No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Stanford showdown highlights Pac-12 baseball this week

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Scott Chandler

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PREVIEWING THE WEEK:
Four of the top six ranked team in the USA Today Coaches poll are Pac-12 teams, including No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Stanford. The top-ranked Bruins and Cardinal face off in a three-game series this weekend at Sunken Diamond Stadium, which looks to be an intense pitcher’s duel between two of the best defensive teams in the nation. No. 5 Arizona State heads to Los Angeles with the best winning percentage in the country (25-2, 0.926) to take on USC. The Sun Devils and Trojans boast two of the most successful collegiate baseball programs in history, as USC has the most NCAA titles with 12 and ASU has the third-most with five.

UCLA and Stanford have earned their top-rankings behind the stellar work of their pitching staffs. The Cardinal, at the top of the standings with a 6-0 Pac-12 record, boasts the best ERA in the nation at 2.36 and 12th-best WHIP (1.16). The Bruins have the third-best ERA at 2.54, the best WHIP average (1.04) and most shutouts with six. The Conference’s best arms will be on the mound for this series, with Stanford’s sophomore starter Brendan Beck claiming best strikeout-to-walk ratio in the league and sixth-best in the country at 12.00. UCLA’s sophomore closer Holden Powell comes into the series with a league-leading seven saves. UCLA faces another ranked opponent later in the week, taking on No. 22 UC Irvine at home for one game.

WEEKLY RECAP:
Arizona State is off to a historic program start of 25-2 after its first series sweep of crosstown rival Arizona since 2009. The Sun Devils were the last undefeated team in the country, starting the season 21-0 and matching the second-best start in program history (1961). Only the 2010 team that started 24-0 had a better start to the year.

Oregon State also broke a lengthy drought against Washington, sweeping the Huskies for the first time since 2005. George Mendazona hit a solo home run, the first of his career, in the 11th inning to send Oregon State to a 4-3 win over Washington Sunday and secure the three-game sweep.

MIDSEASON AWARDS WATCH: 
Halfway through the 2019 season, Pac-12 baseball’s dominance is being recognized nationwide. Perfect Game recently announced its midseason awards, and honored the Pac-12 with three of its five awards. Hunter Bishop of ASU was named the midseason Player of the Year, as the national home run leader (16) is batting a ridiculous .417 with a 1.010 slugging percentage. UCLA skipper John Savage was named the midseason coach of the year for leading UCLA to near unanimous No. 1 rankings across the five national polls. Arizona State was tabbed the team of the year after being unranked in the preseason to opening the year as the only undefeated team left in the country and matching the second-best start in program history. Five Pac-12 student-athletes were named midseason first team All-Americans by Perfect Game, the most of any conference on the first team. Bishop, OSU’s Adley Rutschman and Brandon Eisert, Cal’s Andrew Vaughn and ASU’s Alec Marsh all earned the nod.

Rutschman was also named to the Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award watch list, along with four other league catchers. Seventy-nine catchers were nominated for the 2019 Buster Posey Award by their coaches, given annually to the top Division I collegiate catcher. The winner will be announced on June 27, 2019.

IN THE RANKINGS:
Four Pac-12 teams are ranked in the top six in the latest USA Today Coaches poll, including the top two spots with No. 1 UCLA and No. 2 Stanford. The last time the Pac-12 claimed top two spots in the national poll was May 21, 2018 when Stanford was No. 1 and Oregon State was No. 2. ASU moved up four spots to No. 5 and Oregon State is No. 6. Washington also received votes. The Bruins, Cardinal, Sun Devils and Beavers rank in the top 10 in all five national polls.

Eight of 11 Pac-12 programs rank in the top 100 in the NCAA RPI rankings. Oregon State tops the RPI list, with UCLA right behind at second, followed by Arizona State at eighth. Stanford and Oregon rank 11th and 18th, respectively.

BY THE NUMBERS:
Pac-12 pitchers have brought the heat this season as five teams rank in the top 30 in ERA, the most teams of any other conference to rank in the top 30 in that category. Stanford has the best ERA in the nation at 2.36. UCLA’s pitching staff has an ERA of 2.54, which is good for third-best. Oregon State is 11th-best at 2.87, Washington comes in at 11th with a 2.87 ERA and Arizona State ranks 28th with an average of 3.35.

The league’s top hitters have found ways to get on base this year at exceptionally high rates. Four student-athletes rank among the nation’s top 15 in on base percentage. OSU’s Adley Rutschman has the best average (0.592) and ASU’s Hunter Bishop has the sixth-best (0.552). Washington’s Nick Kahle ranks eighth at 0.547 and Cal’s Andrew Vaughn is 15th at 0.530.

Scored runs have also come in bunches from Pac-12 student-athletes, with four ranking in the top 20 nationally. ASU’s Bishop leads the nation with 45 runs and teammate Trevor Hauver ranks fifth with 39. Cameron Cannon of Arizona is 14th with 34 runs and ASU’s Spencer Torkelson is 19th with 33 runs on the season.  

STAR POWER:
Washington’s catcher Nick Kahle was on a tear in the month of March, batting .414 and reaching base in 16 of 17 games the Huskies played last month. He added 18 RBI, 2 home runs and 14 runs. The Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award candidate is also a defensive asset behind the plate, throwing out six-of-seven attempted stolen bases against him in March.

ASU’s Hunter Bishop continues his breakout year, winning his second-straight and third-career Pac-12 Player of the Week honor. The NCAA home run leader (16) homered in two straight games and batted .400 to lead the Sun Devils to a series sweep over Arizona for the first time since 2009. On top of leading the country in home runs and runs (45), Bishop also claims the best slugging percentage at a staggering 1.010, most total bases (104) and has the sixth-most RBI (41).

Oregon State’s Brandon Eisert earned his first-career Pac-12 weekly honor after holding Washington to 6 1/3 scoreless innings, a new career-high, and stuck out nine to pick up his sixth win of the season, second-most in the country. Through nine appearances this year, the NCBWA Stopper of the Year candidate boasts the second-best ERA in the nation (0.30) and leads the Pac-12 in opposing batting average (0.157) and hits allowed (16).

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
Stanford 6-0 19-3
Arizona State 8-1 25-2
UCLA 7-2 21-5
Oregon State 6-3 19-6-1
Oregon 5-4 16-10
Washington 5-4 14-9
USC 3-6 10-17
California 2-4 14-11
Arizona 2-7 13-14
Utah 1-8 8-15
Washington State 0-6 7-20

UPCOMING SCHEDULE (All Times Pacific - Expanded Schedule Details)

Wednesday, April 3 TV/Stream Time
San Diego State at #6 OREGON STATE Live Stream 5:35 p.m.
Thursday, April 4 TV/Stream Time
Fresno State at OREGON Live Stream 6 p.m.
Friday, April 5 TV/Stream Time
Utah at #6 Oregon State* Live Stream 5:35 p.m.
#5 Arizona State at USC* Live Stream 6 p.m.
Fresno State at OREGON Live Stream 6 p.m.
#1 UCLA at #2 Stanford* Live Stream 6:05 p.m.
Washington at Arizona* Pac-12 Arizona 7 p.m.
Washington State at California* Pac-12 Networks 7:05 p.m.
Saturday, April 6 TV/Stream Time
Utah at #6 Oregon State* Live Stream 1:35 p.m.
#5 Arizona State at USC* Live Stream 2 p.m.
#1 UCLA at #2 Stanford* Live Stream 2:05 p.m.
Washington at Arizona* Pac-12 Networks 3 p.m.
Fresno State at OREGON Live Stream 4 p.m.
Washington State at California* Pac-12 Washington 6:05 p.m.
Sunday, April 7 TV/Stream Time
Fresno State at OREGON Live Stream 12 p.m.
#5 Arizona State at USC* Live Stream 1 p.m.
Washington at Arizona* Pac-12 Arizona 1 p.m.
#1 UCLA at #2 Stanford* Live Stream 1:05 p.m.
Utah at #6 Oregon State* Live Stream 1:05 p.m.
Washington State at California* Pac-12 Networks 1:05 p.m.
Monday, April 8 TV/Stream Time
California Baptist at WASHINGTON Live Stream 6:05 p.m.
New Mexico at CALIFORNIA   6:05 p.m.
Tuesday, April 9 TV/Stream Time
#2 STANFORD at San Francisco   3 p.m.
Seattle at WASHINGTON STATE Live Stream 3:05 p.m.
ARIZONA at Grand Canyon   TBD
UTAH at BYU   5 p.m.
Oregon at #6 Oregon State Pac-12 Networks 5:30 p.m.
CS Fullerton at USC Live Stream 6 p.m.
#22 UC Irvine at #1 UCLA   6 p.m.
#5 ARIZONA STATE at UNLV   6:05 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
March 19 Adley Rutschman, Oregon State Zach Pettway, UCLA
March 25 Hunter Bishop, Arizona State Ryan Garcia, UCLA
April 1 Hunter Bishop, Arizona State Brandon Eisert, Oregon State

NATIONAL HONORS 

Perfect Game/Rawlings Player of the Week
March 5 - Andrew Vaughn, IF, CAL

Midseason Perfect Game/Rawlings Player of the Year
Hunter Bishop, OF, ASU

Midseason Perfect Game/Rawlings Coach of the Year
John Savage, UCLA

Midseason Perfect Game/Rawlings Team of the Year
Arizona State

Midseason Perfect Game/Rawlings College Baseball All-American Teams
First Team
Adley Rutschman, C, OSU
Andrew Vaughn, 1B, CAL
Hunter Bishop, OF, ASU
Alec Marsh, SP, ASU
Brandon Eisert, RP, OSU

Buster Posey National Collegiate Catcher of the Year Award Watch List
Matthew Dyer, Jr., ARIZ
Maverick Handley, Jr., STAN
Nick Kahle, Jr., WASH
Korey Lee, Jr., CAL
Adley Rutschman, Jr., OSU

Senior CLASS Award Candidate
Bryce Fehmel, P, OSU

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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