized Washington entering their home series versus USC, but the Dawgs’ offense awakened to the tune of 16 runs in three games versus the Trojans — a welcome sight for a team slugging an anemic .300 coming in. Still, neither the Huskies (.251) nor the Ducks (.247) are hitting particularly well, so this has the potential be a pitchers’ war in Eugene. Sunday’s 7 p.m. series finale will air on the Pac-12 Networks.

[Related: Pac-12 Networks TV listings]

Cal at Stanford
The Cardinal left Sunken Diamond as 5-0 victors the first time these two rivals met back on February 20. Now, they’ll soak in a televised 7 p.m. Monday night rematch on the Pac-12 Networks. Cal looks to generate momentum in the debut of its stadium lights against USC before carrying it across the San Francisco Bay, while Stanford is working to right the ship in the Palouse before coming home to renew the storied rivalry. The once-mighty Cardinal offense, which has lost six starters from last year’s juggernaut due to either the MLB Draft or injury, has only scored a league-worst 69 runs.

The Bears will certainly be looking to pounce if Stanford is still scuffling come Monday. Don’t forget that Cal coach David Esquer was the starting shortstop on coach Mark Marquess’ 1987 College World Series championship Stanford team. That fact always adds extra historical intrigue to this match-up.

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Go Devils !!
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3/28/2013 5:06:40 PM

Florida Beaver
Florida Beaver
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Nice write up!
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