Baseball Weekend Roundup

The Stanford Cardinal have split the first two games of their weekend series with California as the rubber contest is now scheduled for Monday. In this week's Roundup, check out the weekend results from the Pac-10 plus an updated "Super Sixteen." In addition, get the latest on all of the major conference races from around the country plus some NCAA Tournament projections.

Pac-10 Standings  (records through games of Sun. 5/8)

                    Conf.  GB   Overall
Oregon State        14-4    -    36-8
Arizona             12-3   0.5   32-15
Arizona State       10-5   2.5   29-18
USC                  9-6   3.5   28-15
Stanford             8-6   4.0   27-16
California          10-10  4.5   30-21
Washington           7-8   5.0   27-17
UCLA                 1-14 11.5   11-33
Washington State     0-15 12.5   20-27

As expected, the Oregon State Beavers went into Jackie Robinson Stadium and swept away UCLA.  The Bruins challenged the Beavers on Friday night as OSU had to rally for a 3-1 victory.  But the final two games were easy W's for the Beavs winning by the scores of 10-4 and 16-3.  The sweep moves Oregon State 1/2 game ahead of Arizona in the race for the Pac-10 championship - although they're still one game behind the Wildcats in the loss column.

Arizona played their final non-conference games of the season sweeping a series from Utah Valley State in Tucson, 16-0, 12-1, and 7-2.  Utah Valley actually picked up a win earlier in the week though knocking off Arizona State by a 9-6 score in Tempe.  The Sun Devils had the weekend off as they prepare for their final exams.

Stanford and California have split the first two games of their series in Berkeley with the Cardinal taking a 7-5 decision on Friday and the Bears responding with a 2-1, 11 inning win on Saturday.  Sunday's contest was rained out, so the teams will play the rubber game of the series on Monday afternoon.  And while it's an important game for the Cardinal as they try to move up in the Pac-10 standings, the Bears could probably use the win more.  Cal now sits at an even 10-10 in conference play needing likely to finish above .500 to have a shot at the NCAA Tournament.  Cal only has one more series remaining in conference play and it's at Arizona in three weeks.

The big series of the upcoming weekend sees Arizona State host Arizona in Tempe.  The Sun Devils are very much in the Pac-10 title race, but need a series victory over their in-state rival to remain in the discussion.  Arizona controls their own destiny for the Pac-10 title (and likely a spot as a regional host) with the fewest losses in the Pac-10.  But now comes back-to-back road series' at ASU and Stanford, so they'll certainly have to earn it.

The Beavers, meanwhile, head up north for a key three-game set against the Washington Huskies.  Washington hosts OSU and ASU in consecutive weekends in what should determine their fate as they try to play themselves into the NCAA Tournament.  A series victory for the Beavers will go a long way toward securing the conference championship as you would expect Arizona to given all they can handle by the Sun Devils down south.

Finally, both Stanford and USC have a chance to solidify their spots in the NCAA Tournament and potentially move into the discussion of hosting a regional this upcoming weekend.  The Cardinal and Trojans host UCLA and Washington State respectively - two teams with a combined Pac-10 record of 1-29.  Three wins each from Stanford and USC would move them way up in the Pac-10 race and set the stage for a dramatic final two weeks of the conference season.

This Weekend:
* UCLA at Stanford
* Arizona at Arizona State (Sat.-Mon.)
* Oregon State at Washington
* Washington State at USC

May 20-22:
* Arizona at Stanford
* Arizona State at Washington
* USC at Oregon State
* UCLA at Washington State

May 27-29:
* Stanford at USC
* California at Arizona
* Washington State at Arizona State
* Washington at UCLA

May 30:
NCAA Tournament Selection Show

"Super Sixteen"

                      Record   Pvs.
1. CS Fullerton        36-12    1
* Titans with a 3-1 week that includes key road series victory at Cal Poly.

2. Tulane              42-8     2
* Green Wave continue to roll through Conference USA with a sweep of visiting Memphis.

3. Oregon State        36-8     4
* Beavers move into top spot in Pac-10 with sweep of struggling UCLA.

4. Texas               39-11    3
* Longhorns break even at 2-2 as they lose weekend series on the road to Kansas.

5. Nebraska            39-10    5
* Cornhuskers keep pace in the Big 12 with 2-of-3 series win over Missouri.

6. Miami               36-11    7
* Hurricanes take a break from ACC play and sweep away visiting Jacksonville.

7. Arizona             32-15    8
* Wildcats step outside the Pac-10 and record easy sweep of Utah Valley State.

8. Georgia Tech        34-13   10
* Jackets manage 2-of-3 series win over visiting Florida Atlantic in non-conference series.

9. Florida             32-15    6
* Gators drop their second straight SEC series as they lose 2-of-3 at Arkansas after a midweek loss to Florida State.

10. Baylor             31-17   13
* Bears win their only game of the week - a Tuesday victory over UT-San Antonio.

11. Tennessee          35-14   NR
* Vols in the "Super Sixteen" for first time this season after impressive sweep of South Carolina.

12. Long Beach State   33-16    9
* Dirtbags fall back after dropping 2-of-3 at UC Santa Barbara.

13. LSU                33-16   11
* Tigers lose midweek game to Southern and then take 2-of-3 from last-place Kentucky over the weekend.

14. Arizona State      29-18   12
* Sun Devils lose a Wednesday game to Utah Valley State and then have the weekend off.

15. USC                28-15   16
* Trojans defeat Cal State Northridge on Saturday in their only game of the week.

16. North Carolina     36-10   NR
* Idle Tar Heels return to the "Super Sixteen."

Dropped Out: South Carolina (32-16, 0-4 last week), Mississippi (32-15, 3-2 last week).

Conference Races

Big West
CS Fullerton       13-2    -   36-12
Long Beach State   11-4   2.0  33-16
Cal Poly            9-3   2.5  31-16

Titans open up a two game lead over the Dirtbags with six to play.  The teams will meet in Fullerton for a series in two weeks.  Long Beach still has an opportunity to host a regional, but needs to finish strong.  Dirtbags end their season with a home series against Cal Poly and a road set at Fullerton, so they'll have to earn it.

SEC West
Alabama            14-10   -   34-16
LSU                14-10   -   33-16
Mississippi        13-11  1.0  35-15

Remarkable parity in the SEC this season with no team really stepping up as an elite club.  Alabama has surprised many this year and are tied for first in the West Division with six games to play.  LSU has to play hard-charging Tennessee this weekend, so the Tide (vs. 11-13 Arkansas) have a chance to regain sole possession of first place.  All three of these teams could end up hosting, but neither looks like national seed material (barring potentially an SEC Tournament championship).

SEC East
Tennessee          15-8    -   35-14
Florida            15-9   0.5  32-15
South Carolina     12-12  3.0  32-16

Florida appeared to be in control of this division (with their top 5 national ranking) until consecutive series losses the last two weekends to Tennessee and Arkansas.  Vols have since moved out in front, but have a test this weekend with a series in Baton Rouge against LSU.  Florida and Tennessee could give the SEC five regional hosts.  The question now becomes will any receive national seeds?  None are likely to be ranked in the top 8 this week, but their inflated RPI's should result in a national seed or two for this conference.

Big 12
Baylor             15-6    -   31-17
Nebraska           14-7   1.0  39-10
Texas              14-9   2.0  39-11
Missouri           12-9   3.0  32-16

Baylor's sweep of Texas way back during the first week of the conference season in March could be the difference in the Big 12.  Interesting to note that the Bears have non-conference series losses to west coast teams Arizona State and Long Beach State.  Their RPI ranking is safely in the top 10, so they should host with the possibility for a national seed if they maintain their first place standing (six games remain for Baylor and Nebraska, three games left for Texas).  Texas is ranked in the top 5 in the polls with the #1 RPI in the country, so they look good for a national seed barring a major collapse at the end of the season.  Nebraska should also host as the Huskers have a favorable remaining schedule as they try to catch Baylor. 

Georgia Tech       18-6    -   34-13
Miami              17-6   0.5  36-11
North Carolina     15-6   1.5  36-10
Florida State      15-9   3.0  41-14

Exciting race in this conference with three teams tied in the loss column.  They all have just two series' remaining with UNC's fewer games the result of early-season rainouts that won't be made-up.   The Jackets, Hurricanes, and Tar Heels each boast RPI's in the top 10, so all look good to host a regional with the potential for national seeds.  This conference will likely be awarded two national seeds.

Conference USA
Tulane             19-5    -    42-8
TCU                17-7   2.0   34-15

Green Wave are a lock for a regional host and a national seed if the season ended today (RPI #2).  With six games remaining in this conference race though it's still up for grabs.  Tulane and TCU will meet in New Orleans the final week of the regular season.

NCAA Tournament Projections

National Seeds
1. Tulane
2. Georgia Tech
3. Texas
4. Miami
5. Cal State Fullerton
6. Oregon State
7. Florida
8. Baylor

Other Regional Hosts
* Alabama
* Tennessee
* Mississippi
* Nebraska
* North Carolina
* Arizona
* Long Beach State

The committee has awarded the west coast four regional sites in the past and I think it's very possible to happen again this season.  The region is extremely strong this year with the possibility of six Pac-10 teams reaching the NCAA Tournament plus three more from the Big West.  Under my scenario, the committee can then match up the west coast regions against each other in the super regionals as they love to do (Fullerton vs. Arizona  ...  Oregon State vs. Long Beach State).  Expect two Pac-10 teams from the group of Arizona State, Stanford, and USC to be sent to Fullerton and Long Beach State.  The third team (and potentially fourth or fifth if Cal or Washington qualifies for the tournament) would be shipped out south or east.  Of course, this could all change if Long Beach State slumps in the final few weeks with their tough schedule.  Or if Arizona State, Stanford, or USC catches fire down the stretch and is able to move up the Pac-10 standings. 

Arizona's RPI is in the mid 30's, so if they are unable to win the conference championship then they'll be in serious danger for not hosting a regional.   And if they don't win the Pac-10, that likely means they will have lost upcoming road series' to Arizona State and/or Stanford which could open the door for both of those teams.  The Sun Devils, Cardinal, and Trojans all have RPI ratings in the #15-to-#25 range - well ahead of Arizona, but behind Pac-10-leading Oregon State.

Another issue is with the Beavers and whether their stadium is large enough to host a regional.  No official word has come down yet and certainly Oregon State still has work to do to remain in the discussion for a host spot.  But don't leave out the possibility of Oregon State having to travel as a #1 seed (or even a national seed) as Arizona State had to do last year with their stadium issues.

On Deck for Stanford

It's a busy week for the Stanford Cardinal with five games on the docket.  Monday afternoon sees the Cardinal travel across the bay to finish their series with the California Golden Bears.  First pitch is scheduled for 2:30 P.M. 

On Tuesday, the Cardinal head down the 101 to take on south bay rival Santa Clara in the third and final meeting of the season between the teams.  Stanford will be getting their first look at the brand new Schott Stadium on the Santa Clara campus which opened last weekend.  The game against the Broncos is slated for a 6:00 P.M. first pitch.

Then over the weekend, it's a return to Sunken Diamond for the first time in 2 1/2 weeks as the Cardinal battle the lowly UCLA Bruins.  The Bruins have struggled to an 11-33 overall record and a 1-14 mark in conference play this season.  This is certainly a series the Cardinal can sweep as they'll try to build momentum going into the home stretch with their back-to-back tilts with Arizona (home) and USC (road) to end the season.

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