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Pac-12 Baseball: Week 4 Power Rankings Before Heading into Conference Play

David A. BowersCorrespondent IIDecember 24, 2016

Pac-12 Baseball: Week 4 Power Rankings Before Heading into Conference Play

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    It is a battle as old as sports itself.

    West Coast vs. East Coast, or from my home in the Sonoran Desert—the "Best Coast" vs. the "Least Coast."

    With six teams from the Pac-12 Conference in the four national polls and another three smaller California schools joining the fray, it is safe to say that baseball rules in the west and vice-versa.

    Granted, the top two teams in the country in all four polls are from the east, what happened when last week's No. 2 Arkansas Razorbacks played the No. 24 Arizona State Sun Devils? They lost both times. They are lucky to still be ranked with a 7-5 record.

    Entering the final week of non-conference play, I will examine the Pac-12 teams including their past, present and future.

Oregon State Beavers

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    Record: 11-0

    NCBWA Rank: No. 4

    Baseball America Rank: No. 4

    Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 3

    USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 4

    Composite Rank: No. 3.75

    The Beavers are on a tear and have won 11 straight to open the season. The Tuesday night game against University of Portland was rained out and there are no immediate plans to reschedule it.

    The Beavers began the season with victories in the Palm Springs Tournament over Utah Valley, Gonzaga and a pair over UC Riverside. They went on to win two four-game sets vs. San Diego State and tiny Bryant University from Rhode Island.

    Next up for Oregon State is a three-game set hosting Texas State this weekend and University of San Francisco on March 12 and 13.  

Stanford Cardinal

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    Record: 10-2

    NCBWA Rank: No. 9

    Baseball America Rank: No. 13

    Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 9

    USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 10

    Composite Rank: No. 10.25

    The Cardinal had a rough start to the season dropping two of three to the Rice Owls. They rebounded nicely winning their next nine, including two on the road at St. Mary's and Santa Clara.

    They beat cross-town rival California in a non-conference tilt and swept the Fresno State Bulldogs. The more impressive homestand was against perennial baseball powerhouse Texas Longhorns. The Cardinal shutout the 'Horns in the first game and only surrendered three total runs over the three-game set.

    Next up for Stanford is hosting UNLV (9-3) this weekend and then a week off before hosting Utah March 22-24.

UCLA Bruins

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    Record: 9-2

    NCBWA Rank: No. 7

    Baseball America Rank: No. 12

    Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 13

    USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 9

    Composite Rank: No. 10.25

    The Bruins dropped their season-opener against the Minnesota Golden Gophers and were most likely embarrassed. They went on to destroy Minnesota over the next two games by a total of 28-1.

    The Bruins traveled to Waco, Tex. and won the series against Baylor, losing the second game, but winning the all-important rubber match on Sunday.

    They have won six straight including a three-game set against Wright State, and victories over nearby UC Santa Barbara and Long Beach State.

    Next up for the Bruins is a couple of ranked teams in 11-1 Oklahoma and 8-2 Notre Dame, along with cross-town rival USC Trojans in a non-conference matchup.

Oregon Ducks

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    Record: 10-3

    NCBWA Rank: No. 11

    Baseball America Rank: No. 15

    Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 14

    USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 13

    Composite Rank: No. 13.25

    The Oregon Ducks tumbled out of the Top 10 in all four polls this week after losing two of three to the Cal State Fullerton Titans.

    The Ducks started the season in Hawaii and swept the Rainbow Warriors in four straight. Their home opener against Loyola Marymount didn't go as planned as they lost 7-2. They went on to win the series in back-to-back 6-1 victories.

    They picked up wins against the University of Portland and a couple over Cal State Northridge. Oregon can be applauded for scheduling tough non-conference games although the Pac-12 schedule is tough enough.

    Next up for the Ducks is hosting the No. 2 team in the country, Vanderbilt. The Commodores are 12-1 with their only loss coming to, you guessed it—a West Coast school. Following the three-game set with Vanderbilt, the Ducks welcome Texas State for a mid-week pair of games. 

Arizona Wildcats

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    Record: 11-3

    NCBWA Rank: No. 17

    Baseball America Rank: No. 20

    Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 18

    USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 16

    Composite Rank: No. 17.75

    The defending College World Series champions are an anomaly already this early in the season. They loaded their non-conference schedule with relative unknowns and have still managed to lose three games.

    They dominated Coppin State on opening weekend scoring in double digits all three games. They traveled to Long Beach State and split the pair. The 'Cats went on to sweep San Jose State and then split with Utah Valley.

    Arizona started well against the University of San Francisco scoring 20 runs in the first two games but dropped the finale 9-2.

    Next up for the Wildcats is a two-game set hosting Texas Tech on Wednesday and Thursday, a weekend set hosting Columbia and a mid-week pair against Butler. 

Arizona State Sun Devils

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    Record: 7-2-1

    NCBWA Rank: No. 23

    Baseball America Rank: No. 23

    Collegiate Baseball Rank: No. 20

    USA Today Coaches Poll: No. 21

    Composite Rank: No. 21.75

    The Sun Devils had an interesting weekend in a town aptly named Surprise, Ariz. The Coca-Cola Classic featured the Devils along with Pacific, Gonzaga and the No. 2 Arkansas Razorbacks.

    The Devils hosted each team following Major League Baseball Spring Training games at the home of the Texas Rangers and Kansas City Royals.

    The surprise for the Devils is that they defeated Arkansas twice and then went on to tie Gonzaga. 

    There's no tying in baseball!

    All games were slated to start at 4pm MST, but this one got off to a later start and the 'Zags had to catch their plane back to Spokane and the game was called at a 6-6 tie.

    Next up for Arizona State is a three-game set hosting the Dirtbags of Long Beach State and the University of New Mexico visits Tempe on March 13.

Unranked Teams

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    The remaining five teams in the Pac-12 aren't ranked and look to be the whipping posts for the aforementioned six teams. 

    Here is where they stand as of March 6:

    Washington State University: 8-3

    The Cougars lost their first two games to Western Carolina and went on to win eight straight before losing the finale against Cal State Northridge. They have a four-game set this weekend against Texas San Antonio.

    University of Southern California: 6-5 

    The winningest program in college baseball history hasn't seen the postseason since 2005, the CWS since 2001 and hasn't brought home the trophy since 1998. They have losses to Cal State Bakersfield, Cal State Northridge and dropped two to Fresno State. Their next four games are against ranked teams in Cal State Fullerton, Oklahoma, Notre Dame and UCLA.

    University of Utah: 5-5

    The Utes lost their opening series to Loyola Marymount and went on to take three out of four from UC Davis. They only won once in Minneapolis last weekend defeating Northern Illinois while taking losses to Dartmouth and the host Minnesota Golden Gophers. They travel to St. Mary's in California for a four-game set this weekend.

    University of California: 5-7

    The Bears started strong by sweeping the University of Michigan. They went on to lose to Stanford and lost three of four to UC Irvine. They only managed one victory in the Houston College Classic losing to Baylor, No. 1 North Carolina and Rice. They welcome Fresno State for four games this weekend and Santa Clara mid-week.

    University of Washington: 3-8

    It has been a rough season already for the Huskies losing five of their past seven games. They opened up with a four-game set at UC Davis and only managed one victory. They repeated themselves in Beaumont, Tex. losing three of four to Lamar University. They travel to Baton Rouge this weekend for three games against the No. 3 LSU Tigers. 

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