It was one heck of a weekend for the Pac-10. Coming off of a disastrous 2009 campaign in which only three teams qualified for a Regional and only one made it past the first weekend, the conference came out in a complete 180 in the 2010 season’s opening weekend. As a whole, the Pac-10 went 9-0 on Friday, 10-2 on Saturday and then 6-2 on Sunday for a weekend record of 25-4 with the opponent’s including Rice, Fullerton, Cal Poly, Long Beach St. and Hawaii. After three days of the 2010 season, no team has more than one loss.
#5 Rice at #30 Stanford
The Cardinal are young and while they are very talented, they were expected to struggle in the early part of the season. With Rice in town for a three-game set, things were supposed to be especially rough, but the only team in for a rough time was Rice.
The Owls got on the board first in game one of the series when they knocked one in in the first, but Stanford starter Jordan Pires settled down after that and pitched into the eighth, allowing four runs, only one of which was earned. The heart of the Rice order, 3-6 all notched a single hit apiece, but none picked up a RBI and thanks to three Stanford homers, the Cardinal were able to hold onot a 6-4 victory in the series opener.
Things got better for the Owls in game two as they took a 4-2 lead into the bottom of the seventh innings, but the Cardinal put together a monster inning there. Stanford collected nine hits and benefited from three Rice errors as well as four free passes. When all was said and done, Rice had gone through five pitchers in the inning and Stanford had put an 11 spot on the board to put the game to bed. The Cardinal ended up wrapping the game up with a 14-5 victory.
Because rain was in the Sunday forecast, game three of the series was also played on Saturday and Stanford got off to a quick start, carrying over their momentum from game two. The Cardinal had put five runs on the board and starter Brett Mooneyham was cruising, having allowed just one run through five. Rice began to make a comeback in the sixth though, scoring three and cutting the Stanford lead to 5-4. An eighth inning Owl run tied the game at five, then Rice got one more in the top of the ninth to take a lead. Stanford mounted a two-out rally in the bottom half though, culminating in a two RBI by Kenny Diekroeger to give Stanford a 7-6 victory and series sweep.
Oregon in SoCal
The second-year Ducks tripped to Southern California for three games against three top teams, #4 Cal St. Fullerton, Long Beach St. and Pepperdine. In head coach George Horton’s return to Fullerton, the Ducks out-Titaned the Titans by pitching well, playing good defense and pressuring the opposing defense. All of it worked and Oregon took down Fullerton in the rain, 7-3.
The big win in Fullerton was followed by a trip to Long Beach St. where the Ducks followed the same script and took down the Dirtbags, 6-2, at Blair Field. The weekend was capped by the Ducks getting a taste of their own medicine. Oregon committed five errors to ruin a strong offensive performance as Pepperdine edged them out, 11-7.
USC at Cal Poly
Regarded by many as a darkhorse in the Big West, Cal Poly is no joke and with the seating getting warmer under USC head coach Chad Kreuter, the pressure was on the Trojans. In the first game of the series, USC looked calm as can be though while Cal Poly looked under pressure, committing errors and walking Trojans to hand SC a 9-4 victory. The Mustangs offense regrouped in game two and hit USC starter Chad Smith hard to the tune of seven runs in 4.1 innings. That was enough for Cal Poly, although they tacked on some more to win 10-6. In the series finale, Ricky Oropesa and Cade Kreuter each drive in a pair as the Trojans scored seven in the last two innings to come back and win 9-4.
#27 UCLA at MLB Urban Invitational
After some poor starts in recent years, UCLA was out looking for a fast start and they got it. A strong start by Gerrit Cole and some hot hitting pushed the Bruins past Southern, 16-2, in game one of the MLB Urban Invitational. That big win was followed by another with a similar script. This time Trevor Bauer gave UCLA the strong start, striking out 13, and Steve Rodriguez, who hit two homers all of 2009, hit his second and third of the season to beat Bethune Cookman, 10-3. The weekend was capped by a shaky start by Rob Rasmussen, but a big day from freshman Beau Amaral who went 4-5 with a home run, two runs and three RBI in UCLA’s 14-5 win over Cal St. Northridge. For the weekend, UCLA went 3-0 and outscored their opponents 40-10.
#18 Oregon St. at Hawaii
Poor Oregon St. had to suffer a February weekend in Hawaii, but they made it count, coming away with a series win. The Beavers fell behind 6-3 in the opener, but rolled off seven unanswered runs thanks to Stefen Romero’s 3-5, three run, four RBI performance to in 10-6. In game two, a four run third inning and three run sixth inning was all the Beavers needed to beat the Warriors, 7-3. Sunday’s game almost completed the series sweep, but the usually dependable Kevin Rhoderick gave it up in the ninth. leading 4-3, the Beavers handed the ball to Rhoderick, but a home run, double and single scored two runs as Oregon St. dropped the finale, 5-4.
Washington at Cactus Classic
The Lindsey Meggs era at Washington opened with some style as the Huskies were able to defeat a couple solid opponents in the Arizona desert. Andrew Kittredge gave up only two runs in six innings of work to open the season and the bullpen held down the fort as the Huskies were 4-2 winners over New Mexico St. on Friday. The pitching was not there in the Huskies’ next game though as four of the five UW pitchers gave up at least two runs to a Missouri team that put a 17-6 beating on them. Trailing 9-4 to Gonzaga in the bottom of the seventh inning, it looked as if the Huskies’ weekend would end on a sour note, but they scored two in the seventh, one in the eighth and then three in the third to go away walk-off, 10-9, winners.
Southern Utah at California
Cal has dome definite talent, but with four everyday freshmen starters and a freshman pitching on Saturdays, things were expected to be tough. On opening weekend against a poor team, they weren’t. Freshmen picked up 10 of the Bears’ 12 RBI in the season opener as Cal cruised to a 14-0 victory. Things got better in game two as the Bears put a 22 spot on the board and freshman Justin Jones struck out nine in seven shutout innings as Cal won 22-0. The final game of the series was the closest, but not that close as Cal overmatched Southern Utah again, 10-0.
Northern Illinois at #8 Arizona St.
Josh Spence didn’t make an appearance on opening weekend, but Arizona St. didn’t need him. Seth Blair gave up only three hits in five shutout innings in the opener as the Sun Devils had no issue with the Huskies, 8-0. Northern Illinois put some runs in the board on Saturday, but Zach Wilson’s 3-5 performance with two runs and RBI helped the offense pull out a 10-5 win in game two. Zack McPhee was the Sun Devils’ stud in game three, going 4-4 with four runs and five RBI, but all of ASU hit as they finished off the sweep, 26-1.
Seattle at Washington St.
Playing a first-year program in their first games is also a safe way to go and Washington St. had themselves an easy weekend as a result. Saturday’s contest was close early on thanks to a poor performance by Chad Arnold, who gave up four runs in as many innings, but the offense and bullpen got it done and the Cougs won, 11-6. The final game of the two-game set was much easier in a 23-0 pasting of Seattle.
Utah Valley at Arizona
Arizona will never be called brave, scheduling their first 26 games at home, but the Wildcats did take care of business on the opening weekend. Kurt Heyer looked like an ace in the opener, striking out 13 in six innings and allowing just one run as Arizona beat Utah Valley 8-1 in the opener. The Wildcats didn’t really need Kyle Simon’s one-run, eight innings of pitching in game two, but they got it to go along with 16 hits and 18 runs in their 18-1 win. The weekend’s final game was much tougher as the Wildcats were pushed to extra innings. Tied 7-7 in the 10th, Jett Bandy came to the plate and put an end to the game by smacking a walk-off homer for the 8-7 win and series sweep.