CLEARWATER, Fla.—This has been an awfully strange game between South Florida and Illinois. The Bulls were apparently batting out of order the first two times through the lineup, with Jimmy Falla improperly hitting in the No. 7 hole and Jonathan Koscso in the No. 8 hole. Illinois coach Dan Hartleb called them on it after Koscso hit into a fielder's choice with runners on first and second in the sixth. After a long conference between umpires and coaches, Koscso was called out and the runners were sent back to their bases. When that part of the order came up again in the seventh, Koscso was batting in the No. 7 hole, and Falla eighth. It is worth noting, however, that the starting lineups given to officials in the press box listed Falla seventh and Koscso eighth.
Meanwhile, the Bulls have broken this game open with seven runs in the seventh, highlighted by Todd Brazeal's three-run double and capped by Junior Carlin's two-run single up the middle. Much earlier in the inning, Carlin had bunted a ball past third baseman Brandon Hohl down the third-base line into left field for a two-base error that scored a run. Strange days, indeed.
It's 11-3 South Florida at the seventh-inning stretch, and I'm calling it a (long) day. I'll be back tomorrow with plenty of action from the Naimoli Complex.
CLEARWATER, Fla.—It's been an ugly two days for Notre Dame. The Fighting Irish committed four errors and gave up 17 hits in an 11-1 loss Friday to an Illinois team that was playing its first game of the season. Then today, Notre Dame made three more errors and allowed 12 hits in a 10-2 loss to Ohio State.
Irish starter Brian Dupra breezed through the first inning, but his defense betrayed him in the second. Notre Dame infielders botched a routine double-play ball and failed to catch a simple throw across the diamond, resulting in a bases-loaded, no-out situation. Dupra did a good job minimizing the damage, getting a double play and a ground out to limit the Buckeyes to two runs.
But Dupra seemed flat when he returned in the third, and Ohio State's aggressive hitters spent the next two innings lacing hard line drives into the gaps. Dupra worked at 88-91 mph with his fastball—when he's at his best he sits in the low 90s and touches the mid-90s—and did not have good feel for his breaking ball. Center fielder Michael Stephens led the barrage for the Buckeyes, going 4-for-4 with two runs and an RBI. His RBI double in the fourth, on the heels of Cory Kovanda's two-run triple, chased Dupra and made it 8-0.
"They booted the ball a little bit, but I thought offensively our hitters took advantage of it," Ohio State coach Bob Todd said. "A couple of those balls were hit pretty good and we were able to get some runs off it. Obviously when you're ahead 6-0, 8-0, your hitters are more relaxed." [...] Continue Reading »
DUNEDIN, Fla.—Louisville entered 2010 expecting to boast one of the nation's most potent offenses. With a deep, physical, athletic lineup, the Cardinals are certain to mash their way to plenty of victories this spring. But Louisville had to answer one big question: Who would replace departed lefthander Justin Marks atop the weekend rotation?
Two weeks into the season, it looks like that question has been answered. Junior righthander Thomas Royse was brilliant in Friday's 2-0 win against Michigan, allowing just two hits and two walks over six shutout innings while striking out nine.
"I can't take Justin Marks' place, everybody knows that—with the numbers that he put up, the records he holds at Louisville," Royse said. "I hope that I can somewhat fill his shoes, but I know our bullpen is much stronger than I think it ever has been since I've been here, and if I have any slack they're going to pick it up for me." [...] Continue Reading »
Lefthander James Paxton has decided to leave Kentucky, according to BluGrass Baseball. That blog quotes Wildcats coach Gary Henderson saying: "James has decided not to play with us. What I can tell you is the University of Kentucky and Gary Henderson have done everything they can to try and convince James to be a part of this baseball team. We wanted him to be a part of our club; he could certainly make us a better team. I think it would have been the best decision for him baseball-wise, but he’s decided not to do that."
Paxton was never actually suspended by the Wildcats, but neither was he active—he was just withheld from competition until his eligibility could be cleared up. NCAA investigators wanted to meet with Paxton regarding a news report that agent Scott Boras negotiated with the Blue Jays on his behalf last summer. Paxton sued the school in an attempt to assert his due process rights and avoid meeting with the NCAA, but he lost his bid for a temporary injunction, and his appeal was denied last Friday. [...] Continue Reading »
DUNEDIN, Fla.—St. John's went to four regionals in five years before taking a step back in 2009, going 30-22 overall and finishing in fourth place in the Big East. But don't expect the Red Storm to be down for long; coach Ed Blankmeyer is very excited about his team.
Led by a talented group of young players, St. John's jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Minnesota righty Seth Rosin on Friday and held on for a 5-4 win. St. John's brought in one of the Northeast's top recruiting classes last fall, and freshmen factored prominently into the victory against the Golden Gophers. Outfielder Jeremy Baltz got St. John's on the board first with a solo homer to dead center field in the second. The Johnnies padded the lead with three runs in the third, but Minnesota fought back with a pair of runs in the fifth to chase starter Bruce Kern.
So, with runners on second and third and one out, Blankmeyer called upon another of his key freshmen, righthander Matt Carasiti, to put out the fire. After an RBI single, Carasiti induced an inning-ending 6-4-3 double play, then worked three more scoreless innings to stabilize the game. He attacked hitters with an 87-90 mph fastball, a good low-80s slider and an occasional split-finger. [...] Continue Reading »
DUNEDIN, Fla.—Seth Rosin is huge (6-foot-6, 245 pounds) and has big-time arm strength, but he's far from a finished product. After sitting at 91-93 and touching 94 mph in a scoreless first, Rosin settled into the 88-91 range in the next two innings, topping out at 92. St. John's has had little trouble squaring up the diminished fastball; freshman left fielder Jeremy Baltz put the Red Storm ahead 1-0 with a solo homer to center in the second on a 90 mph heater. And Rosin's slurvy slider has not fooled anyone today; he gave up three hits on the slider in St. John's three-run third inning, highlighted by Joe Panik's RBI triple. The inning could have been worse if not for two sensational diving catches by center fielder Justin Gominsky—one charging in on a sinking liner, and one laying out on a drive to the right-center-field gap to end the inning. Rosin has given up eight hits while striking out three through four innings of work, and it is now 4-0 St. John's in the bottom of the fourth.
Of course, it's early in the season. Rosin will undoubtedly hold his velocity better and improve his breaking ball as the season progresses. Also, give St. John's credit—that is a good offensive club.
The Johnnies, meanwhile, have gotten a strong start thus far from righthander Bruce Kern. The wily Kern has kept a good-hitting Minnesota team scoreless on one hit through three innings by mixing an 88-90 mph fastball, a solid 75-78 breaking ball and an occasional low-80s changeup.
CLEARWATER, Fla.—West Virginia All-American Jedd Gyorko, batting in the leadoff spot, took a four-pitch walk in his first at-bat.
"So, how do you like him?" I heard a scout ask another scout after the at-bat. "A good scout like you, that's all you need."
No quips were necessary after Gyorko's next at-bat. With a runner on first, Gyorko jumped on a first-pitch breaking ball by Indiana lefty Drew Leininger, ripping a double down the left-field line. He scored on an error a few batters later to make it 6-1 West Virginia in the second.
Mountaineers ace Jarryd Summers looks good early. He is pitching downhill with an 87-89 mph fastball, mixing in a good downer curve at 74 mph and a low-80s changeup.
I'll catch a few more innings of this one, then head to Dunedin to watch Minnesota ace Seth Rosin take on St. John's. I've got to make a tough choice between seeing Rosin and seeing Ohio State righty Alex Wimmers, who is throwing against South Florida at 4:30. But I saw Wimmers last year—he was awfully good against Notre Dame at his first start of the year down here—and I know who he is. So Rosin it is. Later, I'll catch Michigan taking on Louisville.
CLEARWATER, Fla.—Northwestern battled back from a 4-1 deficit to beat Connecticut 6-5 in 10 innings Friday in one of the early games at the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, but there was no question the best player on the field was UConn sophomore center fielder George Springer.
Physical and athletic, Springer is very aggressive in every facet of the game. He takes a big rip at the plate, and in the fifth inning he tomahawked a two-run double down the left-field line, then took third when the relay throw from the outfield was received by the third baseman about 10 feet from the bag. It looked like Springer was going to be out for sure on the play, but his speed and aggressiveness took the Wildcats off guard, and the third baseman flipped the ball over the covering shortstop's head—so Springer raced home.
In the seventh, with runners on the corners, Springer showed impressive plate discipline, batting back from an 0-and-2 count to work the count full, then lining a game-tying sacrifice fly to center. [...] Continue Reading »
Good news for South Carolina: slugging senior first baseman Nick Ebert has cleared up his academic issues and will play this weekend against East Carolina, the Gamecocks announced Thursday.
Ebert made a splash last year after transferring from a junior college, batting .321/.468/.713 with 21 home runs and 72 RBIs. His return to the lineup gives South Carolina a formidable pair of mashers in the middle of the lineup (freshman Christian Walker wasted no time settling into the heart of the order last weekend). When Jackie Bradley Jr. returns from his hand injury, the Gamecocks will have one of the strongest lineups in college baseball.
We featured Ebert last March in the "In The Dugout" section of Weekend Preview.
On an unrelated note, be sure to check the College Blog and the Baseball America Twitter feed all weekend, as I'll be posting updates from the Big Ten/Big East Challenge in Florida.
Louisiana State announced Wednesday night that junior righthander Anthony Ranaudo, the nation's top pitching prospect for the 2010 draft, will miss Friday’s scheduled start against William & Mary due to discomfort in his throwing elbow.
LSU coach Paul Mainieri said Ranaudo’s ailment is classified as a stress reaction that does not involve ligament damage, and it does not appear to be a long-term condition.
“He may just miss this start, or it may be another two or three weeks,“ Mainieri said in a release. “We don’t think it’s a serious problem, but we don’t want to put Anthony on the mound until he feels 100 percent. He is one of the top pitchers in the country, and I’m certainly not going to do anything to jeopardize his career.”
Junior righthander Austin Ross will start Friday’s game in Ranaudo's place. Sophomore righthander Joey Bourgeois will start Game Two of the series Saturday, and Sunday's starter will be determined as the weekend unfolds.
Wintry weather forced many games in Texas and across the middle of the country to be postponed Tuesday. Of the teams that played, just one ranked team was upset: No. 19 San Diego, which lost 7-1 to Cal State Northridge. The Matadors got three hits and three RBIs from leadoff man Ridge Carpenter, and five shutout innings of relief from Justen Gorski.
Several games that were postponed yesterday have been rescheduled for today, especially in the Texas area. One other interesting note: weather has forced cancellations of Army's series this weekend against Maryland-Baltimore County, and George Mason's series against Monmouth. So the Black Knights and the Patriots have improvised, scheduling a three-game series against each other at the newly renovated Durham Athletic Park. They'll play a doubleheader Saturday and the finale Sunday.
Let's go to the mailbag for the first time this year:
What are the top pitcher-friendly major college baseball stadiums?
Tulsa, Okla. [...] Continue Reading »
Michigan junior outfielder Ryan LaMarre, a third-team preseason All-American, will miss four to five weeks with a broken thumb, Wolverines coach Rich Maloney told Baseball America this afternoon. LaMarre suffered the injury Saturday, when he dove for a ball in the outfield and landed funny. Maloney said it was a clean fracture, so LaMarre should not be affected long-term.
"It's a tough blow for everybody," Maloney said. "It's not fun having your star player out when you're playing the toughest schedule you've ever played—you can't replace what he brings. It is what it is; we'll go back in and claw and battle and fight, and he'll be back for Big Ten play."
Maloney said freshman Patrick Biondi will shift from left field to center to replace LaMarre, and the Wolverines will use a committee approach in left. Biondi and heralded freshman shortstop Derek Dennis will have to help carry the offensive load even more with LaMarre sidelined.
"The more Dennis and Biondi play, they're going to be stars and it's not going to take them too long," Maloney said. "So the team at some point is going to be pretty good."
There were a handful of interesting games on the schedule Monday, but once again the Oregon Ducks made the biggest splash. Oregon wrapped up its four-game Southern California swing with a 3-1 record after cruising to a 12-3 win against Loyola Marymount on Monday. To put that in perspective, Oregon scored 12 runs just once in 2009, and did not score more than five runs in any of its final 19 games of the season.
Sophomore second baseman Danny Pulfer had three hits and four RBIs to lead the Oregon offense. One of the key members of Oregon's first recruiting class, Pulfer was a disappointment last year, batting .240/.340/.257 in 55 games. The Ducks thought he had made strides since last season and were hoping to get a better sophomore season out of him; he's off to a strong start (7-for-17 with six RBIs through four games). [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: A Little Perspective
GREENVILLE, N.C.—After two crisp, well-played games to open the Virginia-East Carolina series, we were reminded Sunday that it is just February, and that even good teams can play ugly games on Sundays—especially in February.
Virginia coach Brian O'Connor seemed more frustrated than excited after his team slogged through a four-hour, 11-minute dog fight and held off East Carolina's furious rally to win 14-11. The victory secured a big early-season road series and propelled the Cavaliers to the top of the Baseball America Top 25 rankings for the first time ever—but it wasn't pretty.
"When you get a chance to put somebody away on the road, you have to put them away. You can't breathe new life into them," O'Connor said. "And we breathed life into them. Fortunately we were able to hold on." [...] Continue Reading »
By Dave Perkin
LOS ANGELES—In scouting jargon, the term “bad look” is self explanatory, but also intentionally vague and ambiguous. It can refer to a prospect’s performance that on a given day is only slightly off key, or it can refer to a disaster of near-biblical proportions.
UCLA’s Rob Rasmussen, BA’s No. 37 college draft eligible prospect, suffered a distinct “bad look” day on Sunday. In front of approximately 50 scouts, the 5-foot-11, 170-pound junior lefthander was cuffed around Jackie Robinson Stadium in Westwood by Cal State Northridge.
In 3 2/3 innings of work, Rasmussen threw 72 pitches, allowed five hits, four runs (all earned), and walked three. The Bruins trailed 4-1 when Rasmussen departed and were able to rally for a 14-5 victory over the Matadors to improve to 3-0. [...] Continue Reading »
By Dave Perkin
FULLERTON, Calif.—Cal State Fullerton received its second consecutive loss to open the 2010 campaign, losing to Pepperdine 6-0 at Goodwin Field on Saturday night. Ranked No. 4 in the nation entering the season, the Titans have started 0-2 at home for the first time since the 1987 season. Fullerton lost to Oregon on Friday night, 7-3.
Pepperdine starter Matt Bywater, a 6-foot-2, 193-pound junior, pitched brilliantly in notching a complete-game shutout. The crafty lefty allowed just four hits, walked two, and struck out 10.
Bywater cleverly mixes pitches, speeds and locations and deftly kept the Titan hitters off balance all night. Bywater’s 88-89 mph fastball runs, sinks and dips. His low-70s curve and high-70s change magically disappear downward at the last instant. Without warning, Bywater will suddenly slip a high fastball past a startled opponent. [...] Continue Reading »
GREENVILLE, N.C.—Virginia is enjoying a comfortable 7-2 lead after three innings, but the margin could have been bigger if not for a botched call in the top of the third. The Cavaliers had runners on first and second with no outs, and Phil Gosselin hit a wind-blown pop-up halfway between home plate and first base. East Carolina first baseman John Wooten could not make the catch, and the ball landed a foot or two in fair territory, then kicked foul. The infield fly rule was invoked, and Gosselin was called out. UVa. coach Brian O'Connor came out to argue the call, to no avail, of course.
But here in the press box, we checked the rule book. Section 47 says, "If a declared infield fly becomes a foul ball, it is treated the same as any foul."
By my interpretation, that means the home-plate umpire missed the call—though it's not a play you see very often. ECU reliever Tyler Joyner retired the next hitter, Danny Hultzen, on a foul pop-up, then hit Dan Grovat to load the bases. But he wriggled out of the jam by getting Steven Proscia to fly out to center field.
GREENVILLE, N.C.—Virginia and East Carolina are tied 1-1 after one inning of play, and both starters looked a bit shaky in the early going. ECU's Brad Mincey threw 22 pitches in the first, and Virginia's Cody Winiarski threw 23. Both of them relied heavily on their offspeed stuff and each used four different pitches in the first. I head a scout say, "I don't want to see a guy use four pitches in the first inning. You've got to establish the fastball."
The Cavs got on the board on Dan Grovatt's RBI single through the right side in the top of the frame, and the Pirates tied it on Dustin Harrington's solo homer to left-center.
GREENVILLE, N.C.—John Wooten looked confused.
He glanced at his teammates, then at the "Williams' Jungle" beyond the left-field fence at Clark-LeClair stadium, where fans were chanting, "Woo-ten, Woo-ten." Then his head swiveled back to his teammates.
"Hey Woot, Woot," one of his East Carolina teammates said. "They want you to run out to the jungle."
"What do I do?" Wooten asked with a frantic shrug.
"Just run out there and jump up there."
Wooten sprinted from the Pirates' dugout on the third-base line all the way to the left-field fence, then hurled himself to the top of the wall—Lambeau Leap style—where he was greeted by back-pats and high-fives from delighted East Carolina fans.
Moments later, he was back in front of the ECU dugout, preparing to do an interview with a local television crew, when closer Seth Simmons snuck up behind him and stuffed a shaving-cream pie in his face.
How did the pie taste?
"Not very good," the freshman first baseman said.
Not that he was complaining. Wooten had a collegiate debut to remember, homering to the opposite field in his first at-bat and delivering an RBI single in his final at-bat to help lead the Pirates to a 6-1 win against No. 2 Virginia. In between, he hit two other balls on the nose—but was robbed of an RBI extra-base hit on a sensational catch by center fielder Jarrett Parker, and robbed of another hit on a leaping catch by first baseman Kenny Swab. [...] Continue Reading »
By Dave Perkin
LONG BEACH—The premier pitching match up of Division I college baseball’s 2010 opening weekend in Southern California occurred Friday night at Blair Field in Long Beach. Pepperdine righthander Cole Cook, BA’s No. 39 ranked college draft-eligible prospect, squared off against Long Beach State’s Jake Thompson, who checks in on the same list at No. 67.
Two thousand fans and approximately 60 scouts watched the contest, which began in cool, breezy conditions that later gave way to a steady drizzle. Thompson prevailed in a taut pitching duel as the Dirtbags edged the Waves, 2-1.
Troy Tulowitzki, star shortstop of the Rockies and a Long Beach State alumnus, threw out the ceremonial first pitch prior to the game. Tulo fired a fastball for a strike, starting a trend that would continue throughout the evening. [...] Continue Reading »
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