Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Best of the Rest in the West: Week One

Each week in the "Best of the Rest in the West" rankings we take a look at the top ten western teams that failed to crack the major top-25 rankings. You can check the pre-season rankings here. Here's our results after week one...

We saw quite a bit of movement in our initial rankings, thanks in no small part to the opening series sweeps by UC Irvine (over Baylor) and San Diego State (over San Diego). The Aztecs managed to sneak into the Collegiate Baseball top 25, so they totally leap-frogged over the Best/Rest/West rankings.

1. New Mexico (1-2); Previous: Top 25; Last Week: 1-2 vs. Oklahoma State
The Lobos share the distinction with San Diego as the first teams to lose their way into these ranking. UNM’s high-powered offense has scored 23 runs the past two games, but could only manage a split with Oklahoma State after they dropped the season opener to the Cowboys. All-world 3B DJ Peterson slugged 1.000 in the series.

2. California (3-0); Previous: 4; Last Week: 3-0 vs. Michigan
Michigan tested the Golden Bears all weekend, pushing two games into extra innings and falling by a single run in each game. Still, an opening season sweep by Cal is an impressive feat and the Bears pitching staff posted a 2.40 ERA in 30 innings of play.

3. San Diego (0-3); Previous: Top 25; Last Week: 3-0 vs. San Diego State
It’s hard to tell if San Diego State is just that good, if the Toreros are just that bad, or if this weekend was just a fluke, but regardless this was a disastrous start for a USD team that could be stuck in these rankings for awhile. A .462 OBP by Kris Bryant was the only saving grace from the Bryant-Dylan Covey dynamic duo.

4. Cal Poly (4-0); Previous: 6; Last Week: 3-0 vs. San Francisco
This weekend’s results bode well for those of us who picked the Big West to finish 1. Fullerton, 2. Irvine, 3. Cal Poly, as all three teams are undefeated after the opening weekend. The well-balanced Mustangs got two homers this weekend from catcher Elliot Stewart and closer Reed Reilly has been lights-out thus far.

5. Gonzaga (2-2); Previous: 2; Last Week: 2-2 vs. Utah Valley/UC Riverside/Oregon State
Two-way stars Marco Gonzales (.294 OBP) and Billy Moon (1-for-9) had rough weekends at the plate and the Zags were unable to pull a winning record out of the Palm Springs tournament. Gonzales also had a subpar performance on the mound versus Oregon State although Tyler Olson had strong outing (5 IP, 7 K) against UC Riverside with Moon picking up the save.

6. New Mexico State (2-2); Previous: 3; Last Week: 2-2 vs. UW-Milwaukee
The impressive Aggie offense finally got going in the final game of the series, drawing 13 walks in a 16-8 victory, but overall it was a disappointing series versus a subpar opponent for NMSU. The Aggies did manage ten walks on opening day but left 13 men on base and took ten innings to pull out the victory. Friday starter Adam Mott (8 IP, 3 ER, 7 K) had the best weekend among the pithchers.

7. Pepperdine (4-0); Previous: 7; Last Week: 4-0 vs. Western Michigan
The Waves didn’t face the most formidable of opponents in Western Michigan, but a four game sweep is an excellent way to open the season. First Baseman Sam Meyer slugged .867 over the weekend on his way to West Coast Conference Player of the Week honors. The strength of the Waves, however, remains the pitching staff that posted a 1.80 ERA over 35 innings to start the year.

8. Cal State Bakersfield (2-1); Previous: 9; Last Week: 2-1 vs. Nebraska/USC/ Cal State Fullerton
An 8-2 defeat at the hands of the vaunted Cal State Fullerton Titans notwithstanding, it was a solid opening weekend for the RoadRunners pitching staff and an even better one for their offense, which got on base at a .412 clip. Shortstop Tyler Shryock lead the way with seven hits and catcher Cael Brockmeyer slugged .545 with a team-high five RBIs. Next week they’ll get a somewhat more conventional series versus one team (Hofstra).

9. Dallas Baptist (0-3); Previous: 5; Last Week: 0-3 vs. Creighton
The Creighton Bluejays lit up the Patriots pitching for 29 runs to complete the road sweep. Not much went right for Dallas Baptist, who will become conference-mates with Creighton starting next season. DBU committed seven errors, posted an ERA of 8.67, and slugged only .371 for the weekend. They did get a solid start on Sunday from Cory Taylor (5 IP, 2 ER, 5 K) but otherwise it was a forgettable series for the Patriots.

10. UC Santa Barbara (2-1); Previous Unranked; Last Week: 2-1 vs. Fresno State
After dropping their first contest against the Bulldogs, UCSB stormed back in a big way. The offense (one run on opening day, 19 the next two games); defense (four errors in game one, zero in next two) and pitching (five earned runs in game one, four during the next two) all rebounded to take the series. Second baseman Peter Maris lead the offense, going 4-for-9 with the Gauchos first homer of the year.

Graduated to Top 25: UC Irvine, San Diego State*
Dropped in: San Diego, New Mexico
Dropped out: Nevada, Washington State

Up Next: Enough of these teams, we've got a Dirtbag Live Blog coming up...