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Three nationally ranked teams lead Pac-12 baseball

Mar 21, 2018

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WEEKLY RECAP: OREGON STATE (18-1) is the No. 1 team in the country, claiming the top spot and 30-of-31 first-place votes in the USA Today Coaches Poll as well as three other nationally recognized polls - NCBWA, Baseball America, and Collegiate Baseball. The Beavers own the best winning percentage in the nation (.947) and the fewest losses of any team in the country (one). No. 3 nationally ranked STANFORD (14-2) is close behind with the third-best win percentage in the nation (.875) and is the only other team with a first-place vote in the USA Today Coaches poll.

Four of last week’s five opening series of league play were sweeps as OSU was joined by three other teams with blemish free 3-0 records - No. 13 UCLA, WASHINGTON and ARIZONA STATE. The Cardinal begin Pac-12 play this week by hosting USC, which took 2-of-3 from its opening series against Utah.

Oregon State boasts an 18-1 overall record after sweeping CALIFORNIA in a three-game series last week to match the program’s best record through 19 games (1951, 1962, 2013 and 2017). STANFORD also ranks in the nation’s top-5, holding the No. 3 spot after winning 3-of-4 games of a road series at then-No. 23 Texas. The Cardinal ran off three straight wins (7-1 Friday, 9-3 Saturday, 11-1 Sunday) after a narrow 8-6 loss in the opener against the Longhorns.

USC’s pitching trio of Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week Kyle Hurt, Austin Manning and Connor Lunn made program history last week by throwing a combined no-hitter in a 2-0 shutout victory against Utah. Hurt threw 7.2 innings to earn the win in the Trojans’ seventh no-hitter in history, first since 2000 and first in nine innings since 1986. The Trojans are 11-5 this season and 2-1 in Conference play after taking their Pac-12 series opener against Utah.

No. 13 ranked UCLA swept Washington State last week. The Bruins posted a 6-5 victory in the opener, then rallied from a four-run deficit with a four-run eighth inning to overcome the Cougars, 8-5, in the second game and finished the week with a 5-4 win on Sunday.

WASHINGTON opened league play with a 7-1 win as four different pitchers helped break ARIZONA’s five-game win streak by holding the Wildcats to just seven hits. The Huskies went on to claim the series with a ninth-inning walk-off 1-0 win on Saturday followed by freshman Noah Hsue singling home the winning run to close out a 3-2 victory on Sunday.

PREVIEWING THE WEEKEND: Oregon State hosts a three-game series versus Washington starting on Friday night at Goss Stadium. The Beavers opened Pac-12 with a 3-0 record for the third consecutive season and have won their past 14 league games, the longest Conference win streak in the nation. Oregon hosts California for a pivotal three-game series after both teams went 0-3 last week. The Ducks moved up one place to No. 20 in the NCAA RPI, while the Bears check in at No. 32 right behind UCLA at No. 30. The Pac-12 has five teams in the RPI top 40 and two teams in the top 5.

Four games will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks, starting with the Washington versus Oregon State and Arizona versus UCLA matchups on Friday and Sunday, respectively. Utah will make up its three-game series against Sacramento State this week and then will face No. 23 UNLV on Tuesday.

NUMBERS GAME: The Trojans lead the nation with a .990 fielding percentage. USC has just six errors in 17 games this season. Arizona States leads the nation in triples per game (.57) totaling 12 thus far. Three teams tank in the top-15 earned run average, led by No. 7 Stanford (2.33) followed by No. 9 Arizona (2.42) and No. 11 UCLA (2.44).

California maintains the best batting average in the conference (.318) and ranks 12 th nationally, with the help of outfielder Andrew Vaughn, putting up a .469 average for the fifth best in the country. Vaughn follows right behind Arizona State’s Gage Canning in fourth (.494). Cal leads the Conference in several statistical categories including slugging pct (.497), on base pct (.407), runs scored (153), hits (186) runs batted in (136), home runs (26), and total bases (333).

STARS DELIVERING: Pac-12 Player of the Week Gage Canning helped the Sun Devils to a 3-1 week which included opening Pac-12 play with a three-game sweep against Oregon (7-4, 18-4, 6-1). On the week, he went 10-for-17 from the plate (.588) with two home runs, two triples, eight runs scored, seven RBIs, a 1.235 slugging percentage and a .667 on-base percentage. Canning is eight first or second in 11 batting categories, leading the Conference in hits, (43), doubles (9) and triples (8).

Two Pac-12 athletes have been named candidates for 2018 Senior CLASS Award, an honor is given annually to a Division I senior student-athlete in baseball who has notable achievements in four areas of excellence: community, classroom, character and competition. Oregon State outfielder Jack Anderson has competed in 18 of the team’s 19 games this season and carries a .286 batting average. Anderson also performs in the classroom as a two-time Pac-12 All-Academic First Team member and was named CoSIDA Academic All-District last year. Oregon’s second baseman Kyle Kasser boasts a 3.17 GPA in economics and participates in the community as a three-year member and past co-director of the Student Athlete Advisory Council (SAAC). Kasser was a 2017 first-team All-Pac-12 Conference selection after hitting .381 in league games for the third highest in the Conference.

IN THE RANKINGS: After four weeks Oregon State is the unanimous No. 1 team in the national followed by No. 3 Stanford that has begun to see some movement reaching the No. 2 spot in Collegiate Baseball’s top-30 poll. UCLA inches closer to the top-10 while five teams are receiving votes from the USA Today Coaches poll or the NCBWA.

ALL AMERICANS: The Pac-12 had 11 different student-athletes from six 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, six of which are student-athletes from four different Pac-12 teams. With six players, the Pac-12 is tied for the third-most representatives among all conferences. California and Stanford are 2-of-6 total schools with two players on the watch list. Now in its 40th 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.

USA Baseball Golden Spikes Watch List
Kris Bubic, STAN, SP
Tanner Dodson, CAL, UTL
Nico Hoerner, STAN, SS
Nick Madrigal, OSU, 2B
Alfonso Rivas, ARIZ, 1B
Andrew Vaughn, CAL, 1B

STOPPER OF THE YEAR: The Pac-12 has four student-athletes on the NCBWA Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List. Arizona State’s Connor Higgins, California’s Erik Martinez, Oregon State’s Jake Mulholland and Oregon’s Kenyon Yovan. 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 14th straight year at the College World Series on Saturday, June 16, 2018.

NCBWA Stopper of the Year Watch List
Connor Higgins, ASU, LHP
Erik Martinez, CAL, P
Jake Mulholland, OSU, LHP
Kenyon Yovan, ORE, RHP

CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)

Teams Pac-12 Record Overall Record
#1 Oregon State 3-0 18-1
#13 UCLA 3-0 13-4
Washington  3-0 10-8
Arizona State  3-0 11-10
USC 2-1 11-6
Utah 1-2 2-17
#3 Stanford 0-0 14-2
Oregon  0-3 12-7
California  0-3 12-7
Arizona 0-3 11-9
Washington State 0-3 4-12

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Friday, March 23    
Sacramento State at UTAH   5 p.m.
CALIFORNIA at OREGON    6 p.m
WASHINGTON STATE at ARIZONA    6 p.m.
USC at #3 STANFORD   6:05 p.m.
WASHINGTON at #1 OREGON STATE P12N 7 p.m.
ARIZONA STATE at #13 UCLA P12N 7 p.m.
Saturday, March 24    
Sacramento State at UTAH    12 p.m.
ARIZONA STATE at #13 UCLA  P12N 1 p.m.
USC at #3 STANFORD    1:05 p.m.
WASHINGTON at #1 OREGON STATE   1:35 p.m.
CALIFORNIA at OREGON   2 p.m.
WASHINGTON STATE at ARIZONA    6 p.m.
Sunday, March 25    
CALIFORNIA at OREGON    12 p.m.
ARIZONA STATE at #13 UCLA  P12LA 12 p.m.
Sacramento State at UTAH    12 p.m.
WASHINGTON STATE at ARIZONA    1 p.m.
USC at #3 STANFORD    1:05 p.m.
WASHINGTON at #1 OREGON STATE  P12N  3 p.m.
Monday, March 26    
San Francisco at OREGON    1 p.m.
Tuesday, March 27    
#23 UNLV at UTAH    1 p.m.
USC at Cal State Fullerton    6 p.m.
San Diego at #3 STANFORD    6:05 p.m.
UC Davis at CALIFORNIA    7:05 p.m.

2018 PAC-12 PLAYER AND PITCHER OF THE WEEK

 Week of Player Pitcher
Feb. 20 Trevor Larnach, OSU Tristan Beck, STAN
Feb. 27 Jonah Davis, CAL Joe DeMers, WASH
March 6 Spencer Torkelson, ASU Tristan Beck, STAN
March 12 Andrew Vaughn, CAL Parker Kelly, ORE
March 19 Gage Canning, ASU Kyle Hurt, USC