College Weekend Preview: Feb. 9-11
Aaron Fitt previews the weekend, starting with UCLA's visit to Miami.
Aaron Fitt previews the weekend, starting with UCLA's visit to Miami.
Before I get to today's mailbag question, I just want to touch briefly on Wednesday's action. There were just a few teams in action, but Arizona's Brad Glenn put on a show in the Wildcats' 13-2 win against Utah Valley State. Glenn, a sophomore left fielder, belted three home runs and just missed a fourth when he doubled high off the left-field wall. That offense is rolling right now, and as I mentioned in Tuesday's College Blog, they've got some quality arms as well. We'll see what happens in conference play. On to the mailbag:
There were a number of interesting games last night, including Texas' nine-stolen-base effort in a 9-4 win against Texas-Arlington; fine pitching performances from Southern California's Tommy Milone, Kevin Couture and Paul Koss in a 5-2 win against Loyola-Marymount; Jordan Chambless striking out five in 1.2 innings of relief in Texas A&M's 9-1 win against Texas-Southern; and Pepperdine and Long Beach State playing to a 7-7 tie in a game suspended after 10 innings due to darkness. But the most interesting of all was Texas State's 3-2 upset of No. 1 Rice in San Marcos, Texas. The Bobcats pushed across a run on three consecutive singles in the ninth inning against Rice junior righthander Bobby Bell, who worked the ninth and suffered his first career loss in 13 decisions. The Owls were just glad to have Bell back on the mound--he been limited this spring because of a pulled hamstring and a severe grease burn on his pitching hand suffered three weeks ago.
In yesterday's College Blog, we speculated that Arizona might move sophomore righthander Mike Colla into the weekend rotation and slide sophomore lefty Daniel Schlereth into the bullpen. Today Wildcats coach Andy Lopez confirmed that plan. Arizona's rotation this weekend against New Mexico will feature sophomore righthander Preston Guilmet on Friday, senior lefty Brad Mills on Saturday and Colla on Sunday. That allows Lopez to utilize what he calls a "two-headed monster" at closer with Schlereth and freshman righty Tim Stoffel, an arrangement reminiscent of the dual closer system that worked very well for Lopez when he took Florida to the College World Series in 1996. That year, Paul Rigdon and Brad Wilkerson combined for 16 saves.
When is a home opener not really a home opener? For San Francisco, the answer is today's game against San Jose State, a home game for the Dons that will be played at the College of San Mateo. USF's first seven home games will be played at alternate sites while protective safety netting is installed at Benedetti Diamond. San Franciso will also lose a home series against UC Riverside next weekend--that three-game set has been moved to Riverside. USF's true home opener at Benedetti Diamond will be March 22 against Southern Utah.
Aaron Fitt chatted about the top 25 on Monday, Feb. 5.
Strike One: Catch Those Pop-ups!In a slightly wacky weekend of college baseball, two games turned when routine pop-ups were dropped. First on Friday, UCLA's Tyson Brummett and Winthrop's Alex Wilson engaged in a super pitching duel, where runs were hard to come by. With the score knotted at one with two outs in the UCLA eighth, Winthrop second baseman Phil Carey dropped a high pop-up and allowed Will Penniall to score from second. Penniall had started things with a pinch-hit double. Give Winthrop credit for coming back with a 6-4 win Saturday, but the Bruins answered with 19 runs on Sunday. The Eagles could have stolen another season-opening series on the road if Carey had squeezed a little tighter Friday night.
Results and upcoming schedules for the Baseball America Top 25 teams.
We got socked by winter weather in Durham this morning. Well, we got a dusting, anyway, which was enough to cause panic amongst the locals and drive the schools to close for the day. But apparently we had it easy, because inclement weather in Stillwater, Okla., has caused the cancellation of Oklahoma State's season-opening series against Hofstra. The Cowboys will instead open up against Lamar in the Citrus Tournament next week at Edinburg, Texas. Hofstra, meanwhile, will open at Auburn next week, then travel to Tallahassee to play Florida State the following weekend. That's assuming winter weather doesn't paralyze the Florida panhandle for another two weeks. Right now, the forecast doesn't look good for the Seminoles' season-opening series against Tennessee this weekend. Some forecasters are calling for high temperatures in the 40s on Sunday."Sunday's supposed to be coldest weather I remember down here in five years," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "We're just not going to play in 40-degree weather, not this early in the season."
Last week we blogged about the improved facilities at UC Riverside, thanks in large part to the efforts of Troy Percival. Well the Highlanders aren't the only Big West school to improve its baseball facilities this year; UC Irvine's Anteater Park is also getting a major upgrade with the completion of Newkirk Pavilion. The construction of the new 6,500-square-foot facility is in its final stages, and the Anteaters will move into their new two-story baseball offices, locker room, team room, training room, laundry room and equipment room in a matter of days. The new facility is equipped with two 42-inch plasma TVs in the locker room, 41 custom-made lockers, a 50-inch plasma TV in the team room and another 42-inch TV in the coaches' offices.
Aaron Fitt previews the weekend in college baseball, focusing on the matchup of No. 11 Tennessee and No. 18 Florida State.
Oklahoma coach Sunny Golloway addressed the condition of shortstop Aaron Reza in the Big 12 coaches teleconference yesterday. Reza, who broke his thumb in practice last week, will likely be out four weeks to allow the injury to heal completely.
One advantage of a blog is that it allows us to increase our interaction with readers (you may have noticed that a number of insightful comments have already been posted in response to our blog items over the last week). I've always enjoyed reading Jim Callis' terrific "Ask BA" column, and I thought the college readers might enjoy something similar here on the College Blog, where we could focus on college-specific issues. So I encourage you to send along any questions, comments or criticism to firstname.lastname@example.org. I will try to answer at least one mailbag question a week, as long as you send your questions along. Here is the first installment of the college mailbag.
Chad Kreuter won his debut at Southern California last night, as the Trojans beat Cal Poly 6-4. Robert Stock, the subject of yesterday's blog post, went 0-for-3 with a walk out of the seven-hole, but fellow freshman Grant Green upstaged him. Green, one of the top shortstop recruits in the nation out of Anaheim's Canyon High, has "a ceiling as high as Mount Everest," as USC assistant coach Dave Lawn put it last fall. He flashed some of that talent out of the two-hole last night, lacing a first-inning triple and adding a two-run single in the second. Two batters later, Lucas Duda hit a towering three-run homer to right field to break the game open. Tommy Milone picked up the win for the Trojans with six innings of work, allowing two runs on six hits while striking out six. It was the kind of debut Milone needed to secure his place as a front-runner for a spot in USC's crowded weekend rotation.There are no games on the slate today and just three tomorrow. The most interesting is UC Riverside opening its season at home against 2-1 Nevada.
We got an e-mail recently that scouts who had been in to see early practices were raving about Southern California freshman catcher Robert Stock, the phenom who entered school early and skipped his senior year of high school. The e-mail reported that Stock was impressing in practice, flashing a 60 or 70 arm on the 20-80 scouting scale and showing 1.86-second pop times. Trojans coach Chad Kreuter, a former big league catcher himself, confirmed that Stock has adjusted very well to USC's intense daily catching program, which includes plenty of attention to footwork, blocking and throwing.
Strike One: Beaver FeverWith apologies to Dennis Green, it would be premature to crown Oregon State again this early, but the Beavers were certainly impressive in a season-opening four-game sweep of Hawaii-Hilo. Granted, that's exactly what they were supposed to do against a clearly inferior Hilo team, but still, you have to give them credit for doing it, and doing it with style. As we wrote in Friday's blog, Oregon State opened up 2007 with a combined no-hitter of the Vulcans, led by ace righthander Mike Stutes, who struck out seven in five innings before handing off to relievers Josh Keller, Mike Grbavac and Jorge Reyes. But the Beavers didn't stop there, winning both games of Friday's doubleheader by scores of 17-4 and 9-3, then taking Saturday's finale 10-2. The most encouraging thing about the sweep was the performance of OSU's starting pitchers, who cruised against Hilo's admittedly weak offense. Joe Paterson struck out seven and allowed just one unearned run in five innings in Friday's first game; Daniel Turpen struck out five and allowed just one earned run in four innings in the nightcap; and senior lefthander Anton Maxwell won his first game since April 1 of last year by holding the Vulcans to one run over five innings while striking out five. If Maxwell, an 11-game winner as a sophomore in 2005, can give OSU that kind of production on a regular basis this season, that pitching staff will be in great shape. We'll find out soon enough how good this staff really is, but Beavers coach Pat Casey had reason to be encouraged by his team's quick start.
Here at Baseball America, we're always looking for ways to ensure our college baseball coverage is the best on the Internet. In that spirit, we're excited to roll out our newest feature, the BA blogs. Here on the College Blog, you can expect to find up-to-the-minute news and notes, spot analysis and predictions, and my quick take on the weekend that was every Monday in Three Strikes. I hope to update the blog frequently with tidbits gleaned from coaches and scouts, as well as discussion of some of the most interesting midweek games in the nation. Some days a post might be two sentences of news and a quick thought, other days it might be a small feature story. I know us Baseball Americans tend to harp a lot on prospects and rankings, but I hope to use this blog to show some of the lighter side of college baseball, as well.
Taking a look at the best tools among this year's college crop.
Looking at the best tools among this year's college crop.
Aaron Fitt previews the first weekend of the college baseball season as 14 teams will get their seasons started.