In sports unblemished by the influence of money and the corruption of souls, it is clear the Pacific-12 Conference is still holding the lead in Division I. To wit, this year, the Conference of (real NCAA) Champions once again is leading the nation in national titles for 2019-2020, while also dominating the baseball diamond.
UCLA (30-7), Oregon State (28-8-1), and Stanford (27-6) are ranked 1-2-3 in the latest NCAA baseball poll, put out by D1Baseball.com weekly. Arizona State joins the trio as the 15th-ranked team in the country right now, and of course, the Beavers are the defending national champions.
The College World Series finals are still two months away, so there is a lot of baseball to be played, but the Pac-12 looks strong right now. Ironically, the three teams stand in inverse order for league games, with the Cardinal atop the conference with a 13-2 record in Pac-12 play.
The Beavers are 14-4, and the Bruins are 11-4, respectively, are right behind Stanford, while the Sun Devils sit in fourth place with a 12-6 mark. The California Golden Bears (20-14 overall, 8-7 in conference) and the Oregon Ducks (22-16, 7-8) have outside shots to get CWS bids for the overall field of 64 teams invited to tournament-championship play in June.
Individually, several Pac-12 players are dominating the nation’s statistical rankings as well. Oregon State catcher Adley Rutschman, last year’s CWS Most Outstanding Player and likely No. 1 overall pick in this year’s MLB Draft, is hitting .420 this season, ranking him eighth overall in Division I and second among major-college players.
Arizona State outfielder Hunter Bishop is second in the nation with 17 home runs right now, while he also ranks sixth in runs scored with 51, currently. On the pitching side, Arizona State’s Alec Marsh is tied for the national lead with eight wins, while Oregon State’s Brandon Eisert has seven victories. UCLA’s Holden Powell ranks second overall with 11 saves, too.
Upcoming league play this week should maintain the status quo, as the Beavers host last-place Washington State (8-27-1, 1-13-1) for three games, while UCLA hosts tenth-place Utah (12-21, 4-14) for a series. ASU travels to play Washington (17-17, 5-10), and Stanford hosts Arizona (18-19, 6-12).
The exciting series of the weekend promises to be Oregon at Cal, however, as the two teams jockey for potential CWS bids and seeding. If one team manages to sweep the series, it will have huge ramifications long term for that team—and the conference as a whole.
A key could be the fact the Ducks do not play and early-week game, so the Oregon pitching staff should be well rested to face the Golden Bears at Evans Diamond in Berkeley—an older facility that sees centerfield at only 395 feet from the plate. Keeping the ball down and in the park is key for winning at Evans, and the extra days off should help the Oregon arms in this important late-April series.
Check in regularly for Pac-12 baseball updates!