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Is it tournament time for the Pac-10?

Byline: AROUND COLLEGE BASEBALL By Adam Jude The Register-Guard

The Pac-10 coaches have voted and, yes, there's an overwhelming sentiment that the conference needs to have a postseason baseball tournament.

If and when the conference approves a tournament remains to be seen. But, like the Pac-10 basketball tournament, coaches said that it would bolster the league's standing in the eyes of the NCAA Tournament selection committee.

"I think it would be great to do it," USC coach Chad Kreuter said after a recent series against Oregon State in Corvallis. "We're for it. You just have to figure out the format for how to do it."

With Oregon back in the mix, the Pac-10 is complete again, and a double-elimination tournament might be easier to organize with 10 teams - and perhaps easier to sell in the Northwest.

The Ducks and Beavers drew 15,540 for their game at Portland's PGE Park on March 28 - the largest crowd to ever witness a Pac-10 baseball game - and Kreuter suggested Portland, or perhaps even Corvallis or Eugene, as potential sites for the conference tourney.

In phase two of its construction plans, Oregon's PK Park is scheduled to have four locker rooms, which would help for hosting all 10 teams, if the Ducks chose to make a bid for that.

"Obviously the draw up here has been great because with Oregon coming in and (OSU) winning championships two years in a row, the fans are into baseball," Kreuter said. "Down south, Arizona State is strong and Stanford draws, but that's about it. a They're not as into it as (fans are) up here."

Washington State coach Donnie Marbut has also suggested a format of dual hosting - that is, the Arizona schools would host one year, the Bay Area schools the next, and so on.

Most major conferences, including the Big Ten, Big 12, ACC and SEC have baseball tournaments.

"Everybody else is doing it, and we're probably at a point now we've got four teams in the north and .... it might be a revenue deal," UO coach George Horton said. "I think the only way they would go for it is if we could get an underwriter and it's going to make money."

There is no conference tourney in the Big West, where Horton coached at Cal State Fullerton, and he said he would prefer not to have one, noting that the team that deserves an automatic NCAA berth is the one that wins "the grind" of a regular season.

That how it is presently in the Pac-10, but wouldn't a few additional games help a team on the bubble solidify an NCAA berth?

"It makes sense," Horton said. "You get to play some extra games, and it creates an opportunity in a very tough conference for a team, like us I guess this year, if we get good at the end and get hot, maybe we get to go to the (NCAA) tournament."

UCLA, as much as anyone, would benefit from a conference tourney this season. Entering this weekend's series at Oregon, the Bruins are 11-7 and in third place in the Pac-10 - but just 19-21 overall, which, with 16 games remaining, probably makes them a long shot for an NCAA regional berth.

Typically, 30 wins is considered a minimum to earn an invitation by the NCAA.

287

Oregon's rank, out of 288 Division I teams, in batting average (.237) and average runs (3.1). The Ducks are tied with Chico State for last in the nation in average runs, and only Coppin State, which has an 0-26 record this season, has a worse average (.220).

12.47

Strikeouts per nine innings by UCLA freshman right-hander Gerrit Cole, which ranks ninth in the nation. Cole, the Yankees' No. 1 draft pick in the MLB draft last summer, is expected to start against Oregon at PK Park on Friday.

1.54

ERA of ASU ace Mike Leake, whose 10 wins are tied for the NCAA lead. Leake is scheduled to start Friday at Oregon State.

100

Pitches needed by Southern Poly pitcher Sean Teague to throw a perfect game in a 9-0 win over Southern States Athletic Conference rival Reinhardt last week. Teague, a 6-foot-1 right-hander, finished with 12 strikeouts. Southern Poly (Ga.) is ranked fourth in the NAIA.

ON DECK

NATIONAL

SEC showdown: LSU at Arkansas; Florida at Georgia: First place in both divisions are at stake this weekend in a battle for conference control. Florida (13-8) trails Georgia (14-7) by a game in the Eastern Division. A half-game separates LSU (14-7) and Arkansas (13-7) in the Western Division.

PAC-10

Oregon State hosts No. 3 Arizona State in Corvallis starting at 5 p.m. Friday.

Quotable

"I know the Pac-10 coaches think it's a joke how everyone's talking about how down the Pac-10 is. I see the Pac-10 as a strong league."

- Donnie Marbut

Washington State coach, whose Cougars (10-5) are second in the Pac-10

EXTRA BASES

Oregon State, ranked 17th last week, dropped out of the Baseball America top-25 poll after losing two of three at UCLA. No. 3 Arizona State is the only Pac-10 team in the top 25.

On Thursday, the NCAA Board of Directors will vote on a proposal to extend the baseball season from 13 weeks to 14 weeks, according to Baseball America. If approved, the season would begin a week earlier than the current mandated date of Feb. 20.
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Title Annotation:Baseball College
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Apr 29, 2009
Words:901
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