"Hello, America, welcome to the west coast. Now please get the hell out."
That was the Pac-12's message to the rest of the college baseball world last weekend and they treated their visitors, well, like hell. Four Pac-12 teams hosted Regionals over the weekend and all four went a perfect 3-0 to book spots in the Super Regionals. It wasn't just that the four didn't lose a game either. They destroyed whoever was in the other dugout, outscoring their opposition, 113-38, in the 12 games at Pac-12 sites.
It wasn't a perfect weekend for the conference as the fifth team to make a Regional, Oregon St., lost twice to LSU and couldn't make it out of the Baton Rouge Regional, but they did made it to the Regional final. The conference's final tally for the weekend was a 14-2 record and four teams into the Super Regionals, which no other conference topped.
The Regionals turned out to be showcase for the Pac-12. And if last weekend is any indication, the Pac-12 could have its first national champion since Oregon St. won back-to-back titles in 2006-2007.
UCLA Bruins, Los Angeles Regional Champions
As the number two national seed and host, UCLA was supposed to advance to the Super Regionals, but they weren't supposed to demolish the opposition quite like they did. The Bruins went a perfect 3-0 on the weekend against Creighton twice and New Mexico, outscoring the Blue Jays and Lobos by a combined score of 23-6.
The weekend started perfectly for the Bruins thanks to Adam Plutko. The right-hander threw a complete game, two-hit shutout to lead UCLA to a 3-0 win over Creighton. In a Regional, where it is possible to play as many as five games in one weekend, getting strong starts and saving the bullpen is essential and Plutko did that.
The next day, Nick Vander Tuig was even better than Plutko, carrying a no-hitter into the eighth inning and surrendering just one unearned run against New Mexico, who boasted one of the best offenses in the country. A 7-1 win put the Bruins one win away from the Regional title.
On Sunday, the offense did the heavy lifting in a 13-5 win over the Creighton once more. Jeff Gelalich hit two home runs en route to earning Regional Most Outstanding Player honors and the Super Regionals beckoned.
Being a national seed, UCLA is guaranteed to host a Super Regional if they make it that far and here they are. They will take on TCU in a 2010 College World Series rematch with a spot in Omaha on the line.
Oregon Ducks, Eugene Regional Champions
Last weekend, thousands of fans poured into PK Park, a stadium that did not exist five years ago. There was no reason for the stadium to exist, seeing as Oregon did not have a baseball team, but they revived their baseball program, hired George Horton and in year four they were hosting a Regional as the number five national seed.
In their Regional opening game, the Ducks looked very much like a team that had never had high expectations before. They were shaky and allowed fourth-seeded Austin Peay to hang around all game. Heading to the bottom of the ninth, Oregon actually trailed, 5-4. Things did not look good for the Ducks, who were 0-16 when trailing heading into the ninth inning, but they picked an excellent time to get their first ninth inning comeback win when they plated two to win the game, 6-5. It helped that the umpire missed the tag on the winning run, but a win is a win
Saturday's winner's bracket match-up was all about the Horton, as he faced his former team, Cal St. Fullerton, whom Horton won a national title with before the Ducks hired him away. The game itself went very different for Oregon than Friday's as the Ducks jumped out to a 6-0 lead then hung on as the Titans scored five to make it a one-run game. In the end, the Ducks added a run then held on for a 7-5 win.
Luckily for Oregon, Austin Peay took down Fullerton in an elimination game so the Ducks got to face the Governors. This time around, the Ducks had no problems with the Governors. They thrashed Austin Peay to win the Regional and get a match-up with Kent St. in the Super Regionals, back at PK Park.
Arizona Wildcats, Tucson Regional Champions
You would be hard-pressed to find a team more impressive than Arizona last weekend. Their offense was unstoppable, led by Robert Refsnyder, Joey Rickard, Alex Mejia and Seth Mejias-Brean, who went 27-for-57 on the weekend with 21 RBI. By the time their three visiting teams had scurried away from Hi Corbett Field as quickly as possible, the Wildcats had outscored their opponents 47-10.
Amazingly, the Regional didn't start so easily for Arizona. In their first game, they fell behind 2-0 to Missouri then after tying it up, got behind 3-2. From then on, it was all Wildcats, though. Kurt Heyer locked in and tossed a complete game while the offense pounded out 20 hits in a 15-2 demolition of the Tigers.
Games two and three of the weekend were as lopsided as the opener. The Wildcats knocked out 23 more hits on Saturday in another easy win, this one 16-4 over Louisville.
After that blowout, you could forgive Louisville if they didn't want to play Arizona again, but that's what they had to do and Sunday's "contest" was just as bad as Saturday's. The Arizona offense kept chugging along, picking up 15 more hits in a 16-3 win that put to bed a Regional that was little more than a showcase for the Wildcats.
Arizona now moves onto their first Super Regional since 2008. It will also be their very first Super Regional ever in Tucson thanks to St. John's, who upset national seed North Carolina. Now the Johnnies will make the trek to Arizona, where they will be heavy underdogs against the high flying Wildcats.
Stanford Cardinal, Palo Alto Regional Champions
One-run games have been a toss up for Stanford this season. In 54 regular season games they played 10 one-run games, winning five and losing five. Now in the postseason, the Cardinal are 2-0 in one-run games and that is why they are making plans for the Super Regionals.
Those white knuckle games didn't start right away, thanks to Mark Appel. The hulking right-hander threw a complete game in the Cardinal's opener against Fresno, allowing just one run on four hits and striking out 11 as Stanford cruised to a 9-1 win.
That was the end of the easy games for Stanford, though. On Saturday they fell behind early, 4-0, and looked wholly out of sorts. But once trailing, the Cardinal started putting things together and begin to chip away at the Waves' lead. By the sixth inning they had tied the game at 4-4 so when Kenny Diekroeger ripped a two-out RBI double in the eighth, it brought around what proved to be the winning run.
Sunday meant another game against Pepperdine, who gave Stanford another run for their money. This time the Cardinal who jumped in front and took a 8-4 lead to the seventh. That's when the Waves struck for three runs and cut Stanford's lead to one. That lead almost disappeared in the ninth when a leadoff blast cleared the wall in left, only just barely foul, but the Cardinal held on to defeat the Waves in another one-run game.
Stanford will be the lone Pac-12 team that has to travel for the Super Regionals. They will head across the country to take on Florida St. in the marquee Super Regional match-up of the weekend.
Oregon St. Beavers, Baton Bouge Regional Second Place
A year from now Oregon St. will benefit from this weekend in Baton Rouge, but right now it is just painful. The Beavers played well against LSU on Sunday and looked like they might force a deciding Monday game, but things got away from them and their season came to an end. Still, when Oregon St. is a national seed a year from now they will look back at their weekend in Baton Rouge as a valuable learning experience for what is a very young team.
Friday's opener was all pitching as Jace Fry tossed five inning of one-run ball before turning things over to the bullpen. Tony Bryant and Matt Boyd then locked things down, hurling four shutout innings to secure a 2-1 win over Belmont.
That opening win set the Beavers up for a game against LSU, which didn't go well. They got waxed, 7-1, but beat Louisiana-Monroe 11-2 to earn a rematch against the Tigers. After falling behind 3-0 in the first, the Beavers came back to take a 5-3 lead. Runs in the seventh and ninth innings erased that lead, though, then LSU scored in the 10th to put a heartbreaking end to Oregon St.'s season.