3/6/2013 4:29:25 PM
Pac-12 teams have gone 81-39 (.675) against non-conference competition through the first three weeks of the season, and six Conference squads head into Week 3 ranked in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll: Oregon State (4), UCLA (9), Stanford, (10), Oregon (13), Arizona (16) and Arizona State (21). The Beavers are off to their fourth 12-0 start in program history. The league’s only remaining unbeaten team--and one of eight left in the nation-- OSU hits the road to take on Portland on Tuesday and returns to Corvallis to host Texas State in a three-game weekend series. A number of Pac-12 teams face ranked opponents this week. The Trojans and Bruins take on 12th-ranked Oklahoma in the Dodgertown Classic, and No. 13 Oregon squares off with No. 2 Vanderbilt in Eugene. USC opens the weekend with a Wednesday matchup against No. 8 Cal State Fullerton, while Washington travels to Baton Rouge for a three game series with No. 3 LSU. UCLA and USC renew their rivalry on Sunday at 3 p.m. in the first of 30 games televised live on the Pac-12 Networks.
PAC-12 BASEBALL NOTES
Arizona earned a split in a two-game series against Utah Valley and took two out of three from San Francisco last week. The Wildcats’ have put on an offensive clinic through the first three weeks of the season, leading the Pac-12 in on-base percentage (.416), runs (110), hits (123), RBI (100) and triples (13)—no other Conference team has more than four triples. Leading the charge for the Cats has first baseman Brandon Dixon, the league’s batting leader (.465). Last week, the junior went 10-for-17 (.588) with three multi-hit games, scored eight runs and drove in three more. He added four stolen bases in five attempts. Junior right-handed pitcher James Farris is tied for third in the Conference with 21 strikeouts.
Arizona State (7-2-1)
Arizona State went 3-0-1 at the Coca Cola Classic in Surprise, Ariz. last week, including a pair of victories over then-No. 2 Arkansas. The Sun Devils tied Gonzaga on the final day of the tournament in an eight-inning game that was cut short because of preexisting travel plans. The tie was ASU’s first since 2002 and the tenth by a Conference team since 1999. ASU, which has not allowed a home run this season, ranks in the top four in the conference in a number of defensive categories: hits allowed (1st, 66), ERA (4th, 2.70), opposing batting average (3rd, 202), batters struck out (86). Senior right-hander Trevor Williams has stuck out 21 batters and allowed just three earned runs and three walks in 21 innings this season. Offensively, the Sun Devils rank second in the Pac-12 in slugging percentage (.427) and home runs (7).
California is coming off of a gauntlet weekend in which it went toe-to-toe with a pair of top 25 teams in Houston, Texas. The Golden Bears went 1-2 at the Astros Foundation College Classic, including a tournament-opening loss to Baylor, but managed five runs against top-ranked North Carolina, which had allowed just 2.2 runs per game entering the contest. Cal exploded for 13 runs in a victory over Houston to close out the tournament. All-American catcher Andrew Knapp went 4-for-5 with a double, a home run and three RBI, while sophomore Brenden Farney went 4-for-5 with a double and two RBI in the win. On Monday, the Bears took No. 19 Rice to the wire but fell 1-0 on a walk-off single in the ninth. In his first career start, sophomore right-hander Dylan Nelson held the Owls scoreless in six innings of work, allowing six hits and fanning two batters.
Oregon kicked off the week with 3-1 victory over Portland, then traveled to Cal State Fullerton where it dropped the first and second of three games but responded with a commanding win on Sunday. Entering the series, the Ducks had not lost consecutive games this season. On Monday, UO topped Cal State Northridge, 12-4, in Eugene, scoring five runs in the bottom of the eighth to put the game out of reach. Junior first baseman Ryon Healy, the Conference leader in doubles, went 3-for-5 and drove in a career-high four runs in the win. On Sunday against Cal State Fullerton, freshman left-hander Cole Irvin pitched seven innings, allowing eight hits and one run while striking out three batters in his first career appearance. The Ducks lead the Pac-12 with 27 doubles. Defensively, they lead the league in runners picked off (4) and saves (5) and rank second with 90 strikeouts. Additionally, their .993 fielding percentage tops the Conference.
Oregon State (12-0)
Oregon State swept Bryant in Corvallis over the weekend to improve to 12-0 for the fourth time in school history. OSU, one of eight remaining unbeaten teams in the nation, last won 12 consecutive games during the 2007 season. The Beavers, who have allowed just 17 runs this season, boast an NCAA-low team ERA (0.83), and have held opponents to a .178 batting average. They lead the Pac-12 and rank fourth in the nation with 5.61 hits allowed per nine innings and have turned a league-leading 13 double plays. Sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto garnered Pac-12 Player of the Week accolades after batting .467 (7-for-15) with four home runs—including his first-career grand slam—and 12 RBI against Bryant. All four of Conforto’s homers came in the final three games of the series, and he became the first Oregon State player to homer in three straight games since 2007. He leads the Pac-12 in home runs (4), slugging percentage (.711) and total bases (32) and ranks second in RBI (16). Freshman right-handed pitcher Andrew Moore also had an outstanding weekend, striking out seven batters in eight innings and allowing one unearned run. He owns the lowest ERA (0.42) in the Conference among qualified pitchers.
Stanford opened the week with a 7-2 drubbing of Saint Mary’s and capped it with a three-game sweep of then No. 23 Texas in Palo Alto. The Cardinal allowed just five runs in four games last week and lowered its season ERA to 1.74, a figure that ranks second in the Conference and sixth in the nation. Senior right-hander Mark Appel earned Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week honors after tossing a complete-game three-hitter in a 2-0 win over the Longhorns on Friday. He matched his career high with 14 strikeouts and took a no-hitter into the sixth inning. The unanimous preseason All-American has struck out double-digit batters in each of his last two outings. He is tied for the league lead with 28 strikeouts. The Cardinal has held opponents to a .200 batting average to rank second in the Pac-12 and has surrendered seven doubles this season, a Conference low.
UCLA went 4-0 last week, dispatching UC Santa Barbara on the road and sweeping Wright State in a three-game set at Jackie Robinson Stadium. The Bruins outscored the Gauchos and Raiders 32-10. Spearheading the offensive effort was sophomore infielder Kevin Kramer, who went 6-of-13 (.462) with five RBI, four runs and four stolen bases last week. He compiled a .650 on-base percentage and a .824 slugging percentage. Sophomore reliever David Berg was outstanding on the bump, picking up two saves in three appearances and striking out seven of 11 batters he faced. He allowed just one batter to reach base. The right-hander is tied for second in the Conference with seven appearances on the year and owns a 1.80 ERA. Opponents have batted just .167 against Berg, a figure that ranks sixth in the Pac-12. UCLA, which has drawn a conference-high 81 combined walks and hit by pitch, owns the league’s second-highest on-base percentage (.412). The Bruins rank third in the league with 67 RBI.
USC went 2-2 last week, beating Long Beach State at home and taking the first game of a three game set at Fresno State before dropping the final two games of the series. Saturday’s loss at Fresno State ended a four game winning streak for the Trojans, who had won their previous three games by a combined margin of 17-4. A number of USC pitchers figure prominently in the Conference statistical rankings. Junior southpaw Bob Wheatley, who last week pitched 7.0 innings of shutout baseball in a 9-1 win over Fresno State, ranks fourth in the Pac-12 with a 0.79 ERA. Senior right-hander Greg Zebrack, a Senior CLASS award candidate, ranks third with 12 strikeouts, and junior right-hander Wyatt Strahan ranks fourth in opposing batting average (.163). USC is one of three Conference teams not to have allowed a home run this season.
Utah fell to .500 after posting a 1-2 record at the Dairy Queen Classic in Minneapolis, Minn. over the weekend. The Utes won the opener against Northern Illinois handily but dropped games two and three to Minnesota and Dartmouth, respectively. Freshman third baseman Dallas Carroll was named to the All-Tournament team after a weekend in which he batted .500 (5-for-10), with a double, a triple, two runs and a stolen base. Carroll is a perfect 3-for-3 on stolen base attempts this year. Senior right-hander Brock Duke pitched six scoreless innings in the win over Northern Illinois, allowing five hits and striking out five batters en route to earning his second win of the season. He owns a 2.95 ERA in three appearances this season. Freshman catcher A.J. Young is batting 3.53 (6-for-17) with two home runs (tied for fourth in the Pac-12) despite splitting time behind the dish. He ranks second on the team with five RBI. As a team, the Utes are tied for second in the league in home runs (7) and third in stolen bases (15).
Washington took the opener from Cal Poly at Husky Ballpark last week but dropped the final two games of the series. The Huskies won the previous series opener against Lamar before suffering a similar fate. On Friday, UW dealt Cal Poly its first loss of the season, a 2-1 decision, as Austin Voth allowed one run over 7.1 innings and struck out nine. Sophomore second baseman Robert Pehl drove in both of Washington’s runs on doubles in the fourth and seventh innings. Voth is tied for the league league with 28 strikeouts and ranks ninth in innings pitched (20.1). The Huskies travel to Baton Rouge this weekend to take on No. 3 LSU.
Washington State (8-3)
Washington State saw its eight game winning streak snapped against Cal State Northridge on Sunday after the Cougars took the first three games in the series. WSU won its first seven games at Bailey-Brayton Field, marking its best start in Pullman since winning its first seven to begin the 1989 season. Through the first three weeks of the campaign, the Cougars have put together some impressive offensive numbers. They lead the Pac-12 in batting average (.318)— in fact, they are the only team currently batting above .300— slugging percentage (.493), home runs (11) and total bases (188). They rank second in hits (121) and third in runs scored (73). Redshirt freshman third baseman Nick Tanielu (.435) and sophomore outfielder Yale Rosen (.409) rank second and third in the Conference in batting average, respectively. Rosen, who is tied for the Pac-12 lead with four home runs, boasts the leagues’ second-highest slugging percentage (.705), while Tanielu ranks third (.696). Tanielu is tied for the league lead with 32 total bases, and Rosen ranks third with 31. Sophomore left-hander Joe Pistorese owns the Conference’s second-lowest ERA (0.50).
Go Devils !!