MINNEAPOLIS – Heading into the 2018 season, GopherSports.com will take a look at each of the Gopher Baseball program’s 2018 foes. This week, we look at the DQ Classic/Big Ten-Pac 12 Challenge when Minnesota, Illinois, and Michigan State will represent the Big Ten against Arizona, UCLA, and Washington of the Pac-12 at US Bank Stadium.
Scouting the Wildcats Website | @ArizonaBaseball
Arizona ranked no. 36 in the Collegiate Baseball Division-I preseason poll released last week … the Wildcats finished 38-21 a season ago, running up a 16-14 mark to land fourth in the Pac-12 … head coach Jay Johnson returns for his third season at Arizona off an appearance in the NCAA Tournament … five Wildcats earned all-conference honors last year while four more were honorable mentions … sophomore Nicholas Quintana returns after claiming Freshman All-American honors a season ago after batting .293 with 17 doubles, six homers, 38 RBI and 42 runs scored … Arizona needs to replace slugging first baseman JJ Matijevic, drafted by the Houston Astros in the second round in 2017, after hitting .383 with 10 home runs and 30 doubles in his junior season … junior Cody Deason returns to the pitching staff after posting a 3.86 ERA in 22 appearances including 10 starts … the Wildcats lost seven victories and a 3.11 ERA when starting pitcher J.C. Cloney was selected in last year’s draft … Minnesota owns a 17-13-1 record all-time against Arizona, but the teams have not met since the 2003 season.
Scouting the Huskies Website | @UW_Baseball
Washington finished among the teams receiving votes outside the top-40 in last week’s CBN poll … the Huskies concluded 2017 at 28-26 overall but finished seventh in the Pac-12 at 14-16 in league play … Lindsay Meggs returns for his ninth season at the helm of Washington baseball … three Huskies received all-conference recognition in 2017 while five more added honorable mentions to their resume … catcher Joey Morgan led Washington in batting a season ago at .324, slugging 15 doubles and driving in 45 runs before exiting via the MLB Draft last summer … junior infielder Willie Maciver is the top returner for the Huskies offensively, hitting .292 in 54 games with 10 doubles, 28 runs scored, and 27 RBIs … four of the team’s top-five pitchers will need to be replaced, accounting for 19 wins and one save … sophomore Chris Micheles is the lone returner in that group, posting a 4.38 ERA in 23 appearances including 13 starts … the Gophers are 4-4 all-time against Washington. The two teams will meet for the first time since 2009 at this year’s DQ Classic.
Scouting the Bruins Website | @UCLABaseball
UCLA ranked no. 16 in last week’s CBN Preseason Fabulous 40 … the Bruins posted a 30-27 final mark a season ago, but at 19-11 against the Pac-12 finished third in the conference … John Savage continues his 14-year tenure leading UCLA in 2018 … three Bruins earned All-Pac 12 picks last year and five more were named honorable mentions … UCLA has not released its 2018 roster as of press time … first baseman Sean Bouchard led the team’s everyday line-up, batting .306 with 15 doubles, nine home runs, 39 runs scored, and 43 RBIs before being selected in the ninth round of the 2017 draft … senior Daniel Amaral batted .282 in 52 games last season, swiping 16 bases in 24 attempts … Griffin Canning proved himself a second-round selection in the MLB draft after posting a 2.34 ERA and 7-4 mark in 17 starts last season … junior Jon Olsen finished 7-1 with a 2.86 ERA in 16 appearances including 15 starts a season ago … UCLA owns the edge in the all-time series as Minnesota is just 2-5 against the Bruins with the teams’ last outing coming back in 2013.
The action gets underway Friday, March 2 as Illinois takes on UCLA at 11 a.m., followed by Michigan State and Washington at 3 p.m., and the host Gophers taking on Arizona at 7 p.m. Each team of the three Big Ten teams will play each of the three Pac-12 teams in the three-day, nine-game event at U.S. Bank Stadium. The Maroon & Gold open their season officially at Georgia Tech on Friday, Feb. 16 at 4 p.m. ET.
Check out previous Offseason Outlook previews in the archive:
Georgia Tech, Kennesaw State, Georgia State (Dec. 6)
Boston College, Chicago State, Mount St. Mary’s (Dec. 13)
North Dakota State, South Dakota State (Dec. 20)
DQ Classic/Big Ten-Pac 12 Challenge (Dec. 27)
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