College World Series 2012 Schedule: UCLA vs. Arizona Settles Dominance in Pac-12
When UCLA (48-14) and Arizona (43-17) face off on Sunday night, they’re fighting for more than just a spot in the winner’s bracket in Omaha.
They’re also fighting for the Pac-12. Like all collegiate athletics, NCAA Baseball has a fierce competition between the divisions. The SEC clearly owns football. The Big East and Big Ten are arguably the most competitive in basketball (although the ACC and SEC give both a run for their money). For baseball, the Pac-12 hopes to be known as the dominant powerhouse.
As the two teams come into Omaha for one last showdown, they may quickly realize that they’re all too familiar with each other.
In their three games this season, UCLA won their series 2-1 in Tuscon, Arizona. Arizona coach Andy Lopez is a graduate of, and former player at, the University of California at Los Angeles. The 15-3 loss that Arizona faced against UCLA was their most crushing of the season conference play.
UCLA has won 20 of their last 22 games (with a 51-11 scoring margin to boot), including a romping 9-1 victory over tournament darling Stony Brook. It was their 134th win in the last three years – the best in their program’s history.
Arizona on the other hand has had one of the most impressive pitching staffs in the tournament, and is coming off of a narrow 12-inning defeat over the Florida State Seminoles.
Both teams are 20-10 in conference play. The winner of this game will determine which of the two teams had the better Pac-12 record in the 2012 season.
UCLA will send Nick Vander Tuig (10-3, 4.35 ERA) to the mound, while Arizona will send Konner Wade (9-3, 4.49 ERA).
Jeff Gelalich will be the player to watch for UCLA, as the junior leads the Bruins with a .363 batting average and 11 home runs. Johnny Field, who boasts a .379 batting average and an OPS of 1.036, leads the Wildcats.
After the Wildcats beat UCLA in their first match of the season, the team rallied around an underdog mantra in the Pac-12 conference.
“We’re a big win team against other great teams that come in,” first baseman Joseph Maggi told the Daily Wildcat. “We don’t really get the credit that we deserve and we want to make a statement in the Pac-12 — show people that we’re not the underdogs all the time, we’re a force to be reckoned with.”
But the Bruins know that they’re a force to be reckoned with.
“When we’re on, we’re a dangerous team, we wear them out, and we’re tough to handle,” sophomore pitcher Zack Weiss told The Daily Bruin. “We just shouldn’t do too much. I like how it looks right now.”
When the two teams play each other at 6:00 PM on Sunday, they will be fighting for the chance to be considered the premier team in the Pac-12. For emerging high schoolers looking to decide where to take their talents, the juggernaut decision may be made for them when the two teams square off.
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