Three Strikes: March 19
Three Strikes reflects on the opening weekend of league play in the bruising Southeastern Conference, as well as assessing Virginia's series victory at then-No. 1 North Carolina and Oregon State's boffo start to defending its national championship.
Top 25 Chat: March 19
Aaron Fitt discussed this week's rankings in his Monday chat.
Top 25 Tracker: March 16-18
Aaron Fitt reviews the weekend college baseball action.
College Weekend Preview: March 16-18
Aaron Fitt previews this weekend's action, scouts Arizona State and sits down with Elon's new slugger.
Before we get to this week's mailbag question about Louisiana State, let's update some injury situations elsewhere in the SEC. Tennessee appears on the verge of getting both of its banged-up All-Americans back in the lineup, but Arkansas might have lost one of its weekend starters.
Three Strikes: March 12
Three Strikes checks in on struggling Miami, which fell out of the Top 25 rankings, as well as Cal State Fullerton's lost weekend at East Carolina and the crowded group of qualified teams sitting just outside the Top 25.
Top 25 Tracker: March 9-11
Aaron Fitt looks at the results from the past weekend.
Top 25 Tracker: March 9-11
Aaron Fitt looks at the results from the past weekend.
Pirates Do It Again
Greenville is starting to become the place to be on Friday nights in the Carolinas. Last Friday, East Carolina faced off with Pepperdine and Barry Enright, one of the top college righthanders in this yearâ€™s draft class. The Pirates fell behind 4-1 early then before coming back against Enright to win 5-4. This week ECU hosted another of the nationâ€™s top righties, Cal State Fullertonâ€™s Wes Roemer, and the result was similar. Roemer, known for his impeccable command, left a few pitches over the heart of the plate and paid for it, as ECU scored three runs on a pair of homers in the fifth inning en route to a 6-1 win. Roemerâ€™s fastball lacked explosivity, sitting in the 86-88 mph range and topping out at 90 in the first inning, though he did flash some very good changeups and threw plenty of fringe-average sliders. The Pirates certainly werenâ€™t intimidated, hanging six runs on him over six innings of work. Meanwhile, ECU righthander T.J. Hose was tough again, unleashing a steady diet of 78-79 mph sliders and mid-80s fastballs with good movement. He allowed just one run on three hits while striking out six over seven innings of work. The Titans looked a little sluggish, perhaps still recovering from a red-eye flight early Thursday morning, though Iâ€™m sure Coach George Horton will not use that as an excuse. The next two games here should be very interesting; itâ€™s clear this ECU club is gaining confidence every week.
College Weekend Preview: March 9-11
Aaron Fitt previews this weekend's college action.
Before getting to this week's mailbag, I wanted to pass along a couple of interesting nuggets from the small college ranks. Most of our coverage focuses on Division I, of course, because we lack unlimited resources and because of our general emphasis on professional prospects, who come out of DI schools in much higher volume than smaller schools. But now and then we try to bring you interesting stories off the beaten path. This week, I heard about three former major league managers with small college connections. At NAIA Flagler (Fla.) College, there are two players on the roster whose fathers managed in the big leagues. Junior righthander John Goryl's father Johnny managed the Twins in 1980-81, and junior DH Wade LaMont's father Gene spent eight years as a big league manager for the White Sox and Pirates. Neither is a great prospect, but both are having good seasons so far; Goryl is 1-0, 2.41 through 19 innings and LaMont is batting .342/.420/.618 with a team-leading five homers through 76 at-bats.Meanwhile, Division III California Lutheran has a big weekend coming up; its home field will be dedicated as Sparky Anderson Field in honor of the great Reds and Tigers manager. Anderson is a native of Thousand Oaks, Calif., and can often be found in the Cal Lutheran dugout during home games.On to this week's mailbag, which features a question about Arkansas.
For weeks College of Charleston fans have asked why the Cougars haven't appeared in the top 25 rankings despite their hot start, and for weeks the answer has been the same--we want to see how they fare against quality competition. Well, the competition doesn't get much stiffer than No. 3 South Carolina, which made the trip to Charleston yesterday and left with a 5-4 loss. CofC chased South Carolina junior righthander Jay Brown in the fourth after DH Michael Harrington's two-run homer made it 3-0. The Gamecocks came back to force extra innings, but Cougar second baseman Chris Campbell delivered a walk-off RBI double in the 10th. Charleston's offense is experienced and relentless, with a bona fide star in the middle in catcher Alex Garabedian (whose .333 batting average is actually the lowest of Charleston's regulars). Beating South Carolina improved the Cougars to 12-1 on the year, but more importantly it gave them a quality win to hang their hat on. I'd still like to see how their pitching holds up in a three-game series against a good team before I truly buy in, but that offense is legit.
Wrapping Up Weekend Tournaments
Oregon State picked up a good win yesterday to wrap up the Domino's Pizza Aggie Baseball Classic, beating host Texas A&M 6-5. That snaps A&M's 14-game winning streak and improves the Beavers to 14-3 on the year. The Aggies were a good matchup for Oregon State, because they pitch well, play defense well and put pressure on the defense with their aggressiveness on the basepaths, things the Beavers have done well during the past few years. And Texas A&M won Friday's matchup, but OSU got its revenge Monday despite an eighth-inning grand slam by talented Aggies shortstop Brandon Hicks that brought A&M within a run. One significant development for the Beavers was the solid start by senior lefty Anton Maxwell, who threw three shutout innings before handing off the the bullpen. Pitching depth was a huge factor in Oregon State's national championship (without Joe Paterson and Daniel Turpen turning in huge performances in Omaha, the Beavers wouldn't have won it), and if Maxwell pitches well he gives Coach Pat Casey a solid fourth option.Monday's other interesting game featured Nebraska beating Stetson 6-2 in a makeup of Saturday's Stetson Invitational game. Still, it was a solid week for the Hatters, who beat a solid Bethune-Cookman team 10-3 last Tuesday and then came from behind for a 5-4 win against Notre Dame.
Three Strikes: March 5
In this week's Three Strikes, we check in on streaking Auburn, which won a series against Arizona State to jump into the Top 25; Rice and Clemson, the preseason 1-2 teams in our Top 25 getting off to somewhat struggling starts; and red-hot Stanford, which has won 10 of 12 to get to 2,500 wins in program history.
College Top 25 Chat: March 5
Aaron Fitt chatted about the weekend in college baseball.
Top 25 Tracker: March 2-4
A look at how the college top 25 did last weekend.
Upsets At The LeClair
Both ranked teams participating in the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C., went down Friday against frisky teams from the Tar Heel state. In the first game, Western Carolina toppled No. 24 North Carolina State 6-5, and in the nightcap East Carolina overcame an early 4-1 deficit to beat No. 17 Pepperdine. As usual, it's a quality field assembled for the LeClair classic, and the first day of games did not disappoint. Some observations:
Tragedy In Atlanta
Every once in a while something happens that reminds us there are things in life more important than baseball. A bus carrying the Division III Bluffton (Ohio) baseball team plunged off a highway ramp this morning and slammed into the pavement below, killing at least six people and leaving several others in critical condition. Our thoughts are with the team and the families of all involved.