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Rogers' Around the Bases

 



11/4/2011 6:20:07 PM

CB TICKET: Insider thoughts, plus the why on Giese

Oklahoma suffered a tough loss last week when talented pitching coach Tim Tadlock left the program to become the associate head coach at Texas Tech, where he played his collegiate career.


Though fully replacing Tadlock will be difficult, the Sooners are expected to make an excellent hire in highly-touted pitching coach Jack Giese.


Giese spent last season as the pitching coach for the Hudson Valley Renegades, the Short-Season A affiliate for the Tampa Bay Rays. Before his stint in the professional ranks, Giese was the pitching coach at Howard Junior College in Texas, where he helped guide the program to the 2009 JUCO national title and a record-setting winning streak.


Sources close to the situation indicated last week the Sooners likely would approach a pitching coach that might not come as a splash to some, but ultimately would be an excellent hire. Though few could've expected Giese to be the Sooners' hire, he certainly would bring an impressive resume of developing solid pitchers to the table.


Two separate sources told me early Friday night they'd be impressed with a Giese hire.


Stay tuned to Perfect Game USA for the latest in college baseball.



 
5/29/2011 12:29:07 AM

After winning the SEC Western Division during the regular season, Arkansas entered the conference tournament hoping to seal up an NCAA Regional host. Time will tell if the Hogs actually accomplished that goal this week, but they certainly didn't hurt their case.

The Hogs began the tournament with a tough loss to Alabama, but bounced back on Day 2 with a 7-2 victory over Mississippi State. The Hogs responded again with a win over Alabama in an elimination game before bowing out to Vanderbilt on Saturday in a hard-fought 3-2 contest.

The Hogs now sit at 38-20, two wins shy of the 40-win mark. However, coach Dave Van Horn believes the Hogs have a strong hosting resume.

"We had a pretty good season. Look at the competition we play each week, and consider the fact we lost several one-run games and went 4-5 against the Big Three of Vanderbilt, Florida and South Carolina in the regular season," he said. "We put together a good resume and won the SEC West Division."

Going deeper into the Hogs' hosting resume, they entered the day with an RPI of 14, fourth best in the SEC. And following the loss to the Commodores, are 8-8 vs. RPI Top 25, 17-15 vs. RPI Top 50 and 22-15 vs. RPI Top 100. Again, not great, but the Razorbacks have some additional bullet points in their direction, including the ability to draw 10,000-plus fans to their ballpark.

The Razorbacks are in the mix for a host site with teams such as Southern Mississippi, Oregon State and Clemson.

Now they'll wait to learn their fate.


 
5/10/2011 11:23:36 PM

The midweek action around the country is beginning to dwindle and several teams are looking to make lasting impressions with solid midweek wins. Tuesday's midweek action once again was exciting and here's an inside look at some results that stood out.

* Oregon State didn't have the biggest headlined midweek matchup with Portland on the docket. But the return of catcher and top draft prospect Andrew Susac was a huge story line. Susac has missed the past few weeks with a hamate bone injury, but returned to the lineup as designated hitter in a 13-3 win over the Pilots. Susac actually had a solid night, finishing the contest with a two-RBI single to lead the Beavers. While Susac was solid at the plate, starting pitcher James Nygren struck out four and allowed just a run on three hits in 5 2/3 innings. Oregon State slugger Ryan Dunn hit for the second cycle in program history in the contest. The Beavers improved to an impressive 35-11 with the triumph.

* Florida State is aiming for a national seed and Stetson is aiming for an NCAA Regional host. And in a battle between two solid teams, the Seminoles were the most impressive on Tuesday with a dominating 13-1 triumph. Florida State starting pitcher Robert Benincasa allowed just a run on five hits in five innings, while relievers Brian Busch, Tyler Everett and Mack Waugh did solid jobs. Offensively, five Seminoles ended the night with two hits. While the win was huge for the Seminoles, it certainly was a mild setback for the Hatters.

* TCU is aiming for an NCAA Regional host, and the Horned Frogs put together a solid performance in a 7-6 home triumph over Baylor. TCU starting pitcher Nick Frey allowed two runs in four innings, while Trent Appleby and Stefan Crichton did just OK in relief. Offensively, DH Kyle Von Tungeln went 2-for-2 with two runs scored and two RBIs, while shortstop Taylor Featherston went 2-for-4 with a pair of runs scored. The Bears got a solid performance from first baseman Max Muncy, who went 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs.

* Texas A&M has struggled in midweek action the past few weeks, but it made those setbacks look like ancient history on Tuesday with a dominant 15-5 win over Texas State. Aggies first baseman Jacob House went 4-for-5 with a pair of doubles, a run scored and four RBIs, while outfielder Krey Bratsen and shortstop Kenny Jackson each added three hits. It's also worth noting Gregg Alcazar went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. Pitching-wise, starter Derrick Hadley didn't escape the third inning, but reliever Brandon Parrent tossed three scoreless frames to lead the way on the mound. While it's a nice win for the Aggies, the Bobcats' struggles against elite teams continues.

* Rice is playing a solid brand of baseball at the right time. The Owls extended their impressive winning streak to five games on Tuesday with a 2-1 win over Louisiana-Lafayette. Rice starting pitcher Tyler Duffey allowed just a run in three innings, while relievers Jeremy Fant, Abe Gonzales and Tony Cingrani teamed up to solidify the victory. The Ragin' Cajuns wasted a solid start from Ryland Parker, who struck out five and allowed just a run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. Rice's winning ways should continue this weekend with a series against Memphis.

* UCLA is certainly still in solid shape to make a NCAA Regional, while Long Beach State needs an incredibly strong finish to have any chance of reaching the NCAA postseason. Well, the Dirtbags at least took a small step forward Tuesday with a 4-2 win over the Bruins. LBSU starting pitcher Shawn Stuart struck out four and allowed just two hits in five shutout innings. The Dirtbags bullpen did the rest of the wrong. UCLA starting pitcher Zack Weiss didn't have a solid performance, but the bullpen with Brandon Lodge and Mitchell Beacom leading the way was able to hold the Dirtbags scoreless the final four frames. Jeff McNeil, Mike Marjama and Matt Duffy each had two hits for LBSU.

* Could Cal State Fullerton seriously be in danger of losing an NCAA Regional host if it doesn't finish the season on an incredibly high note? It's certainly possible. The Titans were silenced by Pepperdine 7-0 on Tuesday, and fell a couple of spots in the latest RPI. Pepperdine starting pitcher Alex Najera struck out five and allowed just five hits in 6 1/3 shutout innings, while reliever Ricky Villarreal allowed just two hits in 2 2/3 shutout innings. Offensively, Waves slugger Eric Karch recorded three hits, while Sam Meyer, Nate Johnson and David DiPaola each had two hits in the game. Pepperdine has had a tough campaign, but this was a solid triumph.

* UPSET WATCH: If you're keeping track of upsets, Samford defeated Auburn 9-8,  BYU defeated Gonzaga 4-3, Oral Roberts defeated Wichita State 8-7, Western Michigan defeated Michigan State 10-4, Longwood defeated James Madison 6-4. 
5/10/2011 2:02:28 PM

Midweek matchups around the country are beginning to dwindle in number, meaning the number of premier midweek matchups with postseason ramifications are few and far between. However, there are at least seven matchups to watch on Tuesday and Wednesday as several programs jockey for postseason position.

We rank and breakdown the top midweek matchups.

1. No. 6 Florida State at No. 14 Stetson -- When the Seminoles saw this contest on their schedule before the season, they probably thought it'd just be another normal midweek matchup against an in-state foe. Well, this contest has more ramifications than just a single win. The Seminoles are aiming for a national title and could use another win versus an RPI Top 25 team. Stetson, meanwhile, is in solid shape for an NCAA Regional host and only could solidify its already impressive resume with a win over the Seminoles. Give the Hatters credit for one thing, and that's their ability to schedule solid non-conference opponents.

2. Texas State at No. 10 Texas A&M -- Both the Bobcats and Aggies could use a victory in midweek action. The Bobcats lead the Southland Conference and it's assumed they'd earn an at-large bid to the NCAA postseason should they not win the Southland tournament in a few weeks. However, it might not be as much of a slam dunk as some think. The Bobcats have an RPI of 41 and 31-16 overall record, which is solid. However, they're also just 0-4 vs. RPI Top 25, 1-7 vs. RPI Top 50 and 13-10 vs. RPI Top 100. In other words, not exactly an impressive overall resume. The Aggies, meanwhile, have struggled immensely in midweek games over the past few weeks, and they could use a solid RPI win over the Bobcats to boost their postseason resume. A&M must show that it has some pitching depth with a strong midweek showing.

3. Baylor at No. 11 TCU -- In a series that is dubbed a rivalry, both teams enter the midweek hoping to earn a solid win. The Bears have a solid RPI and an OK Big 12 standing. However, they need to finish the regular season on a high note with just a 24-21 overall record. Remember, you cannot make the NCAA postseason with just a .500 record. While the Bears hope to just reach the NCAA postseason, the Horned Frogs are aiming even higher, for an NCAA Regional host. The Horned Frogs are up to 20 in the latest RPI at 33-14, but have little room for error the rest of Mountain West play with some weak RPI teams on the docket. Both TCU and Baylor need to play flawless baseball down the stretch to reach their respective goals.

4. Florida International at No. 14 Stetson -- While the Tuesday matchup between Florida State and Stetson leads the midweek action, the Wednesday contest between the Hatters and FIU also ought to be a dandy. The Golden Panthers have been absolutely fantastic lately as winners of 12-straight contests. They've also climbed to 33 in the RPI with a 32-16 overall record. The Hatters, meanwhile, could have a huge week from an RPI standpoint with wins over both the Seminoles and Golden Panthers.

5. No. 23 Rice at Louisiana-Lafayette -- The Owls have improved their resume over the past week thanks in part to a huge road series sweep over rival Houston. They're up to 14 in the latest RPI with a solid 32-16 overall record. In other words, the Owls are right in the thick of things in the race for one of the 16 NCAA Regional host sites. The Owls might even be in the mix for a national seed before it's all said and done, but that, for now, is very much a long shot. The Ragin' Cajuns, meanwhile, desperately need to take care of the Owls. The Cajuns had a golden opportunity to improve their resume last weekend against Troy, but lost the Sun Belt series. As it stands, ULL is 27-21 overall with an RPI of 52. They have some work to do and a win over Rice would be a step forward.

6. UCLA at Long Beach State -- The Bruins bounced back in a big way last week with a perfect week that included a road series sweep over Oregon. Now, the Bruins, who have an RPI of 40 with a 27-16 overall record, hope to continue their winning ways this week. UCLA isn't in danger of not making the postseason, but is playing for seeding. The Bruins are a No. 2 seed as of today, while moving up to a No. 1 seed is an extreme long shot at this point. Long Beach State, meanwhile, got swept at Arizona State last weekend and its postseason hopes are very much in doubt heading down the stretch. The Dirtbags are just 23-22 with an RPI of 68. In other words, they're in a must-win situation the rest of the season.

7. East Tennessee State at No. 18 Clemson -- It was thought the Buccaneers likely were on the bad side of the NCAA postseason bubble before last weekend. However, they've since won a road series over N.C. State, and their resume is significantly better. ETSU has an RPI of 32 with a 31-16 overall record. Still, this is a team with just a 12-10 mark in the Atlantic Sun, meaning it still has plenty of work to do to safely make the field of 64. A win over high RPI Clemson would be a step in the right direction. The Tigers, meanwhile, have played much better the past few weeks, but with an RPI of 8 and 32-15 overall record, they're hoping to get back into the NCAA Regional hosting mix. Accomplishing that goal would take an incredibly strong finish.
 
4/20/2011 2:22:31 AM

Tuesday was an important day of midweek games for several teams around the country looking to add an impressive win to their NCAA postseason resumes, but it also was special for the simple fact a baseball game finally was played at the new home to the College World Series, TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha, Neb.

The first game at the new stadium ended with Nebraska besting in-state rival Creighton 2-1 behind a clutch relief performance by talented freshman pitcher Logan Ehlers, who tossed 5 1/3 innings of shutout relief work in the winning cause.

There was plenty of other intriguing action on Tuesday.

* TCU received news that stud pitcher Matt Purke would be out indefinitely because of arm soreness, but that didn't keep it from taking care of business on the road against Texas A&M. Horned Frogs starting pitcher Andrew Mitchell tossed an absolute gem, allowing just a run on two hits in 5 2/3 innings as they defeated the Aggies 4-2. TCU relievers Trent Appleby, Erik Miller and Stefan Crichton also performed at a high level, while Josh Elander hit his first home run of the season. The win was a big RPI win for the Horned Frogs, while the Aggies lost their third-straight midweek contest.

* South Carolina received a wakeup call last week then it dropped a midweek bout to The Citadel. But the Gamecocks didn't let another midweek bout go to the wayside as they captured an 8-3 road win over College of Charleston. South Carolina starting pitcher Tyler Webb only lasted an inning, but relievers Bryan Harper, Steven Neff and John Taylor performed at a high level in the win. It's also worth noting catcher Brady Thomas and Robert Beary each finished the game with two hits.

* Coastal Carolina had a golden opportunity to record an impressive road midweek win on Tuesday, but once again blew it with an 8-3 setback to North Carolina. The Tar Heels responded in a big way from last weekend's brutal 0-3 series against rival N.C. State. UNC starting pitcher Andrew Smith allowed two runs in four innings while Kent Emanuel and Michael Morin threw well in relief. UNC shortstop Levi Michael finished the game with two hits and two RBIs. The Chanticleers continue to squandered chances for solid postseason resume wins.

* Oklahoma State picked up a huge Big 12 series win over rival Oklahoma over the weekend and will have high hopes entering the series against Texas A&M later this week. The Cowboys continued their hot ways on Tuesday with a 5-3 triumph over Wichita State. OSU starting pitcher Hunter Herrera allowed just two runs on eight hits in seven innings, while Andrew Heaney struck out four in 1 1/3 innings of relief work to close the game. Devin Shines, Gabe Weidenaar and Nico Rosthenhausler each had two hits in the game. The upcoming series against A&M is huge from a postseason standpoint.

* Virginia just continues to string together dominant wins. The Cavaliers continued their red-hot ways on Tuesday with a dominant 12-0 win over Radford. UVA starting pitcher Cody Winiarski was fantastic, striking out six and allowing just two hits in seven shutout innings. Cavaliers leadoff hitter Chris Taylor went 3-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs, while first baseman Jared Kings also collected three hits and knocked in two runs. The Cavaliers improved to 37-3 on the season.

* Mississippi State was in need of a win on Tuesday and got just what it needed with a 6-1 triumph over rival Ole Miss in Jackson, Miss. The Bulldogs got a solid start from Kendall Graveman, who allowed just three hits in four shutout innings. Relievers Chad Girodo and Taylor Stark also performed at a high level, while C.T. Bradford, Jarrod Parks and Wes Thigpen each collected two hits. Up next for the Bulldogs is a huge series against top-ranked South Carolina. They could make a statement this weekend.

* It sure is tough to get a solid read on Tulane. The Green Wave appeared to be in bad shape after a Conference USA series loss to Rice over the weekend. However, they're right back on the winning track with a 13-8 win over Southeastern Louisiana on Tuesday. Tulane outfielder Blake Crohan collected three hits in the game, while Jeremy Schaffer, Bowen Woodson, Frank Florio and Brennan Middleton each recorded two hits. While the Green Wave recorded a solid victory, the Lions' postseason resume certainly took a hit.


UPSET ALERTS

-- Dallas Baptist edged Oklahoma 3-2 in Norman, Okla.
-- Cal Poly edged Fresno State 5-4 in a comeback victory
-- Mercer defeated Georgia Tech at home, 6-3
-- South Florida defeated Stetson 5-2 behind solid pitching at home
-- High Point went on the road and beat Elon 3-0
-- UAB hit the road and beat Troy 8-1
-- UNLV hit the road and got past Baylor 7-4
-- South Alabama went on the road and beat Auburn 7-1 
4/19/2011 11:53:09 AM

South Carolina and Texas A&M are on high alert entering the midweek.

The Gamecocks ascended to the top spot in the Perfect Game Top 25 rankings this week after earning a huge home series win over Vanderbilt this past weekend. However, they almost didn't jump Virginia as a result of a bad midweek loss to The Citadel. Texas A&M, meanwhile, is aiming for a national seed, but has lost its last two midweek games to Houston and Rice.

The Gamecocks hit the road again this week for a bout against hungry College of Charleston, while the No. 5 Aggies are at home to take on No. 14 TCU.

The midweek bout between the Aggies and Horned Frogs highlights the action, but there are plenty of other contests to watch.


TUESDAY

NO. 1 SOUTH CAROLINA AT COLLEGE OF CHARLESTON -- The Gamecocks hit the road last week and dropped a tough bout to The Citadel in a game that displayed very little offensive production. The Gamecocks hope to bounce back this week. This contest, though, is i much more important for the Cougars. Charleston entered the season with high hopes of returning to the postseason. However, despite a 23-14 overall record, they're out of the postseason picture for now with an 8-7 Southern Conference record and 7-10 record vs. RPI Top 100 teams. A win over the Gamecocks would be a step in the right direction for the Cougars.

NO. 14 TCU AT NO. 5 TEXAS A&M -- The Aggies continue to take care of business in Big 12 play, but they've gotten in a habit the past two weeks of floundering in midweek games. If they want to hold on to a national seed as the season progresses, the Aggies must start taking care of business in the midweek. Getting back on track against the Horned Frogs tonight would be a good way to do that. Though many midweek games can turn into slugfests, this is expected to be another pitcher's duel with Andrew Mitchell on the mound for TCU and Brandon Parrent on the bump for the Aggies. TCU needs this win to start inching closer to the NCAA Regional hosting discussion.

COASTAL CAROLINA AT NO. 10 NORTH CAROLINA -- Potential No. 1 NCAA Regional seeds are breathing a sigh of relief this week as Coastal's RPI ascended to 53 after another solid week. There's not a team in America that wants to see Coastal in an opening-round matchup with top prospect Anthony Meo on the mound. The Chants, though, still have some work to do to cement themselves as an at-large team. Despite an improving RPI, the Chants are 0-5 vs. RPI Top 50 teams and 7-9 vs. RPI Top 100. Should the Chants not win the Big South tournament, that resume likely wouldn't get them in the tournament. That's why the contest against the Tar Heels is so important. UNC has an RPI of 5.

WICHITA STATE AT NO. 15 OKLAHOMA STATE -- The Shockers have had major issues establishing consistency this season, and it shows in their 23-16 overall record. But more troubling for the Shockers at this point in the season is the fact they're currently not the best team in the Missouri Valley Conference, and they definitely would make the NCAA postseason if the season ended today with a dismal RPI of 119. That's why getting a road win over the surging Cowboys is important, both from an RPI and confidence standpoint. This contest is somewhat of a trap game for the Cowboys. OSU is coming off an emotional series win over rival Oklahoma and must head to College Station, Texas, later this week for a huge Big 12 series against Texas A&M. This game could have some major upset potential.

NEBRASKA AT CREIGHTON -- This game is more heralded because it marks the official opening of TD Ameritrade Park, which will host the College World Series beginning this June. But the contest also could have postseason implications at the end of the season. Nebraska is coming off a big home series win over Kansas State, and has an RPI of 65 with a 5-7 mark in Big 12 play. In other words, the Huskers still have a lot of work to do to make the NCAA postseason. Creighton, meanwhile, has an RPI of 38 but is just 4-2 vs. RPI Top 100 teams. In other words, the Bluejays haven't exactly played a great schedule. Both teams could use a good midweek win. The Huskers won the first meeting between the two clubs.

UAB AT NO. 24 TROY -- Despite a poor last week that included a midweek loss to Jacksonville State and weekend series loss to a bad Middle Tennessee State team, the Trojans stayed in the rankings. However, that'll change next week if they don't have a good week. It starts with taking care of business in midweek action. The Trojans' hosting chances took a huge hit with the MTSU series loss, dropping their RPI to 42 with just a 7-6 record vs. RPI Top 100 teams. UAB, meanwhile, was in the mix for the NCAA postseason in last week's projections, but it is now 80 in the RPI after a series loss to Memphis.

MISSISSIPPI AT MISSISSIPPI STATE -- It's not a given that either team makes the NCAA postseason at this point in the season, but things are looking promising for Ole Miss with an RPI of 32 and an 8-7 record in the SEC. State, though, can't afford to slump down the stretch. The Bulldogs, who looked to be in great shape a few weeks ago, have an impressive RPI of 26. However, they have a 6-9 conference record after a tough series loss to Arkansas last weekend. Though this game doesn't count in the SEC standings, it's an RPI boost for both teams. Oh yeah, there's that little rivalry thing, too.

SOUTHEASTERN LOUISIANA AT TULANE -- This is an important game for both teams from a postseason standpoint. The Lions are one of those strange teams in the sense they have a solid postseason resume but only are 10-8 in the Southland Conference. It's up in the air on if the Lions would make the postseason if the season ended today. They've got a solid 5-4 record vs. RPI Top 50 and 13-7 mark vs. RPI Top 100. Tulane, meanwhile, is coming off a series loss to Rice and has some solid series wins (Ole Miss being the best). The Green Wave, though, is just 7-9 vs. RPI Top 50 and 9-14 vs. RPI Top 100. On top of that, they have a 4-8 mark in Conference USA.


WEDNESDAY

CLEMSON AT GEORGIA -- This is a big game for both teams, but even more so for the Bulldogs, who are trying to stay above .500 overall. The Bulldogs dropped a hard-fought home series to Florida last weekend. As a result, they have an impressive RPI of 17 with a respectable 9-6 record in the SEC. However, the Bulldogs are just 19-18 overall, and you can't make the NCAA postseason with a .500 record. Clemson, meanwhile, has an RPI of 15 and finally broke even (9-9) in conference play with a road series win over Boston College last weekend. The Tigers only are 5-10 vs. RPI Top 50 but have a 13-12 mark vs. RPI Top 100. Both teams could use a resume-boosting win.

NO. 4 FLORIDA AT CENTRAL FLORIDA -- The Gators aspire to earn a national seed at the end of the season, so every game is important. But this game definitely is more important for the Knights. The Knights defeated the Gators in the first meeting between the two teams, but were playing better baseball at that point. Now, though, the Knights are on the bad side of the NCAA postseason bubble. They dropped a series to Tulane this past weekend and are 4-8 in C-USA play. The Knights also are just 6-9 vs. RPI Top 50 and 8-12 vs. RPI Top 100. UCF still has a very solid 35 RPI, but the resume just doesn't add up at this point. Beating UF would be a step in the right direction.

NO. 19 SOUTHERN MISSISSIPPI AT LSU -- The Golden Eagles took a step back in the national seed department a few weeks ago with a tough series loss to Memphis, and as a result now have some work to do to get back in the top eight. Though LSU has a poor overall resume, it still would be a solid RPI win for the Golden Eagles. The Tigers, though, need to drastically change their fortunes down the stretch to make the NCAA postseason. The Tigers are 4-11 in the SEC, 8-11 vs. RPI Top 50 and 12-12 vs. RPI Top 100, and have an RPI of 29. The Tigers desperately need to start racking up good wins, and it starts against USM.



 
4/13/2011 12:42:20 AM

Another important weekend of college baseball action is on the horizon and it's always important keep track of the interesting happenings when it comes to intriguing midweek action.

Here are a few things that stood out on Tuesday:

* What Vanderbilt continues to do as a pitching staff is unbelievable. The Commodores pitched another shutout on Tuesday, defeating in-state rival Middle Tennessee State 1-0. Commodores starting pitcher T.J. Pecoraro struck out four in five shutout innings, while five other relievers combined to seal the deal. The performances on the mound for the 'Dores wasted a solid collection of performances by Blue Raiders pitchers.

* Speaking of Vanderbilt, its weekend opponent, South Carolina, had a tough go at it on Tuesday in a 2-0 loss to The Citadel. The Gamecocks loaded the bases in the ninth inning but were unable to score a run. The Citadel starting pitcher Logan Cribb put together a great start, allowing no runs in eight innings. Offensively for the Gamecocks, Brady Thomas was the lone bright spot with a perfect 4-for-4 night. Now the Gamecocks must rebound from the loss when they host Vandy this weekend.

* Florida State's mastery of rival Florida isn't going to stop this season. The Seminoles used a great start from Hunter Scantling to silence the Gators on the way to a 3-1 victory. Scantling struck out seven and allowed no runs on just three hits in seven innings. Offensively, FSU first baseman Jayce Boyd led the Seminoles with a pair of hits. FSU improved to 3-1 against the Gators this weekend.

* North Carolina continued its successful ways on Tuesday with a 5-3 triumph over in-state rival East Carolina. UNC starting pitcher Bryan Gaines allowed three runs in four innings, while Michael Morin closed the game with 2 1/3 shutout innings. The Pirates were hampered by five crucial errors in the game, while the Tar Heels were led at the plate by shortstop Levi Michael, who finished the contest with three hits. While ECU is reeling, UNC couldn't be feeling better about its situation.

* Rice moved freshman right-handed pitcher John Simms back to the starter role against Texas A&M on Tuesday, and it's safe to say the move paid off as the Owls defeated the Aggies 2-0. Simms struck out 11 and allowed just three hits in 7 2/3 innings. Rice reliever Tony Cingrani, who has added velocity this spring, finished the contest with 1 1/3 shutout innings. The win was huge for the Owls, and wasted a solid pitching performance by A&M starter Brandon Parrent, who allowed no earned runs in six innings. Rice is 2-0 against A&M this season.

* Oklahoma suffered a tough series loss to Kansas State last weekend, but responded in style on Tuesday with an impressive 13-6 win over TCU. The Sooners touched TCU starting pitcher Erik Miller for five runs on four hits in 2 2/3 innings. Evan Mistich and Cam Seitzer each had two hits in the game, while Tyler Ogle hit a home run, scored two runs and knocked in two runs. It'll be interesting to see if the Sooners can build off the win over the Horned Frogs. They have a huge series comping up this weekend against chief rival Oklahoma State.

* Georgia Tech suffered a tough series loss to Virginia at home last weekend, but responded in a big way on Tuesday with another win over in-state rival Georgia. Yellow Jackets freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Grimes said he felt the best he ever has this season, as he struck out 10 and allowed just two runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings. Tech freshman slugger had another productive night at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run (his seventh) and two RBIs. Nice job of responding from the weekend by the Jackets.

* After losing a midweek game to Mississippi State last week and dropping a tough series to Memphis, the Golden Eagles needed to show Tuesday they could respond from a tough week against in-state rival Mississippi. The Eagles did just that, beating the scuffling Rebels 8-6 in 12 innings. USM reliever Collin Cargill finished the contest with 3 2/3 solid innings of relief work, while the Eagles were led at the plate by first baseman Adam Doleac, who went 4-for-6 with three RBIs.

* Nebraska has some work to do to get back in the NCAA postseason picture, but it at least took a small step forward on Tuesday with a 5-4 triumph over Wichita State. NU starting pitcher Tyler Niederklein allowed just three runs on seven hits in six innings, while reliever Dylan Vogt also threw at a high level. NU was led at the plate by Kale Kiser and Kash Kalkowski, who each finished the contest with two hits and two RBIs. The Huskers need to establish some consistency in Big 12 play.

* Washington State has been a disappointment so far this season, but it earned a nice midweek win over Gonzaga to the tune of 3-1. Cougars starting pitcher Kellen Camus allowed just a run on four hits in five innings, while J.D. Leckenby and Paris Shewey also threw at a high level. First baseman Taylor Ard led the way with two hits in the game. Perhaps this will get the .500 Cougars going.

* UPSET ALERTS

-- Northwestern State defeated LSU 5-2
-- Oakland defeated Michigan State 9-7 in Game 2 of a DH
-- Florida Atlantic defeated Central Florida 3-2
-- Appalachian State defeated Tennessee 6-5
-- Jacksonville State defeated Troy 7-6 
4/7/2011 1:12:52 AM

Though Tuesday was a busy day in college baseball, Wednesday was the exact opposite for many teams around the country. Some, though, still had important contests.

Here are some items that caught our attention on Wednesday.

* Texas State hit the road hoping to earn an impressive midweek victory after losing to Missouri last week and previously Baylor and Texas. But the Bobcats' wish wasn't granted as they dropped a tough 6-5 decision to Arkansas. The Razorbacks scored four runs in their final two frames to earn the victory. Arkansas outfielder Colin Kuhn recorded three hits in the game, while Dominic Ficociello, Bo Bigham and Jarrod McKinney each had three hits in the game. Since the Bobcats do have a solid RPI, this is an RPI boosting win for the Hogs. The Bobcats, meanwhile, still have some marquee wins to record.

* Miami has an important series with postseason implications coming up this weekend against N.C. State, but it recorded a dominant midweek win over Florida Gulf Coast on Wednesday by a score of 8-1. Miami starting pitcher Steven Ewing was solid again, striking out eight and allowing just three hits and a run in seven innings, while first baseman Rony Rodriguez led the way at the plate, going 3-for-3 with a triple, a run scored and two RBIs. Chantz Mack and Harold Martinez each had two hits in the game. The Hurricanes have a solid ACC record and can improve it against the inconsistent Wolfpack this weekend.

* Florida International is one of several Sun Belt teams aiming for an NCAA postseason berth at the end of the season. The Panthers, though, have something to prove the second half of the season. They dropped a tough midweek bout to Bethune-Cookman by a score of 5-4. FIU got some solid pitching in the game, while Bethune-Cookman pitchers Julio Morales and Jordan Dailey got the best of the Panthers. Offensively, BCC was led at the plate by DJ Leonard, who went 2-for-3 with a run scored and two RBIs. 

* After dropping a tough midweek bout to N.C. State on Tuesday, East Carolina responded in impressive fashion against Elon on Wednesday with a 7-0 triumph. Starting pitcher Austin Chrismon allowed just three hits in four shutout innings while Kevin Brandt returned to the mound from suspension and threw three scoreless innings. Joseph Hughes also had a solid outing, striking out five in two perfect innings to end the game. At the plate, leadoff hitter Ben Fultz went 2-for-5 with a run scored and an RBI.

* Georgia Southern is one of several bubble teams that must take care of business down the stretch to make the NCAA postseason. The Eagles, though, suffered a big-time setback on Wednesday in a 14-1 loss to Mercer. Mercer had a huge day at the plate with DJ Johnson leading the way going 3-for-4 with two runs scored and three RBIs. Leadoff hitter Billy Burnes added two hits and two RBIs, while Thomas Carroll, Matthew Black and Joe Winker each had two hits in the game.

* In terms of upsets, nothing really major stood out on Wednesday. However, Houston, following its Tuesday win over Texas A&M, suffered a tough setback to Lamar. 
4/6/2011 1:23:03 AM

Midweek action is starting to heat up with several teams using the games as postseason resume booster. With that in mind, here's an inside look at a few results that stood out to us on Tuesday.

* Central Florida took a step back last weekend with a home series loss to Southern Mississippi, but bounced back in style on Tuesday with an RPI-boosting 4-3 win over Florida. The Knights entered the ninth inning down 3-2, but scored a pair of runs in the top of the frame to take a 4-3 lead and the crucial victory. UCF used a collection of pitchers to get the job done, while leadoff hitter Darnell Sweeney went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs. The Knights now need to take care of business against Tulane this weekend.

* Arizona can't seem to master rival Arizona State this season. The Wildcats dropped yet another contest to the Sun Devils, this time by a score of 10-5. Arizona State used a collection of pitchers in the contest, but reliever Alex Blackford had the most impressive showing, allowing just two hits in three shutout innings. Offensively, Matt Newman hit a home run, Deven Marrero went 4-for-5 with four runs scored and Johnny Ruettiger, Zack MacPhee and Andy Workman each finished the contest with two hits.

* Houston suddenly is back to looking like an NCAA postseason contender. The Cougars picked up another impressive win on Tuesday, a 3-2 triumph over red-hot Texas A&M. UH starting pitcher Codey Morehouse struck out six and allowed just two runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings in the winning cause. Offensively, outfielder Joel Ansley went 2-for-4 with a double and an RBI. 

* The first round of the Bedlam Series between Oklahoma and Oklahoma State went to the Sooners by a score of 8-3. OU starting pitcher Jack Mayfield was lifted after allowing three runs on seven hits in just 1 2/3 innings, but reliever Dillon Overton didn't disappoint. Overton struck out eight and allowed just four hits in 6 1/3 shutout innings. The Sooners had a huge night at the plate with six sluggers finishing the night with two hits a piece. Third baseman Garrett Buechele led the way, going 2-for-4 with two runs scored and four RBIs. OU suddenly is playing a very good brand of baseball at the right time.

* Tulane took a step back last weekend when it got swept at home by Houston. The Green Wave's woes continued on Tuesday with a 7-5 setback to in-state rival LSU, dropping their record to 18-11. To make matters worse, Tulane reliever Nick Pepitone went down with an injury in the contest. For LSU, reliever Kevin Berry led the way on the mound with 2 2/3 shutout innings while Raph Rhymes and Tyler Hanover each had two hits and Austin Nola and Mason Katz each knocked in two runs.

* Mississippi State desperately needed a midweek win over Southern Mississippi after losing all three games against Georgia last weekend. The Bulldogs got just what they needed, a 5-4 triumph over the surging Golden Eagles. State starting pitcher Andrew Busby was lifted after just an inning as a result of giving up three runs, but reliever Luis Pollorena was fantastic, allowing just a hit in 5 2/3 innings. Offensively, outfielder C.T. Bradford led the way with three hits, a double and two RBIs.

* Coastal Carolina and Clemson have failed to meet expectations so far this season, so both clubs were looking for an important midweek win on Tuesday. Clemson, though, was the lucky recipient of a victory with a 5-4 triumph in extra innings. CU starting pitcher Justin Sarratt allowed four runs on six hits in just three innings, but reliever David Haselden was fantastic, striking out three and allowing just two hits in seven shutout innings. Offensively, the Tigers were led by Jeff Schaus, Richie Shaffer, Brad Miller and Will Lamb, who each finished the game with two hits.

* Auburn and Troy were polar opposites when the two teams hit the field on Tuesday. Auburn dropped to 15-14 on the season after losing 14-6 to the Trojans. Troy, meanwhile, improved to 23-5 with the impressive victory. Troy starting pitcher Shane McCain allowed just a run on nine hits in five innings in the winning cause, while first baseman Logan Pierce had a huge night at the plate, going 4-for-5 with a home run, two runs scored and seven RBIs. Adam Bryant and Blake Martz finished the contest with two hits a piece. The Trojans are looking great headed to the second half of the season.

* It's safe to say Rice had a night to remember in a 2-0 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette on Tuesday. ULL starting pitcher Jordan Nicholson struck out four and allowed just seven hits in six shutout innings in the winning cause. However, it's important to note the Owls recorded 10 hits and left 18, yes, 18, runners on base in the contest. ULL was led at the plate by leadoff hitter Alex Fuselier, who finished the contest with two hits and a run scored.


UPSET WATCH

-- Kennesaw State shocked Georgia Tech 7-6
-- UC Riverside pulled off a mild upset of UCLA, 5-4
-- Pacific hit the road and defeated red-hot California 7-4
-- Samford hit the road and used strong pitching to cool down Alabama 4-2
-- Louisville hit the road and dropped a 15-5 decision to Western Kentucky
-- Sam Houston State rallied late to beat suddenly struggling Baylor 3-2
-- Presbyterian recorded another win over a power conference, beating Tennessee 10-6
-- Memphis cruised past Mississippi at home, 9-2

 
3/30/2011 12:36:50 AM

Winning or losing in the midweek often can determine if a team reaches the NCAA postseason. That won't be the case for Virginia, which will be in the postseason no matter how many midweek losses it has the rest of the season. However, it still was a special Tuesday for the Cavaliers as pitcher Will Roberts tossed a perfect game against George Washington.

Here are some highlights from Tuesday's college baseball action.

-- It was a day to remember for Virginia starting pitcher Will Roberts, who tossed the eighth nine-inning perfect game in NCAA Division I history since 1957 in a 2-0 triumph over George Washington. Roberts struck out 10 batters in the win and became the 19th pitcher to record a perfect game in any game situation, nine innings or not. Auburn's Eric Brandon (vs. Murray State) was the last pitcher to throw a perfect game, and that was in 2002. With the win, the red-hot Cavaliers improved to 25-2 on the season.

-- After dropping a home series to South Carolina last weekend, the last thing Florida wanted to see Tuesday was a motivated Florida State club. The Seminoles lost to the Gators in Gainesville, Fla., the last time the two teams met. But they returned the favor with a 5-2 triumph over the Gators to go up 2-1 in the season series. Robert Benincasa, Scott Sitz, Daniel Bennett and Mike McGee were solid on the mound, while James Ramsey and Stuart Tapley each knocked in two runs, with Tapley's two-run home run in the eighth sealing the victory.

-- After losing the Los Angeles Super Regional to UCLA last summer, Cal State Fullerton wouldn't wait to face the Bruins on Tuesday. The Titans put together a good enough performance in a 5-3 victory over their sudden rivals from Westwood. Fullerton starting pitcher Colin O'Connell allowed three runs in six innings, while Ray Hernandez, whom the Bruins had success against in the super regional, allowed just one hit in three outstanding innings of relief work. Richy Pedroza and Tyler Pill each had two hits in the game, while Carlos Lopez knocked in two runs. The Titans suddenly are playing a solid brand of baseball again. UCLA, meanwhile, continues to struggle at the plate.

-- Clemson dropped a tough road series to N.C. State last weekend and wanted to begin the new week on the right foot against Georgia. The Tigers couldn't have asked for a better performance in an 11-5 win over the Bulldogs. They scored just two runs the first five innings before erupting for nine runs in their last three at bats. Catcher Spencer Kieboom returned to the lineup from his concussion and collected two hits, while Chris Epps hit a home run and Richie Shaffer hit a home run and knocked in four runs. The Tigers now need to get on a run.

-- You really have to like the job the California pitching staff is doing. The Golden Bears got another stellar start from a pitcher, this time Kevin Miller, in a 4-0 triumph over San Francisco. Miller, a senior right-handed pitcher, struck out 15 and allowed just a hit in eight innings to earn his third win. Matt Flemer finished the game with a strikeout in an inning of work. The Bears recorded two shutouts last weekend against a decent Washington State club. You're now seeing why the Golden Bears were highly ranked by us to begin the season.

-- Western Kentucky headed to Louisville for a huge midweek contest. The Hilltoppers were red-hot entering the contest, but went home with a 3-1 setback. WKU starting pitcher Phil Wetherell allowed just a run in four innings and reliever Brian Doering threw two shutout innings. However, the Cardinals scored two runs the final two frames off Taylor Haydel. For Louisville, starting pitcher Jeff Thompson struck out seven and allowed just a run and a hit in 5 1/3 innings. The UL bullpen also did a fabulous job.

-- In Game 1 of a highly anticipated two-game midweek series between Stetson and Central Florida, the Knights hoped to take care of business at home. They did just that in an 8-2 triumph over the red-hot Hatters. UCF starting pitcher Chase Bradford struck out and allowed just two runs on seven hits in six innings, while relievers Nick Cicio and Ronnie Richardson were solid. Stetson starting pitcher Will Dorsey didn't have a good start, allowing six runs on 12 hits in just three innings. UCF was led at the plate by outfielder Erik Hempe, who went 3-for-3 with two RBIs. The two teams head back to DeLand, Fla., for Game 2 on Wednesday.

-- Troy was right on the cusp of our rankings this week, and hoped to start another week on a positive note at Auburn. That didn't happen as the Tigers bounced back from a tough series at Mississippi State with a 6-1 triumph over the Trojans. Auburn starting pitcher Jon Luke Jacobs struck out three in three hitless innings, while relievers Will Irvin, Bradley Hendrix, Ethan Wallen and Zach Blatt also threw well. This was a huge win for an Auburn club that previously was scuffling.


UPSET SPECIALS
  • Charlotte boosted its resume with a 4-3 win over North Carolina
  • Mercer ended Georgia Tech's lengthy winning streak with a 4-2 triumph
  • UAB used strong pitching to cool down red-hot Alabama 5-1
  • UTSA used strong pitching to surprise Baylor 4-2
  • Long Island used solid pitching to surprise St. John's 5-3
 
3/24/2011 12:34:29 AM

It was another busy day on the diamond for several college baseball teams around the country, and here's an inside look at some of the highlights and lowlights from the day's action.

* Florida starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis allowed just three hits in six shutout innings as the Gators improved to 20-2 with a 10-0 victory over Winthrop. The Gators swept the two-game series from the Eagles by a combined score of 32-5. They carry a wealth of momentum into this weekend's home series against South Carolina.

* Speaking of impressive pitching, Virginia didn't allow a run in two midweek games against Towson. Cavaliers starting pitcher Whit Mayberry struck out four and allowed just four hits in five innings in his team's 5-0 win over the Tigers. Keith Werman, John Hicks and Ryan Levine led the way at the plate with two hits a piece. The Cavaliers improved to 21-2 with the victory.

* After dropping a tough contest to Cal State Fullerton on Tuesday, Arizona State returned the favor on Wednesday with an impressive 10-1 victory. ASU starting pitcher Alex Blackford struck out five and allowed just a run on three hits in six innings, while the offense did the rest with Zach Wilson hitting a home run, Riccio Torrez collecting three hits and Johnny Ruettiger, Joey DeMichele, Matt Newman, Deven Marrero and Andrew Aplin each collecting two hits. Next up for the Devils is a huge three-game set with rival Arizona.

* Stetson hit the road on Wednesday aiming for a huge midweek win that could bolster its postseason resume. It accomplished that goal with a 6-4 triumph over Florida State. Hatters starting pitcher Will Dorsey struck out seven and allowed just two runs on five hits in five innings, while reliever Robbie Powell did a fantastic job out of the bullpen with allowing just a run on five hits in 3 2/3 innings. The Hatters recorded a victory that will help them moving forward.

* Clemson is starting to get hot again at exactly the right time. The Tigers defeated Elon on Tuesday before sweeping the two-game midweek set from the Phoenix with a 9-2 victory on Wednesday. Tigers starting pitcher Will Lamb allowed two runs in four innings, while relievers David Haselden, Jon Surber and Joseph Moorefield did solid jobs out of the bullpen. Offensively, leadoff hitter Dominic Attanasio had a performance to remember, going 3-for-4 with a home run, three runs scored and two RBIs. The Tigers are getting some solid contributions from new guys with John Hinson and Brad Miller out of the lineup.

* UC Irvine hit the road hoping to earn a solid victory while UNLV hoped to protect its home field with a solid win. Well, in the end, the Rebels were happy with a 4-3 triumph over the Anteaters. UNLV starting pitcher Buddy Borden was lifted after 3 2/3 innings, while relievers Max Javate and Brady Zuniga did fantastic jobs out of the bullpen. Javate allowed just two hits in 2 1/3 shutout innings while Zuniga struck out three in three perfect innings.

* Even with some injury issues, Rice suddenly is playing a solid brand of baseball. The Owls recorded a 7-2 victory over crosstown rival Houston on Wednesday. The Rice pitching staff did a solid job with Taylor Wall, Tyler Spurling, J.T. Chargois and Tony Cingrani leading the charge. Meanwhile, the biggest story of the night was Rice third baseman Anthony Rendon, the nation's top prospect, returning to the field at third base. He recorded one hit, a double, in the contest, while Keenan Cook, Chargois and Michael Ratterree each had three hits.

* In other interesting results, Central Arkansas cruised past struggling Missouri 9-3, Southern Miss crushed South Alabama 15-3, Alabama defeated Jacksonville State 9-5, Oregon won its seventh-straight with a 6-1 win over San Francisco, Holy Cross defeated Boston College 3-2 and South Carolina blasted Rhode Island 17-8. 
3/23/2011 1:02:43 AM

It was another exciting Tuesday of college baseball action and several teams made statements while others took steps back.

Here are some thoughts from Tuesday's action:

* Cal State Fullerton starting pitcher Jake Floethe put together a fantastic start against Arizona State in a 7-3 victory. He struck out five and allowed just two runs on four hits in 7 1/3 innings in the winning cause. Offensively, Richy Pedroza and Joe Terry, who will miss this weekend's series against Hawaii because of team rules violations, each had two hits in the game to lead the Titans' cause. The Titans could make a huge statement with another win over the Sun Devils on Tuesday. ASU starting pitcher Jake Barrett was touched for seven runs on seven hits in 3 1/3 innings in Game 1.

* South Carolina starting pitcher Colby Holmes only allowed three runs on five hits in six innings, but this game was more about the offense as the Gamecocks captured an impressive 24-4 victory over College of Charleston. South Carolina outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. was on track with a 2-for-4 night that included a home run, three runs scored and three RBIs. Leadoff hitter Adam Matthews also had a huge night, going 3-for-6 with a pair of homers and eight RBIs. The Gamecocks earned a dominant midweek win while the Cougars took yet another step back after going 0-3 last weekend at home.

* LSU's struggles continued on Tuesday in a disappointing 11-5 loss to Louisiana-Lafayette. The Tigers got a rough start from Tyler Jones, who allowed two runs in just 1 1/3 innings, while reliever Matty Ott continued to struggle with two runs allowed in just an inning of work. The Ragin' Cajuns had a big day at the plate, led by infielder Greg Fontenot, who recorded four hits, scored three runs and knocked in two. The Tigers now must hope to bounce back on the road against Georgia this weekend. That won't be an easy chore.

* TCU sure has a special arm in freshman hurler Andrew Mitchell. Mitchell struck out five and allowed just a run on five hits in six innings as the Horned Frogs captured a 3-1 win over Texas State. Mitchell's performance overshadowed a stellar showing by Bobcats starting pitcher Lee Colon, who tossed 5 1/3 shutout innings. Aaron Schultz, Taylor Featherston, Jantzen Witte, Jerome Pena and Jimmie Pharr each had two hits for the Frogs as they earned a solid midweek victory.

* Georgia Tech continues to play an excellent brand of baseball. Yellow Jackets freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Grimes allowed just two runs on five hits in six innings as his team captured an impressive 15-6 win over rival Georgia. While Grimes led the way on the mound, third baseman Matt Skole led the way at the plate. Skole slugged a pair of homers, went a perfect 5-for-5, scored two runs and knocked in eight runs. First baseman Jake Davies added a home run and tallied three hits. The Jackets couldn't have put together a more impressive performance against their rivals.

* Clemson starting pitcher Justin Sarratt had a performance to remember as the Tigers captured a 7-2 win over Elon. Sarratt struck out 10 batters and allowed just four hits in six shutout innings. Reliever Alex Frederick also did a great job, striking out three in two perfect frames. Offensively, the Tigers were without Brad Miller and John Hinson, but got solid performances from Will Lamb, Chris Epps and Spencer Kieboom. It was a very solid performance by a team riddled with injuries.

* Miami's pitching staff continues to perform at an extremely high level. Hurricanes starting pitcher Steven Ewing struck out 12 and allowed just a run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings as his club defeated Central Florida 4-1. Neither team did much offensively in the game, with 'Canes second baseman Michael Broad providing all the offense with a sixth inning grand slam.

* Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount are both teams that could be fighting for an NCAA postseason appearance at the end of the season. The Dirtbags earned a solid 3-2 win over the Lions on Tuesday with reliever Matt Johnson providing the most clutch performance with 4 1/3 shutout innings. It was a great win for the Dirtbags as they hope to fully bounce back from a series loss to Oregon State.

* In the upset department, Jacksonville State defeated Auburn 5-4 and Seattle defeated Oregon State 5-4. 
3/17/2011 12:37:32 AM

Arizona State has made its statement.

The Sun Devils raised some eyebrows last weekend when they hit the road and took two of three on the road from Auburn. They elevated their status in the midweek with a series sweep over Oklahoma, finishing off the two-game set Wednesday with a 6-4 triumph.

Though the Devils win over the Sooners highlights Wednesday's action, there were plenty of other interesting results.

* Arizona State sophomore right-handed pitcher Jake Barrett allowed four runs on six hits in six innings, but was more dominant than the stats would indicate as he finished the contest with 11 strikeouts. Barrett, a usual weekend starter, will start again next week when the Sun Devils head to Cal State Fullerton for a two-game midweek series. Relievers Joseph Lopez and Mitchell Lambson also performed at a high level, while second baseman Zack MacPhee led the offense with a pair of hits.

* James Madison has put together a solid record this season, but hasn't exactly played the best competition. It's safe to say the Dukes needed a win over Virginia on Wednesday. However, they didn't get a victory as the Cavaliers improved to 17-1 with a 7-3 triumph. Virginia starting pitcher Will Roberts struck out seven in 5 2/3 innings and reliever Justin Thompson tossed a pair of scoreless frames. Catcher John Hicks, who's hitting .397, blasted two home runs and knocked in four runs for the Cavaliers.

* Wichita State took a step back last weekend with a road series loss to Tulane, but is back in good graces after finishing off a midweek series sweep over Arizona with an 8-3 triumph on Wednesday. Starting pitcher Charlie Lowell struck out eight and allowed just three runs in six innings, while reliever TJ McGreevy was fabulous of the bullpen, allowing just three hits in three shutout innings.

* Clemson desperately needs something to go its way later this week. The Tigers took yet another step back on Wednesday, dropping their five-straight contest to Presbyterian 4-3. Pitchers Will Lamb and Justin Sarratt didn't get the job done, while Presbyterian starting pitcher Steven Richardson and reliever Chandler Knox put together solid performances. The Tigers haven't been the same since the South Carolina series loss, but good thing the season still is young.

* Georgia Tech quietly has been one of the nation's most impressive teams this season. The Yellow Jackets earned another win over a solid Georgia Southern club on Wednesday, this time by a score of 12-3. Freshman outfielder Kyle Wren, the leadoff hitter, went a perfect 4-for-4 in the contest while Daniel Palka knocked in three runs and Zane Evans knocked in three runs. The Jackets used a wholestaff approach on the mound in the winning cause. The Jackets are looking good.

* USC has played a brutally tough schedule to begin the season, and it's showing signs of life after earning a midweek series sweep over Louisville with a 9-4 triumph on Wednesday. USC starting pitcher Ben Mount allowed just a run on five hits in five innings, while first baseman Ricky Oropesa finished the contest with three hits. On the downside for Louisville, starting pitcher Dace Kime didn't perform at a high level. He was touched for five runs in just two innings. He also walked four batters.

* Rice coach Wayne Graham said earlier this week he was a little worried about third baseman Anthony Rendon. Well, he should be worried about Rendon and the rest of the lineup. The Owls put together another bad midweek performance in a 2-1 loss to Dallas Baptist. The pitching staff did a fantastic job against the Patriots, but the offense only mustered a run on seven hits. Rendon finished the game 0-for-3. The Owls have some work to do with Jeremy Rathjen out of the lineup because of an ACL injury.

* Coastal Carolina suddenly is starting to put things together and we're not surprised. The Chanticleers defeated San Diego 6-0 on Wednesday with Josh Conway leading the way. The talented pitcher struck out four and allowed just three hits in 7 1/3 innings. Matt Laney and Ryan Connolly also did a solid job out of the bullpen. With the loss, San Diego dropped to 4-11 on the year and is way behind when it comes to pecking order for a possible NCAA postseason berth.

* Purdue is supposed to be one of the Big Ten's better clubs, but its performance in midweek play could've fooled you. The Boilermakers dropped a 9-0 decision to Vanderbilt on Tuesday before getting dominated 13-6 by Belmont on Wednesday. We're not real sure who wants to win the Big Ten regular season title at this point in the season. It's a wide open race between a bunch of average teams. 
3/15/2011 11:46:40 PM

Florida had lost four-straight to Florida State entering Tuesday's contest in Gainesville, Fla. And for much of the game, it appeared the Seminoles were destined to extend the streak to five games.

That's when Florida outfielder Daniel Pigott rose to the occasion, knocking in the tying runs and game-winning run on the way to a thrilling and hard-fought 5-4 triumph.

The victory sets the stone for what should a fabulous weekend series to begin SEC play at LSU this weekend.

Here are some thoughts from Tuesday's college baseball action:

* Pigott was the man of the night for the Gators on the way to their victory over the Seminoles, but several others also had huge performances. Designated hitter Brian Johnson collected two hits in the game, and relief pitcher Anthony DeSclafani threw two perfect innings to end the game. On the downside for UF, starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis allowed three runs on five hits in just 2 1/3 innings. Beating FSU on Tuesday was huge for the morale of the Gators moving forward.

* Purdue made a small statement last week when it defeated Louisville in midweek action, but lightning didn't strike twice against Vanderbilt on Tuesday. Vandy starting pitcher Kevin Ziomek allowed just two hits in five shutout innings as the Commodores defeated the Boilermakers 9-0. Vandy reliever Jack Armstrong, a solid prospect, also did some nice things, striking out three batters in the ninth inning. VU third baseman Jason Esposito led the way at the plate with three hits, one a home run and four RBIs. Vandy will enter SEC play in great shape.

* Arizona State hasn't had right-handed pitcher Brady Rodgers for three weeks, but he made a valiant return to the mound Tuesday night in a 6-2 win over highly ranked Oklahoma. Rodgers struck out five batters and allowed just one hit in three scoreless innings. Relievers Alex Blackford and Trevor Williams also performed at a high level in the winning cause. Getting Rodgers back in form is huge for ASU.

* South Carolina had to experience a two-game losing streak at some point this season. It might as well happen before SEC play begins. The Gamecocks suffered a 4-2 setback to Furman on Tuesday, and much credit should go to Furman starting pitcher DAniel Stallsmith. Stallsmith allowed just two runs on five hits in 5 2/3 innings on the way to a victory. For the Gamecocks, starting pitcher Adam Westmoreland was touched for two runs in just two innings.

* Texas State really could've used a win over Texas on Tuesday to bolster its resume, but the Longhorns were having none of that. The 'Horns got a fantastic start from freshman left-handed pitcher Kirby Bellow on the way to a 3-1 triumph. Bellow struck out three and allowed just a hit in 3 1/3 scoreless innings. The man of the day was freshman reliever Corey Knebel, who touched 96 mph in the ninth inning. He finished the game by striking out all three hitters in the ninth inning. He's a name to watch the rest of the season.

* After getting rocked by Cal State Fullerton in a midweek affair last season, Texas A&M was looking for revenge Tuesday when the teams met again. The Aggies got their revenge. Starting pitcher Ross Stripling struck out five and allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings, while ace John Stilson came in relief for the final two outs and was clocked between 94-96 mph in the 2-0 victory. Fullerton wasted a solid start from Jake Floethe, who struck out three and allowed just two runs on seven hits in seven innings.

* Arizona needs to figure out its bullpen before Pac-10 play begins. The Wildcats had a 5-1 lead over Wichita State headed to the bottom of the eighth inning, but fell apart and allowed four runs in the eighth and ninth innings combined to head to extra innings. There, the Shockers extended the Wildcats' bullpen woes with a 6-5 victory. Wildcats reliever Bryce Bandilla, a solid prospect, walked five and allowed three runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings. Not the performance the Wildcats were looking for from Bandilla.

* When first-round pick Dylan Covey decided to go to college at San Diego, it was expected that he would follow the same path as UCLA's Gerrit Cole, TCU's Matt Purke and now Florida's Karten Whitson. But Covey, so far at least, has deviated from those guys' path. Covey had another iffy start on Tuesday, this time against Coastal Carolina. He allowed five runs on six hits in three innings to earn his second loss in an 8-3 setback. As for the Toreros as a whole, they're now 4-10 and reeling like no other, especially offensively.

* Georgia Tech's consistency has been a surprise this season. It continued on Tuesday with an impressive 4-3 win over Georgia Southern. Freshman right-handed pitcher Matt Grimes put together a solid start, allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings, while reliever Luke Bard struck out five and allowed just a run on two hits in three innings. It's hard not to like this Yellow Jackets club moving forward. They have the arms and just enough hitting to get the job done each time out.

* Auburn and Alabama played in front of 7,492 fans in Montgomery, Ala., and the huge crowd was given a solid contest the Tigers won 2-1. Auburn pitchers Will Irvin, Bradley Hendrix, Andrew Morris and Zach Blatt combined for solid performances, while Alabama wasted a great outing from sophomore left-handed pitcher Taylor Wolfe, who struck out eight and allowed just two runs on four hits in six innings.

* Baylor suddenly is playing a fantastic brand of baseball. The Bears handed Florida International a 7-6 setback on Tuesday when Chris Slater hit an RBI walkoff single in the 11th to notch the Baylor victory. The win gave Bears' head coach Steve Smith his 600th career victory. It's also worth noting that BU relievers Brad Kuntz, Max Garner and Brooks Pinckard rose to the occasion out of the bullpen. BU has now won seven-straight games while FIU ends its Lone Star State trip with a dismal 1-4 record.

* Other notables: Southern California continued its winning ways with a solid 4-3 win over Louisville, East Carolina got by Elon on the road by a score of 4-3 and TCU dropped a 3-2 contest to Texas-Arlington.  
3/10/2011 12:00:13 AM

After what was a wild night in college baseball on Tuesday, normalcy, for the most part, was the story on Wednesday.

Here are a few thoughts on results that stood out:

* After a disappointing setback to Georgia Southern on Tuesday, top-ranked Florida returned to normal on Wednesday with a solid 8-1 road win over South Florida. UF starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis struck out four and allowed just a run on five hits in five innings in the winning cause. The Gators also got solid relief work from Tommy Toledo, Matt Campbell and Austin Maddox, while Daniel Pigott led the way at the plate with three hits and two RBIs. Florida showed us something by responding from adversity with a dominant win.

* Kennesaw State slugger Ronnie Freeman broke the school's all-time hitting streak record with a hit in his 42nd consecutive game in a 9-5 setback against Vanderbilt. Perhaps in a year when Florida International's Garrett Wittels was unable to beat Robin Ventura's hit streak, Freeman will rise to the occasion.

* North Carolina continues to put together extremely impressive results. Against a tough St. John's club, UNC sophomore right-handed pitcher Cody Stiles struck out four and allowed just a run on four hits in seven innings. The Tar Heels defeated the Johnnies 8-1 to improve to 13-1. UNC leadoff hitter Ben Bunting led the way with three RBIs. It'll be interesting to see how the Tar Heels fair in ACC play after such an impressive showing in non-conference weekend sets.

* What an amazing day it was for UNLV, which desperately needed a win over Arizona on Wednesday to keep the momentum going. The Rebels were down 7-0 to the Wildcats after six innings, but erupted for nine runs in the seventh inning and defeated the Wildcats 9-7. Sluggers Rance Roundy and Remington Pullin led the way at the plate. UNLV would've liked to win both games of the midweek series, but splitting the two-game midweek set is worth settling for. Arizona, meanwhile, has to be disappointed with its squandered opportunity.

* Just a week after throwing a no-hitter, Florida International starting pitcher Kyle Fitzpatrick allowed four runs in just 2 2/3 innings against Rice in a 10-2 setback. FIU actually out-hit the Owls, but stranded 13 runners. Rice starting pitcher Matthew Reckling threw six shutout innings in the winning cause, while third baseman Anthony Rendon had a triple and three RBIs.

* Central Florida was in need of a solid win and got exactly what it needed in a 18-0 demolition of Boston College. UCF starting pitcher Brian Adkins struck out five and allowed just two hits in seven shutout innings, while the offense was fantastic with Beau Taylor and Jonathan Griffin leading the charge. The Knights showed us something by bouncing back with a dominant performance. Still, they need to avoid horrible losses the rest of the way.

* We said earlier this week to not be surprised if Illinois State and Miami split their midweek series. Well, our plan came through as the Redbirds defeated the Hurricanes 9-2 to split the midweek set. ISU starting pitcher Dan Savas struck out six and allowed just two runs in six innings while reliever Matt Werderitch was masterful with just one hit allowed in three shutout innings. The Redbirds should be a force to deal with in the Missouri Valley title race.

* It was a night of interesting results in the SEC. Georgia won yet again, this time a 6-3 decision over Alabama in a game that won't count in the SEC standings. Kentucky and Mississippi, meanwhile, dropped contests to Middle Tennessee State and Western Kentucky, respectively, at home. Tennessee, meanwhile, quietly improved to 9-2 with a dominant win over New Orleans.

* It's a big week for Pepperdine with a home series against Louisville coming up this weekend. The Waves earned a solid midweek win over UC Riverside, 4-1. Starting pitcher Matt Maurer struck out five and allowed just a run on six hits in seven innings in the winning cause. Tyler Brubaker led the Waves at the plate with three hits and two RBIs.

* Southeastern Louisiana earned yet another win that should help them in the future. The Lions defeated in-state Louisiana-Lafayette 7-5 behind solid offensive performances from Justin Boudreaux and Jeff Harkensee, who hit a home run in the game. Lions closer Stefan Lopez also was fantastic, striking out two in the final frame to earn his third save. 
3/9/2011 1:21:13 AM

by Kendall Rogers
--

The rivalry between South Carolina and Clemson, at least on the baseball diamond, had always been about respect between two solid programs and coaches in the Gamecocks' Ray Tanner and Tigers' Jack Leggett.

That may no longer be the case thanks to comments made by Clemson toward South Carolina over the weekend. The Tigers accused South Carolina All-American outfielder Jackie Bradley Jr. of using a hot bat, and Tigers two-way player Will Lamb referred to Gamecocks pitcher Tyler Webb as "soft" after a game over the weekend.

The two suddenly heated rivals butted heads on Tuesday night to settle a series filled with drama. And it was the Gamecocks that had the last laugh with a thrilling 5-4 victory to win the series 2-1.

Here's video of Ray Tanner's fiery postgame comments: http://youtu.be/TpGyQl3P3lg

Here's a look back at other items that caught our attention on Tuesday:

* South Carolina earned a series win over Clemson on Tuesday, and the Gamecocks got a huge home run from Wofford transfer Jake Williams, who coach Ray Tanner said last week was a huge surprise. The Gamecocks also received a solid performance from starting pitcher Adam Westmoreland, who allowed just a run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. Clemson wasted a great performance by David Haselden, who struck out five and allowed just three hits in six shutout innings.

* Georgia Southern earned a huge midweek road win on Tuesday as it defeated top-ranked Florida 7-0. The Eagles got two solid innings from Chris Beck and Josh Adams threw three solid innings. However, it was final reliever Matt Murray that led the way by striking out five and allowing no hits in four innings. The win over the Gators might've nullified the series loss to St. John's last weekend.

* North Carolina may not be the flashiest team in college baseball, but it continues to get the job done in impressive fashion. The Tar Heels improved to 12-1 on Tuesday with a dominating 16-0 win over Elon. UNC talented pitcher Kent Emanuel struck out five and allowed just a hit in six innings, while third baseman Colin Moran collected two hits and tallied five RBIs. The way the Tar Heels find ways to win games this season is very impressive. Perhaps these guys are better than even we expected.

* UNLV got off to an incredibly hot start this season, and hoped to increase its stock again on Tuesday with a big win over Arizona. The Wildcats, though, didn't let that happen, dominating the Rebels on the way to a 12-1 victory. Leadoff hitter Joey Rickard and two-hole hitter Cole Frenzel combined for seven hits and three RBIs as the Wildcats notched an impressive win. The two teams play again Wednesday in a game the Rebels need to win.

* After winning its last two games in impressive fashion, Connecticut continued its West Coast trip with a bout against a red-hot UC Irvine. The Huskies suffered a 5-4 setback in a hard-fought contest. The Anteaters got a solid relief performance from Andrew Thurman, who allowed a run on four hits in four innings, while Drew Hillman led the way at the plate with two hits, one of them a double. Speaking of the Huskies, Mike Nemeth had two hits in the game, while top prospect George Springer was hitless.

* Cal State Bakersfield hit the road on Tuesday to face Fresno State in a better contest than people likely thought before the season. The Roadrunners had high hopes, but were bested by the Bulldogs, 9-2. Tommy Hoenshell had a poor start, allowing seven runs in just 4 2/3 innings, while the offense was held in check by Fresno State pitchers Tom Harlan, Cody Kendall and Josh Poytress. Kendall led the way with three shutout innings of relief work. It was a solid win for the Bulldogs.

* Oregon needs to figure something out, and it needs to figure it out quick. The Ducks can't seem to pitch at a high level at the end of games at times, but the biggest question mark right now is its offense. The Ducks sputtered again on Tuesday against Oregon State in a 4-1 setback. Oregon State starting pitcher Scott Schultz allowed just a run on four hits in four innings, while Tony Bryant and Matt Boyd did a fantastic job out of the bullpen. Oregon left nine runners on base in the contest.

* Virginia Tech lost several key players from last year's NCAA postseason team, and was expected to take a huge step back just a few weeks ago. However, the Hokies are one of the biggest surprises in the ACC so far this season. They recorded yet another impressive win on Tuesday, a 14-2 triumph over Florida Atlantic, to improve to 10-4. Starting pitcher Joe Parsons allowed just a run on five hits in five innings to lead the way, while outfielder Andrew Rash led the way at the plate with a pair of homers and three RBIs. Keep an eye on the Hokies as the season progresses.

* We're not big on actually rooting for teams, but it was tough not to hope Georgia earned a win over Mercer on Tuesday. The Bulldogs have been through a lot this week with the loss of Johnathan Taylor to injury. Well, the Bulldogs finally experienced something positive on Tuesday with an 8-6 road win over Mercer. Brett DeLoach and Jonathan Hester led the way at the plate, while Ben Cornwell, Patrick Boling and Tyler Maloof teamed up to take care of business on the mound. Now we'll see if the Bulldogs can head to the West Coast and take care of business while motivated.

* After getting embarrassed at home by Texas State last week, Baylor hit the road to face the same squad with revenge on its mind. The Bears got what they were looking for in a 6-4 triumph. BU starting pitcher Jon Ringenberg threw three perfect innings and reliever Kolt Browder followed with two scoreless innings. Offensively, Brooks Pinckard and Max Muncy each had two hits, while Joey Hainsfurther, who continues to catch for the Bears, and Chris Slater had three hits. That was a nice road win for the Bears.

* Santa Clara is improved this season, but it ran into an extremely motivated California club on Tuesday. The Golden Bears, coming off a bad weekend, thrashed the Broncos 20-5. Cal infielder Tony Renda went 5-for-5 with a home run and six RBIs, while Austin Booker had three hits and Vince Bruno, Marcus Semien, Chadd Krist and Danny Oh each had two hits. The Golden Bears couldn't have picked a better way to get back on track.


 
3/2/2011 11:09:13 PM

It was another intriguing day on the diamond as history was made at Florida International and Rice battled back to beat Arizona in a fantastic two-game midweek series.

Here are some thoughts on Wednesday's college baseball action:

* There's no question what the story of the day was, and it was the pitching performance put together by Florida International junior right-hander Kyle Fitzpatrick. Fitzpatrick recorded the fifth no-hitter in Panthers history and first since 1979 when he mowed down Northeastern on the way to a 4-0 victory. Fitzpatrick struck out five batters and walked just one. He has just a 0.41 ERA for the season. With the win, FIU, the Sun Belt favorite, improves to 8-2. It was a historic night for the righty and the Panthers.

* Can anyone slow down Arkansas slugger Kyle Robinson? The talented senior collected two hits and four RBIs in an 8-3 win over McNeese State. For the year, Robinson is hitting a team-best .552 with a double, two triples, a home run and 14 RBIs. He also has a .828 slugging percentage and a .563 on-base percentage. Robinson's offensive surge is a great story to watch as SEC play nears and the season progresses.

* We said earlier this week that Rice would keep outstanding third baseman Anthony Rendon is a designated hitter role until his shoulder is completely healthy. Well, that move certainly isn't hurting Rendon's offensive prowess. The talented infielder went 3-for-4 with two runs and three RBIs, and recorded a double and triple, as the Owls bounced back with an impressive 11-7 win over Arizona.

* Georgia Tech talented freshman pitcher Matt Grimes struck out nine hitters in five innings against Georgia State, but also allowed four runs on eight hits in a 6-3 setback to the Panthers. Georgia State starting pitcher Aidan Francis stole the spotlight on this night by striking out six batters and allowing just two runs on seven hits in seven innings. The win over the Yellow Jackets is a great one for a GSU club that improved to 8-1 with the victory.

* Talented Auburn newcomer pitcher Andrew Morris struck out four batters in three shutout innings of relief work, but that didn't matter too much as the Tigers were upset 5-2 by Bethune-Cookman. BCC starting pitcher Bryan Rivera allowed just two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings while reliever Roman Lancara was fantastic, striking out three and allowing just three hits in three shutout frames. That's a fantastic road win for the Wildcats.

* Keep an eye on Tulane this weekend as it hits the road to face Mississippi. The Green Wave was unimpressive in their season-opening series against Sam Houston State and in a midweek game against Southeastern Louisiana, but since is 5-0 and finished off a midweek sweep over Northwestern State with a 5-2 triumph on Wednesday. Tulane has the talent to take the road series from the Rebels.

* There were two pretty poor results in the SEC where Alabama's pitching staff was pummeled in a disappointing 10-6 home loss to Southern Mississippi. Georgia, meanwhile, continued its woes by getting shutout 3-0 on the road against Furman. Both the Crimson Tide and Bulldogs appear to be in for long seasons unless things change sooner rather than later.

* In the mid-major department, Liberty fell to 3-6 on the season with a disappointing 9-1 loss to Virginia Tech, while UNC Wilmington improved to 4-4 with a 10-5 road win over a solid Elon club.

* Lastly, Coastal Carolina erupted offensively and earned a huge 12-3 road win over College of Charleston, Michigan dropped to 0-7 after a 6-3 loss to Florida Gulf Coast and UNLV earned a midweek series split with Texas Tech with a 4-3 victory on Wednesday. 
3/2/2011 12:49:36 PM

We have an exciting weekend of college baseball coming up, but there have been some solid midweek bouts so far this week with several teams making statements.

Here are a few results that stood out on Tuesday:

* Florida State handed Florida its first loss of the season with starting pitcher Scott Sitz leading the way in a 5-3 victory. Sitz allowed just a run on four hits in five innings. UF starter Tommy Toledo, meanwhile, was lifted from the game after allowing three runs in just 2 1/3 innings of work. FSU hadn't been tested in a big way so far this season and passed its first big test in impressive fashion. That's an impressive win for the Seminoles, and a tough loss for the Gators.

* Though William & Mary isn't a great opponent we continue to be extremely impressed with the dominance Virginia is showing. The Cavaliers beat the Tribe 9-0 behind a stellar pitching performance by Kyle Crockett, where he allowed two hits in four shutout innings.

* TCU needs to get back on track this weekend against Texas Tech. The Horned Frogs got tripped up again on Tuesday, dropping a 4-3 decision to Dallas Baptist. The Frogs' pitching once again was solid, but getting slugger Jason Coats in a groove is imperative. Coats had an 0-for-4 performance against the Patriots, and now is hitting .125. Coats will get going at some point, it's just a matter of when.

* LSU recorded a very solid 7-3 win over Southeastern Louisiana. LSU starting pitcher Tyler Jones allowed just two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings, while relievers Ryan Eades and Matty Ott were solid. The Tigers are playing a great brand of baseball right now. But most impressive about their hot start is the fact the pitching staff, which was expected to be in rebuilding mode, is leading the way. Great coaching job going on in Baton Rouge, La., right now.

* In terms of upsets, there were a few of them on Tuesday. McNeese State tripped up Arkansas 8-6, South Florida defeated Miami 4-2, Cal Poly took care of Fresno State 11-4 and Portland made Oregon's offensive woes continue in a 5-3 victory.

* Arizona surprised some when it announced it would start usual weekend starters Kurt Heyer and Kyle Simon during the midweek. But if Heyer's innings logged Tuesday is any indication of how Simon will be used Wednesday, their starters are nothing more than a glorified bullpen session. Arizona defeated Rice 10-8 in Game 1 of the series, and Heyer struck out four in 2 2/3 innings. Grabbing two wins over Rice would be a boost and step forward for the Wildcats.

* Other interesting results include Cal State Fullerton defeating red-hot Loyola Marymount 5-1, UC Riverside beating San Diego 11-8 in a surprisingly offensive contest and Texas Tech defeating UNLV 9-4 in the first of two games. That win over the Rebels for the Red Raiders is impressive, as both teams are off to tremendous starts this season. Both teams have solid coaches and confidence, so it'll be interesting to watch both teams as the season progresses.
 
2/24/2011 12:43:04 AM

It was a fairly quiet Wednesday for most of the country, but there were some intriguing matchups on tap, including the game we were at between Southland Conference hopeful Texas State and No. 15 Rice.

* Rice finally woke up offensively against the Bobcats, and it did so against one of the nation's most talented arms in Bobcats right-handed pitcher Carson Smith. That was impressive and perhaps something that will get this offense going once and for all. Anthony Rendon, who hit .250 opening weekend against Stanford, has increased his average to .429 after another solid game. Interestingly, though, he only has one RBI and no home runs so far this season. Owls starting pitcher Chase McDowell didn't look particularly good against the Bobcats. But unlike last weekend against the Cardinal, he mixed in some 80-81 changeups with his 90-93 fastball. Rice won the contest 11-10.

* Florida Atlantic will be one of those teams at the end of the spring that will need some solid midweek wins. Well, go ahead and put one on its resume after defeating Miami 7-4 on Wednesday. FAU starting pitcher Ryan Garton struck out three and allowed just four hits in four shutout innings of work. The bullpen also did a nice job with Paul Davis, who threw two shutout innings, leading the charge. Miami starter Steven Ewing didn't have a particularly strong outing, allowing five runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings.

* Georgia Tech had been looking forward to freshman RHP Matt Grimes' debut for quite some time. Grimes surprised some when he was drafted in the fourth round and decided to go to college instead of signing with the Chicago White Sox. Grimes' first start wasn't overly impressive against Georgia Southern. He struck out just three hitters and allowed four runs in 5 1/3 innings. It certainly wasn't a terrible outing, but wasn't dominant. Still, the Jackets have to be happy with the way the youngster threw on the road in a 7-4 victory. The Jackets also sent Jacob Esch to the mound in relief, where he struck out two hitters to close out the game. Esch is a position player for the Jackets, but coach Danny Hall began using him as a reliever during the fall. He's a guy with a tremendous arm.

* Georgia finally got on the winning side of the ledger Wednesday night with a hard-fought 6-4 win over Furman. There's not much to report from the game, but top sophomore prospect Zach Cone helped the Bulldogs in a big way with a three-hit night.

* Louisiana-Lafayette's woes continue on Wednesday with a tough 3-2 loss to Nicholls State. With the setback, the Ragin' Cajuns, who are expected to finish near the top of the Sun Belt, are now 2-3 with Siena coming to town this weekend.
 
2/23/2011 11:43:56 AM

The midweek schedule often is filled with eye-popping results, but that's not the case this week as most teams expected to take home victories on Tuesday did so in impressive fashion.

Here are some thoughts on Tuesday's action:

* Is there anything more impressive right now than UCLA and Florida's pitching staffs? I don't think so. We'll get to the Gators in a minute, but let's start with the Bruins. UCLA recorded another impressive win on Tuesday, cruising past Pepperdine 9-0. UCLA sent solid sophomore prospect Scott Griggs to the mound, and he didn't disappoint. He struck out five and allowed just two hits in four innings. Ryan Deeter, Zack Weiss and Chase Brewer also threw well for the Bruins. I absolutely like what this UCLA pitching staff is doing right now against decent competition. The biggest thing about Tuesday is the offense finally came through with Chris Giovinazzo and Pat Valaika having productive showings. Overall, UCLA has allowed one run in four games.

* Florida's pitching staff has been equally impressive with UCLA's crop of arms. The Gators continued their dominant ways on Tuesday as starting pitcher Anthony DeSclafani struck out three and allowed just three hits in four shutout innings. It was the first time he took the mound since a poor outing against Kentucky last April. Tommy Toledo and Austin Maddox (who usually is a position player) each threw an inning and truck out two batters in the 13-2 victory over a solid Florida Atlantic team. Preston Tucker led the Gators with four hits on the day.

* TCU freshman right-handed pitcher Andrew Mitchell couldn't have had a better collegiate debut as a starting pitcher. Mitchell struck out four batters and allowed just two hits in 6 2/3 shutout innings as the Frogs defeated in-state rival Baylor 2-0. Stefan Crichton also threw well for the Frogs, striking out two batters in 2 1/3 innings of work. Really impressed with the way the Frogs played in this game, and it's going to be very interesting to see how they fair against Cal State Fullerton this weekend.

* Bad weekend for the Lone Star State stalwarts Texas and Rice. The Longhorns had iffy pitching and untimely hitting on the way to an 8-7 loss to Texas A&M-Corpus Christi while Rice's offense waited until the last couple innings to wake up against Lamar. The pitching staff, though, never woke up in a 12-7 loss to the Cardinals. Rice's woes must not continue as it hits the road Wednesday to take on top junior prospect Carson Smith and a very solid Texas State club. This could be a rough week for the Owls.

* Stanford got bad news on Tuesday as it announced left-handed pitcher Brett Mooneyham would miss the season after having surgery on his finger. But perhaps the Cardinal don't need him. They got a solid start from Jordan Pries against rival California, as Pries struck out four and allowed just a hit in four shutout innings. Scott Snodgress, who impressed in relief against Rice last weekend, also was solid, striking out three and allowing just a hit in two shutout innings. Stanford recorded a 3-2 win over the Golden Bears.

* A few teams that could find themselves on the bubble at the end of the season recorded some nice victories on Tuesday. Georgia Southern defeated Georgia Tech 6-5 at home, Dallas Baptist defeated Oklahoma State 7-3, USC defeated UC Riverside 6-3, Southeastern Louisiana crushed Tulane 13-1, UCF defeated Bethune-Cookman 13-0, Wichita State beat Oral Roberts 7-2 and Loyola Marymount defeated Long Beach State 5-1.
 
2/19/2011 5:08:08 PM

The second day of the season is over for many teams around the country, while others out on the West Coast are continuing action. Though most favored teams are taking care of business this weekend, others have upset on their mind.

Here are some early thoughts on Saturday’s action.

* Georgia Tech had an outstanding ace pitcher last season in right-hander Deck McGuire. He obviously signed as a first-rounder last summer, but now the pitching staff rests on the shoulders of junior left-hander Jed Bradley. Boy, did Bradley impress in his first start as the Jackets’ premier pitcher. The lefty struck out 10 batters and allowed just a run in 5 2/3 innings. Though Kent State is a solid team, it’ll be interesting to see how Bradley fairs against St. John’s versatile offense next weekend.

* LSU outfielder and top junior prospect Mike Mahtook continues to impress through two games this season. Mahtook hit two homers in the Tigers’ season-opening win over Wake Forest, and added another home run in Saturday’s 4-3 win over the Demon Deacons. With the Tigers losing sluggers Blake Dean, Micah Gibbs and Leon Landry last summer, they needed Mahtook to get off to a hot start this season. Now, it looks like the outfielder is ready to take his production to another level. Mahtook’s further rise is a huge development for LSU.

* We might as well get the discussion out of the way. Texas right-handed pitcher Cole Green surprised everyone last summer when he turned down a significant offer from the Detroit Tigers to return to UT for another season. Well, Green’s senior season didn’t start on the right foot, as he allowed six runs in just four innings of work on the way to a surprising loss to the Terrapins. One outing is just one outing, but it’ll be interesting to see how Green’s senior campaign progresses. For now, chalk it up as a bad outing.

* It’s going to be incredibly difficult to keep St. John’s out of our rankings next week. The Johnnies just continue to crush the baseball. They began the Big East/Big Ten Challenge by crushing Big Ten favorite Minnesota, but continued their impressive ways by demolishing projected Big Ten runner-up Michigan 13-6 on Saturday. Joe Panik was fantastic at the plate and Stephen Rivera was fantastic out of the bullpen. Ed Blankmeyer always has done a very nice job with the Johnnies. Now it looks like he has a team capable of doing bigger things than the program is accustomed to.

* Color me extremely impressed with how Florida is handling its No. 1 ranking this weekend. It can’t be overstated how important it is to stay focused on the task at hand. You see many teams that enter the season highly ranked, but squander away opportunities as the season progresses. Florida certainly isn’t out of the woods yet, but it is looking good right now after silencing South Florida in a 4-1 victory. Sophomore pitcher Hudson Randall was fantastic on Saturday and relievers Nick Maronda (a top prospect) and Tommy Toledo took care of business. Love the composure and poise of this team through two games..

* We’ll have much more later tonight on the Rice-Stanford series, which was evened on Saturday when the Owls captured a 7-1 victory over the Cardinal. Stanford starting pitcher Chris Reed had good raw stuff, but was erratic at times and got behind in the count. Rice junior pitcher Matthew Reckling was another story. Reckling finished last season with a 6.32 ERA, so it was interesting the Owls put him in the weekend rotation this spring. Well, don’t question coach Wayne Graham. Reckling was very good in his first start, striking out four and allowing just four hits in six shutout innings. Reckling was 88-92 for most of the day. Very impressive start for the righty.

* To cap off my early thoughts on the day, I’m going to give you a really good and really bad on the day. In the good department, give Virginia a pat on the back for its impressive 13-2 road win over Auburn with starting pitcher Tyler Wilson leading the way. On the bad side, Georgia and Clemson deserve a spot in timeout. The Bulldogs dropped to 0-2 on the year with a 7-2 loss to Stetson and Clemson fell at home to Eastern Michigan.