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CBD Column: Southern California Wk 5 Power Rankings

Matt Duffy can't quite reach a grounder up the middle.Not a ton of movement in this week’s iteration of the Southern California college baseball Power Rankings. UCLA’s winning streak was snapped after 12 games, but the Bruins bounced right back and continued their winning ways, keeping all Power Rankings contenders at bay for at least another week. Crosstown rival USC went the opposite direction losing its Pac-12 conference opening series to Utah, who had been struggling. Pepperdine and San Diego continue to battle for positioning with wins while Long Beach and San Diego State are battling each other with losses.

The rankings after the jump. Record, last week’s rankings and record since last week’s Power Rankings in parentheses:

1. UCLA (15-4, LW: 1, 2-1) – The Bruins are not only the best team in Southern California right now, but they are playing like one of the best teams in the nation. Then no. 11 Arizona State snapped UCLA’s 12-game winning streak, but the Bruins bounced back in the second game of the Sunday doubleheader to take the series. Freshman Grant Watson really stepped up, filling in for starter Zach Weiss in the finale. Watson pitched six innings to pick up his fifth win of the season and was named the Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week.

2. Pepperdine (16-5, LW: 2, 3-1) – The Waves scored double-digit runs twice in their last three games. Why is that notable? They had scored 10 or more runs only twice during the first 18 games of the season. The good thing is Pepperdine’s pitching staff continues to excel. The weekend rotation of Jon Moscot, Scott Frazier and Corey Miller are averaging more than seven innings per start and each have an ERA 2.43 or lower. Throw in midweek starter Matt Maurer’s 1.93 ERA and you have one of the top starting rotations on the West Coast.

3. San Diego (18-6, LW: 3, 3-1– In a four-game series against Columbia, third baseman Kris Bryant went off. He smashed two doubles, five home runs and drove in 13 runs on his way to being named the West Coast Conference Player of the Week for the second time this year. Bryant has extra base hits in his last five games and is now batting .402 with a .518 on base percentage. With the way Pepperdine and San Diego have played during the non-conference schedule, don’t be surprised if their season-ending weekend matchup if for the West Coast Conference title.

4. Cal State Fullerton (13-7, LW: 5, 2-1– No matter how well your rival is playing, it always feels good to beat them, especially when you break their collective heart with come-from-behind wins like the Titans did twice against Long Beach State. But rivals are especially tough to sweep, which Fullerton saw on Sunday when it couldn’t finish off the Dirtbags. The Titans continue to be one of the most enigmatic teams in the country — capable of beating anyone, but also capable of dropping a game to anyone.

5. UC Irvine (11-8, LW: 7, 2-0) – The Anteaters top two starters this season, Kyle Hooper and Crosby Slaught struggled, but Irvine was still able to get a series win on the road at Nevada. The light-hitting Anteaters were able to score six runs in each of the final two games. In the rubber match Saturday, they were able to manufacture go-ahead runs in the ninth and tenth innings. Jeff Stephens earned Big West Conference Player of the Week. He had a pair of hits in each of the games against Nevada.

6. USC (13-6, LW: 4, 1-2– The Trojans had a bad day on Friday. As outfielder Alex Sherrod said, unfortunately they played a doubleheader on that bad day. USC dropped a pair of games at home to Utah in the first ever Pac-12 conference games because they couldn’t score runs. Andrew Triggs (9 IP, ER) was the tough luck 1-0 loser in the opener and the Trojans dropped the second game 3-1. They busted out of the slump on Sunday with 10 runs on 18 hits led by Sherrod’s four knocks.

7. UC Riverside (6-9, LW: 8, 0-0– The Highlanders took the week off in order to concentrate on final exams. They have a big seven-game road trip starting this weekend with a trip to Fresno State.

8. Cal State Northridge (10-11, LW: 10, 2-2– The Matadors are right on the cusp of being a team worthy of being in the top half of the SoCal Power Rankings. They’ve lost four close games. They just need a little more and a little better. They need a little more offense and a little better pitching. The offense is hitting a respectable .279 and the core pitchers (10+ innings pitched) all have ERAs below 5.00, but Northridge could use some more hits and more quality relief pitching. Outfielder Cal Vogelsang stepped up this week. He now has a five-game hitting streak.

9. Loyola Marymount (7-10, LW: 11, 2-1– After dropping the opening game of their series with Indiana 3-1, the Lions bounced back and actually hit the ball for a pair of games…and accordingly, they won both games. It’s pretty simple. When the Lions hit, they win. When they don’t hit, like Tuesday against Northridge, they don’t win. Cullen Mahoney and Scott Harkin are the only two LMU batters currently hitting better than .300.

10. Long Beach State (6-13, LW: 9, 1-3) – When I talked to coach Troy Buckley after Friday night’s doubleheader loss to Cal State Fullerton, he said his team needed to re-learn how to win. The Dirtbags’ pitching has kept them in just about every game (not so much the case on Tuesday when they were pounded by Pepperdine), but the Dirtbags just aren’t doing the little things needed to pull out close victories. Their victory on Sunday against a top 15 ranked Fullerton squad is the only thing keeping them from the Power Rankings basement.

11. San Diego State (9-12, LW: 6, 0-4) – The Aztecs were riding a hot streak, winning six of seven before losing their series finale to St. Mary’s in extra innings. They haven’t won since, dropping all four games this week, including the first midweek game against rival San Diego. The pitching staff allowed 30 runs in the weekend series at New Mexico.

  • Guest

    This is the only place where you will find P’dine rated ahead of Fullerton but this is the same place that overvalues Tuesday games.  Having said that, P’dine is probably underrated in most places.  

    San Diego, on the other hand……

    Team A – 12 RPI, 15 ISR
    Team B – 108 RPI, 35 ISR

    Team B is ranked ahead of Team A here.

    Next up is USC and Irvine.  USC has had one bad weekend, which happened to be last weekend.  Irvine has been a .500 team since playing in Houston against three teams it should beat.

    Team A – 36 RPI, 39 ISR
    Team B – 63 RPI, 56 ISR

    Once again, Team B is ranked ahead of Team A.

  • Guest

    I agree with “Guest”:  UCLA, Fullerton and Pepperdine have been impressive in tough SERIES.

    The rest will be sorted out via conference and inter-conference match-ups.  But, at the end of the season, the top 3 will be Fullerton, UCLA, and Pepperdine (probably, but not necessarily in that order).

    • Shotgun Spratling

      Thanks for the comments guys. I love hearing what you think and what you have to say.

      While I think a certain team or two will definitely rise to the top by the end of the season, this isn’t Baseball America’s Top 25, where the rankings through at least half the season are based on what they project a team will do by the end of the year. My SoCal Power Rankings are definitely more reactionary — what have you done for me lately. The hottest teams are the teams that can make their way to Omaha. Even if a team started 35-0, but lost its last 10 games, I would likely rank it behind a team that is 30-15, but has won 8 of 10.

      As for the comparisons, at this time, San Diego has shown me more consistency than Fullerton. No matter who the opponent, San Diego is going to bring the bats with them. Fullerton could end up being the final SoCal team standing at the end of the season, but the Titans have to show the focus to put together a full week. We’ll see if they can do that now that Grahmm Wiest is back to full strength and in the rotation.

      For Irvine/USC, I was impressed that Irvine was able to win a series with its two best starters struggling. (Technically, Irvine was only 2-0 since the last rankings since last week’s rankings were published Friday morning.) And USC wasn’t going to go unpunished for losing a series to a struggling Utah team. The Trojans’ offense was non-existant in the two Friday losses, which made me begin to wonder how inflated their offensive numbers were from playing some easy non-conference weekend series. They bounced back on Sunday. We’ll get a better idea of just how good the Trojans can be this season after a weekend series at Stanford.

      • Guest

        Do you take into account the schedules that teams have played?  Fullerton has played series with three ranked teams (two of them on the road) and won two of them (one of them on the road).  They have now won five straight series.  Isn’t that consistent?

        You mentioned “no matter who the opponent is, San Diego is going to bring the bsts with them”.  Is playing consistently lately going 3-2 against Indiana and Columbia?  Who has San Diego played?  I’ll give you the two wins against K State and Oregon State.  1-2 at recently peeked over .500 mid-major Sam Houston State?  2-0 against Big West bottom feeder Pacific?  Splitting with Northridge?  A weekend win against Cal Poly that is .500 after their 7-1 start?  Winning a series with an SEC team (Vandy) that will finish under .500?  As the old lady used to say in the Wendy’s commercial – where’s the beef?

        • I would like to make the point that his comments do not reflect my personal views! Vandy is terrible this season! Sent on the Sprint® Now Network from my BlackBerry®

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