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Sweep of ASU lands Beavers at top of Pac-10

Falling Back: ASU junior Kyle Ottoson releases a pitch during the Sun Devils’ win against Delaware on Feb. 26. Oregon State’s sweep of ASU in Corvallis, Ore., bumped the Beavers up to the top of the Pac-10. (Photo by Scott Stuk)
Falling Back: ASU junior Kyle Ottoson releases a pitch during the Sun Devils’ win against Delaware on Feb. 26. Oregon State’s sweep of ASU in Corvallis, Ore., bumped the Beavers up to the top of the Pac-10. (Photo by Scott Stuk)

1. Oregon State — 24-7, 5-1 Pac-10 (No. 15 USA Today/ESPN, No. 9 Baseball America)

The Beavers beat ASU three times over the weekend. That feat alone awards OSU the top spot in the conference. And the Beavers did it all without their leading hitter, sophomore catcher Andrew Susac.

The Sun Devils hadn’t been swept in a Pac-10 series since 1999 and had won five of six conference games to start the season.

OSU might not be the most talented team, but it is resilient. The Beavers lost their Pac-10 opener April 1 to UA 18-0. Since then, the team is 5-0 against the Arizona schools.

Junior infielder Ryan Dunn was named the conference Player of the Week on Monday after batting 6-for-14 against ASU with three doubles, a homer and six RBIs.

2. UCLA — 16-11, 7-2 Pac-10 (No. 18 USA Today/ESPN, No. 23 Baseball America)

The Bruins had the easiest start to the conference schedule of any Pac-10 team. They took two of three from USC and Washington State and swept Washington.

Those three aren’t exactly Omaha-caliber teams.

The Bruins’ only two losses in the conference came on Sundays, when All-American starting juniors Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer weren’t on the mound. Both pitchers threw complete games last weekend against the Cougars.

To give UCLA credit, it has taken care of business. It’s hard to punish a team for beating whoever is on its schedule. But from this weekend until the end of the season, the Bruins will face opponents much better, on paper at least, than those of their three previous series.

3. ASU — 20-9, 5-4 Pac-10 (No. 10 USA Today/ESPN, No. 10 Baseball America)

Corvallis, Ore., was a nightmare road trip for the Sun Devils.

ASU scored first in each game against OSU, but its pitching let the team down.

On Friday the Beavers scored four times in the seventh off sophomore Brady Rodgers. Then on Saturday, junior closer Mitchell Lambson walked home the game-winning run in the bottom of the ninth. On Sunday sophomore Jake Barrett allowed seven runs in 2 1/3 innings.

ASU is as well rounded as anyone in the conference. Its defense, offense and pitching all are above average. The problems come when one of the areas goes on hiatus.

Luckily, the Sun Devils get WSU this weekend, a perfect team to bounce back against.

4. UA — 22-11, 4-5 Pac-10 (No. 19 USA Today/ESPN, No. 20 Baseball America)

By virtue of beating the Golden Bears two out of three times last weekend in Tucson, the Wildcats get the fourth spot despite a worse conference record.

UA is a feisty club. Look no further than its third baseman, sophomore Cole Frenzel, who escalated the dugout-clearing incident with ASU on April 5.

Frenzel and sophomore outfielder Joey Rickard lead the team with batting averages of .408 and .428, respectively.

The Wildcats continue their tough early conference schedule with back-to-back road series against UCLA and Oregon.

5. California — 20-9, 6-3 Pac-10 (No. 22 USA Today/ESPN, No. 16 Baseball America)

Cal, like UCLA, hasn’t played any conference team with a winning record in the Pac-10 yet.

And that won’t change when the Golden Bears visit Seattle this weekend.

Sophomore infielder Tony Renda leads the team with a .349 batting average and 27 RBIs.

The program recently received news that its fundraising efforts will be enough to keep the program alive after this season. The team was dropped because of budget cuts last fall.

6. Stanford — 15-9, 3-3 Pac-10 (No. 23 USA Today/ESPN, No. 17 Baseball America)

The Cardinal gets the short end of the stick among the upper echelon of Pac-10 teams.

Stanford lost two of three last weekend to USC, but stays above the Trojans thanks to a vast difference in overall wins.

The team’s early-season defeat of No. 1 Vanderbilt continues to look better and better. The Cardinal lost two of three to the Commodores, but only three schools have beaten Vandy at all to this point.

Stanford hosts OSU this weekend.

7. Southern California — 13-19, 4-5 Pac-10

The Trojans have to be pleased with their performance in the first three series of Pac-10 play.

They haven’t been swept and were competitive in almost every loss.

USC still has three series remaining against the bottom three teams in the conference, so if it can win those matchups, it has legitimate chance of making a run at a NCAA appearance.

To no one’s surprise, preseason All-American junior infielder Ricky Oropesa leads the team with a .355 average, 31 RBIs and five home runs.

8. Oregon - 15-14, 1-5 Pac-10

The Ducks dropped two of three over the weekend to Washington, both of which came in extra innings.

But UO responded Sunday with a 9-0 win over the Huskies in its first conference win of the season.

The Ducks had high hopes coming into the season of taking the next step and making a run to Omaha. But they haven’t delivered so far.

If UO comes back from its early hole, it will be because of its pitching. The Ducks’ offense struggles to put runs on the board on a consistent basis.

9. Washington — 9-20, 2-4 Pac-10

The Huskies aren’t a bad team.

They had a rough non-conference schedule but have been competitive in every Pac-10 game thus far.

Although swept by UCLA, UW lost the three games by a combined four runs.

Then the Huskies took advantage of an lacking Ducks offense to steal two games in Eugene.

UW hosts Cal this weekend for its first Pac-10 home games of the season with a chance to make some noise in the conference.

10. Washington State — 13-14, 2-7 Pac-10

The first half of the Cougars Pac-10 schedule is brutal.

They’ve already played Cal, Stanford and UCLA, and this weekend they travel to Tempe to face an angry ASU team. The series in Tempe will be directly followed by a trip to Corvallis.

WSU stunned the Bruins on Sunday, scoring three times in the ninth inning to win walk-off style, 3-2.

Freshman outfielder Jason Monda provided the game-winning hit off to deep left-center field.

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