USC-UCLA - 11

CBD Column: Southern California Wk 4 Power Rankings

Jeff Gelalich congratulates Kevin Williams.The 2012 version of the Dodgertown Classic pitted not only rivals USC and UCLA, but also Southern California’s Pepperdine and UC Irvine facing off. UCLA and Pepperdine came away with wins, pushing both toward the top. See where they land. Also see where the enigmatic Cal State Fullerton ends up after a pair of wins against No. 6 Texas A&M but a midweek loss to Washington State.

1. UCLA (13-3, LW: 1, 4-0) – The Bruins put together the best week of Southern California baseball thus far this season. UCLA went on the road, all the way across the country, and swept No. 9 Georgia. Coach Savage’s squad then put the finishing touches on another perfect week with a 7-2 win over rival USC. The Bruins have now won 11 in a row as they prepare for a big Pac-12 opening weekend against Arizona State.

2. Pepperdine (13-4, LW: 4, 5-0) – The Pepperdine offense hasn’t been spectacular (.266 team batting average), but it continues to do just enough to win ball games. The Waves pitching staff has been tremendous all season and continued that this week. The pitchers allowed a combined seven runs to score in five games. It was primarily the starting pitchers because the relievers only pitched 6 1/3 innings all week. But those were 6 1/3 scoreless innings.

3. San Diego (15-5, LW: 2, 4-2- San Diego is in the midst of playing nine games in ten days. Even with the depth of the pitching staff being tested, the Toreros are excelling. San Diego took a road series at Vanderbilt, coming back to win the final two matchups after being dominated in the opener. They continue to get solid pitching from the front of their rotation and their back-end duo of James Pazos and the national saves leader, Michael Wagner. The offense continues to click as well. The Toreros have seven batters with more than 50 at bats…all are batting above .300. USD has a .331 team batting average.

4. USC (12-4, LW: 3, 3-1- For the third week in a row, USC had a chance to make a statement and move up the rankings with a midweek game against a fellow top five team in the Southern California Power Rankings. This week it was rival UCLA in the Dodgertown Classic, but the Trojans couldn’t get clutch hits with runners on base. They stay near the top after back-to-back, ninth inning, walk-offs helped them sweep Cal State Bakersfield. Freshman Stephen Tarpley continues to dazzle in his Sunday starts. He pitched eight scoreless innings with 10 strikeouts and no walks.

5. Cal State Fullerton (11-6, LW: 6, 2-2- If you include the conclusion of Saturday’s game at Texas A&M, the Titans are now 5-0 on Sundays, with four wins over top 15 opponents. If only they carried that level of play over to their midweek contests where Fullerton instead plays to the level of its competition. After becoming the first team to win a non-conference weekend series at Texas A&M since 1995, the Titans allowed five unearned runs in an extra-inning loss to Washington State.

6. San Diego State (9-8, LW: 5, 1-2) – Going for a series win and their seventh final at bat win, the Aztecs tied St. Mary’s in the ninth inning, but couldn’t get a runner home from third base with one out. St. Mary’s eventually won in the 13th inning to give San Diego State a losing week.

7. UC Irvine (9-8, LW: 7, 3-3) – Starters Kyle Hooper, Crosby Slaught and Nick Hoover allowed a combined seven hits in 19 2/3 innings in UC Irvine’s three wins this week. The problem is when the pitchers aren’t nearly unhittable. Only once have the Anteaters won when their opponent scores more than three runs. The offense seems to be getting more contributions as Chris Rabago, Jeff Stephens and Connor Spencer have joined Jordan Fox’s early solid production.

8. UC Riverside (6-9, LW: 11, 2-1- Eddie Orozco had one of the nation’s top pitching performances of the season on Saturday when the senior struck out 15 and allowed only three hits in a 1-0 win. The Highlanders couldn’t complete the sweep on Sunday and they still need better offensive production, but the series win was a step in the right direction.

9. Long Beach State (5-10, LW: 9, 1-2) – The Dirtbags finally ended the unbelievable five-game streak of having their opponents win in the final at bat on Saturday, but they couldn’t get hits with runners on base Sunday when they had an opportunity to take a series from No. 11 Arizona State. Long Beach State may be 5-10, but they have been competitive, losing only twice by more than two runs. Now coach Troy Buckley has to find a way to get the Dirtbags over the hump and win these close games they keep playing.

10. Cal State Northridge (8-9, LW: 8, 2-3- After taking a weekend series from Indiana, Northridge had an opportunity to move up the Power Rankings with a pair of midweek games against Rhode Island, but instead the Matadors flopped. Talented freshmen relievers Cole Hallum and Louis Cohen struggled in multiple outings the last week and a half. The Matadors do not have very good pitching and need these two guys to pitch to their potential.

11. Loyola Marymount (5-9, LW: 10, 1-2- The Lions had an opportunity to make a move in the Power Rankings this week as well. They took the first game against Texas last weekend 1-0, but were unable to build any momentum, losing 3-1 to Texas and then by the same score to Indiana. Coach Jason Gill is frustrated with the offensive production. He said the coaching staff has tried six or seven different approaches already this season and none of them have worked so far.

  • Guest

    Ranked first or second (depending on the national poll) but fifth in SoCal?  Gotta love the overemphasis on midweek games here.

    • Shotgun Spratling

      Every time I plan to move Cal State Fullerton up the rankings (after a weekend sweep or after beating Texas A&M twice), the Titans play down to their competition. Once Fullerton plays consistently, it will move up the rankings and live up to the hype other polls have given the Titans.

      You can’t just dismiss midweek games. In a regional, the equivalent to the midweek game is usually the deciding game.