This year in Pac-12 Baseball
SEASON HIGHLIGHTS: OREGON STATE won the 2018 NCAA College World Series for the program’s third national title, and first since winning back-to-back crowns in 2006 and 2007. OSU became the second team in history to advance to three CWS Championship Series and win the title in each appearance (Minnesota). STANFORD collected the program’s 18th overall Conference title with a 22-8 league record to earn the leagues automatic bid in the NCAA Tournament. The Cardinal edged the Beavers (20-9-1) by 1.5 games to capture the league race.
NCAA TOURNAMENT: The Beavers went 11-2 overall in the NCAA Tournament, including a perfect 6-0 in CWS elimination games, to claim the Conference’s record 29th NCAA baseball national title. Pac-12 baseball members have now reached the CWS title series in four of the last seven years (Oregon State 2018; ARIZONA 2016, 2012; UCLA 2013), eight of the last 15, and 12 of the last 20.
Four Pac-12 baseball teams earned berths to the 2018 NCAA Tournament. No. 2 overall seed Stanford and No. 3 overall seed Oregon State both hosted NCAA regionals for the second consecutive year and were joined in the field by UCLA and WASHINGTON. It marked the eighth time since the NCAA began the national seeding format in 1999 that the Pac-12 secured multiple top-8 seeds, including only the second time with national top-4 seeds (2001). The Huskies advanced to the Super Regionals for the first time in program history and went on to make their first College World Series appearance.
RECORD SETTING: Oregon State reached the 50-win plateau for the fourth time in school history and became only the fourth program in Conference history to post back-to-back 50-win campaigns. Arizona State accomplished the feat twice (1981-82, 2009-10), while Stanford reached 50+ wins in a record three consecutive years from 1999-2001. OSU’s 55 wins this season is the fifth-most in Pac-12 history.
The Pac-12 recorded four no-hitters this season, which tied for the most in a single-season in Conference history (Washington, Feb. 24; USC, March 15; WASHINGTON STATE, April 8, April 22).
Pac-12 Single-Season Record
Arizona State - 60 (1988)
Stanford - 59 (1990)
Arizona State - 58 (1982)
Oregon State - 56 (2017)
Oregon State - 55 (2018)
Arizona State - 55 (1984)
Arizona State - 55 (1981)
Arizona State - 54 (2003)
USC - 54 (1978)
Stanford - 53 (1987)
NOTABLE ACCOLADES: The Conference amassed many postseason honors, including national recognition for four Oregon State Beavers. Pat Casey was tabbed the ABCA’s and Collegiate Baseball’s National Coach of the Year and pitcher Kevin Abel was named Freshman of the Year by Baseball America and D1Baseball.com. Luke Heimlich earned National Pitcher of the Year by the College Baseball Foundation and recorded the most wins in the country with 16 victories and set a school-record 159 strikeouts, which ranked second nationally. Junior Cadyn Grenier was the first Pac-12 athlete to win the 2018 Brooks Wallace Award, presented annually to the nation’s top collegiate shortstop.
CALIFORNIA first baseman Andrew Vaughn earned the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s top amateur baseball player. Vaughn is the first Pac-12 student-athlete to earn the award since 2011 and fourth since 1991. ARIZONA STATE first baseman Spencer Torkelson collected three national freshman honors as he was named Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s National Co-Freshman of the Year, NCBWA National Freshman Hitter of the Year and Perfect Game’s National Freshman of the Year, while also collecting four All-America team honors.
MLB DRAFT: 49 Pac-12 student-athletes were selected in the 2018 Major League Baseball Draft with all 11 programs having at least one player drafted. Arizona led the Conference with eight picks followed by Oregon State with six. The 49 total selections from the Conference of Champions were the third-most of any league.
OSU second baseman Nick Madrigal was first off the board with the No. 4 overall pick to the Chicago White Sox. Madrigal is the highest draft selection in Oregon State history, surpassing Michael Conforto who was picked 10th by the New York Mets in 2014. STANFORD had two players selected in the first round and leads the NCAA with 25 first-round selections since the first MLB Amateur Draft began in 1965.
2018 MLB Draft school-by-school totals
Arizona - 8
Arizona State - 5
California - 5
Oregon - 4
Oregon State - 6
Stanford - 5
UCLA - 4
USC - 3
Utah - 1
Washington - 4
Washington State - 4
TEAM-BY-TEAM RECAP: ARIZONA concluded the 2018 campaign in sixth place in the league with a 14-16 record and finished with a top-50 RPI with a 34-22 overall record. The Wildcats won 11 of their final 16 games of the regular season and final 15 non-conference games of the year. Arizona had eight players selected in the MLB Draft for the most in the Conference, including Alfonso Rivas who started all 56 games and led the team in hitting at .342.
ARIZONA STATE placed seventh in the final league standings with a 13-17 record and went 23-32 overall. The 2018 season was highlighted by a series win over Oklahoma State and sweeps over Oregon and Utah. Spencer Torkelson was the third Sun Devil to be named Pac-12 Freshman/Newcomer of the Year and the seventh in school history to be named an All-American as a freshman after leading the country with 25 home runs.
CALIFORNIA posted a 32-22 overall record and 16-14 league record to finish fifth in the Conference standings in its first season under head coach Mike Neu. Cal won six Pac-12 series and went 16-8 in non-conference play, including sweeps over CSU Bakersfield and Brown in four-games series. First baseman Andrew Vaughn earned the Golden Spikes Award as the nation’s top amateur baseball, the first Cal baseball player to earn the honor.
OREGON tied for eighth in the Conference at 12-18 and posted an overall record of 26-29. Oregon opened the season 12-3 with series wins over LMU, Florida Atlantic and UC Davis. Pitcher Matt Mercer moved into ninth on the Ducks' career innings pitched list with 217 and finished with 86 strikeouts on the season for the ninth-most in school history.
OREGON STATE recorded another historic season with a 55-12-1 record and 20-9-1 mark during league play to finish second. OSU defeated Arkansas in three games to win the NCAA title as Kevin Abel threw a complete game shutout, striking out 10 Razorbacks in the Championship game, to set a new CWS record with four victories. As a team, the Beavers recorded a .327 batting average and a CWS record 93 hits. Catcher Adley Rutschman was named 2018 College World Series Most Outstanding Player after totaling a CWS-record 17 hits to go along with 13 RBIs. Oregon State swept through its Corvallis Regional and Super Regionals before dropping its first CWS game to North Carolina, 6-8, and responded with four-straight wins to advance. Arkansas won the first CWS Finals game, 4-1, while Game 2 proved to be the most riveting game of the tournament as OSU scored three runs in the top of the ninth for a 5-3 victory. The Beavers then won their sixth elimination game, 5-0, to claim the national title and garner an 11-2 record in the NCAA postseason. OSU has amassed a 111-18-1 (.858) record over the past two seasons. Its 111 victories are the second-most in a two-year span in Conference history, trailing only the 113 won by Arizona State from 1981-82 (113-28, .801) when the Sun Devils won the last of their five CWS crowns in 1981.
First-year head coach David Esquer led STANFORD to the program’s first league title since 2004 with a 22-8 league mark and a 46-12 overall record for the most wins in a single-season since (46-14) won its last Pac-12 crown. Stanford then made its 34th all-time postseason appearance, which is tied for the 10th-most in NCAA history (1954-present). The Cardinal defeated Wright State, 4-3, and Baylor, 4-2, but failed to advance from its regional to move its NCAA hosting record to 65-18 (.783). Stanford finished the season with the second-highest win percentage (.793) in program history.
UCLA finished fourth in the Pac-12, posting a 19-11 league record - highlighted by four series sweeps against Pac-12 opponents - and went 38-21 overall. The Bruins earned their third NCAA postseason appearance in the last four seasons, 10th since 2006 and 22nd overall. UCLA upset No. 1 ranked Stanford, taking two of three games at home, and finished with a No. 18 RPI.
USC tied for eighth in the Pac-12 with a 12-18 league record and a 26-28 season record. The Trojans collected six series wins with four coming against Pac-12 opponents as well as a three-game sweep over Villanova. Junior Brandon Perez earned ABCA/Rawlings Gold Glove honors as the best defensive third baseman in NCAA Division I for the 2018 season.
UTAH placed 11th in the Conference as it rounded out the season with an 8-22 league record and went 16-39 overall. The Utes claimed three Pac-12 series, including their biggest upset of the season knocking off then-No. 1 ranked Oregon State in 2-of-3 games. Three-time All-Pac-12 selection, DaShawn Keirsey, Jr. was chosen in the fourth round (124th overall) of the 2018 MLB Draft for the program’s highest draft selection since 2012.
WASHINGTON posted a series upset of then No. 1-ranked Stanford in its league finale to clinch third place in the league standings with a 20-10 mark and went 35-26 overall. The Huskies earned their 11th NCAA bid in program history and swept through the Conway Regional to advance to the program’s first Super Regional in school history, collecting two wins over No. 2 seed UConn (7-1, 9-6) and an upset of host and No. 15 national seed Coastal Carolina, 11-6. In the Super Regionals, UW defeated Cal State Fullerton in three games (8-5, 2-5, 6-5) to make its first College World Series appearance.
WASHINGTON STATE finished 10th in the Pac-12 with an 8-21-1 Conference record and went 16-33-1 during the 2018 campaign. WSU had four student-athletes selected in the 2018 MLB draft and head coach Marty Lees has now seen 10 Cougars drafted in his three seasons at WSU.
CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)
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2018 PAC-12 PLAYER AND PITCHER OF THE WEEK