SAN DIEGO–If there’s a more beautiful college campus in the world than the University of San Diego, I can’t believe it. Located on an idyllic hill overlooking Mission Bay, USD stands out for its gorgeous architecture, its stunning views and its perfect weather. Oh, and its top-10 baseball team.
The Toreros closed out their three-game sweep of West Coast Conference rival Pepperdine with a 7-3 win this afternoon, and watching Rich Hill’s team, there is a definite sense that something special is going on here. USD is now in prime position to earn a No. 1 seed in an NCAA regional. If that happens, the Toreros will have the luxury of throwing reliable junior righthander Matt Couch in the first game of the regional, then coming back with stud sophomore lefties Brian Matusz and Josh Romanski the next two days. Those could be the ingredients for a 3-0 regional and a trip to the super-regionals, where Matusz and Romanski would present a very daunting challenge for any opponent. The Toreros could try to host a regional at San Diego State if they can get the Aztecs to go along with it, but if that falls through, they could wind up as the top seeds in a regional at Cal State Fullerton or Long Beach State. Those are well-coached teams that are tough at home, but neither has the firepower of San Diego. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: UCLA Keeps Rolling
LOS ANGELES–After taking two out of three from visiting Arizona, UCLA sits all alone atop the Pacific-10 conference standings. This is not the team that started the season 8-14; since third baseman Jermaine Curtis returned from his academic ineligibility, the Bruins are 14-4. [...] Continue Reading »
IRVINE, Calif.–UC Irvine is very excited about its brand-new facility, Newkirk Pavilion, and with good reason. The Anteaters held a wonderful dedication ceremony before Saturday’s game, highlighted by speeches from the athletic director, chancellor and head coach Dave Serrano, with the common theme being appreciation for UCI benefactors Jim and Martha Newkirk. The facility features a sparkling clubhouse and locker room on the first floor and coaches offices and an open-air all-purpose meeting room on the second floor. Irvine’s players are understandably excited about their new home, but not just because of its functional purpose.
“This is more than just a clubhouse, a place to get changed,” said senior second baseman Cody Cipriano. “It’s a resource.”
Indeed, the pavilion sends a strong message to recruits that UCI is serious about baseball.
Speaking of baseball, there was a game Saturday night as well, and it was a good one. [...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES–This weekend is proving to be a nice showcase for West Coast baseball, off the field as well as on. Yesterday I got the chance to check out UC Riverside’s new locker room and offices (hand-built by former Highlander Troy Percival). Today I’m at lovely Dedeaux Field on the campus of Southern California, where the Trojans are taking on Washington State. USC just built a beautiful Hall of Fame complex that is worthy of the program’s unparalleled tradition, featuring large cases for the school’s gaggle of national championship trophies, tributes to Rod Dedeaux, Mark McGwire and other USC greats, and even some plush leather couches and a giant flat-screen television. Earlier this year, the Trojans replaced their wooden outfield wall with a nice padded wall, and next year they’ll add a brand new video scoreboard and new batting cages. This program is clearly headed in the right direction, and it’s easy to get excited about that outstanding freshman class and the promising group of 2007 recruits. [...] Continue Reading »
RIVERSIDE, Calif.–Friday’s marquee mound matchup more than lived up to its significant billing. UC Riverside junior righthander James Simmons and Cal State Fullerton junior righty Wes Roemer took a 1-1 pitcher’s duel into the ninth inning, when Fullerton shortstop Joe Scott laid down a picture-perfect safety squeeze to drive in the go-ahead run in the top of the inning. The Highlanders answered back with two runs against Roemer in the bottom of the frame to take a big 3-2 win. [...] Continue Reading »
RIVERSIDE, Calif.–Plenty of people warned me about the traffic in the Los Angeles area. Unfortunately, nobody gave me the heads-up about the Ontario International Airport, which is no more than 20 minutes from Riverside. Instead, I flew into Burbank and got to experience that splendid L.A. traffic firsthand. The 70-mile trip from Burbank to Riverside took a solid four hours to complete, but I was still able to reach the Riverside Sports Complex about 45 minutes before the first pitch of the big UC Riverside-Cal State Fullerton showdown (albeit without a meal in 13 hours).
That’s all the whining you’ll hear out of me this weekend; I feel fortunate to be here in Riverside on a lovely Friday night. I’m not the only one who thinks this is the place to be on a lovely Friday night. [...] Continue Reading »
Wednesday was a rough day for Wichita State. Not only did the 10th-ranked Shockers lose their second straight midweek game (a 10-2 throttling at the hands of Arkansas, a day after they dropped a tight 2-1 decision against Kansas State), but the Shockers also found out that they’ll be without sophomore righthander Aaron Shafer for an indefinite period.
Shafer, the No. 3 prospect in the sophomore class entering the season, told Wichita State’s coaching staff that he felt stiffness in his elbow after throwing about four pitches in the bullpen on Tuesday. WSU coach Gene Stephenson said an MRI revealed no structural damage, and Shafer was placed on anti-inflammatories, but it’s unclear how serious the problem is. The Shockers hope Shafer will be back in a week or two, but he will miss his scheduled start Saturday against conference rival Evansville. The Shockers will move junior lefthander Rob Musgrave up to Saturday and are likely to start sophomore lefty Anthony Capra (3-0, 1.79 51/40 K/IP ratio) on Sunday. But if Shafer (6-2, 2.60 on the year) misses the rest of the season, it will be a huge blow to Wichita State’s national title hopes. [...] Continue Reading »
The NCAA’s official baseball website has featured one ranking this season–Baseball America’s top 25. Now it has two.
As mentioned last week, for the first time the NCAA is releasing its official baseball Ratings Percentage Index, and there are a few surprises at the top. One non-surprise: Vanderbilt, No. 1 in our rankings, is No. 1 in the RPI, followed by Rice, South Carolina and Texas A&M. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Big East Free-For-All
Noticeably absent from the top of the Big East heap is perennial league power Notre Dame, which sits in a tie for seventh place with a 6-8 league mark. Even after taking two of three from West Virginia this weekend, the Irish are 5 1/2 games behind first-place Rutgers. Plenty of other teams are taking advantage of Notre Dame’s down year to make a run in the Big East. Or maybe it’s the other way around–one possible reason for the Irish’s struggles is that there are more good teams in the league than ever before. St. John’s coach Ed Blankmeyer said he agrees with that notion.
“Teams just play well against certain teams, give them a lot of credit,” Blankmeyer said. “Connecticut plays well against us. Rutgers came to us and we beat them two out of three. They caught Connecticut at the right time and swept them, and now (Rutgers is) playing extremely well and hot. I just think it comes down to where you play and when you play them sometimes.” [...] Continue Reading »
College recruiting coordinators could soon see a reduction in their wireless bills, but the savings won’t be altogether welcome.
The NCAA Division I management council has recommended a ban on all electronically transmitted correspondence, including text messages, between coaches and recruits. E-mails and faxes would be exempt from the new rule but are limited by current NCAA guidelines. [...] Continue Reading »
We’ve got some ground to cover before getting to this week’s mailbag, starting with Tuesday’s action in Houston. It’s always an event when Texas and Rice get together, but yesterday’s meeting was even more significant, as Longhorns sophomore Kyle Russell launched his 21st homer of the season, breaking UT’s single-season record. He knew it was gone right off the bat, as the Daily Texan reports. Of course, Rice got the final word, winning 7-4. Perhaps even more important was the strong outing of Owls junior lefthander Cole St. Clair, who threw three hitless, scoreless innings to record the save. [...] Continue Reading »
Monday’s horrific shootings at Virginia Tech have much greater implications than baseball, of course, but they have touched the baseball team. No baseball players are reported to be among the 33 reported fatalities, but the tragedy led to the cancellation of the Hokies’ scheduled Wednesday game against William & Mary. The Hokies are scheduled to play Miami this weekend, with home games against Radford and James Madison scheduled next week. As of Tuesday morning, the Hurricanes were still scheduled to make the trip to Blacksburg. Virginia Tech is 17-20 overall and 4-14 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
Strike One: Something’s Bruin
It’s slightly jarring to look at the Pacific-10 Conference standings and see Stanford at the bottom with a 1-8 conference mark, and Southern California just above the Cardinal at 2-7. But in the topsy-turvy Pac-10, it’s starting to look like those two traditional powers could wind up on the outside looking in come NCAA tournament selection day.
Meanwhile, after sweeping the Trojans on the road this weekend, UCLA sits atop the conference standings alongside Arizona, both sporting 8-1 marks. It would have been easy to leave the Bruins for dead as recently as March 24, when they were just 8-14 overall. But everything turned around when sophomore third baseman Jermaine Curtis was cleared academically the day before UCLA’s conference opener at Stanford. Since then, the Bruins have won eight of 10 and gotten off to their best start ever in Pac-10 play. [...] Continue Reading »
One of the best things about getting to the office early on a Monday morning is going through all the college box scores and press releases that get faxed our way. (One of the worst things is going through them all too, it’s quite a stack, and then going through a lot of the same releases in the e-mail inbox. C’est la vie . . . ) But some things jumped out at me this weekend and I want to make sure they don’t get lost in our Monday shuffle. [...] Continue Reading »
College baseball has a nascent Hall of Fame, based in Lubbock, Texas. (It’s just as logical a place as Cooperstown, N.Y., when you think about it.) The first class of inductees was installed last year on July 4, and this year’s second class includes 11 players and coaches as well as four figures from the pre-World War II era (i.e., before there was a College World Series).
The inductees included coaches Jim Brock (Arizona State), Chuck “Bobo” Brayton (Washington State), Bibb Falk (Texas), Jerry Kindall (Arizona) and Dick Siebert (Minnesota), in addition to standout former players Jim Abbott (Michigan), Pete Incaviglia (Oklahoma State), Fred Lynn (Southern California), John Olerud (Washington State), Phil Stephenson (Wichita State) and Derek Tatsuno (Hawaii). [...] Continue Reading »
There must be something in that dirty water up in Massachusetts. On yesterday’s College Blog, we told you about Division III Bridgewater (Mass.) State College’s insane 57-1 win against Newbury. On Wednesday, another Bay State Division III school pulled off something incredible. Mass. College of Liberal Arts threw a pair of seven-inning no-hitters in a doubleheader against Southern Vermont, which MCLA won by a combined 31-0 score. Two no-hitters in one day–pretty impressive stuff.
There were a few interesting games in Division I as well. We saw the usual spate of midweek upsets, as Southern Mississippi topped No. 20 Mississippi 4-2, Wake Forest beat No. 19 Coastal Carolina 4-3 and Louisville beat Kentucky 8-1. Then there was the outstanding matchup between Nebraska and No. 11 Wichita State, which saw the Shockers erase a late 3-1 deficit with four runs in the eighth.
The NCAA’s baseball statistics were updated today; you can go get the report here.
That naturally begs the question of why the NCAA doesn’t have baseball stats up until the second week of April. [...] Continue Reading »
Perhaps you’ve heard about Division III Bridgewater (Mass.) State College’s 57-1 win against Newbury (Mass.) College on Monday, which set D-III records for runs, margin of victory, RBIs (54) and hits (44)–in a seven-inning game, no less. Well, Bridgewater is feeling some heat for running up the score to such heights. Of course Newbury, in its first year as a varsity program, didn’t give Bridgewater too much of a chance to keep the game within reasonable limits, issuing 20 walks and hitting four batsmen. Still, 57-1 is just a bit excessive. Credit Newbury for handling the matter in a very classy fashion, simply moving on to the next game without making a fuss about sportsmanship issues. That’s a tough position to be in.
Two other notes before we move on to the mailbag. First, give it up for UC Irvine closer Blair Erickson, who finally notched his NCAA record-tying 49th career save in the Anteaters’ 5-4 win over UCLA on Tuesday, nearly a month after picking up his 48th save against Nevada on March 11. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Fitt-a Culpa
I usually don’t go out of my way to point it out when I’m terribly wrong, but I’ll admit it: I picked against Rice in the “Upset City” feature of Friday’s weekend preview. I have seen the folly of picking against the Owls in Conference USA play, and I won’t soon repeat the mistake.
The Owls established their CUSA hegemony in their first year in the league in 2006, going 26-2 en route to the conference title. It’s easy to forget that Rice actually lost its conference opener against East Carolina last year before ripping of 17 straight conference wins. So when the Owls lost their CUSA opener again this year at Southern Mississippi, it was really no cause for alarm. Rice proceeded to win its next eight conference games, culminating in a sweep at No. 22 East Carolina this past weekend. [...] Continue Reading »
Entering the season, Clemson had the luxury of mound flexibility. The Tigers had one of the best closers in the country in junior lefthander Daniel Moskos, but they knew they could shift Moskos to the weekend rotation if they got in a pinch. With a durable 6-foot-1, 200-pound frame and a polished three-pitch repertoire that includes a heavy, boring fastball in the low to mid-90s, a hard slider and a promising changeup, Moskos has all the ingredients to be a dominant Friday starter. [...] Continue Reading »
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