Pac-12 baseball power rankings, Apr. 20

Sliding Stanford takes on Arizona State in a must-win series at Sunken Diamond this weekend. A preview and conversation with Kenny Diekroeger is coming soon, but here's a look at the latest state of Pac-12 baseball. This quality conference, by the way, is just beating itself up, and it's causing great commotion in our Power Rankings.

1) Oregon (10-5; previous rank: 2)

The Ducks have vaulted to the top of the Pac-12 power rankings thanks to consecutive road series victories over UCLA and Stanford. The 1-2 punch of Alex Keudell and Jake Reed was on fire in the Bay Area. Will Oregon be able to hold down the top spot? Its previous two occupants (Stanford, Arizona) have fallen, but excitement in Eugene has hit fever pitch after freshman lefty Jordan Spencer tossed a midweek no-hitter against Portland.

2) UCLA (10-5; previous rank: 3)

It was very tempting to vault the Bruins into the top spot after they abused Arizona on the road this weekend in a series win that included a 15-3 Saturday drubbing. However, since records are even, Oregon gets the nod because of their series victory in Westwood two weeks ago. By the way, catcher Tyler Heineman's average (.426) and on-base percentage (.518) are still at absurd levels 33 games into the season.

3) Arizona (10-5; previous rank: 1)

Kurt Heyer remained fantastic, but the pitching following him crumbled in prime time against UCLA this weekend. Saturday starter Konner Wade was tagged for 10 hits in just three innings of work. That 15-3 debacle gave UCLA and Oregon the inside track to the conference championship, but the Ducks still have to visit Hi-Corbett Field. The schedule definitely favors the Wildcats.

4) Arizona State (9-6; previous rank: 4)

It was bound to happen: the boys of Tempe have caught fire by sweeping two straight Pac-12 series and pummeling archrival Arizona in non-conference action this weekend. Abe Ruiz has already blasted nine homers, but it's the Sun Devils' 1-2 pitching punch that threatens to all but eliminate Stanford from the title chase before this Sunday even rolls around. Brady Rodgers (1.12) and Trevor Williams (1.41) lead the Pac-12 in ERA.

5) Oregon State (6-6; previous rank: 6)

The Beavers got back on track by whipping Arkansas-Pine Bluff in Corvallis. Junior closer Tony Bryant has been one of the most impressive relievers in the country with a strikeout-to-walk ratio of over 5-to-1. He has punched out 26 and given only five free passes this season.

6) Stanford (5-7; previous rank: 3)

The Cardinal have been maddeningly inconsistent throughout Pac-12 play, and a once-invincible team is beginning to show cracks. Mark Marquess' offense was silenced at home against Oregon this past weekend. It's now confronted with the unenviable task of generating offense against the red-hot Arizona State pitching machine.

7) Washington (5-7; previous rank: 7)

The Huskies dropped two of three in Berkeley, but this isn't a bad baseball team. With a dangerous offense, excellent defense, and passable pitching, Lindsay Meggs' squad can threaten any club in the country on any given day. A nasty Pac-12, though, will prevent the Dawgs from standing out in 2012.

8) Washington State (5-6; previous rank: 9)

The Cougs took two of three from Utah in the series that was off almost everyone's radar. Washington State, though, has a chance to bring Oregon back down to Earth this weekend in Eugene. The rest of the Pac-12 would appreciate that greatly.

9) California (4-8 previous rank: 10)

It took awhile for the Golden Bears to overcome their defensive ineptitude (.937 Pac-12 fielding percentage) and finally win a conference series, but David Esquer's ballclub finally got it done against Washington. Last year's magical ride to Omaha, though, still seems far away. Cal will have to win in spades from here on out to make it back to the postseason.

10) USC (5-6; previous rank: 8)

Given the struggles of the Trojans' offense and the strength of Arizona State's pitching staff , an ugly outcome in this past weekend's match up of those squads could have been expected. But did anyone think that USC, the most successful college baseball program of all time, would muster only two runs all series against the Sun Devils?

11) Utah (4-8; previous rank: 11)

The Utes have been providing almost every conference team with a scare. Now they get a desperate Cal squad on the road in Berkeley. The Golden Bears almost certainly need a sweep. Will Utah hold strong?


About the Author: David Lombardi is a Stanford and Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for several years and is currently contributing to the Cardinal Channel. You can check several of his Stanford calls out at www.davidmatthewlombardi.com, where you can also read his West Coast-oriented blog via this direct link. For Stanford baseball insights, follow David on Twitter at davidmlombardi.


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