As you’ll notice, the clubs that are peaking at the right time have earned a bump in the rankings.
1) UCLA (20-10; previous rank: 4)
The Bruins needed to sweep archrival USC, and they completed the task, though it was difficult on Sunday. In these Power Rankings, the tiebreaker over co-champion Arizona is UCLA’s April series win in Tucson.
2) Arizona (20-10; previous rank: 2)
The Wildcats led the race early in the season before Oregon took control by winning a series at Hi Corbett Field. But the Ducks’ season-ending collapse in Corvallis re-opened the door for Arizona, which won its first conference title in 20 years.
3) Oregon State (18-12; previous rank: 6)
At 38-18 overall and 18-12 in Pac-12 play, the Beavers made a strong case to host an NCAA Regional following their sweep of previous leader Oregon. Too bad that Regional hosts were announced before the team took the field to conclude the series Sunday behind Dan Child, “The Man Child.”
4) Oregon (19-11; previous rank: 1)
The Ducks can try to find solace in the fact that they’re still hosting a Regional, but collapsing in Corvallis in gut-wrenching fashion to lose the Pac-12 title will leave a permanent scar. Beaver freshman Michael Conforto gunned down Oregon’s Aaron Payne, the potential tying run, to end Saturday’s game in a fashion almost as spectacular as the Ducks’ season-ending collapse.
5) Stanford (18-12; previous rank: 3)
The Cardinal, too, are probably kicking themselves. Stanford couldn’t find a way to squeak by Cal at home in an 18-inning Friday loss despite the Golden Bears’ four errors. That failure led to a series loss and disappointing final weekend, but Mark Marquess’ squad still gets to host a regional.
6) Arizona State (18-12; previous rank: 5)
You knew that the Sun Devils wouldn’t go down without a fight: trailing 7-1 in their season’s final game at Hi Corbett, Arizona State rattled off six unanswered runs to force a tie that the Wildcats would break in the bottom of the ninth.
7) Cal (12-18, previous rank: 8)
The Golden Bears weren’t ready to lay over, either. Their feisty 18-inning victory on Friday paved the way for a surprising series victory over previously red-hot Stanford, but bad defense ultimately crippled David Esquer’s otherwise well-coached squad this year.
8) Washington (13-17; previous rank: 7)
A winning overall record in 2012 (30-25) is a step in the right direction for Lindsay Meggs’ squad, which hit only six sacrifice flies all of last season. The Huskies feature a promising young core, highlighted by big freshman Branden Berry.
9) Washington State (12-18; previous rank: 9)
The Cougars salvaged their final game against hated Washington behind solid freshman Joe Pistorese. Perhaps most importantly, the win ensured that Washington State would not finish below .500 on the year (28-28).
10) USC (8-21; previous rank: 10)
The Trojans gave it everything they had in their attempt to spoil UCLA’s Pac-12 crown, even leading for six innings Sunday. But Frank Cruz’s USC club has its offseason work cut out for it after one of the most miserable seasons in program history. It’ll start with recruiting.
11) Utah (7-23; previous rank: 11)
Four straight losses against USCB and Cal State Bakersfield ended a season of Ute futility. Utah accumulated an impressively ugly 40 losses in 2012 (14-40).
About the Author: David Lombardi is a Stanford and Pac-12 Conference enthusiast. He has broadcast the Cardinal on KZSU for several years and is currently contributing to the Cardinal Channel. You can check several of his Stanford calls out at www.davidmatthewlombardi.com, where you can also read his West Coast-oriented blog via this direct link. For Stanford baseball insights, follow David on Twitter at davidmlombardi.
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