Baseball Weekend Roundup

Stanford opened their Pac-10 slate by dropping two-of-three games to the visiting Washington State Cougars last weekend. In this week's Roundup, check all of the latest from around the conference as Pac-10 play begins to heat up. Also, read on for notes on all of Stanford's non-conference opponents and why the Cardinal could find themselves in a favorable position this May.

Pac-10 Standings (records through games of Mon. 3/27)

                   Conf.   GB   Overall
Washington State    2-1    -    20-7
USC                 2-1    -    15-11
California          2-1    -    14-11
Arizona State       0-0   0.5   21-7
UCLA                0-0   0.5   15-11
Arizona             0-0   0.5   11-12
Oregon State        1-2   1.0   15-7
Washington          1-2   1.0   18-9
Stanford            1-2   1.0   12-9

* Arizona: The Wildcats continued their difficult non-conference schedule last weekend with a short two-game home series versus UC Irvine.  One of the better teams in the Big West, the Anteaters managed a 7-1 victory in the Sunday contest after Arizona posted a 5-1 win on Saturday.  The Wildcats (11-12) will take a sub-.500 record into the start of their Pac-10 schedule as they travel up to Berkeley for a three-game series with California starting on Thursday afternoon.

* Arizona State: It was no surprise to see the now-14th ranked Sun Devils sweep visiting Penn State last weekend in Tempe.  ASU recorded victories of 8-5, 15-5, and 9-7 as a final tune-up for their conference slate.  This weekend, it's a roadtrip up to Pullman to battle the Washington State Cougars in a three-game series beginning on Thursday evening.  The Sun Devils will then head to Phoenix on Sunday for a single non-conference game against their rival, Arizona, in a game to be played at Chase Field (home of the Diamondbacks).

* California: The Golden Bears had a solid 3-1 week posting a Tuesday victory over lowly Sacramento State (8-2) before taking two-of-three from the visiting Washington Huskies.  Behind Brandon Morrow, California notched a 9-3 win in the opener.  A pitchers duel saw the Bears win 2-1 on Saturday before Washington managed a 5-0 shutout on Sunday to salvage a game of the series.  All in all, an encouraging start to the conference season for the Golden Bears - especially after a relatively lackluster non-conference campaign.  Cal hopes to continue their strong momentum when they take on Arizona for three games at Evans Diamond this Thursday through Saturday.

* Oregon State: The Beavers had little difficulty with visiting Utah Valley State in a non-conference series last weekend.  Oregon State, now ranked 12th in the country, posted wins of 7-5, 9-4, and 13-6 to regain some momentum after a series loss the week prior at USC.  The Beavers have a busy schedule ahead with a pair of midweek road games in Northern California (at Pacific, at USF) before a home series against UT-Pan American.  Oregon State is the lone Pac-10 club not participating in conference play this weekend.

* UCLA: The red-hot Bruins took last week off for their final exams.  While the focus in Westwood is clearly on their men's basketball team this weekend, the baseball squad will open their Pac-10 schedule with a three-game series at Washington. 

* USC: The Trojans routed Loyola Marymount by a 14-4 score last Tuesday and then took the weekend off.  USC has a difficult week ahead with a single non-conference game versus #19 Pepperdine on Wednesday before a journey to Sunken Diamond and a three-game series with Stanford.  The Trojans took two-of-three from the Cardinal in a non-conference set in Los Angeles three weeks ago.

* Washington: The suddenly struggling Huskies avoided a home sweep at the hands of Cal Poly last Monday as a late grand slam propelled them to a come-from-behind 9-8 win.  After a narrow 5-4 victory over Division III Puget Sound, Washington dropped two-of-three to California in their Pac-10 opening series.  Ace pitcher Tim Lincecum was held back for the Sunday contest and he delivered eight shutout innings in their 5-0 win to salvage a game in the series.  This weekend, it's a matchup in Seattle against the surging UCLA Bruins.

* Washington State: The Cougars proved that they just might be for real after taking two-of-three from host Stanford last weekend in Palo Alto.  WSU took the first two games of the series, 7-1 and 8-5, before a 5-3 defeat in the finale.  The Cougars have another major test this weekend when they welcome Arizona State to Pullman for three games.


This Weekend:
* USC at Stanford
* Arizona at California (Thursday-Saturday)
* Arizona State at Washington State (Thursday-Saturday)
* UCLA at Washington
UT-Pan American at Oregon State
Arizona vs. Arizona State, in Phoenix (Sunday)

* - Pac-10 Series


Baseball America Rankings:
-- Pac-10 --
12. Oregon State (15-7)
14. Arizona State (21-7)

-- West Coast --
2. CS Fullerton (20-7)
12. Oregon State (15-7)
14. Arizona State (21-7)
19. Pepperdine (18-11)

-- Top Ten --
1. Mississippi State (19-1)
2. CS Fullerton (20-7)
3. Georgia Tech (20-4)
4. Florida State (25-2)
5. South Carolina (22-3)
6. Rice (20-8)
7. North Carolina (20-5)
8. Nebraska (17-3)
9. Clemson (16-6)
10. Texas (19-10)


Pac-10 RPI Update:
(rankings from Boydsworld through Monday, March 27th)
12. Stanford
16. UCLA
20. Arizona State
27. USC
33. Washington
40. Arizona
47. Oregon State
67. California
80. Washington State


Opponents Update:
It was another huge weekend for Cal State Fullerton as the Titans swept rival Long Beach State (2-1, 7-4, 6-2) in a non-conference series.  Fullerton has caught fire since getting swept by the Cardinal (20-4 record since) and have jumped all the way up to the #2 national ranking.

Meanwhile, Texas also remained red-hot as they swept visiting Oklahoma State last weekend to move up to 10th in the country.  The defending champs also knocked off #6 Rice by a 3-2 score in a Wednesday contest last week.  With the win, the Longhorns are now a perfect 3-0 against the Owls this season.

Fresno State also continued their amazing stretch of games with a three-game, weekend sweep of Sacramento State.  The Bulldogs, now 22-8, have won a remarkable 15 games in a row since getting swept by Stanford.

Kansas dropped a series last weekend falling in two-of-three games to 8th ranked Nebraska in Lincoln.  The Jayhawks won a 7-6 decision in the finale to avoid the sweep.

Stanford's current Pac-10-best RPI rating is clearly due to their strength of schedule.  Kansas and Fresno State are enjoying outstanding seasons thus far - far better than in recent years.  Fullerton is considered by many to have the best team in the country right now while Texas, with perhaps the most talent of any college team, is finally rounding into form.  A 5-1 record against the Titans and Longhorns could take the Cardinal a long way when comes time to compare resumes. 

The fact is, Stanford hasn't played such a difficult non-conference schedule in a long time (all 21 games thus far are versus RPI Top 100 teams; 15 of those versus Top 50: 9-6 record).  Due to the impressive resumes of these teams, the Cardinal could really cash in on Selection Day if they take care of their own business over the next two months.

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