After a tremendous introduction to the stage, San Diego State froze like a scared little girl at the Apollo once the spotlight turned on it. A five-game losing streak sent the Aztecs on a nosedive in the rankings. So who takes the top spot this week after three top SoCal teams took road series in the Lonestar State this past weekend?
1. Cal State Fullerton (8-0, LW: 2) – This season, road wins get an additional boost in the RPI formula. Fullerton definitely added value to its RPI with a three-game sweep at TCU, who is expected to be one of the top teams in the Big XII this season. Freshmen aces Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza were outstanding once again (25 IP, 1 ER so far this season) and TCU head coach Jim Schlossnagle said the Titans offense is one of the best in the game. So far they has been. They have averaged seven runs per game and have scored at least six runs in every game since their 3-2 win against USC Opening Night.
2. UC Irvine (7-1, LW: 3) - Irvine’s offense has also been lighting it up. The Anteaters have averaged 7.5 runs per game and are batting ..354 as a team. Senior Ronnie Shaeffer has led the way with a .486 average, two homers, 12 RBI and a 1.162 OPS. Irvine produced a strong 4-1 week, taking three of four from Cal and a mid-week contest at Loyola Marymount.
3. UCLA (5-2, LW: 5) – Brian Carroll was hot throughout the week, going 7 for 15 with 4 RBI as the Bruins took a weekend series at Baylor and continued their regular season streak of winning mid-week games after going 11-0 last season. All-American reliever David Berg actually showed he wasn’t invincible this weekend, but freshman James Kaprielian did pick up two saves.
4. Pepperdine (6-3, LW: 4) - The Waves had an impressive weekend series win at Texas A&M, taking the finale with a run in the ninth inning. The bullpen was phenomenal over the weekend, but faltered in a Tuesday matchup at Baylor. After 7 1/3 scoreless during the weekend series, the combination of Mat Snider and Eric Karch let two inherited runners score and another two runs score to tie and win the game. The Waves also uncharacteristically had two errors in the Tuesday night game.
5. USC (5-3, LW: 8) - They aren’t winning by much, but the Trojans have now won five of six after starting 0-2. USC’s starting pitching continues to propel them. The combination of Wyatt Strahan, freshman Kyle Twomey and the Wheatley brothers, Bobby and Brent, has allowed 11 earned runs in eight starts.
6. Long Beach State (5-4, LW: 6) - The Dirtbags appeared to be on the move up the rankings after sweeping Valparaiso at home over the weekend. Their pitching was great. The staff allowed only four runs all weekend and the defense has been solid after some early season woes. But Long Beach stays in the same spot after dropping a mid-week game at USC after failing to capitalize on several scoring chances.
7. Cal State Northridge (4-3, LW: 7) - The Matadors battled USC close for an entire weekend series, coming from behind to send the first two matchups into extra innings. But after taking Friday night’s game with five runs in the 11th inning, CSUN lost the final two games of the series by a total of three runs. Kyle Attl batted .500 and added three walks.
8. San Diego State (4-5, LW: 1) – After sweeping rival San Diego, the Aztecs apparently lost their bats. They went missing for five games after opening weekend. The Aztecs were outscored 34-5 and only managed 28 hits in a four-game sweep to No. 6 Oregon State and a loss at Santa Clara Tuesday night. They finally got back in the win column on Wednesday with a 7-4 victory. Greg Allen had four hits and four RBI in the win…as Allen goes, the SDSU offense goes.
9. San Diego (3-4, LW: 11) - The Toreros got their bats warmed up against Kent State in the final three games of a four-game set. After only 24 hits in its first four games, San Diego has scored 37 games in the last three games. All-American Kris Bryant got his first homer at Fowler Park in a 14-2 win Sunday after previously hitting a pair of doubles off the wall.
10. UC Riverside (3-5, LW: 10) - If we were ranking punches thrown, UC Riverside would definitely be the top squad, but what matters are game outcomes. The Highlanders took two of the first three games against Sacramento State, but failed to get the series win, committing six errors in Sunday’s finale.
11. Loyola Marymount (3-5, LW: 9) - The weekend started out great for the Lions. Colin Welmon pitched out of some jams, struck out nine in six innings and beat No. 14 Oregon on the road Friday night. But things went downhill after that. LMU outhit Oregon 15-6 the final two games of the series but were outscored 12-2. Irvine then came to Page Stadium and beat the ball all over the park, scoring 10 runs on 14 hits.