NCAA regional play kicks off friday for five Pac-12 baseball teams

Dan Avila
 
Five teams earned bids to the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. OREGON STATE received the No. 1 overall seed in the tournament, its highest in program history. The Beavers--who are making a school-record sixth-straight NCAA postseason appearance--will be hosting a regional in Corvallis for the second-straight year. ARIZONA STATE, OREGON, STANFORD and WASHINGTON all received at large bids and will travel on opening weekend, with the Sun Devils earning the No. 2 seed in the San Luis Obispo Regional, the Ducks a No. 2 seed in the Nashville Regional, the Cardinal a No. 3 seed in the Bloomington Regional and the Huskies a No. 2 seed in the Oxford Regional. The Beavers host fourth-seeded North Dakota State to open regional play on Friday, while Arizona State takes on No. 3 Pepperdine and Oregon faces No. 3 seed Clemson. Stanford--returning to the tournament after a one year-absence--will battle No.2 Indiana State in Bloomington, Ind., while the Huskies will go up against third-seeded Georgia Tech. UW is making its first appearance in the NCAA regionals since 2004--which were also in Oxford--and will face Georgia Tech in the postseason for the third time since 1994. Oregon State clinched its second-consecutive and fourth Conference title overall since 1999 after needing just one win over the weekend at USC to earn the title. The Beavers, which previously claimed league crowns in 2006 and 2007 prior to 2013, went on to win the national championship both years. The Golden Spikes Award list was trimmed to 21 semifinalists on Tuesday, and two Pac-12 players made the cut: Oregon State junior outfielder Michael Conforto and Washington junior RHP Tyler Davis. Three teams enter the first round of postseason play ranked in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches Poll. Oregon State sits at No. 2, followed by Washington at No. 18, and Oregon at No. 19. ARIZONA STATE also received votes in the poll. Pac-12 teams wrapped up the regular season with a 149-97-2 (.605) record against non-conference competition. All NCAA postseason games are available on ESPN3.
 
UPCOMING SCHEDULE
Friday, May 30
Bloomington Regional (Bloomington, Ind.)
No. 2 Indiana State vs. No. 3 Stanford, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 1 Indiana vs. No. 4 Youngstown State, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
 
Corvallis Regional (Corvallis, Ore.)
No. 1 Oregon State vs. No. 4 North Dakota State, 8 p.m. (ESPNU)
No. 2 UNLV vs. No. 3 UC Irvine, 2 p.m. (ESPN3)
 
Nashville Regional (Nashville, Tenn.)
No. 2 Oregon vs. No. 3 Clemson , 3 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 1 Vanderbilt vs. No. 4 Xavier, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
 
Oxford Regional (Oxford, Miss.)
No. 2 Washington  vs. No. 3 Georgia Tech, 3 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 1 Ole Miss  vs. No. 4 Jacksonville State, 7 p.m. (ESPN3)
 
San Luis Obispo Regional (San Luis Obispo, Calif.)
No. 2 Arizona State  vs. No. 3 Pepperdine, 1 p.m. (ESPN3)
No. 1 Cal Poly  vs. No. 4 Sacramento State, 6 p.m. (ESPN3)
 
Fri.-Mon. June 6-9
NCAA Super Regionals, TBA
 
Sat.-Mon./Tues., June 14-25
College World Series, TBA
 
Each regional will feature two games Friday, Saturday and Sunday. A seventh game will take place on Monday, June 2, if necessary.
 
Each of the 16 regionals features four teams playing a double elimination format. The regionals are scheduled to be conducted from Friday, May 30 to Monday, June 2 (if necessary).
 
Game times are local to site and subject to change. 
 
NCAA Championship National Top Eight Seeds
1. OREGON STATE (42-12)
2. Florida (40-21)
3. Virginia (44-13)
4. Indiana (42-13)
5. Florida State (43-15)
6. La.-Lafayette (53-7)
7. TCU (42-15)
8. LSU (44-14-1)
 
PAC-12 BASEBALL NOTES
Arizona State (33-22, 19-11)  
The Sun Devils wrapped up the final month of the regular season with four-consecutive Conference series victories and finished in third-place in the Pac-12 standings. ASU earned an at-large berth to the 2014 NCAA Tournament and will make its fourth appearance in the last five years. They will look to return to the College World Series for the first time since 2010, the last year they notched 19 league vitories. Its eight Conference series victories in 2014 are tied for most in school history. ASU will travel to San Luis Obispo, Calif. as the No. 2 seed in the regional hosted by Cal Poly and will face No. 3 Pepperdine on Friday at 1 p.m. PT. The Sun Devils head into regional play as winners of nine of their last 10 games. They will look to the offense to continue to produce and carry them through the postseason. That group finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the Pac-12 in batting average (.286), slugging percentage (.389) and hits (546) and No. 2 in on-base percentage (.374) and runs scored (325).
 
Oregon (42-18, 18-12) 
While the Ducks lost two of three at home to California on the final weekend of regular season play andwould have liked to wrap up on a better note, the most important thing is that they heard their name called on Monday morning as the field of 64 teams was announced for the 2014 NCAA tournament. Oregon earned its third-straight trip to NCAA postseason play and fourth under head coach George Horton since the baseball program was reinstated in 2009. Oregon, who ended the season fourth in the Pac-12, is one of four Pac-12 teams traveling for the first round as they head to Nashville, Tenn. as the No. 2 seed in the regional hosted by Vanderbilt. They will take on No. 3 seed Clemson at 10 a.m. PT on Friday. As they have all season, the Ducks will rely on their pitching staff to lead the way deep into the posteason. They have been the headliners in 2014, recording a 3.03 ERA--which was good for second in the Pac-12--and a .234 opposing batting average, also good for second. Additionally, their 446 batters struck out was a Conference-best during the regular season. 
 
Oregon State (42-12, 23-7) 
The Beavers captured their second-consecutive Pac-12 championship with a win on the final weekend of the regular season, and were rewarded with the No. 1 overalll national seed in the 2014 NCAA tourament. It is the highest seeding ever for OSU--a No. 8 seed in 2005 and No. 3 last season--as they will host a regional in Corvallis for the second-straight year and fifth time ever. Oregon State--who is 12-0 when hosting since 2005-- will make its 15th overall and a program-record sixth-straight NCAA appearance on Friday when they host Summit League Champion and No. 4 seed North Dakota State at 8 p.m. PT on ESPNU. The Beavers are seeking a second-consecutive trip to the College World Series and their fifth since 2005. With an impressive combination of offense, defense and pitching firepower, this OSU team is looking like a serious favorite to win it all. The offense ranked in the top-5 of the Conference in every major category, including first in on-base percentage (.384) and runs batted in (292). The excellent pitching staff was first in the Pac-12 and second in the country as a team in ERA (2.13) and owned three of the top five individual spots atop the Conference in the same category, led by lefty Ben Wetzler. The senior was first in the Pac-12 and led the country in regulars season ERA at 0.76. 
 
Stanford (30-23, 16-14) 
After a one year absence, the Cardinal return to the NCAA tournament after finishing tied for fifth in league standings. Longtime head coach Mark Marquess has his team in the postseason for the 29th time in the last 34 years. Stanford heads to the Bloomington Regional as the No. 3 seed and will face No. 2 Indiana State on Friday at 11 a.m. PT. It was the Cardinal’s play over the second half of the season that solidifed its at large bid as they went 19-7 in its last 26 games and 8-2 in its last 10, including four-straight league series victories to close the season. Stanford also faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation, recording 18 wins over ranked opponents and league series wins over Oregon and Arizona State. The pitching staff has been solid in 2014,  with a 3.45 ERA that was fifth in the Conference while opponents hit just .235 against them--which was good for third in the league. In its 30 wins this season, Stanford outscored opponents 191-90.
 
Washington (39-15-1, 21-9) 
Despite dropping the last two Conference series of the regular season, the Huskies finished second in the Pac-12 standings--their highest finish since 2004. That was also the last year they made an appearance in the postseason as they had gone longer than any other Pac-12 school without an NCAA bid. Coincidentally, the Huskies will return to the same regional site they played at in 2004 as they head to Oxford, Miss. as the No. 2 seed in the regional hosted by Ole Miss. They will take on No. 3 Georgia Tech in a first round game on Friday at 1 p.m. PT. UW, who is 19-16 in eight previous postseason appearances, have faced Georgia Tech twice before in the NCAA tournament, losing to them in 1994, then taking the top-seeded Rambling Wrecks down in 1997. After being picked to finish 10th in the preseason coaches poll, UW had one of its best years and will look to make its first College World Series appearance in program history. Washington was well-balanced on all sides of the ball as they owned the Conference’s best fielding percentage (.981), second-best batting average (.280) and slugging percentage (.383) and third-best ERA (3.23). 
 
NCAA CHAMPIONSHIP NOTES
-The Pac-12 has been represented in each of the last 17 College World Series. Since 1996, at least one Conference squad has made every trip to Omaha. 
-The Conference has advanced two teams to the College World Series each of the last two years, with Arizona (2012) and UCLA (2013) winning the last two. Dating back to Oregon State’s back-to-back championships in 2006 & 2007, a Pac-12 school has won four of the last eight CWS titles.
-The five Conference teams in the field account for 44 College World appearances (ASU-22, OSU-5, STAN-16 and ORE-1) and seven national championships (ASU-5, OSU-2) between them. 
 
 
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