This weekend serves as No. 3 Stanford's Pac-12 Conference opener. The Utes (7-9, 1-2) played at Arizona in their opener last weekend, winning the first game, 21-10, and then losing 8-0 and 18-7.
Don't expect that kind of offensive production this weekend from either side, though the Cardinal (12-3) may very well be salivating at the chance to get at a Utes' pitching staff that brings a 6.39 ERA to town. Part of that is tempered, though, by the elevation in Salt Lake City.
Still, Utah's four starting pitchers have ERA's in the 4.24 to 7.79 range. In contrast, every Stanford pitcher with at least three appearances owns an ERA of 3.60 or better. The team ERA is 2.31, fifth in the nation.
On the other hand, Stanford hits .240 as a team and has two players at .300 or better. Utah bats .288 and has four players over .300. The Utes also have the edge in extra-base hits, 50-39.
It's the kind of weekend Stanford could shake its offensive doldrums, although .240 has been good enough to win 80 percent of its games. Opponents are hitting .208 against Cardinal pitching.
Nearly half of Stanford's games have been decided by one run, with the Cardinal winning five of seven.
The Cardinal swept the Utes last season, with a combined winning margin of 43-10. Stanford owns a five-game winning streak over Utah and lead the overall series 16-6.
The Cardinal's weekend rotation of Brendan Beck, Jacob Palisch and Erik Miller are off to strong starts.
Beck (0-2, 2.33) has recorded 28 strikeouts in 27 innings against two walks. He threw a career best eight innings in his last outing, a 4-0 loss to Texas on March 7.
Palisch, who joined Beck as a freshman All-American last year, has allowed one earned run in each of his last three starts.
Miller (2-0, 2.57) has a team-high 29 strikeouts in 21 innings but he also leads the team with 11 walks. He gets away with it because he's holding opposing teams to a .184 batting average.
Stanford's bullpen, led by All-American Jack Little, owns a 1.94 ERA in 51 innings pitched. He leads the pen in appearances (7), innings pitched (10 1/3), strikeouts (16) and saves (1). Last season, Little tied a program record with 16 saves while carrying a 0.60 ERA.
Five Cardinal players have started all 15 games, including Sacred Heart Prep grad Andrew Daschbach, Maverick Handley, Will Matthiessen, Tim Tawa and Brandon Wulff.
Daschbach has yet to reach the success he enjoyed last season but he's still fifth on the team with a .208 batting average. He led the team in home runs (17), RBI (63) and total bases (125) last year. The 17 homers were the most in a season since Sean Ratliff hit 22 in 2008.
Teams have attempted just two stolen bases, both unsuccessfully, against catcher Handley, who is second on the team with a .302 average.
Matthiessen leads Stanford with his .327 average, 16 hits and 11 RBIs. He's hit a pair of home runs, exceeded only by Wulff's four homers.
Of local note
Palo Alto resident Hunter Bishop leads the Pac-12 in several categories, including home runs (10, more than the Cardinal as a team), RBIs (29) and slugging percentage (.986).
He's second with a .438 batting average and third with a .549 on-base percentage.
Bishop has been a central figure in Arizona State's rise in the national rankings. The Sun Devils (19-0) are the only undefeated team in the nation.
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