Pac-12 baseball power rankings: Wildcats show a little fight
Northwest on top
The top is still clearly stronger than the bottom. But the third week of conference play once again showed the Pac-12’s parody as newly ranked No. 24 Arizona State took two out of three from then No. 7 now No. 10 UCLA. Bottom feeder, USC, also took two out of three from California but even more impressively on the road in Berkeley, Calif. And despite having two of their top four professional prospects injured, Stanford as well took two out of three on the road at Washington State. The two wins improve the Cardinal’s record to 13-9 and now are sitting tied for fifth place in the conference with a 3-3 record. Don’t be surprised if Stanford creeps back into the polls, they are still one of the most talented teams in the country.
Week three was a good week for Arizona. After starting 0-6 the Wildcats finally were able to string together a rally as they swept Utah at home and showed some real fight. This coming weekend’s matchup at Hi Corbett Field versus California though will give us a better idea of where this Wildcat team stands with respect to the rest of the conference. Capturing this past weekend’s momentum and carrying through to the rest of the season could be key as after the series with the Golden Bears, Arizona will play six of its following seven games on the road.
No. 6 Oregon State (22-4, 5-1 Pac-12)
The Beavers easily had the roughest week of the Pac-12 teams. On the road at No. 23 University of San Diego, Oregon State dropped two out of three to the Toreros. Beavers’ junior starting pitchers Dan Child and Ben Wetzler were roughed up. The front and back men of the number one rotation in the country gave up a combined 10 runs in 6.2 innings of work. However, only one run was earned. Child and Wetzler got no help from their defense. The Beavers were charged with nine errors in those two games.
The good news for Oregon State is that the off week came in a non-conference series, but they will need to get back on their grind soon for they travel to Los Angeles, Calif. next week to play UCLA in a battle for first place.
No. 11 Oregon (22-6, 8-1)
Unlike their rival, the Ducks had a great week. They swept last place Washington and took over sole possession of the Pac-12.
This past weekend’s sweep of the Huskies began with a walk off two-run homer in the bottom of the 10th inning by third baseman Ryon Healy and concluded with a dominating performance from Oregon’s freshman Sunday starter Cole Irvin. The southpaw pitched a complete game shutout to lead the Ducks to a 6-0 win over Washington at home.
With a team batting average of .249, Oregon only ranks ninth in the conference. But so far the Ducks have bolstered a way to the top with timely hitting, execution, and the conference’s third best earned run average (2.59). A veteran led team, Oregon has all the pieces to win the conference title.
California (16-12, 5-4)
It’s hard to believe it was just two years ago when the Golden Bears finished 13-13 in the Pac-10 conference but made a post season run to reach its sixth College World Series, first in almost 20 years. That California team was littered with seniors and upper classmen, with just a couple of freshman seeing playing time. Now though, those freshmen are leading the Golden Bears in their attempt to reach their seventh College World Series.
Juniors Andrew Knapp and Devon Rodriguez lead the Golden Bears’ offense. The two have combined for 48 of the teams 129 runs batted in. And Knapp boasts one of the conference’s best slugging percentage (.538).
But pitching wins championships and the Golden Bears are currently ranked 10th in the conference with a 4.19 team earned run average. Just a few points lower than the team that just took two out of three from them, USC.
Losing two out of three at home to the Trojans will not go down as one of the shinning moments to the Golden Bears’ 2013 season, but taking two out of three from the defending national champions this next week could. It won’t be easy though as the Wildcats have one the best offenses in the country.
A sense of relief was what head coach Andy Lopez called this past week’s sweep over Utah, and rightfully so. Arizona could easily be 6-3 to start conference play if they had a couple hits go their way, but they didn’t until this past weekend. The new batting order might have done the trick as Arizona struck for 21 runs in the three games, 15 on Friday.
This past weekend’s sweep has the Wildcats’ locker room in good spirits and feeling more confident again. Sophomore second baseman Trent Gilbert was named offensive conference player of the week and fellow Sophomore outfielder Joseph Maggi had his best series yet going 4-7 with three walks and driving in two runs. Predominantly a bottom of the batting order guy who starts when a right-hander is on the mound, Maggi could bring more stability to the bottom of the order.
1.No. 11 Oregon (22-6, 8-1) Last week: 4
This week: at ASU
Week three: W 5-3 (10), W 1-0, W 6-0, versus Washington
2. No. 6 Oregon State (22-4, 5-1) Last week: 1
This week: One game vs. Portland, at UCLA
Week three: L 7-4, W 14-5, L 13-3, at San Diego
3. No. 24 Arizona State (15-8-1, 4-5) Last week: 3
This week: two games at Wichita State and vs. Oregon
Week three: W 4-1, W 7-4, L 12-10 (10), vs. UCLA
4. No. 10 UCLA (18-6, 6-3) Last week: 2
This week: One game vs. Cal State Fullerton and vs. Oregon State
Last week: L 4-1, L 7-4, W 12-10 (10), vs. ASU
5. Arizona (18-11, 3-6) Last week: 7
This week: vs. California
Last week: W 4-3, W 15-4, W 2-1, vs. Utah
6. Stanford (13-9, 3-3) Last week: 8
This week: One game vs. California and at USC
Last week: W 3-0, W 9-3, L 8-5, at Washington State
7. Washington State (16-10, 3-3) Last week: 6
This week: One game vs. Gonzaga and at Utah
Last week: L 3-0, L 9-3, W 8-5, vs Stanford
8. California (16-12, 5-4) Last week: 5
This week: One game at Stanford and at Arizona
Last week: L 4-3, L 9-5, W 15-5, vs USC
9. USC (11-16, 4-5) Last week: 11
This week: One game vs. UC Irvine and vs. Stanford
Last week: W 4-3, W 9-5, L 15-5 at California
10. Utah (12-13, 2-7) Last week: 9
This week: vs. Washington State
Last week: L 4-3, L 15-4, L 2-1, at Arizona
11. Washington (6-19, 2-7) Last week: 10
This week: One game at Seattle and three at Pepperdine
Last week: L 5-3 (10), L 1-0, L 6-0, at Oregon