The opening weekend of Pac-12 baseball is in the books and once again, Oregon State is looking unstoppable. The Beavers (18-3, 3-0 Pac-12) traveled to Salt Lake City, Utah and left with a sweep of the Utes. Oregon State pitchers allowed only two runs and 15 hits over the three-games series and junior left-handed pitcher Jace Fry notched his fourth win on the season, his fifth complete game with four of them being shutouts.
This is the third consecutive season that the Beavers have opened conference play with a sweep of its opponents—all on the road. The Beavers were fueled by the big bat of junior outfielder Michael Conforto who was 5-for-10 with four RBI and four runs scored.
Conforto knocked his first home run of the year on Friday and his team-leading sixth double on Sunday. Conforto also leads all Beaver batters this season in hits (26), RBI (30) and triples (2). He tops conference standings in on-base percentage, RBI and walks.
Oregon State is cemented at the No. 4 spot in four of five national polls and jumped from No. 7 to No. 5 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. The Beavers host Arizona State (10-9, 1-2 Pac-12) this weekend.
Defending national champion UCLA rebounded from a dismal three-loss performance last week and has won five straight including a sweep of the California Golden Bears in Berkeley. The Bruins (12-7, 3-0 Pac-12) jumped in every national poll including a five-spot advance in the USA Today/Coaches Poll.
UCLA began its five game win streak with a 6-5 victory over cross-town rival USC on Sunday and a 5-0 shutout of UC Irvine on Tuesday.
Junior left-handed pitcher Grant Watson (3-1) was lights out on Saturday at Evans Diamond. After allowing a solo home run to Robbie Tenerowicz in the second inning, Watson retired 16 straight batters and allowed only one more hit before David Berg came into the ninth inning to record his fifth save of the season. Watson was named Pac-12 Pitcher of the Week for his performance.
Sophomore outfielder Brian Carroll has now hit safely in nine straight games and has reached base in 15 straight. Freshman outfielder Christoph Bono has multiple hits in four of his last seven games and extended his hitting streak to seven games.
The Bruins host the next seven games at homes with a three-game set against Washington State (7-9, 2-1 Pac-12) beginning on Friday.
The Oregon Ducks jumped in two polls even after losing the conference opener to the USC Trojans. The Ducks (14-5, 2-1 Pac-12) are now ranked No. 7 in the USA Today/Coaches Poll, up two spots from last week and up a spot to No. 8 in the Collegiate Baseball poll. Oregon stayed put at No. 9 in the NCBWA and College Baseball Central polls while remaining at No. 12 in the Baseball America poll.
The Ducks’ freshman left-handed pitcher Matt Krook won his first game of the season after pitching 6.1 innings of scoreless, two-hit baseball against the Trojans (10-9, 1-2 Pac-12). Krook added six strikeouts to his conference-leading 43, 16 of which were looking.
A big third inning propelled Oregon to a 5-0 lead and the Ducks would go on to win 7-2, knocking in 11 hits with a strong 2-for-3 performance from freshman A.J. Balta which included a 2-run home run.
Ducks pitching ace, Jeff Gold (5-0) led the charge pitching six scoreless innings, allowing only two hits to begin the game. Gold is the first pitcher in the Pac-12 to notch five victories in this young season.
The offense was fueled by Tyler Baumgartner’s 3-RBI, bases-loaded double in the fourth inning and finished the game 2-for-5. Baumgartner leads the Ducks in batting average (.400), hits (30), doubles (8) and runs scored (19). He also places second in the conference in doubles and third in batting average.
Next up for Oregon is hosting Utah (9-10, 0-3 Pac-12) to complete their 15-game home stand.
A non-ranked team that is looking to get noticed is the Washington Huskies (13-5-1, 2-1 Pac-12). Washington took two of three from Arizona State and have won 10 of their past 11 games. Junior second baseman Andrew Ely was also named Pac-12 Player of the Week on Tuesday. His game-winning home run in the 11th inning capped his 4-for-10 hitting and .538 on-base percentage performance over the weekend. The Huskies host Arizona (11-12, 1-2 Pac-12) this weekend.