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  • COLLEGE BASEBALL

    Ranking for Ducks baseball team a matter of numbers

  • Oregon is either the sixth, 10th or 11th best team in the nation.
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  • Oregon is either the sixth, 10th or 11th best team in the nation.
    So which is it? It depends on the poll, and there are five generally followed in college baseball.
    Admitting the natural "bias" of a coach, the Ducks' George Horton said he would prefer using the poll that ranks Oregon the highest, which is No. 6 this week by three of the five ratings.
    Most newspapers and the majority of athletic department sports information directors in the West use the Baseball America poll, based on its long-standing status as a voice of the sport.
    Oregon is 10th in the latest Baseball America rankings.
    Horton himself listed the Ducks (37-11) at No. 7 when he cast his ballot this week as a voter in the USA Today poll done by coaches.
    "Do I think we're better than the eighth, ninth, 10th or 11th teams? I don't know," Horton said. "I think we're worthy of being a top 10 team, I think we've proven that more recently than earlier."
    The Ducks lost two of three games in four series earlier this season against ranked opponents Vanderbilt, Cal State Fullerton, Arizona State and UCLA, but they then swept a series from Stanford when the Cardinal was in the top 25, which leaves the Ducks 8-8 this season against ranked foes.
    NCAA committee will have say that matters in the end
    The ranking that will matter the most comes from the NCAA committee that draws up the postseason tournament bracket. That's particularly important when the eight "national seeds" are revealed, as those are the teams designated as hosts for super regionals, provided they win their regional the prior week.
    Could Oregon State and Oregon be deemed worthy of being a host team for both rounds of the tournament that determines the eight teams that will advance to Omaha, Neb., for the College World Series?
    Horton termed it "very possible," if the Beavers and Ducks keep up their success.
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    OREGON STATE'S SERIES at Stanford will set the stage for the Civil War.
    What could be a determining factor in which Civil War rival is a national seed, and settle the Pac-12 title, comes next weekend when the Ducks host the Beavers in a series at PK Park.
    While the Ducks (19-5) have a break from Pac-12 play this weekend, OSU (17-4) is at Stanford. A sweep by the Beavers will give them a one-game lead in the conference race, and two wins will mean the Ducks will be tied for first place with OSU. Oregon could have the lead to itself if the Beavers lost all three games to the Cardinal.
    "What they do (at Stanford) is not going to mean a hill of beans for when we play each other," Horton said. "Anything short of them getting swept (by Stanford) doesn't change the landscape of our series.
    "They're pitching so well, they're playing so well, I can't fathom them having a terrible weekend like that."
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    BEFORE THE DUCKS get to that OSU series, there's one this weekend as Oregon plays a three-game series at Ohio State (33-15) that begins today.
    One of Horton's concerns is whether the schedule has worn out the Ducks. They were on the road for the past week with games at Seattle and Washington State, then had a long bus ride home from Pullman that got them into Eugene early Monday morning.
    In addition to the usual day off on Monday, the Ducks didn't practice Tuesday and pushed back the start of Wednesday's shortened practice to allow players extra time for academics.
    "We'll take their temperature, check their pulse, see how they're holding up," Horton said. "They were warned about this part of our season a month ago, to accept the challenges academically and athletically.
    "Hopefully they're addressing everything in their life that is challenging right now, especially the school piece."
    The Ducks took a bus to Portland after Wednesday's practice to spend the night at a hotel near the airport before their early flight to the east, with a practice scheduled in Columbus to conclude a long day.
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