This year in Pac-12 baseball

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OREGON STATE won its second-consecutive Pac-12 Championship after going 23-7 in league play. Ranked in the top-five throughout the entire season, the Beavers earned the No. 1 overall national seed in the 2014 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. OSU made a school-reacord sixth-straight NCAA postseason appearance and hosted a regional in Corvallis for the second-straight year. Four other teams earned NCAA postseason at-large bids in ARIZONA STATE, OREGON, STANFORD and WASHINGTON. The Pac-12 runner up Huskies finished just two games back from the Beavers after being picked to finished 10th out of 11 teams in the preseason poll. UW returned to the NCAA Championships for the first time since 2004 and reached 40 or more wins for just the fifth time in program history. In one of the most unpredictable regional rounds in NCAA Baseball Championship history, only three of eight national seeds advanced to Super Regionals with only one Pac-12 team managing to advance out of the Regional round. The Cardinal--who finished tied for fifth in the league--upset Indiana to win the Bloomington Regional thanks to a two-run walkoff homerun in the Regional final. The Beavers fell to UC Irvine in their respective Regional final, while the Sun Devils, Ducks and Huskies all fell in regionals on the road. Stanford traveled to Nashville to take on Vanderbilt, but the Cardinal’s hot bats couldn’t overcome the Commodores’ stingy pitching staff. With no teams advancing to the College World Series, streaks of two-consecutive Pac-12 NCAA Champions and 17-straight years with a Pac-12 representative in Omaha were snapped. OSU sophomore outfielder Michael Conforto was named the Pac-12 Player of the Year for the second-consecutive year, while Beaver LHP Jace Fry earned Pitcher of the Year honors. WASHINGTON junior shortstop Erik Forgione was tabbed the Defensive Player of the Year, STANFORD freshman right-hander Cal Quantrill was named Freshman of the Year and Washington’s Lindsay Meggs garnered Coach of the Year laurels. Conforto and Cardinal third baseman Alex Blandino were both chosen in the first round of the 2014 Draft. In total, the Pac-12 saw 54 players drafted.

PAC-12 BASEBALL NOTES
 
-The Pac-12 was represented in the 17 College World Series straight dating back to 1996 and until this year, had never missed out on one since the current format was adopted in 1999.
 
-The Conference advanced two teams to the College World Series two of the last three years, with Arizona (2012) and UCLA (2013) winning two of the last three. Dating back to Oregon State’s back-to-back championships in 2006 & 2007, a Pac-12 school has won four of the last nine CWS titles.
 
-The Pac-12 has produced at least three 40-win teams in six of the last eight seasons. Oregon State (45) has reached the plateau five times during that stretch, while Oregon (48) has won at least 40 games four times since the program was reinstated in 2009. Washington (41) won 40 plus games for the first time since 2003 and reached the plateau for just the fifth time in school history.
 
-The Pac-12 had a total of 54 players selected in the 2014 MLB Draft, including two in the first round in two-time Pac-12 Player of the Year Michael Conforto (10ther overall) and Stanford third baseman Alex Blandino (29th overall). The Pac-12 has now produced 31 first round draft picks since 2006 and has seen at least one player come off the board in the first round every year during that span, including top-10 overall picks the last two-consecutive years. 
 
SEASON WRAP-UP
 
Arizona (22-33, 9-21) 
The Wildcats wrapped up the 2014 regular season on a winning note, taking two of three from Abilene Christian to win the series. While the pitching struggled, the offense was solid in 2014, ranking in the middle or near the top in nearly every major offensive statistical category, including batting average (.280, 3rd), on-base pct (.362, 4th), runs scored (286, 5th), hits (527, 2nd) and runs batted in (252, 5th). Individually, Arizona had two hitters in the top-8 in batting average in the Pac-12, led by Scott Kingery’s .354 average, which was good for fifth. 
 
Arizona State (33-24, 19-11)  
The Sun Devils made its fourth appearance in the NCAA Championship bracket in the last five years, but lost two close one-run games as they were eliminated from play. ASU finished third in the Pac-12 regualr season standings thanks to four-straight league series wins to end the regular season. They headed into regional play as winners of nine of their last 10 games, but could extend that to the postseason. The offense was the headliner this year as they 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).
 
California (26-27, 13-17)
The Bears may not have made the postseason, but they did finish May strong, winning seven of their last nine, including taking two of three from Oregon on the final weekend. Overall, the struggles this season and below .500 record was in part to facing a tough schedule with half their games against ranked teams, including a stretch of three of four series against ranked Conference opponents. The offense was led by Devon Rodriguez and Derek Campbell, who hit at a .284 and .266 clip, respectively. 
 
Oregon (44-20, 18-12) 
The Ducks, who finished fourth in the Pac-12, made their third-straight NCAA postseason appearance over the weekend and fourth overall under head Coach George Horton since the program was reinstated in 2009. Playing in Nashvile, Oregon won game one in blowout fashion by a score of 18-1 over Clemson, but couldn’t get past tournament-host Vanderbilt as they fell 7-2 and 3-2 in two games against the Commodores. The Ducks were led by their pitching staff in 2014, who recorded a 3.03 ERA in the regular season--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 (45-14, 23-7) 
The back-to-back Pac-12 Champions earned their highest seed ever as they were the No. 1 overall seed heading into regional play in Corvallis on opening weekend of the NCAA Championships. Making a school-record sixth-straight appearance in postseason play and hosting for the second-straight year, the Beavers were one of many high seeds who fell victim to the pressure of lofty expecations. After losing the second game to UC Irvine, OSU couldn’t beat the Anteaters two more times to reach the Super Regional round. Despite the dissapointing end, it was a tremendous year for the Beavers, who were a well balanced team led by an excellent pitching staff. That group ended the regular season 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 the regular season ERA at 0.76. 
 
Stanford (35-26, 16-14) 
Stanford, who finished tied for fifth in Conference, made a surprising postseason run as the only team who was able to advance to Super Regionals. The Cardinal used an explosion of offense, home runs and stellar pitching by Pac-12 Freshman of the Year Cal Quantirill to shock Indiana, then fell just short of upsetting Vanderbilt to reach the CWS. The team went 24-10 in its last 34 games to earn the at-large bid. That stretch included four-straight league series victories to close the season. Stanford faced one of the toughest schedules in the nation, recording 18 regular season wins over ranked opponents and league series wins over Oregon and Arizona State. 
 
UCLA (25-30-1, 12-18) 
The 2013 NCAA National Champions unfortunately won’t get a chance to defend their title this year; however they did take two of three at No. 8 Washington on the final weekend. It was an injury riddled season for the Bruins, who have had five regular starters miss time due to injury in addition to All-American closer David Berg missing more than a month due to a bicep strain. The misfortune of injuries forced a variety of lineups and pushed inexperienced players on to the field and into the batters box--which should bode well for next year. A bright spot this year for UCLA was right hander James Kaprielian, who has had a stellar sophomore campaign with a team-leading 2.29 ERA and a Conference-best 108 strikeouts.
 
USC (29-24, 16-14) 
Despite missing the postseason, USC had one of their strongest season in years, finishing fith after being picked to finish ninth. The Trojans were one of the first four teams left out of the 2014 bracket, the closest they’ve been to the tournament since 2005. A bright spot for USC this year was the offense, led by seniors Jake Hernandez and Kevin Swick, who hit at a .327 and .299 clip, respectively. 
 
Utah (16-36, 4-26) 
While the Utes may have struggled this year, but they did get some strong production on the offensive side of the plate from sophomore outfielder Wyler Smith and senior infielder TJ Bennett, who combined for 104 hits and 48 RBI on the year. 
 
Washington (41-17-1, 21-9) 
UW made its ninth NCAA postseason appearance in school history and first in 10 years, but the team was unable to advance to Super Regionals with host Ole Miss edging them out in two close games to win and advance. It was the most wins for the Huskies since 2003 and marked just the fifth time the program reached that plateau. Washington was well-balanced on all sides of the ball this year 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) during the regular season. 
 
Washington State  (24-30, 14-16) 
WSU turned in a solid season with a relatively young roster--making the future look bright for the Coungars. A pariticular highlight this year for the WSU relief staff was freshman closer Ian Hamilton. In his first season of college baseball, he lead the Conference with 15 saves--a mark that was tied for seventh in the country a the end of the regular season.
 
 
 
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