3/13/2013 11:57:48 AM
Updated March 13, 2013
By the Pac-12 Conference
With ten teams set to begin Conference play this week, only a smattering of non-league games remains. Pac-12 teams have gone 105-56 (.652) against non-conference competition through the first month of the season, and, once again, six Conference squads head into Week 4 ranked in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Oregon State remained entrenched at No. 4, while UCLA jumped to No. 7. After dropping two of three games against Vanderbilt, Oregon slipped to No. 14, while Arizona State and Stanford both checked in at No. 18 in the latest poll. Arizona, which went 3-2 at home against Texas Tech and Columbia last week, fell to No. 20. At 15-0, Oregon State is one of four remaining unbeaten teams in Division I. The Beavers host San Francisco in a two-game set on Tuesday and Wednesday before heading to Tucson to take on Arizona. Washington welcomes Portland on Tuesday night in the first half of a home-and-away series with the Pilots before opening its Conference season at UCLA on Friday. Arizona kicks off the week with a Tuesday matchup against Santa Clara, while Oregon squares of with Texas State in Eugene before traveling to take on USC. Utah and Cal do battle in Salt Lake City this weekend, while Washington State visits Arizona State for a three game series. Stanford returns to action March 22 against Utah.
PAC-12 BASEBALL NOTES
The Wildcats, who average a league-high 7.4 runs per game, have been nothing short of spectacular on offense this season, ranking at or near the top of the Conference in a number of offensive statistical categories. They lead the league in on-base percentage (.417), hits (180), RBI (120), stolen bases (44) and triples (15), and rank second in batting average (.314) and third in slugging percentage (.411). Arizona pitchers have also logged a Conference-leading 132 strikeouts this season. Freshman outfielder Zach Gibbons is the Pac-12 leader in batting average (.455) and on-base percentage (.528), while junior first baseman Brandon Dixon ranks in the top-three in batting average (3rd, .413), on-base percentage (3rd, .500), runs scored (1st, 23), hits (2nd, 26), RBI (2nd, 19) and triples (2nd, 3).
Arizona State (10-2-1)
Arizona State has lost just one game since Feb. 18 and is coming off of a series sweep of Long Beach State. The Sun Devils, who outscored LBSU 21-2, allowed just 11 hits and six walks in the set and held the Dirtbags scoreless in 26 of 27 innings. ASU allowed its first home run of the season in the fifth inning of game three, a two-run shot that accounted for both of LBSU’s runs in the series. The Sun Devils have held opponents to a Conference-low .184 batting average and boast a 2.15 team ERA— a figure that ranks third in the Pac-12. They lead the Pac-12 and rank third in the nation with 5.85 hits allowed per nine innings. Offensively, they rank second in the league in slugging percentage (.443) and triples (6). Junior third baseman Michael Benjamin has hit safely in 12 straight games. Junior right-hander Trevor Williams was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week after tossing a complete-game, three-hit shutout on Friday.
Fresh off a four-game home sweep of Fresno State, California rounds out the bulk of its non-conference slate Tuesday evening at Santa Clara before traveling to Salt Lake City to take on Utah in its first Conference matchup of the season—the Golden Bears dropped a non-conference tilt at Stanford on Feb. 20. The Bears have scored 38 runs over their last six contests (6.33 avg), including hanging 25 on the Bulldogs over the weekend. Sophomore third baseman Chris Paul paced Cal on offense, collecting three extra-base hits—including a pair of home runs— and driving in three runs in the series. Freshman right-hander Ryan Mason picked up a win in his first collegiate start, allowing three hits and an unearned run while fanning seven in 5.0 innings of work on Friday.
Oregon dropped the first two games of a three-game set against No. 2 Vanderbilt in unspectacular fashion but tipped the Commodores, 7-5, in game three to avoid its first sweep of the campaign. The Ducks have struggled at the dish at times this season, but their defense has been among the best in the Pac-12. They have picked off a league-high-tying four batters, own a Conference-best .987 fielding percentage (ranks fourth nationally) and have committed a league-low eight errors on the season. Oregon pitchers have rung up 121 batters to rank third in the Pac-12, and its late-inning relievers have gone a perfect 6-for-6 on save opportunities. Junior right-handed pitcher Jimmie Sherfy has registered four saves for the Ducks. UO wraps up a seven-game home stand against Texas State on Tuesday and Wednesday before opening Pac-12 play against USC in Los Angeles.
Oregon State (15-0)
Oregon State, which improved to15-0 with a sweep of Texas State over the weekend, is one of four remaining unbeaten teams in Division I. The Beavers, who have allowed just 28 runs this season, boast an NCAA-low team ERA (1.19), and have held opponents to a .184 batting average. They rank second the Pac-12 and rank fourth in the nation with 5.61 hits allowed per nine innings and have turned a league-leading 15 double plays. Senior shortstop Tyler Smith shelved his first Pac-12 Player of the Week award after going 7-for-15 (.467) with one triple, one home run and six RBI. He slugged .800 during in the series and extended his hit streak to nine games, the longest by a Beaver this season. Smith is hitting .355 on the year and has a team-leading 22 hits, 21 runs, one double, one triple, one home run and 13 RBI. His 21 hits rank second in the Pac-12.
Stanford kicked off the week with a 6-4 victory at Santa Clara, and then returned home where it dropped all three games in weekend set against UNLV. The Cardinal, who had won nine straight entering the series, allowed 20 runs on the weekend— it allowed just 18 runs in its previous nine games. Mark Appel notched a career-high 15 strikeouts in the series opener, but untimely errors and a lack of clutch hitting plagued the Cardinal, who fell, 3-2. Appel has posted a league-high 43 strikeouts in 30 innings and has limited opponents to a .160 batting average. Stanford owns the second-lowest team ERA in the Pac-12 at 2.08, and Cardinal pitchers have struck out 129 batters, a figure that ranks second in the Conference.
UCLA opened the week with a hard-fought road win against Long Beach State before returning home to host the Dodgertown Classic. The Bruins topped Notre Dame in 10 innings on Friday before falling to Oklahoma, 4-0, on Saturday. On Sunday, they took down traditional rival USC, 6-1, before a sellout crowd of 2,157 at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Sophomore lefty Grant Watson took the hill for UCLA in the finale, allowing one run on three hits and striking out three Trojans. He boasts a .167 opposing batting average for the season—which ranks fifth in the Pac-12— and his 1.35 ERA is good for eighth in the Conference. Opposing batters have hit .207 against the Bruins this season, a figure that ranks third in the league. UCLA, which has drawn 112 walks and hit by pitch, owns the Conference’s third-highest on base percentage (.405).
USC was tasked with taming a trio of ranked opponents over the weekend, and the Trojans delivered, upending No. 12 Oklahoma, 5-3, on Friday at the Dodgertown Classic. Senior second baseman Adam Landecker went 3-for-4 with four RBI and accounted for all but one of the Trojans’ runs in the win. Junior lefthander Bob Wheatley tossed a gem against the Sooners, going 6.1 innings, allowing seven hits and one earned run while fanning three. His 1.46 season ERA ranks 10th in the Conference. USC fell to No. 8 Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday and to No. 9 UCLA on Sunday. The Trojans stay home for four games this week—they host Pepperdine on Wednesday before welcoming No. 14 Oregon for a weekend series to kickoff the Pac-12 slate.
Utah took three out of four from Saint Mary’s (CA) over the weekend to improve to 8-6 on the year. The Utes split the first two games of the series, won game three handily and sealed the deal with a 3-1 victory on Sunday. Freshman third baseman Dallas Carroll was instrumental in all four games. Over the first three games of the set, he went 4-for-7 (.571) with three RBI and a run scored and was successful on two-of-three steal attempts. On Sunday, Carroll plated the first run of the ball game, scoring off a balk in the fourth inning. In the same game, sophomore right-hander Mitch Watrous tied the school single-game record with 12 strikeouts in his first start of the season. He allowed one run on four hits with one walk in eight innings of work. The Utes have shown a propensity for power hitting this season, as they rank second in the Pac-12 in triples (6) and third in home runs (7).
Washington opened the week with a 4-2 victory over Seattle University at Husky Ballpark before being swept by No. 3 LSU in Baton Rouge. The trip marked it’s first-ever regular season visit to an SEC school. The Huskies fared well offensively, scoring 13 runs in three games but had no answer for LSU’s bats. UW surrendered 24 runs on the weekend, and, while the Huskies mounted significant rallies all three games, they were unable to break through. Washington kicks off its Pac-12 slate on Friday in Los Angeles against UCLA.
Washington State (9-6)
Through the first month of the campaign, the Cougars have put together some impressive offensive numbers. They lead the Pac-12 in batting average (.323), slugging percentage (.487), home runs (14) and total bases (259). They rank second in hits (172) and third in runs scored (95) and RBI (82). Redshirt freshman third baseman Nick Tanielu (2nd, .429), freshman infielder/outfield Trek Stemp (6th, .389) and sophomore outfielder Yale Rosen (7th, .377) are among the Conference leaders in batting average. Tanielu boasts the league’s highest slugging percentage (.714), while Rosen, who holds the Pac-12 lead with four home runs, ranks third (.656). Tanielu leads the league with 45 total bases, and Rosen is tied for second with 40. Defensively, Washington State has turned 14 double plays this season, a figure that ranks third in the Pac-12. Sophomore left-hander Joe Pistorese owns the Conference’s ninth-lowest ERA (1.44).
Go Devils !!