Pac-12 Baseball slides into conference play with three ranked in top five

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Bob Drebin /isiphotos.com

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PREVIEWING THE WEEK:
Pac-12 baseball conference play kicks off this week with six games broadcast on Pac-12 Networks. Entering league games, four teams are ranked in the top 20, including reigning NCAA Champion Oregon State taking over the No. 1 spot, while No. 19 Arizona State is one of just two undefeated teams remaining in the country.

A marquee three-game series between No. 1 OSU and No. 3 UCLA in Los Angeles highlights the week, with Saturday and Sunday’s games broadcast on Pac-12 Networks. It will be a battle between two of the best pitching staffs in the country. The Bruins boast the best ERA in the nation at 1.91, second-most shutouts (five), fourth-best WHIP (0.95) and is third in hits allowed per nine innings (5.76). Meanwhile, the Beavers rank eighth in ERA (2.30), seventh in WHIP (1.01) and fourth in hits allowed per nine innings (5.78).

Another three-game Conference tilt to watch is Washington vs. Oregon. The Ducks have shown their strengths in the field and on the base paths this year, as they boast the best fielding percentage in the league and ninth-best in the nation (0.984), as well as the most stolen bases in the Pac-12 with 30. The Huskies also have a speedy weapon on its squad in Braiden Ward, who has the most stolen bases in the Conference (12). Ward and his teammate, right-handed pitcher Josh Burgmann, swept the Pac-12 weekly awards, and Burgmann is currently tied for the league lead with 31 strikeouts on the year.

WEEKLY RECAP:
With Conference games ahead, the Pac-12 boasts a 104-51-1 (.670) non-conference record. Arizona State is one of just two teams still undefeated in the nation. After going 4-0 against CS Fullerton and Xavier last week, ASU's 15-0 start is the program’s longest winning streak (and longest streak to start the season) since it went 24-0 to start the 2010 campaign.

Also last week, Stanford controlled the series over No. 18 Texas, winning three of four games and outscoring the Longhorns 21-3 in all three victories. USC notched a 4-1 upset victory over No. 25 Michigan during the Dodger Classic, as NCBWA Stopper of the Year candidate Connor Lunn tossed a perfect four final innings, stranding two inherited runners and striking out three along the way.

IN THE RANKINGS:
Four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the latest USA Today Coaches Poll, including three in the top five. Oregon State claimed the top spot at No. 1, UCLA is No. 3 and Stanford is No. 4. Undefeated Arizona State moves up to No. 19. Also receiving votes are Oregon and Washington. The Bruins, Beavers and Cardinal rank in the top-8 in all five national rankings.

Seven of 11 Pac-12 programs rank in the top 75 in RPI rankings. Oregon tops the RPI list, with Oregon State close behind in third, and Stanford and ASU ranking fifth and sixth, respectively.

BY THE NUMBERS:
Pac-12 pitchers have dominated on the mound as four teams rank in the top 10 in ERA. UCLA has the best ERA in the nation at 1.79. Arizona State’s pitching staff has an ERA of 2.10, which is good for fourth-best. Oregon State is eighth-best at 2.30 and Stanford comes in at ninth with a 2.31 ERA.

The Pac-12’s top hitters own three of the top-five best on-base percentages in the nation. Cal’s reigning Golden Spikes Award winner Andrew Vaughn ranks second with a .603 average. Collegiate Baseball’s Projected Player of the Year, OSU’s Adley Rutschman is third at .600 and Oregon’s standout first baseman Gabe Matthews is right behind in fourth (0.594). Matthews also has the best batting average in the Pac-12, hitting .469.

STAR POWER:
The Wildcats infielder Cameron Cannon leads all NCAA Division I baseball players with 11 doubles in just 16 games this year. Twice this year he has slugged multiple doubles in a game and has at least one double in 8-of-16 games. He also ranks second in the Conference in batting average (.439), runs scored (23) and is tied for most hits at 29 with teammate Matt Frazier.

ASU’s Hunter Bishop has been an important piece in maintaining the Sun Devils’ perfect record, earning himself his first-career Pac-12 Player of the Week honor. The junior homered once in each game over Xavier to extend his season total to eight, the most in the league and fourth-most in the country. In the 11-6 series finale victory over the Musketeers, Bishop matched his career-high with five RBIs.

Stanford’s southpaw Erik Miller also picked up his first-career Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week award after getting his second win of the season by setting a career high with 101 pitches, tying a career high in strikeouts (9) and season high in innings pitched (6) while surrendering just one hit in a 9-0 win over No. 18 Texas.

PRESEASON NODS:
The Pac-12 has 20 total preseason All-America selections from seven different schools. Six student-athletes were named to all five preseason All-America lists and 2018 Golden Spikes Award winner Cal’s Andrew Vaughn, 2018 CWS Most Outstanding Player OSU’s Adley Rutschman and All-Pac-12 selection UCLA’s Chase Strumpf were named to the first team by five national outlets. Rutschman was also tabbed the Projected Player of the Year by Collegiate Baseball. Baseball America highlighted several league student-athletes as All-American Best Tools with Vaughn earning best hitter, Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson selected as the best power hitter and Rutschman tabbed as the best defensive catcher.

GOLDEN SPIKES:
The Pac-12 is home to eight Golden Spikes Award winners after Andrew Vaughn claimed the award last season, tying the ACC and SEC for most of any conference. This year, ten student-athletes from seven different league schools were named to the preseason Watch List, including Vaughn. He is just one of four Golden Spikes Award recipients all-time to return to school after winning the award. Oregon State, UCLA and Stanford each boast a pair of student-athletes on the prestigious list. The preseason watch list features 55 of the nation’s top amateur players. The 42nd Golden Spikes Award will be presented in partnership with the Rod Dedeaux Foundation on June 14, 2019.

STOPPER OF THE YEAR:
The Pac-12 has seven student-athletes from five different Pac-12 schools on the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List, the second-most selections of any conference. Stanford’s Jack Little is featured on the list after being named a finalist for the 2018 season. The NCBWA presents the Stopper of the Year Award to the top relief pitcher in Division I baseball for the 15th straight year at the College World Series on Saturday, June 15. 2019.


CONFERENCE STANDINGS (Expanded Standings)

Teams Pac-12 Record Overall Record
Arizona State 0-0 15-0
Oregon State 0-0 13-1
Stanford 0-0 12-3
UCLA 0-0 12-3
Washington 0-0 9-4
Oregon 0-0 10-5
Arizona 0-0 10-6
California 0-0 8-6
Utah 0-0 6-9
Washington State 0-0 6-9
USC 0-0 5-10

UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific - Expanded Schedule Details)

Wednesday, March 13 TV/Stream Time
WASHINGTON STATE at UNLV   1:05 p.m.
New Mexico State at #19 ARIZONA STATE Live Stream 6:30 p.m.
Friday, March 15 TV/Stream Time
#1 Oregon State at #3 UCLA*   6 p.m.
Utah at Arizona* Live Stream 6 p.m.
Washington at Oregon* Live Stream 6 p.m.
Washington State at #19 Arizona State* Live Stream 6:30 p.m.
USC at California*   7:05 p.m.
Saturday, March 16 TV/Stream Time
USC at California*   3:05 p.m.
Washington at Oregon* Live Stream 4 p.m.
#1 Oregon State at #3 UCLA* P12N 6 p.m.
Utah at Arizona* Live Stream 6 p.m.
Washington State at #19 Arizona State* P12N 6 p.m.
Sunday, March 17 TV/Stream Time
#1 Oregon State at #3 UCLA* P12N 12 p.m.
Washington State at #19 Arizona State* P12W 12 p.m.
Washington at Oregon* Live Stream 12 p.m.
Utah at Arizona* Live Stream 1 p.m.
USC at California*   1:05 p.m.
Monday, March 18 TV/Stream Time
UTAH at Grand Canyon   2 p.m.
Tuesday, March 19 TV/Stream Time
Long Beach State at USC Live Stream 6 p.m.
New Mexico State at Arizona P12N 7 p.m.
San Francisco at CALIFORNIA P12BA 7:05 p.m.

* Pac-12 Conference game

Rankings listed are USA Today Coaches Poll


2019 PAC-12 BASEBALL PLAYERS OF THE WEEK

 Week of Player Pitcher
Feb. 19 Spencer Torkelson, Arizona State Bryce Fehmel, Oregon State
Feb. 26 Andrew Vaughn, California Brandon White, Washington State
March 5 Braiden Ward, Washington Josh Burgmann, Washington 
March 12 Hunter Bishop, Arizona State Erik Miller, Stanford

NATIONAL HONORS 

College Sports Madness National Baseball Players of the Week:
Feb. 18 - Ryan Holgate, OF, ARIZ (Field Player)

Collegiate Baseball’s National Players Of The Week:

USA Baseball Golden Spikes Award Preseason Watch List:
Kevin Abel, RHP, OSU
Jack Little, RHP, STAB
Nick Quintana, IF, ARIZ
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU
Kyle Stowers, OF, STAN
Chase Strumpf, IF, UCLA
Michael Toglia, IF, UCLA
Spencer Torkelson, IF, ASU
Andrew Vaughn, IF, CAL
Kenyon Yovan, RHP, ORE

NCBWA Stopper of the Year Preseason Watch List: 
Brandon Eisert, Jr., OSU
Jack Little, Jr., STAN
Connor Lunn, Jr., USC
Jake Mulholland, Jr., OSU
Ryne Nelson, Jr., ORE
Jacob Palisch, So., STAN
Holden Powell, So., UCLA

Collegiate Baseball Preseason All-Americans:
First Team 
Kevin Abel, RHP, OSU
Jack Little, RHP, STAN
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CAL
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, ASU
Chase Strumpf, 2B, UCLA

Second Team
Bryce Fehmel, RHP, OSU
Kenyon Yovan, RHP, ORE
Jeremy Ydens, OF, UCLA

Third Team
Brendan Beck, RHP, STAN
Jake Mulholland, LHP, OSU
Nic Kahle, C, WASH
Michael Toglia, 1B, UCLA
Nick Quintana, 3B, ARIZ

Collegiate Baseball Projected  Player of the Year:
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU

D1Baseball.com Preseason All-Americans:
First Team
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CAL
Chase Strumpf, 2B, UCLA
Spencer Torkelson, DH, ASU
Kevin Abel, SP, OSU
Jack Little, RP, STAN

Second Team
Michael Toglia, 1B, UCLA
Cameron Cannon, 2B, ARIZ
Kenyon Yovan, SP, ORE

Third Team
Nick Quintana, 3B, ARIZ
Brandon Eisert, RP, OSU

Perfect Game Preseason All-Americans:
First Team
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CAL
Chase Strumpf, 2B, UCLA
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, ASU
Kevin Abel, SP, OSU
Jack Little, RP, STAN

Second Team
Bryce Fehmel, SP, OSU
Third Team 
Michael Toglia, 1B, UCLA
Nick Quintana, 3B, ARIZ
Jake Mulholland, RP, OSU 

Baseball America Preseason All-Americans:
First Team
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CAL
Chase Strumpf, 2B, UCLA
Kyle Stowers, OF, STAN

Second Team
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, ASU
Erik Miller, SP, STAN
Jack Little, RP, STAN

Third Team
Nick Quintana, 3B, ARIZ
Ryne Nelson, SP, ORE

Baseball America Preseason All-American Best Tools:
Best Hitter

Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CAL
Best Power
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, ASU
Best Defensive Catcher
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU

NCBWA Preseason All-Americans:
First Team 
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CAL
Chase Strumpf, 2B, UCLA
Spencer Torkelson, 1B, ASU
Kevin Abel, SP, OSU
Bryce Fehmel, SP, OSU
Jack Little, RP, STAN
Jake Mulholland, RP, OSU

Second Team
Nick Quintana, 3B, ARIZ
Joe Wainhouse, DH, WASH

Third Team
Michael Toglia, 1B, UCLA
Kenyon Yovan, UT, ORE
Brendan Beck, SP, STAN
Brandon Eisert, RP, OSU

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