No. 8 Arizona took care of business with its 12-3 win Tuesday over No. 5 Arizona State and now has its focus on upsetting No. 2 Oregon State to gain a berth to the Pac-12 tournament semifinal out of Pool B at Scottsdale Stadium.
A victory for Arizona (31-23, 12-18) over Oregon State (39-16, 18-12) is needed for the Wildcats to advance per tie-breaker rules for the tournament, which is using a pool format this season with nine schools after eight played in the inaugural tournament last year.
The Wildcats and Beavers will meet at 10 a.m. at Scottsdale Stadium.
Arizona would be the pool champion at 2-0 with a win and the Wildcats would play Friday in the semifinal round.
A loss against the Beavers would put the Wildcats at 1-1, Oregon State 1-0 and Arizona State 0-1. The Beavers and Sun Devils play Thursday in the last pool game.
If the three teams tie with 1-1 records, the highest-seeded team advances, which means Oregon State would move on to the semifinals. So, essentially, if the Beavers beat the Wildcats on Wednesday, they will secure a spot in the semifinals.
A Wild Card, a fourth team, will also move on to the semifinals based on best conference record. Arizona will not be in contention for that with a 12-18 record.
By beating Arizona State on Tuesday, Arizona set itself up for the chance to move on. A loss would have eliminated it from semifinal contention.
A four-run first inning, fueled by a solo home run by Nik McClaughry and two-run triple by former Pima College standout Emilio Corona, against the Sun Devils set the tone for the 12-3 victory.
“Our message was just let’s play the first inning,” Arizona coach Chip Hale said. “That’s all we can worry about. Just win the first inning and keep winning. To put it simply, we are in the playoffs right now.”
— Oregon State swept the regular-season series against Arizona in Corvallis, Ore., by a combined run difference of only eight — 2-1, 10-4, and 11-10. The first and third games were walk-off victories for the Beavers.
— Arizona will start right-hander Cam Walty (5-0, 4.50) against right-hander Ben Ferrer (2-1, 3.58).
— Outfielder Chase Davis hit his 19th home run of the season on Saturday against USC, giving him 37 career home runs. He is currently third on the Arizona career home run leaderboard and six shy of second place. His 19 homers this year are sixth-most in a single season in program history.
ARIZONA CAREER HR LEADERS
Shelley Duncan, 1999-2001, 55
Brad Glenn, 2006-09, 43
Chase Davis, 2021-23, 37
Kenny Corley, 1995-98, 36
Nick Quintana, 2017-19, 35
David Shermet, 1985-88, 34
Les Pearsey, 1975-78, 33
C.J. Zeigler, 2007-08, 33
Moises Duran, 2001-04, 32
Todd Trafton, 1983-86, 31
Bill Rhinehart, 2004-07, 31
— Infielder Kiko Romero leads the Pac-12 and ranks fifth nationally with 80 RBIs. His mark is tied as the sixth-best single-season mark in program history and is six RBI shy of the single-season record of 86.
ARIZONA SEASON RBI LEADERS
Ron Hassey, 1974, 86
Ron Hassey, 1976, 84
Terry Francona, 1980, 84
Terry Francona, 1979, 81
Alan Zinter, 1989, 81
Kiko Romero, 2023, 80
Mike Senne, 1986, 80
Jordan Brown, 2005, 80
— Arizona’s lineup has combined to produce 86 home runs this year, the third most in a season in program history. The Wildcats are one home run from cecond place (87, 1998). The Wildcats have five players with 10 or more home runs for the first time since 1993. The 1993 team that included the likes of George Arias, Jason Thompson, Willie Morales, Robbie Moen, Todd Landry and John Tejcek, owns the home run record with 115.
— McClaughry, Arizona’s reliable shortstop, earned the 2023 Pac-12 Baseball Defensive Player of the Year honors, announced before Tuesday’s game. A semifinalist for the Brooks Wallace Award Watch List given annually to the nation’s best shortstop, McClaughry has been near-perfect as the Wildcats’ everyday starter in the key infield spot. He has a .983 fielding percentage on 225 chances, with his 162 assists leading all Pac-12 defensive players. His four total errors are fewest among Pac-12 players with 100-plus defensive assists, while he has been involved in 23 of Arizona’s 40 double plays this year. The senior from Rocklin, Calif. was even better against Pac-12 opponents, committing just two errors in 133 chances.
— Oregon State hit .331 with six doubles, three home runs and 18 walks in the series sweep of Arizona at Corvallis.
— Infielder Garret Forrester was 8-for-23 (.348) with one double, three home runs and 13 RBIs at the 2022 Pac-12 Tournament. Forrester is one hit shy of becoming the 12th Beaver in school history to reach 200 for a career. He would become the eighth to do so since the 2005 season.
— Infielder Travis Bazzana leads the Pac-12 with a school-record 36 stolen bases this season. He is four shy of becoming the first player from the conference to reach 40 since Washington’s Chris Magruder stole 43 in 1997. Bazzana enters the tournament on a nine-game hit streak. He has scored 74 runs this season, third-most ever at OSU and nine shy of Cole Gillespie’s school record 83 in 2006.