Pac-12 Baseball enters first week of conference play

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WEEKLY RECAP: The top four teams in the Pac-12 ended the final weekend of non-conference play undefeated. No. 2 Oregon State, the current Conference leader, now has a nine game winning-streak going into the first week of Pac-12 Conference play.  The Beavers won a four game-series at home against Ball State. No. 8 Arizona, second in the Pac-12, bested Hartford in a three-game series. Oregon, third in the Pac-12, hosted Santa Clara for a four-game series. The Ducks expanded their record to a six game winning-streak. Washington State went 4-0 against Utah Valley, rounding out the top four in the league. Utah played New Mexico State (2-1), Stanford played Rice (2-2), USC played Holy Cross (2-1), and Washington played Indiana State (2-2). The one game against a ranked opponent for the week came from unranked Arizona State playing No. 17 Cal State Fullerton, falling short 13-4. The Sun Devils also played Long Beach State (3-1). California played Pepperdine (3-0) and UCLA played Texas (0-3).

PREVIEWING THE WEEKEND: Utah (vs. Nevada), Washington State (at Long Beach State), and Arizona (at Cal State Fullerton) all have games on Wednesday before Conference play begins Thursday with Oregon State traveling to Arizona State. Arizona is ranked No. 8 and Cal State is ranked No. 15 this week, making the matchup the only top-25 game of the week. The Beaves and Sun Devils meet for a three-game series in Tempe, Ariz. Washington State plays USC at home for a three-game series with a double header on Saturday. Arizona travels to UCLA, Utah travels to Washington, and Oregon travels to California. On Tuesday, Arizona hosts New Mexico, Washington travels to Gonzaga, and USC travels to UC Irvine. Stanford does not play this week.

NUMBERS GAME: No. 8 Arizona currently sits atop of the national rankings in batting average (.370) and on base percentage (.462), as well as coming in second in runs (167) and fifth in doubles (46). No. 2 Oregon State is first in ERA (1.20) and fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (5.73). USC is sixth in fielding percentage (.984). Oregon and Oregon State are tied in seventh in shutouts (4) and both appear in the top-ten in strikeout-to-walk ratio in third (4.83) and sixth (4.23), respectively. Oregon State and Arizona sit at fourth (.933) and seventh (.867), respectively, in winning percentage.

INDIVIDUAL NATIONAL STATS LEADERS: Four Pac-12 players sit atop the national rankings this week. Arizona’s JJ Matijevic is tied for first in doubles (11), Oregon State’s Jake Mulholland is tied for first in ERA (0.00), Arizona’s Alfonso Rivas is first in on base percentage (.625), and Arizona’s JC Cloney and Oregon State’s Jake Thompson are tied for first in victories (4). Matijevic’s teammate Jared Oliva appears on the doubles ranking in fifth (10), as well as fifth in runs batted in (25). Arizona’s Cal Stevenson is sixth in runs (25). Oregon’s Kenyon Yvan is fifth in strikeouts (5). Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week Oregon’s David Peterson is eighth in strikeouts (40) and ninth in strikeout-to-walk ratio (13.33). Oregon State’s Nick Madrigal and Michael Gretler are sixth (56.0) and ninth (42.0), respectively, in toughest to strike out. Their teammate Cadyn Grenier is second in triples (4). 

IN THE RANKINGS: In the latest USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll, three teams are ranked. Oregon State leads the way at No. 2, Arizona is No. 8, and Stanford is No. 18. The NCBWA also has three teams ranked: Oregon State is No. 2, Arizona is No. 6, and Stanford is No. 16. Baseball America has the highest number of Pac-12 teams ranked for the week with four: Oregon State is No. 4, Arizona is No. 12, Stanford is No. 17, and Washington is No. 25. Collegiate Baseball also has four teams ranked: Oregon State is No. 1, Arizona is No. 5, Stanford is No. 20, and Oregon is No. 29.

ALL AMERICANS: The Pac-12 had eight different student-athletes from four different Pac-12 teams featured on Baseball America, NCBWA, and Collegiate Baseball preseason All-America teams.

GOLDEN SPIKES: The USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List features 50 amateurs, seven of which are student-athletes from four different Pac-12 teams. With seven, the Pac-12 has the third-most representatives among all conferences. Stanford leads the way for most representatives by one team, with three Cardinal student-athletes featured, tying Florida and TCU. Now in its 39th year recognizing the top amateur baseball player in the country, seven former Pac-12 baseball players have won the award, most recently pitcher Trevor Bauer of UCLA in 2011. 

STOPPER OF THE YEAR: The Pac-12 has nine student-athletes from nine different universities on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List, the most among all conferences. The National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association will be presenting the Stopper of the Year Award to the top relief pitcher in Division I baseball for the 13th straight year in 2017. 

DRAFT: Every Pac-12 school had at least one student-athlete drafted in the 2016 MLB Draft: Arizona (7), Arizona State (5), California (7), Oregon (5), Oregon State (5), Stanford (4), UCLA (5), USC (12), Utah (1), Washington (3) and Washington State (3). ASU leads all NCAA schools with 414 total MLB draft picks, and at least one Sun Devil has been drafted every year since the draft’s inception in 1965.

FAMILIAR FACES IN THE DUGOUT: After welcoming three new coaches last season, all 11 coaches return for the 2017 season. Second year Arizona head coach Jay Johnson looks to match or beat his performance last season. The Wildcats made it all the way to Game 3 of the NCAA College World Series before falling to Coastal Carolina. Three other Pac-12 teams also made it to the postseason- Arizona State, Utah, and Washington.

One of the premier coaches in college baseball history and a man whose name is synonymous with the Stanford baseball program, head coach Mark Marquess enters his 41st and final season with the Stanford Cardinal. Under his tutelage, Stanford has captured two NCAA titles, advanced to the CWS 14 times, appeared in the NCAA Regionals 29 and won at least a share of nine Pac-12 titles. A member of the American Baseball Coaches Hall of Fame, Marquess opens the 2017 season as the second-winningest active coach in the nation with a career record of 1,585-862-7 (.647). Coach Marquess and the Cardinal look to end a legendary union with a bang.

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