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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Pac-12 baseball power rankings: Arizona catches up

Tyler+Baker+%2F+Arizona+Daily+Wildcat%0A%0AUA+Baseball+took+on+Cal+on+Friday+night%2C+winning+10-1.
Tyler Baker
Tyler Baker / Arizona Daily Wildcat UA Baseball took on Cal on Friday night, winning 10-1.

After starting the Pac-12 conference schedule alone in last place at 0-6, the Wildcats are right back in contention for the conference crown.

Arizona won its sixth game in a row Sunday as it swept California to improve to 6-6 in conference play and tied with rival Arizona State for fifth place in the standings.

In the first six games of the conference schedule, the Wildcats struggled to score, averaging just 2.8 runs per game. But during their current six-game winning streak, Arizona has amped up the offense, averaging an impressive 7.0 runs per game.

Granted, the first six games were against nationally ranked opponents in Oregon State and Oregon, where as the most recent six games have been against unranked Utah and Cal. That being said, the offense still has clearly shown improvements and is definitely on the upswing.

In their previous six games, the Wildcats’ offense saw the biggest improvement from the bottom half of their lineup, most notably freshman first baseman Ryan Koziol and sophomore right fielder Joseph Maggi. During the six-game win streak, Koziol has gone 6-of-18 with four runs scored. Koziol was hitting a team-low .207 before the winning streak, but since then has increased his batting average to .239, still one of the lowest on the team.

Maggi might be the team MVP for the last six games, as he has gone 8-of-16 at the dish with six runs scored and three RBI. Prior to the winning streak, Maggi had posted the team’s second lowest batting average of .215 but has raised his average to .272 in the last six games. Head coach Andy Lopez said he attributes hard work in practice for the recent success by Koziol and Maggi.

It only took a couple of weeks but many experts’ predictions of Stanford to win the Pac-12 conference are right back in the heat of things as they took two out of three from USC this past weekend. After a slow start to its season, Stanford has won five of its last seven.

Ace pitcher Mark Appel (5-2) has almost single-handedly brought the Cardinal back in the conference race by posting All-American numbers. The 2012 No. 8 pick in the MLB draft has the eighth lowest ERA in the nation for any pitcher with over 40.0 innings of work (1.13). Appel’s .77 WHIP is the eighth lowest in the nation. Opposing batters are hitting a dismal .170 against Appel, as the senior has struck out 71 batters this season, fourth in the nation.

No one was taking Arizona State lightly this season, but after taking two of three from first place Oregon, ASU has shown it has the talent to compete until the very end. ASU Saturday pitcher Ryan Kellogg (7-0) might be the leading candidate for Freshman of the Year. The Canadian lefty has a team-best 2.19 ERA and a .187 batting average.

Kellogg was a 12th round draft pick out of high school and has already thrown a no-hitter against Oregon State this season.

The Sun Devils will travel to USC before they head to Hi Corbett Field for their only game in Tucson of the season.

1. No. 6 Oregon State (25-5, 7-2) Last week: 2
This week: One game vs. Oregon and weekend series vs. Utah
Week four: L 3-2, W 5-0, W 5-2 at UCLA

2. No. 16 Oregon (23-8, 9-3) LW: 1
This week: One game vs. Oregon State and weekend series at Cal
Week four: L 6-5 (11), L 14-9, W 16-3 at ASU

3. No. 15 Arizona State (19-9-1, 6-6) LW: 3
This week: One game at UNLV and weekend series at USC
Week four: W 6-5 (11), W 14-9, L 16-3 vs. Oregon

4. No. 17 UCLA (19-9, 7-5) LW: 4
This week: One game vs. Hawaii and weekend series vs. LMU
Week four: W 3-2, L 5-0, L 5-2 vs. Oregon State

5. Arizona (21-11, 6-6) LW: 5
This week: Weekend series at Washington State
Week four: W 10-1, W 6-4, W 5-4 vs. California

6. Stanford (16-10, 5-4) LW: 6
This week: One game at San Jose St. and weekend series vs. Washington
Week four: W 4-2, W 10-3, L 7-6 at USC

7. Washington State (17-13, 4-5) LW: 7
This week: Weekend series vs. Arizona
Last week: L 7-4, L 2-1, W 5-0 at Utah

8. California (16-16, 5-7) LW: 8
This week: Weekend series vs. Oregon
Last week: L 10-1, L 6-4, L 5-4 at Arizona

9. Utah (14-14, 4-8) LW: 10
This week: One game at BYU and weekend series at Oregon State
Last week: W 7-4, W 2-1, L 5-0 vs. Washington State

10. USC (12-19, 5-7) LW: 9
This week: One game at Cal State Fullerton and weekend series vs. ASU
Last week: L 4-2, L 10-3, W 7-6 vs. Stanford

11. Washington (8-21, 2-7) LW: 11
This week: Weekend series vs. Stanford
Last week: W 6-2, L 1-0 (11), L 4-1 at Pepperdine, L 8-7 at Cal State Northridge

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