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College : : Story
27 takes: Looking back at Saturday
Published: Sunday, March 13, 2011

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PREMIUM: In-depth analysis on Connecticut-San Diego and top prospects

PREMIUM: In-depth analysis on Arkansas-San Diego State and top prospects

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Connecticut’s Matt Barnes: With a throng of scouts on hand in Southern California, Barnes put on a show against San Diego in a 4-0 victory. The talented right-handed pitcher only struck out two batters, but was extremely efficient, allowing just two hits in a complete game shutout performance. Barnes couldn’t have left a better impression.

UCLA’s offense: Just a day after getting mystified by Georgia starting pitcher Alex Wood, the Bruins finally woke up at the plate in a 10-2 win over St. Mary’s. The Bruins got a grand slam from Dean Espy and a three-hit performance from Steve Rodriguez in the winning cause. Perhaps the performance against the Gaels will get the Bruins going moving forward.

Florida’s offense: The Gators seem to be finding their groove at the plate this weekend against Rhode Island. For the second straight day, the Gators had a productive day at the plate, this time letting the offense pave the way to an impressive 12-4 victory. UF leadoff hitter and shortstop Nolan Fontana recorded three hits while Preston Tucker his a home run, had two hits and knocked in a pair of runs. UF will be incredibly tough to beat if it consistently produces at the plate.

Virginia: The Cavaliers were pushed to the limit down late in their game against Clemson, but scored four runs the final two frames to beat the Tigers 8-7. John Barr, John Hicks and Ryan Levine had fantastic days at the plate, each finishing the contest with two hits. The Cavaliers clinched the series win the victory and improved their record to 15-1. Look for the Cavaliers to gain more ground in the rankings.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils hadn’t been overly impressive the first few weeks of the season, but earned a marquee series win on Saturday with a 9-5 victory over Auburn. The Sun Devils scored four runs the final three innings and were led at the plate by Matt Newman, who hit two home runs and recorded three hits. A road series sweep over the Tigers would be huge for ASU.

TCU’s Matt Purke: The talented left-handed pitcher and soon to be top 10 draft pick went all of last season without suffering a loss. On Saturday, Purke suffered the first loss of his career, and it came against previously 0-14 Houston Baptist. The lefty allowed four runs on three hits in 3 2/3 innings in a 7-4 setback. The Horned Frogs can’t afford to lose this series at home.

LSU: The Tigers had another huge day on the diamond as they captured an important series victory over Cal State Fullerton with a 7-6 triumph. LSU starting pitcher Kevin Gausman struck out five and allowed four runs on four hits in seven innings, while the Tigers offense took care of business with second baseman JaCoby Jones leading the way. Look for LSU to make a strong move in our rankings.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels entered Saturday’s contest against Wake Forest red-hot, but finally suffered a setback, dropping a 10-2 contest to the Demon Deacons. UNC starting pitcher Chris Munnelly allowed three runs without recording an out in the first inning. Wake Forest starter Tim Cooney, meanwhile, allowed just two runs in 7 2/3 innings. UNC needs to bounce back in the series finale.

Louisville’s Justin Amlung: After getting a solid start from Matt Koch in the series opener against Pepperdine, the Cardinals got an even stronger outing from the sophomore right-hander in Amlung. Amlung only struck out three Waves, but allowed just three hits in eight shutout innings on the way to a series-clinching 8-0 victory. UL’s pitching staff continues to impress me.

Florida International’s R.J. Fondon: It wasn’t a pretty sight the last time Fondon faced the Aggies in last year’s Coral Gables Regional. But the hurler turned the tide on the Aggies with a strong performance on the way to a 2-1 FIU victory. Fondon struck out seven and allowed just a run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings. The Golden Panthers could use a huge road series win over the Aggies.

Georgia Tech’s Jed Bradley: It has been a huge weekend for pitchers that are top prospects, and Bradley continued the trend with a strong performance in Tech’s 9-3 win over Maryland. The outstanding left-hander struck out 11 and allowed an earned run on five hits in seven innings. Bradley continues to increase his draft stock with a phenomenal junior campaign.

Fresno State’s Greg Gonzalez: The Bulldogs have been solid this season and continued their winning ways Saturday with an impressive 1-0 win over Nebraska. The senior right-handed pitcher was fantastic, striking out 12 and allowing just two hits in seven shutout innings. The senior rose to the occasion and helped the Bulldogs earn an important road series win.

Oregon’s Christian Jones: The Ducks put together one of their few complete performances this season in a 10-0 thrashing of BYU. And leading the way was the sophomore left-handed pitcher. Jones was fabulous on Saturday, striking out 13 and allowing just three hits in seven shutout innings. UO definitely has the pitching to do something special in June, but needs the offense to be more consistent.

Wichita State’s Tim Kelley: After a tough series opener against the Green Wave, the Shockers responded with great pitching in a 1-0 victory. The senior right-handed pitcher was fantastic against the Green Wave, striking out six and allowing just three hits in a complete game performance. Kelley set the stage for what should be a great series finale.

Miami’s E.J. Encinosa: The Hurricanes continue to struggle offensively this season, but at least their pitching has been consistent. Miami starting pitcher E.J. Encinosa was fantastic in a 2-1 series-clinching win over Virginia Tech. Encinosa struck out three and allowed just a run on five hits in 8 2/3 innings. Miami would be a dangerous team if its offense would improve.

Mercer: The Bears are right there with Stetson for class of the Atlantic Sun honors this season. They earned a solid series win over Florida Gulf Coast with a 9-3 victory on Saturday. Billy Burns and Thomas Carroll led the charge at the plate. All eyes will now on that series in South Florida next weekend when the Bears hit the road to take on the Hatters. Mercer is 13-4.

South Florida: The Bulls are in the midst of another disappointing campaign, and there’s no question they now will have to win the Big East tournament at the end of the season to make an NCAA postseason appearance. The Bulls were double dipped by Evansville on Saturday and dropped the series to the Purple Aces. USF now has a 6-9 record.

Long Beach State: It wasn’t long ago it looked like the Dirtbags were in serious trouble. Now they’re on the verge of turning things around. Long Beach State starting pitcher Branden Pinder struck out nine in 5 2/3 innings as the Dirtbags defeated San Francisco 5-4 to win their fifth-straight contest. Timely hitting mixed with good pitching has helped the Dirtbags experience more success.

Texas State: Down 15-4 entering the bottom of the eighth inning against Houston, the Bobcats appeared to be destined for a loss. However, they scored 13 runs in the final two innings to cap off an amazing comeback and a 17-15 win over the Cougars. Bobcats first baseman Casey Kalenkosky had an amazing day at the plate, belting a pair of home runs and knocking in six runs.

Kent State: The Golden Flashes made a statement to open the weekend when starting pitcher Andrew Chafin tossed an absolute gem in a victory over Coastal Carolina. The Flashes put together another solid victory on Saturday with a 7-1 win over UAB. Kent starting pitcher Kyle Hallock struck out eight and allowed just a run on seven hits in seven innings. You can’t say enough about Kent’s pitching staff.

San Diego State’s Corey Black: The Aztecs have struggled against an insanely difficult schedule this season, but they experienced some success on Saturday with a thrilling 3-2 win over Arkansas. Sophomore right-handed pitcher Corey Black was fantastic for the Aztecs, striking out 13 and allowing just two runs on eight hits in eight innings. Black also consistently threw his fastball 93-94 against the Razorbacks, while topping out around 95 mph.

South Carolina: The consistency the Gamecocks have displayed this season is impressive. After winning the series opener against Cal State Bakersfield, the Gamecocks continued their successful ways on Saturday with a 5-2 triumph. Starting pitcher Steven Neff struck out two and allowed just a run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings, while the bullpen also did their job in the series-clinching victory. The Gamecocks are looking good at 11-1.

Kentucky’s Alex Meyer: After putting together a solid performance last weekend at the Houston College Classic, it was interesting to see if Meyer could put together another solid outing against Niagara. The right-handed pitcher did just that in a 4-0 victory. Meyer struck out 13 and allowed just five hits in a complete game shutout. The Wildcats could be in business if Meyer carries some consistency over to SEC play.

College of Charleston: The Cougars suffered a bad loss on Saturday as they dropped an 8-3 decision to Davidson and the series moved to 1-1 between the two teams. Charleston’s starting pitching has been solid for the most part, but starter Josh Salay didn’t throw well against Davidson and got lifted after allowing three runs in just 3 1/3 innings. The bullpen also didn’t do a good job. The Cougars desperately need to take care of business in the series finale.

Baylor: The Bears are having a solid weekend against Louisiana Tech. After using a strong performance by ace pitcher Logan Verrett to beat the Bulldogs in the series opener, the Bears overcame a tough start by Trent Black with a 12-8 victory. The top four hitters in Baylor’s lineup finished the contest with nine hits, with Chris Slater leading the way with three hits and three RBIs. The Bears, who are 10-5, now are aiming for a solid series sweep.

Georgia: The Bulldogs got off to a horrid start but are on the verge of completely turning things around. Georgia extended its impressive winning streak to four games Saturday with a 5-3 victory over USC. Bulldogs starting pitcher Michael Palazzone struck out eight in seven innings while Levi Hyams had another big day at the plate. The Bulldogs have a good chance of finishing the Dodgertown Classic with a 3-0 record, giving them a springboard into SEC play.

St. John’s: It’s safe to say the Johnnies are in trouble moving forward. They dropped a series opener to Gardner-Webb before falling apart on Saturday with an 18-11 setback. Johnnies starting pitcher Sean Hagan allowed four runs on five hits without escaping the first inning, while the bullpen was horrible. The Johnnies have been a huge disappointment since the first week of the season.

Kendall Rogers is the managing editor of college baseball for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at kendall@perfectgame.org