Arizona Baseball

Arizona faces Stanford in a role reversal from conference tournament last season

Garen Caulfield is 3 for 8 with two RBIs and one home run in the 2024 Pac-12 Tournament. (Arizona Athletics)

SCOTTSDALE — No. 1 seed Arizona lost to No. 6 seed California 7-5 on Thursday night at Scottsdale Stadium in day three of pool play in the Pac-12 Tournament. However, the win against Washington on Wednesday had already earned Arizona a spot in the semifinals.

The Wildcats (34-21) will face No. 8 seed Stanford (22-32) on Friday at 7 p.m. 

Arizona swept the series against Stanford earlier this month and is 4-0 against the Cardinal this season, but Stanford has been playing like a different team lately.

When the Wildcats swept the Cardinal at Hi Corbett Field from May 3-5, it was the start of a 10-game losing streak for Stanford.

The Cardinal broke that streak going 2-0 in pool play in the conference tournament, beating No. 5 seed Arizona State 8-7 on Tuesday and No. 2 seed Oregon State 2-1 on Wednesday.

“It’s going to be a tough game,” Arizona head coach Chip Hale said. “They’re hot. They’re desperate. They’re playing for their lives. So, they’re going to send everyone they can out there to pitch against us and probably run some guys longer than we’re used to seeing them on the scouting reports. Those are always dangerous teams. So, it will be a good game.”

The semifinal matchup between the Wildcats and the Cardinal is a role reversal from last season’s conference tournament.

Last season, No. 8 seed Arizona beat Arizona State and Oregon State in pool play — just like Stanford did on Tuesday and Wednesday — before defeating No. 1 seed Stanford 14-4 in seven innings in the semifinals.

Arizona lost to Oregon 5-4 in the championship game.

“Same spot. They’re coached well. They have a great staff. We know they’ll be ready,” Hale said.

The Wildcats will start right-hander Clark Candiotti (6-3, 3.27 ERA) against Stanford. Candiotti pitched a complete-game shut out against the Cardinal in a 5-0 victory at Hi Corbett Field on May 4. He struck out seven and walked none.

“I think it’s just a matter of getting ahead of hitters, and just attacking every guy to try to get him out with four pitches or less, and just let the defense work,” Candiotti said of his ability to pitch so efficiently all of that game. “They’ve been brilliant all year, especially tonight, but it’s just the same game over and over. Just attack every hitter.”

Stanford started Christian Lim (4-6, 4.32) against Arizona State and Joey Volchko (2-1, 5.70) against Oregon State. Starting against Arizona on Friday will likely be right-hander Matt Scott (4-9, 5.92).

Scott lost to Arizona on May 3 in a 12-8 setback for the Cardinal. He struck out seven without a walk in 4 1/3 innings but he also allowed nine hits with seven earned runs.

The winner of Friday’s semifinal game between Arizona and Stanford will face the winner of No. 6 seed California and No. 4 seed USC. Those teams play at 2:30 p.m. 

FOLLOW @KEVINMURFEE ON TWITTER! writer Kevin Murphy was born and raised in Tucson, and has followed Arizona Wildcats athletics since childhood. Murphy is a journalist product manager with the Green Valley News & the Sahuarita Sun. He has a bachelor’s degree from the Walter Cronkite School of Journalism and Mass Communication at ASU.

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