Three-way tie atop Pac-12 baseball third of way through season
WEEKLY RECAP: No. 14-ranked UCLA pulled into a three-way tie for first place in the Pac-12 and climbed four spots in the USA Today national poll after claiming two of three games against No. 2 STANFORD last week. UCLA (19-9, 8-4) ties for the top spot with Stanford (24-5, 6-3) and WASHINGTON (15-14, 6-3) with OREGON STATE (24-6, 7-5) sitting fourth. Two Pac-12 teams remain in the top-10 with No. 2 Stanford and No. 7 OSU while ARIZONA is receiving votes.
The Bruins opened the series with an 8-4 victory and then the Cardinal tied it up with a high scoring 13-11 win, holding off a five-run rally from UCLA in the ninth. Ryan Garcia’s 4.2 scoreless innings in relief helped UCLA finish the weekend with a 7-2 win in the series finale on Sunday. Pac-12 Player of the Week Chase Strumpf led the Bruins in batting going 8-of-12 (.667) with a 1.250 slugging percentage, .789 on-base percentage, eight RBIs and has hit a home run in three consecutive games.
Scotty Sunitsch pitched WASHINGTON STATE’s 25th no-hitter in program history in the Cougars’ 7-0 win over OREGON in the series finale on Sunday. It marked the third no-hitter in the Pac-12 so far this season (Joe DeMers, WASH; combined: Kyle Hurt, Austin Manning, Connor Lunn, USC) the most for the league since 1974. The Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week and NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week struck out a career-high nine batters and walked two to record WSU’s first solo nine-inning no-hitter since 1976 (Eric Wilkins against Oregon State). The Ducks claimed the first two games by close scores (2-1, 4-2) to secure the series victory.
WASHINGTON pitcher Joe DeMers threw a complete game in an 8-0 upset over then No. 11-ranked East Carolina as the Huskies took one in the three-game series. The junior struck out seven batters while allowing only six base runners and set down 12-straight batters after the fifth inning. On Tuesday, the Huskies rallied back from an early deficit to tie it up 3-3 in the eighth inning before infielder Willie MacIver hit a two-run homer for a 5-3 walk-off win over Gonzaga.
ARIZONA knocked off No. 7 Oregon State last week for its first regular season series win over a top-5 opponent since 2012. OSU opened the series with a 6-2 victory in large part to three runs in the top of the sixth. The Wildcats won back-to back games with a dominating 15-4 win on Saturday and 6-5 victory in the rubber match with a walk-off single in the ninth inning from outfielder Alfonso Rivas.
Due to weather delays, CALIFORNIA completed a series win versus UTAH in a rare tripleheader on Saturday. The first game reached the eighth inning Thursday before an eventual Cal victory 7-6, opened Saturday’s triple bill. Utah’s batting leader DaShawn Keirsey (.410) went 3-for-4 with four RBI and scored three runs to lift Utah over California, 12-10, in Game 2. The Golden Bears earned the series with the help of an early 4-1 lead in the third inning, besting the Utes 5-1.
PREVIEWING THE WEEKEND: This week’s ranked matchup highlights No. 7 Oregon State visiting No. 25 Missouri State in a three-game non league series. The first game of Friday’s doubleheader will start at 9 a.m. PT and will air on ESPNU while Game 3 will stream on the new ESPN+ on Sunday. Pac-12 Network will air all three games of the Pac-12 series featuring Oregon at Washington and USC hosting Arizona. Impactful games this week spotlight league co-leader Stanford against fifth-place Arizona State as the two teams are separated by 1.5 games.
NUMBERS GAME: The Pac-12 has three teams in the top-10 lowest ERA in the country - Stanford (2.72) and UCLA (2.72) tied for fourth and No. 6 Arizona (2.74). Stanford holds the nation’s best WHIP (1.06), the third-best win-loss percentage (.828) and is fifth in walks allowed per nine innings (2.65). ASU has the third most triples (14) in collegiate baseball and USC comes in ninth in fielding percentage (.982).
STARS DELIVERING: The national home run race is currently being led by two Pac-12 athletes. Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson is first with 16, followed by California’s Andrew Vaughn in second with 15 homers. OSU’s Luke Heimlich is 1-of-7 players in the country with an NCAA-best seven victories this season. Gage Canning of ASU tops the nation with nine triples (.27 per game), is tied for second in hits (56), and ranks third in total bases (100).
California outfielder Vaughn was rightfully selected to the Golden Spikes Awards Midseason watch list as he continues to rank among the top hitters in the country, ranking in the top-5 of seven national statistical categories. He holds a nation-leading .586 on base percentage and .50 home runs per game, ranks second in slugging percentage (.952), third in batting average (.442), and fourth in RBIs per game (1.37).
GOLDEN SPIKES: USA Baseball released the Golden Spikes Award midseason watch list that narrows down the top 40 amateur baseball players in the country. Seven Pac-12 players made the cut, which, ties for the second-most of any conference. Arizona State and Oregon are 2-of-4 schools that had two players selected to the list (Kentucky, NC State), while Sun Devils’ infielder Torkelson is the only freshman featured on the 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 awarded to UCLA pitcher Trevor Bauer in 2011. The 41st Golden Spikes Award semifinalists will be announced on May 21, followed by the finalists on June 22 and the winner will be crowed on June 28 at the College Baseball World Series.
USA Baseball Golden Spikes Midseason Watch List
Kris Bubic, STAN, LHP
Gage Canning, ASU, OF
Joe DeMers, WASH, RHP
Trevor Larnach, OSU, OF
Adley Rutschman, ASU, C/IF
Spencer Torkelson, ASU, IF
Andrew Vaughn, CAL, IF
USA Baseball Golden Spikes Watch Preseason 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
SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Two Pac-12 athletes have been named candidates for 2018 Senior CLASS Award, an honor that 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.
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.
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|
|#7 Oregon State||7-5||24-6|
|Wednesday, April 11|
|Gonzaga at WASHINGTON (Cancelled)||5:05 p.m.|
|Friday, April 13|
|#7 OREGON STATE at #25 Missouri State (GM1 - DH)||ESPNU||9 a.m.|
|#7 OREGON STATE at #25 Missouri State (GM2 - DH)||1 p.m.|
|OREGON at WASHINGTON||P12N||4 p.m.|
|CALIFORNIA at WASHINGTON STATE||5 p.m.|
|#14 UCLA at UTAH||5 p.m.|
|ARIZONA STATE at #2S TANFORD||6:05 p.m.|
|ARIZONA at USC||P12N||7 p.m.|
|Saturday, April 14|
|#14 UCLA at UTAH||12 p.m.|
|CALIFORNIA at WASHINGTON STATE||2 p.m.|
|OREGON at WASHINGTON||P12N||2 p.m.|
|ARIZONA at USC||P12N||2 p.m.|
|ARIZONA STATE at #2STANFORD||P12+||3:05 p.m.|
|#7 OREGON STATE at #25 Missouri State||4:30 p.m.|
|Sunday, April 15|
|#14 UCLA at UTAH||12 p.m.|
|CALIFORNIA at WASHINGTON STATE||1 p.m.|
|ARIZONA STATE at #2 STANFORD||1:05 p.m.|
|OREGON at WASHINGTON||P12N||1 p.m.|
|ARIZONA at USC||P12N||2 p.m.|
|Tuesday, April 17|
|WASHINGTON at Seattle||5 p.m.|
|UTAH at Utah Valley||5 p.m.|
|BYU at ARIZONA||P12N||6 p.m.|
|WASHINGTON STATE at Gonzaga||6 p.m.|
|UC Santa Barbara at USC||P12+||6 p.m.|
|UC Irvine at #14 UCLA||6 p.m.|
|Santa Clara at CALIFORNIA||7:05 p.m.|
2018 PAC-12 PLAYER AND PITCHER OF THE WEEK