3/27/2013 8:39:57 AM
Updated March 26, 2013
By the Pac-12 Conference
Through two weeks of Conference play, three teams sit in a tie atop the Pac-12 standings. Oregon State, Oregon and UCLA enter the week with 5-1 league records, and all three squads find themselves ranked in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Oregon State jumped to No. 3 in the poll, while UCLA remained at No. 7 and Oregon climbed to No. 9. The trio is joined in the rankings by Stanford, which sits at No. 24. Pac-12 teams have compiled a 118-64 (.648) record against non-conference competition this season. Arizona State freshman left-hander Ryan Kellog threw the ninth no-hitter in school history in a complete game shutout against No. 3 Oregon State last week en route to earning Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week, NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week and Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week accolades. California will host its first-ever game under the lights when it welcomes USC to Evans Field in its Pac-12 home opener on Thursday. The Golden Bears then travel across the Bay on Monday for a bout with traditional rival Stanford. The Cardinal, which faces its first road test of the Conference season at Washington State on Thursday, earned a 5-0 shutout victory over Cal on Feb. 20. Utah opens the week with a home tilt against rival BYU on Tuesday before hitting the road to take on Arizona in a three-game weekend set. UCLA heads to Tempe for a series against the Sun Devils, and Oregon and Washington square off in Eugene. The Pac-12 Networks will televise three games this week, with USC and Cal kicking off the coverage on Saturday at noon PT
PAC-12 BASEBALL NOTES
Arizona, which had not suffered back-to-back sweeps in league play since 1999, was swept by a Conference opponent for the second consecutive weekend. Offensively, the Wildcats lead the league in runs scored (178), RBI (161), triples (19), stolen bases (58) and walks (113) and rank second in batting average (.308), on base percentage (.404), and hits (259) and third in slugging percentage (.412). Arizona pitchers have rung up a Conference-leading 177 batters this season. Brandon Dixon leads the league in slugging percentage (.673), hits (40) and runs scored (35) and ranks second in batting average (.408). 20 of his league-best 66 total bases have come by way of theft. He leads the Pac-12 and ranks third in the nation in stolen bases.
Arizona State (13-7-1)
Freshman left-hander Ryan Kellogg threw the ninth no-hitter in ASU history in a complete-game shutout on the road against No. 3 Oregon State on Saturday. It was ASU’s first no-hitter since Feb. 2, 1993, the school’s first ever in Conference play and its second ever on the road. Kellog, who owns league-lows in ERA (0.71) and opposing batting average (.129), picked up Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week, NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week and Louisville Slugger National Player of the Week laurels for his performance. The Sun Devils have allowed just one home run and one triple in 21 games this season. They have also held opponents to a .205 opposing batting average, which ranks third in the Conference.
California scored five runs in a road victory over UCLA on Thursday, no small feat considering the Bruins had allowed just 16 runs in 106 innings (1.36 runs per nine innings) in their previous nine games at Jackie Robinson Stadium. Cal will host its first-ever game under the lights when it welcomes USC to Evans Field in its Pac-12 home opener on Thursday. The Golden Bears are 7-0 at home this season. Since Conference play began, they lead the league in runs scored (34), RBI (31), doubles (tied,12) and home runs (tied, 3).
Oregon has won eight of its last nine games, including a sweep of Arizona over the weekend. The Ducks held the league’s top scoring team to just one run in each of the first two games of the set and allowed three runs through eight innings on Sunday—the Wildcats entered the week averaging 7.4 runs per game. Oregon owns a Conference-best .988 fielding percentage,which ranks third nationally, and Duck pitchers have rung up 173 batters to rank second in the Pac-12. Junior first baseman Ryon Healy leads the Pac-12 with 11 doubles and Oregon, as a unit, ranks second with 45.
Oregon State (21-2)
Oregon State, fresh off a series victory over Arizona State, is one of six Division I teams with two losses or fewer. Senior lefthander Matt Boyd allowed one hit and fanned 11 batters in a complete-game shutout of ASU on Friday—he is the first pitcher since 1983 to toss a one-hitter against the Sun Devils. The Beavers, who have allowed just 38 earned runs this season, boast an NCAA-low team ERA (1.64), and have held opponents to a .205 batting average. They rank second the Pac-12 and sixth in the nation with 6.53 hits allowed per nine innings and have turned a 25 double plays to rank second in the Conference. OSU has not allowed six or more runs in a game this season.
Stanford has dropped five of its last six contests, all at home—the Cardinal hadn’t lost five of six at Sunken Diamond since 2007. Senior righty Mark Appel, who fanned 11 in a 6-4 victory over Utah on Friday, has tallied a league-best 54 strikeouts in 38 innings and has limited opponents to a .169 batting average. He has struck out no fewer than 11 batters in each of his last four outings. The Cardinal owns the third-lowest team ERA in the Pac-12 at 2.44, and Stanford pitchers have struck out 8.9 batters per nine innings, a figure that leads the Conference and ranks 13th in the nation.
UCLA, which took two of three games from California over the weekend, has won 14 of its last 16 contests and has won five straight Pac-12 series dating back to 2012. The Bruins boast an NCAA-best 0.94 WHIP and rank fifth in the nation in hits allowed per nine innings (6.52). Additionally, their 2.07 ERA ranks second in the Conference and fifth in the country. UCLA has limited opponents to a Pac-12-low .205 batting average. Four Bruin pitchers—David Berg (4th, .176), Grant Watson (5th, .184), Cody Poteet (7th, .189) and Nick Vander Tuig (10th, .216)—rank in the top 10 in the league in opposing batting average. Berg—who has pitched 17 consecutive scoreless innings— and Watson boast the Conference’s second- and third-lowest ERA, respectively.
USC has lived and died by its pitching this season. In wins, the Trojans have managed a 1.78 cumulative ERA; in losses, they’ve posted a 6.2 team ERA. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Wyatt Strahan ranks 10th in the Pac-12 with a 1.76 ERA, and junior left-hander Bob Wheatley ranks 11th in the league with a 1.86 ERA. Defensively, the Trojans have been solid with runners in scoring position, ranking second in the Conference with a .231 opposing batting average. USC, which travels to take on California this week, will play in the first-ever night game at Evans Field on Thursday.
Utah won a pair of road games against No. 19 Stanford last week to claim its first series victory over a Conference opponent in more than a year and its second since joining the league in 2012. The Utes rank second in the Pac-12 and 16th in the nation in triples per game (.48), and their 37 stolen bases rank second in the Conference. Freshman third baseman Dallas Carroll was named the Pac-12 Player of the Week after a week in which he hit .412 (7-for-17) with two doubles and five RBI and delivered in several key situations against the Cardinal. He is the first Ute to earn the honor. Utah opens the week with a home tilt against rival BYU on Tuesday before hitting the road to take on Arizona in a three-game set over the weekend.
Washington took two out of three from USC over the weekend to earn its first series victory of the season. The Huskies matched a season high with eight runs on Sunday and scored 16 runs in the series, their most in a three-game set this year. Junior right-handed pitcher Trevor Dunlap, who has held opposing batters below the Mendoza Line (.195 opp. batting average), is tied for fifth in the Pac-12 with a 1.23 ERA. Junior right-hander Austin Voth ranks second in the league and 11th in the country with 48 strikeouts. Voth pitched a season-high eight innings, allowing just four hits and one run, with three walks and six strikeouts against the Trojans on Sunday.
Washington State (15-8)
At 15-8, Washington State is off to its best start (through 23 games) since 2010. The Cougars swept Brown in a four-game set last week, outscoring the Bulldogs 45-4 in the series. Prior to Thursday’s game, Brown and WSU had not met in any varsity athletic competition since the 1916 Rose Bowl. The Cougars rank at or near the top of the Conference in a number of offensive statistical categories. They lead the Pac-12 in batting average (.320), slugging percentage (.486), on base percentage (.409), hits (.262), doubles (53), home runs (17) and total bases (380) and rank second in RBI (154) and runs scored (172). Moreover, three of the top five batting averages in the Pac-12 belong to Washington State players.
Go Devils !!