The college baseball season is officially back under way in Southern California and that means it’s time for the SoCal Power Rankings. A surprise team sits atop the first SoCal Power Rankings as San Diego State ruined their rivals stadium unveiling. The Orange County duo of Fullerton and Irvine remain undefeated after the opening week of play as well.
1. San Diego State (3-0) – Greg Allen set the table and Tim Zier gobbled up all the RBIs. The Aztecs allowed only six runs in the three-game sweep of crosstown rival San Diego, who entered with preseason national rankings. We’ll see how strong the Aztecs really are when they welcome No. 6 Oregon State for a four-game set beginning tonight.
2. Cal State Fullerton (5-0) – Five games, four different opponents in five days? No problem for the Titans. The deep pitching staff has a 2.00 ERA led by a starting rotation that has only allowed six runs so far. The offense has been outstanding, batting .311 led by Chad Wallach and Big West Player of the Week J.D. Davis, who already has 12 RBI. Two of Fullerton’s wins also came against SoCal squads, including a 6-3 win at Pepperdine on Wednesday.
3. UC Irvine (3-0) – After a close game on Friday night, the Anteaters dominated the defending Big XII champion Baylor Bears. Andrew Thurman and Big West Pitcher of the Week Matt Whitehouse were outstanding on Friday and Saturday and the offense exploded for 15 runs on Sunday. Irvine came up with a number of clutch hits, scoring 18 runs with two outs, including 10 in the fifth inning of the series finale.
4. Pepperdine (4-1) – The Waves rolled over Western Michigan in a four-game sweep — and four-game sweeps are never an easy task. But Pepperdine mid-week starter Matt Maurer got hit around by Fullerton. The Waves are hitting .327 as a team even without the big bat of sophomore Aaron Brown, who is dealing with a wrist injury. West Coast Conference Player of the Week Sam Meyer already has five extra-base hits and eight RBI.
5. UCLA (2-1) – The Bruins lost their opener in extra innings to Minnesota, but bounced back to dominate the final two games by a combined 28-1 score. Nick Vander Tuig and Grant Watson produced back-to-back 6 IP, 0 R starts to lock down the series win. Five of the six batters with 10+ at bats are batting over .300. Don’t expect the Bruins to stay in the middle of the pack long.
6. Long Beach State (2-3) – Despite having a worse winning percentage than the next three squads, the Dirtbags are getting credit for playing five games against two ranked teams in the first week. If Long Beach didn’t give Vanderbilt so many free baserunners (18 walks, six errors), it may have won the series in Nashville and be ranked toward the top.
7. Cal State Northridge (3-1) – The Matadors took three of four from St. Mary’s. The starting rotation was great outside of a rough outing from Louis Cohen and the veteran lineup (five seniors and two juniors) batted .328. CSUN is only this low because of everyone else’s success against stronger opponents the opening week.
8. USC (2-2) – After starting 0-2, the Trojans bounced back with back-to-back late inning come-from-behind wins, including a walkoff against Nebraska on Sunday. The Trojans are relying heavily upon freshman contributions and that hasn’t translated well on the offensive side yet. The Trojans are batting .248, but have got promising outings from young bullpen arms Kyle Davis and Nigel Nootbaar.
9. Loyola Marymount (2-2) – Jason Gill is definitely testing his offense early with seven consecutive Pac-12 opponents to open the season. The Lions took a series against Utah, but fell to USC 2-1. When the offense comes around, LMU could shoot up the rankings. The Lions starting pitchers have only allowed three earned runs and the staff has a 1.80 ERA overall. They’ll be put to the test this weekend against No. 14 Oregon.
10. UC Riverside (1-3) – Riverside’s ranking could have been drastically different if it could have pulled off the upset of No. 6 Oregon State early Monday morning, but after the Highlanders tied it up with two runs in the ninth inning, Oregon State took the game in extra innings. The starting pitching has to be stronger for the Highlanders to be successful. In it’s four games, Riverside didn’t have a starter make it through the fifth inning. Add a measly .205 team batting average and the Highlanders should be thankful they won a game.
11. San Diego (0-3) – What a beautiful park…what a disastrous opening weekend. The Toreros were swept by rival SDSU. The starting pitchers struggled with each allowing at least three runs and none making it past the sixth inning. And the Toreros’ vaunted offense was barely existent: .216, six runs, only four extra-base hits and just four RBI. Freshman shortstop Logan Davis, who reached base eight times in nine plate appearances, was the one bright spot.