Pac-12 Baseball Intensity Rises with Standings at Stake

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PREVIEWING THE WEEK: The Pac-12 baseball title race tightens with two weeks of Conference play remaining. League-leading STANFORD (40-8, 18-6 Pac-12) holds a 1.5-game advantage over OREGON STATE (40-8-1, 16-7-1) in second. The Cardinal hosts WASHINGTON STATE (15-28-1, 7-16-1) for a three-game series starting on Friday and the Beavers travel to USC (24-23, 11-16) for a three-game matchup. The Beavers have a 1.5-game edge over UCLA (32-17, 15-9) and WASHINGTON (25-22, 15-9), both tied for third place. All six Pac-12 league series this weekend will be broadcast on Pac-12 Networks.

IN THE RANKINGS: Three Pac-12 teams are ranked in the latest USA Today Top 25 Coaches Poll - No. 2 Oregon State leaped over No. 3 Stanford to take the second spot, along with No. 18 UCLA. The Cardinal and Beavers both boast top-10 NCAA RPIs, ranking second and sixth, respectively, followed by UCLA at No. 37 and ARIZONA at No. 43. Washington is ranked No. 73 after earning a series win against UCLA and Cal is ranked at No. 78 after sweeping its series against Arizona. In the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) poll, Oregon State is No. 2, Stanford is No. 3 and UCLA is No. 19, while California and Washington are receiving votes.

WEEKLY RECAP: In the biggest ranked matchup of the season, then-No.3 Oregon State won 2-of-3 games against then-No. 2 Stanford to close the gap for first place in the Conference. Pitcher Luke Heimlich helped the Beavers upset the Cardinal, 6-2, in the series opener with his nation-leading 12th win of the season, which ties for the fifth-best single-season mark in program history. Heimlich earned Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week for his individual performance and also picked up NCBWA National Pitcher of the Week honors.

Oregon State shut out Stanford, 10-0, on Saturday and then Cardinal pitcher Will Matthiessen drove in the game-winning run in the 10th inning to prevent a sweep with a 9-6 victory on Sunday. Oregon State collected two high-scoring wins over San Diego (23-6, 16-6) to extend its non-conference record to 23-1 this season and 54-2 (.964) since 2017. Cadyn Grenier’s hit streak reached 24 games for the Beavers’ second-longest streak since 1977.

Washington moved into a tie for third place in the Conference after claiming the series against UCLA (3-7, 13-6, 6-4).  UW rallied from an early deficit in the rubber match to clinch the series in the 11th inning with a walk-off home run by designated hitter Joe Wainhouse. Wainhouse went 7-for-14 with three home runs, seven RBIs and five runs against the Bruins to earn Pac-12 Player of the Week.

UCLA captured a 15-2 midweek victory over CSUN as Bruins’ head coach John Savage is one game away from reaching his 1,000th career game. Savage has the highest winning percentage of any UCLA coach since 1926. CALIFORNIA defended its home field for the last time this season and swept ARIZONA (30-20, 10-14) by scores of 9-3, 16-6 and 12-11. Erik Martinez finished off the weekend for Cal with a ninth inning-strikeout that clinched the thrilling 12-11 victory on his senior day.

OREGON recorded its first sweep of the season, taking all three against Utah last week. After breezing through the first two games (6-2, 13-1) the finale came down to the wire and Kyle Kasser's fourth run of the afternoon gave the Ducks a 4-3 walk-off win on Sunday. USC collected its second-straight series, defeating Washington State with the help of Solomon Bates tossing seven innings to secure a 9-3 win on Sunday.

NUMBERS GAME: Two Pac-12 teams rank in the top-5 nationally in win-loss percentage with No. 2 Stanford (.833) and No. 3 Oregon State (.827). Stanford is third in the nation in earned run average (2.75), fourth in WHIP (1.14) and is sixth in hits allowed per nine innings (7.25). OSU leads the Conference in 11 statistical categories including batting average (.327), on base percentage (.422) and slugging percentage (.501), which rank Nos. 2, 3 and 4 in the nation, respectively.

STARS DELIVERING: The Pac-12 has recorded four no-hitters this season, which ties for the most in a single season in Conference history (Washington, Feb. 24; USC, March 15; WSU, April 8, April 22). The Pac-12 leads the national home run race with ASU freshman Spencer Torkelson and California’s Andrew Vaughn tied for the No. 1 spot with 22 homers. Vaughn’s Conference-best .537 on base percentage ranks third in the country, while his .854 slugging percentage ranks second. Vaughn is tied for second on Cal’s single-season home run list and is only one behind the program record (23). Heimlich leads the nation with 12 victories and has totaled 115 strikeouts this season for the most among all Conference pitchers and seventh-most nationally. Arizona’s Gage Canning leads the country in triples (10) and triples per game (.20). Stanford’s Jack little and Oregon State’s Jack Mulholland are tied for the fourth most saves with 13. 

SENIOR CLASS AWARD: Oregon second baseman Kyle Kasser is one of 10 finalists for the 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. 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 rate in the Conference.

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 tied 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 Spencer 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, OSU, 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

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

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
#3 Stanford  18-6 40-8
#2 Oregon State 16-7-1 40-8-1
#18 UCLA 15-9 32-16
Washington  15-9 25-22
California 14-13 29-19
Oregon 11-13 25-24
Arizona State 11-13 21-28
Arizona 10-14 30-20
USC 11-16 24-23
Washington State 7-16-1 15-28-1
Utah 6-18 14-35

UPCOMING SCHEDULE

Thursday, May 17    
WASHINGTON at UTAH  P12N 10:30 a.m
CALIFORNIA at Creighton   4:30 p.m.
ARIZONA STATE at ARIZONA  P12N 6 p.m.
Friday, May 18    
WASHINGTON at UTAH  P12N 10:30 a.m.
OREGON at #18 UCLA P12N  4 p.m.
CALIFORNIA at Creighton   4:30 p.m.
WASHINGTON STATE at #3 STANFORD P12N 6 p.m.
#2 OREGON STATE at USC P12N 7 p.m.
ARIZONA STATE at ARIZONA  P12A 7 p.m.
Saturday, May 19    
CALIFORNIA at Creighton   10 a.m.
WASHINGTON at UTAH  P12N 10:30 a.m.
WASHINGTON STATE at #3 STANFORD P12N 1:30 p.m.
OREGON at #18 UCLA  P12N  1:30 p.m.
#2 OREGON STATE at USC P12N 1:30 p.m.
ARIZONA STATE at ARIZONA  P12N 4:30 p.m.
Sunday, May 20    
WASHINGTON STATE at #3 STANFORD P12N 12 p.m.
OREGON at #18 UCLA P12N 12 p.m.
#2 OREGON STATE at USC P12N 12 p.m.
Tuesday, May 22    
Cal State Fullerton at USC P12N 6 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
March 26 Brandon Wulf, STAN Luke Heimlich, OSU
April 2 Andrew Vaughn, CAL Kenyon Yovan, ORE
April 9 Chase Strumpf, UCLA Scotty Sunitsch, WSU
April 16 Trevor Larnach, OSU Luke Heimlich, OSU
April 24 Andrew Vaughn, CAL Parker McFadden, WSU
April 30 Steven Kwan, OSU Kenyon Yovan, ORE
April 30 Steven Kwan, OSU Kenyon Yovan, ORE
May 7 Will Matthiessen, STAN Cody Deason, ARIZ
May 14 Joe Wainhouse, WASH Luke Heimlich, OSU

 

 

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