This Week in Pac-10 Baseball

April 29, 2008

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RACE HEATS UP FOR CONFERENCE TOP SPOT

After ARIZONA STATE lost it's top spot in the Conference standings to STANFORD last week, the Sun Devils came back to sweep CALIFORNIA and now are tied for No. 1 with the Cardinal. As the second half of Conference play begins, the race for the Pac-10 title heats up. OREGON STATE who currently sits at No. 3 knows what it takes to climb to the top as the Beavers were sitting at seventh in the standings only two weeks ago. The Beavers will look to continue to move up the ranks as it takes on WASHINGTON STATE this upcoming weekend. ARIZONA and California, currently have identical Conference records, but will take on each other this weekend to create a clear victor. WASHINGTON will travel to Los Angeles to take on USC and UCLA will try to slow down the Sun Devils' race to the top. The Pac-10 boasts four teams among the nation's leaders, here's where they rank this week (Baseball America): Stanford (3), Arizona State (4), California (16) and Arizona (23).

THIS WEEK'S SCHEDULE

Tue.,  April 29ARIZONA vs. San Diego State, 7 p.m.No. 23 OREGON STATE at Gonzaga, 6 p.m.UCLA at Pepperdine, 3 p.m.USC at Cal Poly, 6 p.m.WASHINGTON vs. Univ. of British Colombia (X), 6:30 p.m.

Wed., April 30ARIZONA vs. San Diego State, 1 p.m.No. 16 CALIFORNIA at Cal Poly, 6 p.m.No. 23 OREGON STATE at Gonzaga, TBANo. 3 STANFORD at UC Davis, 2:30 p.m.

Fri., May 2ARIZONA at No. 16 CALIFORNIA*, 2:30 p.m.No. 4 ARIZONA STATE at UCLA*, 6 p.m.WASHINGTON at USC*, 7 p.m.

Sat., May 3ARIZONA at No. 16 CALIFORNIA*, 1 p.m.No. 4 ARIZONA STATE at UCLA*, 2 p.m. FSNNo. 23 OREGON STATE at WASHINGTON STATE*, 5:30 p.m.No. 3 STANFORD vs. San Jose State, 1 p.m.WASHINGTON at USC*, 1:30 p.m.

Sun., May 4ARIZONA at No. 16 CALIFORNIA*, 1 p.m.No. 4 ARIZONA STATE at UCLA*, 1 p.m.No. 23 OREGON STATE at WASHINGTON STATE*, 2 p.m.No. 3 STANFORD at San Jose State, 1 p.m.WASHINGTON at USC*, 1 p.m.

Mon., May 5OREGON STATE at WASHINGTON STATE*, 12 p.m.STANFORD vs. Pacific, 6 p.m.

* - Pacific-10 Conference game

All times are local to site and subject to change.

PAC-10 NOTES

ARIZONA (28-13, 7-8): ARIZONA will host San Diego State in the final midweek two-game series of the season on Tuesday, April 29, and Wednesday, April 30, beforeheading out on their final road trip of the regular season on Thursday to take on Cal in Berkeley this Friday through Sunday. Last weekend, the Wildcats lost the series, 1-2, against the two-time defending national champs, Oregon State. The series was highlighted by a performance by Preston Guilmet, this week's Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week, who tossed a complete-game, five-hit shutout to pick up his fifth win of the season in a 7-0 UA victory at Oregon State last Friday. It was Guilmet's sixth career complete game and his third career CG shutout. Guilmet's 10 strikeouts in the contest made him just the eighth pitcher in Arizona history to eclipse the 300 mark. He enters his start next on Friday at Cal seventh all-time at Arizona with 301 strikeouts.

ARIZONA STATE (35-7, 10-5): ARIZONA STATE is now tied with Stanford for the top spot in the Conference standings after a series sweep against California. The Sun Devils had fallen to the No. 2 spot in the standings last week behind Stanford. Arizona State showed great patience at the plate during a three-game sweep of the Bears, scoring 40 runs, pounding out 31 hits and drawing 33 walks. Facing Cal ace Tyson Ross on Friday, the Devils scored three in the first and one in the second, but found themselves trailing 5-4 after Cal got to starter Mike Leake. Leake would settle down, allowing only two more Golden Bear runs, while the ASU offense heated up. Ryan Sontag, Brett Wallace and Kiel Roling all had two hits as the offense scored seven runs between the fifth and eighth to give ASU the 11-7 win. Leake went the whole way, picking up his seventh win of the season and his second complete game. Leake was the difference again on Saturday, this time with his bat, as his three-run triple in the seventh lifted ASU to another 11-7 win. Leake had four RBI and scored twice while starting at first base. The Devils jumped on Cal early in the finale, scoring 10 runs in the second on their way to an 18-2 win in seven innings and the series sweep. Jason Kipnis drove in four as eight of the nine starters had at least an RBI in the blowout win.

CALIFORNIA (27-13-2, 7-8): CALIFORNIA has a tough time against No. 6 Arizona State as it was swept by the Sun Devils. In a back and forth game between two Top-10 nationally ranked teams, the No. 7 California baseball team fell to No. 6-ranked Arizona State, 11-7, Friday night. The Golden Bears had held a 7-4 lead going into the bottom of the fifth inning, but yielded a run in the fifth, four runs in the sixth and single runs in the seventh and eighth innings for the final 11-7 score. On Saturday, the Golden Bears fell to the Sun Devils by the score of 11-7. The Golden Bears had tied the game, 7-7, on sophomore catcher Dylan Tonneson's three-run homer in the sixth inning, only to see Cal give up four runs in the bottom of the seventh inning. California scored two runs in the top of the first inning on RBI singles from senior second baseman Josh Satin and sophomore center fielder Brett Jackson, but that was the highlight for the Golden Bears as they fell to Arizona State, 18-2, Sunday in the series final. Cal suffer its first series sweep of the season and lose three games in a row for the first time this season.

OREGON STATE (20-14, 8-7): OREGON STATE won two of three games against then-ranked No. 23 Arizona. Chris Hopkins finished the three-game series against the Wildcats with a .545 batting average (6-for-11) with three runs, an RBI, two doubles and a stolen base. The senior was essential in Oregon State's 2-1 series win over the Wildcats, collecting three hits the first night and two on Saturday. He doubled to go along with two singles and a stolen base on Friday night. On Saturday, the Oakland native was 2-for-4 with two runs scored in the 4-3 victory. Hopkins scored the eventual game-winning run in the seventh after reaching on an infield single. On Sunday, Hopkins doubled home a run in the fifth and scored the eventual game-winner again in the 3-2 win. Teammate Tanner Robles, also had an impressive weekend as he came in on Saturday and shut down the Wildcats, limiting the club to just two hits and two runs in 7 2/3 innings. Robles walked none and struck out seven in Oregon State's 4-3 win. In five of the seven full innings he worked, Robles limited the Wildcats to the minimum three batters faced. Three of those five were the fifth, sixth and seventh innings, and he retired the first two batters he faced in the eighth before being replaced. Arizona managed to get runners to third base just three times. The win was Robles' third of the season.

STANFORD (25-13-2, 10-5): STANFORD won the series against USC last weekend helping the Cardinal remain in the top position of the Conference standing ties with Arizona State. In five games last week, all of which he started, Stanford's Jason Castro batted .550 (11-for-20) with a triple, his ninth home run of the season, eight RBI, 10 runs scored, and three walks. Castro hit safely in all five games, highlighted by a 3-for-3 effort Wednesday against Saint Mary's, and a 4-for-6, four-RBI effort in Saturday's 26-5 victory over USC. He also slugged .800 and posted an on-base percentage of .577 for the week, and did not strikeout over his 26 plate appearances during the week. Junior RHP Austin Yount turned in his finest outing of the season in Friday's 4-0 win against USC in the weekend opener. Yount tossed 7.1 shutout innings, allowing only three hits and a pair of walks while striking out a USC batter. His masterful performance in silencing the USC offense evened his record at 2-2 and lowered his ERA to 1.88.

UCLA (22-17, 6-6): The UCLA baseball team opens a five-game week with two games against West Coast Conference competition. The Bruins play at Pepperdine on Tuesday before hosting Loyola Marymount at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Wednesday. UCLA defeated Pepperdine, 11-3, when the two teams met in Westwood on March 11 this season. The Bruins will send right-hander Garett Claypool to the hill Tuesday, and left-hander Matt Grace will make his first start on the mound in Wednesday's game against visiting Loyola Marymount. The Bruins rebounded from a 5-2 loss at Washington on Friday, April 25, to win the final two games of the three-game set at Husky Ballpark. UCLA broke open a scoreless tie with a four-run sixth inning on Saturday and won, 8-1. The Bruins outlasted Washington, 4-3, on Sunday with a clutch three-run rally in the eighth inning. First baseman Casey Haerther finished the trip at Washington going 6-for-12 (.500) with one homer, five RBI, two doubles and two runs. Sophomores Charles Brewer and Gavin Brooks each picked up the wins on Saturday and Sunday, respectively, to lead UCLA to its second Pac-10 series victory.

USC (20-22, 7-8): The USC baseball team travels to Cal Poly for a nonconference game on Tuesday, April 29, before hosting Washington in a Pac-10 Conference series, Friday-Sunday, May 2-4. Junior pitcher Tommy Milone has not allowed a home run in 65 1/3 innings. Shortstop Grant Green has a 17-game hitting streak, batting .500 (35-for-70) with seven homers and 20 RBI. In Pac-10 games only, Derek Perren is second in the conference with a .466 average while Green leads the conference with a .797 slugging percentage.

WASHINGTON (25-16, 5-7): The WASHINGTON baseball team play host to the University of British Columbia in a 6:30 p.m. game Tuesday at Husky Ballpark. While the game will count in UBC's stats, it will serve as an exhibition for the Huskies. The Dawgs return to Pac-10 action next weekend with a three-game series against USC in Los Angeles. Junior starter Jorden Merry held UCLA to two runs on four hits over eight innings, tying his career-high with nine strikeouts, as the Washington baseball team opened a three-game series with a 5-2 win over the Bruins Friday night. Merry improved his spotless record to 6-0 on the season. Washington got a two-run homer from Troy Scott and a solo shot from Kyle Conley to account for their first three runs. On Saturday, UW starter Cam Nobles (3-3) suffered the loss despite holding the Bruins to only one hit through the first five and two-thirds innings as the Bruins beat the Huskies, 8-1. He finished having surrendered four runs (three earned) on five hits over six and one-third. On Sunday, Husky southpaw Nick Haughian (4-4) was charged with the loss. The junior went the distance, allowing four runs (two earned) on seven hits. He walked two and struck out eight as UCLA got away with the 4-3 victory over the Huskies.

WASHINGTON STATE (22-19, 3-9): The WASHINGTON STATE baseball team took a break from Conference action as it hosted San Jose State last weekend. Matt Way tossed a six-hitter as Washington State defeated San Jose State 8-3 in the opener of a three-game series on Friday. Way (2-3) made his first start since April 24, 2007 and threw 130 pitches, 89 for strikes. He struck out eight and provided the Cougars their first complete game of the season. For the second time in five days, Washington State rallied in its last at bat to earn a victory as the Cougars defeated San Jose State 7-5. Travis Coulter capped a four-run bottom of the eighth for Washington State (22-18) with a two-run single that broke a 5-5 tie and made a winner out of reliever Andrew Davis (4-2). On Sunday, San Jose State scored four times in the fourth inning and posted a 6-2 victory over Washington State. The Spartans won for the eighth time in their last 10 games and snapped a three-game Washington State winning streak.

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