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CBD Column: Southern California Wk 6 Power Rankings

Austin Bailey blows a bubble.The SoCal Power Rankings have slowly become separated into two tiers. With only one team within two games of .500, it is a split of winning records versus losing records. It may be hard for one of the lower tier teams to leap into the top group or for one of the top-tier squads to make a quick descent into the bottom, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of movement within each tier.

San Diego was the only team with an unblemished week. See where the Toreros rank and see how far Pepperdine, last week’s No. 2, dropped after an 0-4 week.

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

1. UCLA (17-5, LW: 1, 2-1) – UCLA lost Monday’s series finale to Washington State, but may have gained something far more important this weekend. Entering the weekend, junior centerfielder Beau Amaral was hitting .273 with three extra base hits. The Bruins leadoff hitter upped his average by 46 points after ripping Washington State all weekend. Amaral was 8-for-14 with a walk, a hit by pitch, two doubles, a triple, a home run, seven runs scored and four RBI. If he becomes a consistent force at the top of the lineup, the Bruins will be a dangerous team that could challenge for Pac-12 and, potentially, Omaha supremacy.

2. San Diego (21-6, LW: 3, 3-0– The Toreros’ .778 winning percentage is the best in Southern California and they have played the most games — as much as nine more than other SoCal clubs. After dropping their opening series at Sam Houston State, they haven’t lost another series, going 20-4. San Diego opened West Coast Conference play by sweeping Santa Clara. The Toreros will get a test Friday when they will likely face San Francisco stud Kyle Zimmer.

3. Cal State Fullerton (15-9, LW: 4, 3-2– The Titans have played the toughest schedule in the country and have shown they are capable of playing with anyone. But the last week was almost a perfect exemplification of their season so far. Fullerton split with No. 14 Arizona State and took two of three from Oral Roberts.  The Titans will split with a top 15 team, but also play down to their competition and lose a game to a team they should beat. Why is Fullerton so enigmatic? Because they can’t get consistent offensive contributions outside of Michael Lorenzen, Carlos Lopez and Richy Pedroza. Maybe the sight of coach Rick Vanderhook coaching third base, as he did Wednesday night, will be the spark that turns the offensive tide.

4. USC (15-8, LW: 6, 2-2– The Trojans may not be a top 10 team, but they have shown they are plenty capable of playing against top 10 teams. Facing No. 2 Stanford ace Mark Appel, USC scored two runs with two outs in the ninth to take a 2-1 lead in the series opener, but starter Andrew Triggs couldn’t finish out the game allowing the tying run on a sac fly and then a two-run walk-off homer. The Trojans put the tying run on base in the ninth inning of a 3-2 loss in the second game before taking the finale 8-4 behind Stephen Tarpley. The freshman now has wins over the No. 2 & No. 4 teams in the nation.

5. UC Irvine (14-9, LW: 5, 3-1) – The Anteaters swept Dartmouth before losing a midweek game to USC, allowing the Trojans to jump them in the Power Rankings this week. The offense has hit better of late with leadoff hitter D.J. Crumlich setting the table for the ‘Eaters. Crumlich has hit .481 with five doubles and a triple during his current six-game hitting streak. However, it appears Irvine’s starting rotation has taken another major blow as Kyle Hooper, who allowed only one run in 23 innings to start the season, had an MRI earlier this week on his pitching elbow and may be out indefinitely.

6. Pepperdine (16-9, LW: 2, 0-4) – The Waves were on a roll having won eight of nine coming into this week, but they hit a maroon brick wall. Texas A&M flattened Pepperdine. Jon Moscot lost out on a tremendous pitcher’s duel with Michael Wacha on Friday. Then the vaunted pitching staff that had allowed more than four runs only three times this season, allowed 27 runs in the final two games against Texas A&M and a midweek game at UC Santa Barbara. The Waves need to get back on track quick since they open West Coast Conference play this weekend.

7. Loyola Marymount (8-12, LW: 9, 1-2– The Lions are at the top of the second tier of teams, despite a losing weekend, because they are 5-5 in their last 10 games, which is the best amongst the teams in the lower half of the Power Rankings. Colin Welmon (3-1, 2.33 ERA, 0.83 WHIP) has been fantastic on Fridays for LMU. The freshman hasn’t allowed a run in 23 innings and was the SoCal Diamond Stud Pitcher over the weekend.

8. Long Beach State (8-15, LW: 10, 2-2) – As Bob Keissler wrote about the Dirtbags, “The season to date has been one of frustration and heartache, and most of the hits have been below the belt.” One of those blows came on Friday when they took a 7-2 lead into the ninth inning at Wichita State and somehow found a way to lose. But Long Beach rebounded to take the final two games and the series, including scoring a season-high 13 runs on Saturday. After starting the season 1-for-19, coach Troy Buckley gave freshman Richard Prigatano a day off in the series finale against Cal. The move worked as Prigatano has become an impact bat in the lineup, batting .400 since being sat.

9. UC Riverside (7-11, LW: 7, 1-2– The Highlanders only got two games in at Fresno State last weekend before the rain clouds came. They took the first before losing a tight 2-1 contest on Saturday. Instead of building on the momentum, Riverside dropped a game to San Diego State, giving up seven unanswered runs. The Highlanders have played the third toughest schedule in the country, according to Boyd’s World, but they also have only played 18 games.

10. San Diego State (11-15, LW: 11, 2-3) – Like Long Beach State, SDSU let a big lead slip away in the ninth inning Friday. The Aztecs were up 5-1 and three outs away from a taking both games of a doubleheader when they gave up five runs to Cal Poly. The walk-off win changed the entire series as San Diego State was swept in Saturday’s doubleheader. The Aztecs were able to bounce back with a midweek win over Riverside, but the Aztecs need a big weekend to get back on track.

11. Cal State Northridge (11-13, LW: 8, 1-2– The Matadors offense has gone missing. They managed only 10 hits this week. The only batter getting on consistently is Cal Vogelsang, who has an eight-game hit streak. He is batting .389 during the streak, but has only scored three times due to his teammates’ offensive anemia.

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