We told you Oregon would be improved, but who could have predicted this?
The Ducks pulled off the biggest shocker of Opening Day, beating Cal State Fullerton 7-3 in Oregon coach George Horton's return to Goodwin Field. Considering Fullerton returns many key players from a College World Series team and opens the season ranked fourth in the nation, it would be hard to imagine a much bigger Opening Day upset than the Titans losing to the Ducks, who went 14-42 last year in their first season after a 28-year hiatus. [...] Continue Reading »
Here are a few things that stood out in college baseball's opening day:
• All-America pitchers proved as good as advertised. The two top-rated junior righthanders in the nation, Anthony Ranaudo and Deck McGuire, both were strong in their season debuts. Ranaudo allowed just one run on one hit while walking two and striking out six over five innings in Louisiana State's win against Centenary. McGuire was even better, striking out 10 without issuing a walk and yielding five hits over seven shutout innings in Georgia Tech's win against lefthander Aaron Meade and Missouri State. UC Irvine lefty Daniel Bibona, a second-team All-American last year, posted a nearly identical line, striking out 10 and allowing seven hits over seven shutout frame against Loyola Marymount. [...] Continue Reading »
DURHAM, N.C.—Paul Kostacopoulos and his assistant coach, Scott Friedholm, walked into the renovated Durham Athletic Park, took a quick look around and proceeded to sit nowhere.
They had to venture down the third-base line to find the sunlight. With the temperature in the 40s, Kostacopoulos—formerly the coach at Maine and now Navy's head coach—had on gloves, while Friedholm had on his jacket. They were happy to have a tournament to go to, though. No teams had a 14th week scheduled at this time last year, and Navy was pleased to get a relatively warm-weather spot to play in.
Ostensibly they were scouting Iona and host North Carolina Central. Delaware State would be their first opponent later Friday evening, after the sun went down and it got really cold. Coming from Maryland, which has been hit with two massive blizzards this winter, including a 30-inch deluge of snow two weeks ago, neither man was complaining about the weather.
In fact, neither man was complaining about anything. It was Opening Day, and they were about to open their season not in the snow, but in one of baseball's most historic small ballparks.
"It's cold, but this is a great day compared to what we've had," Kostacopoulos said. "And this is very nice. We're pleasantly surprised." [...] Continue Reading »
The Kentucky Court of Appeals on Friday denied UK lefthander James Paxton's request for interlocutory relief, which was essentially an appeal of the circuit judge's denial of his request for a temporary injunction that would allow Paxton to play without having to meet with NCAA investigators.
Paxton's attorneys were hoping the courts would assert Paxton's right of due process under the school's code of conduct, which would mean he would not have to testify against himself in an NCAA hearing. Media reports surfaced last summer quoting a Blue Jays executive saying that agent Scott Boras handled Paxton's negotiations after the Jays drafted him in the supplemental first round. That would be a violation of the "no agent" rule and would render Paxton ineligible to participate this spring, in all likelihood. Paxton attorney Rick Johnson said in an e-mail that his side would determine by Monday whether or not to file another appeal with the state's Supreme Court. [...] Continue Reading »
GREENVILLE, N.C.—No. 18 East Carolina had a chance to break open Friday's game against second-ranked Virginia in the first inning, but Cavaliers ace Danny Hultzen wriggled out of a jam after allowing just two runs, and UVa. made the Pirates pay. Hultzen settled in and threw five shutout innings after the first, and sophomore third baseman Steven Proscia powered the Cavs to a 6-2 win at packed Clark-LeClair Stadium.
Hultzen did not have his best stuff and struggled with his control in the first. After Kyle Roller doubled to put runners on second and third with one out, Hultzen issued eight straight balls to walk in a run, and Jared Avchen followed with an RBI groundout to first to put the Pirates up 2-0. But Hultzen got Cam Freeman to pop out to first base in foul territory to end the threat.
"I think everybody had those opening-day jitters a little bit, especially me—I just couldn't find the strike zone," Hultzen said. "But I knew that my defense was going to play well and we were going to make the plays. It was good to get out of that inning. Once I calmed down a little bit, I felt more confident and had better command of my pitches." [...] Continue Reading »
GREENVILLE, N.C.—Our long national nightmare is over; college baseball season is officially underway around the country.
A couple early results are in: At the Wake Forest Tournament in Winston-Salem, N.C., Patriot League favorite Army routed Atlantic 10 favorite Dayton 14-6. And down in Myrtle Beach, Kentucky showed that it doesn't necessarily need James Paxton to win on Fridays. Led by third-team preseason All-America second baseman Chris Bisson's 4-for-4 day, the Wildcats scored 15 runs behind sophomore righty Alex Meyer (5 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 8 K) to beat Virginia Tech 15-6.
Here at Clark-LeClair Stadium, I'm trying my hand at Twitter. East Carolina jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first against Virginia ace Danny Hultzen, but he wriggled out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam with minimal damage, and he has settled in since. But ECU starter Seth Maness got off to a terrific start, using his outstanding changeup and good fastball command to rack up three strikeouts through three scoreless innings. The Pirates carried a 2-0 lead into the fourth. [...] Continue Reading »
Here are a few quick news items before we post the season's first Weekend Preview (which, of course, is jam-packed with news, notes and analysis) later today. Also, I'll be bringing back the weekly college mailbag starting next week, so if you've got any questions for the mailbag, send them in to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Another team has been bitten by the injury bug. Florida State will be without senior first baseman Mike Meschke and freshman infielder Devon Travis four four to eight weeks. Travis was scheduled to have surgery yesterday after breaking the hamate bone in his left hand. Meschke suffered a hamate fracture in his right hand and will have surgery Monday. Heralded freshman Jayce Boyd will open the season as the starting first baseman, and chances are he will stick there.
Auburn, which already lost Trent Mummey to a severely sprained ankle, also will be without shortstop Casey McElroy to start the season after McElroy broke a finger. We'll have more on the Tigers' plight in Weekend Preview.
Elsewhere, another season-opening series has been cancelled by poor weather. Illinois announced that its series against Bradley has been scratched by cold temperatures and snow cover. James Madison had already cancelled its season-opening series against Marist. Don't be surprised if more cancellations are on the way.
Strike One: Who's Next?
Last year at this time, everyone was trying to predict who would be the next Fresno State; that is, the next mid-major team to come out of nowhere and win the College World Series. But normalcy was restored in the 2009 postseason when perennial powers and preseason favorites Louisiana State and Texas were the last teams standing. Another mid-major title run seems even less likely now that the NCAA has imposed a moratorium on composite-barreled bats, which are susceptible to tampering.
So let's readjust our goals. Instead of trying to find the next Fresno, let's try to find the next Southern Mississippi (consistent program from a solid conference poised to make the leap to Omaha); the next Virginia (annual major-conference contender that finally breaks through to the CWS); the next Texas Christian (strong mid-major team with a chance to win a regional); and the next Boston College (team on the verge of breaking a long postseason drought). [...] Continue Reading »
Bryce Harper got most of the headlines from the first few weeks of the junior college season, but on the other side of the country, another top talent was making his collegiate debut. Outfielder LeVon Washington was a first-round pick (30th overall) by the Rays last season, but couldn't come to terms and is spending the year with Chipola (Fla.) JC. The team features several other 2009 draftees, including lefthander Jake Eliopoulos (second round, Blue Jays), third baseman Michael Revell (16th round, Rangers), righthander/first baseman Cody Martin (31st round, Twins) and outfielder Joey Rapp (41st round, Angels).
Washington went 5-for-14 with two walks, two doubles, two RBIs and two stolen bases in an opening-weekend tournament at Gulf Coast (Fla.) CC. But in his next game, he got his right hand stepped on while sliding into third base and missed Chipola's next six games.
Washington didn't look as fast as he has in the past, but that could be simply because it's early and the weather was unusually cold. His arm is still weak after having labrum surgery last year.
"Anytime a high school kid comes into college baseball, it's an adjustment—I don't care where you are," Chipola head coach Jeff Johnson said. "He's done fine. Like all of them, he just needs to see more live pitching. He hasn't played much center field, so it's a work in progress. He didn't get to play out there all fall because of his arm. So, he's getting all the balls daily in practice, getting as many jumps as he can, learning how to go get it and how to come get it. But the arm's coming along and it'll just take some time for it to come all the way back." [...] Continue Reading »
Less than a week from Kentucky's season opener against Virginia Tech in Myrtle Beach, the Wildcats still don't know when ace lefthander James Paxton will be available to play. Though Paxton is still on UK's roster and has not been officially suspended, the blog BluGrass Baseball reports he will not be part of Kentucky's rotation during the opening weekend. On Jan. 15, a Kentucky court denied Paxton's temporary injunction seeking to prevent him from having to meet with NCAA investigators in order to certify his eligibility. Paxton filed an appeal, and the Kentucky Court of Appeals set an expedited review of his appeal, which was fully briefed and submitted to a three-judge panel last Monday.
"I would expect them to decide it this week, but who knows?" Paxton attorney Rick Johnson said in an e-mail today.
The clerk for the court of appeals said in a phone call today that she was not sure when the judges would issue their ruling, but "it probably won't be by Friday."
Baseball America is accepting applications from college students for summer internships. Our interns have done everything from enter data for our books to write a chapter of our Prospect Handbook—and everything in between. Among other duties, our summer interns will help us scout the Tournament of Stars and Team USA, and cover the minor leagues and the Division II College World Series.
Though we expect candidates to have a passion for baseball, it is equally important to have journalism experience. Applicants should have experience writing for a newspaper or working for a college sports information department.
To apply, email a resume and writing samples to Josh Leventhal at email@example.com.
Maybe bad news does come in threes.
Auburn announced Tuesday that junior outfielder Trent Mummey will miss the start of the 2010 season after severely spraining his right ankle in practice last week. No timetable is set for his return.
Mummey, a speedy catalyst for the Tigers who also hit 15 homers as a sophomore, is the third college baseball star this week to reveal an injury that will cause him to miss the start of the season. South Carolina's Jackie Bradley Jr. (broken hand) and Kansas' Tony Thompson (fractured kneecap) also suffered injuries in practice in the past week.
Florida State announced Sunday that it will comply with NCAA sanctions for an academic-misconduct scandal. The Seminoles will vacate four baseball victories from 2006-'07, including one NCAA tournament win. More significantly, Florida State will vacate 12 wins in football, a national championship in men's track and field and 16 wins in women's basketball.
Sixty-one student-athletes in 10 sports were involved in the case, which came to light in the summer and fall of 2007. The university was placed on probation and received slight scholarship reductions in the involved sports.
Kansas third baseman Tony Thompson, the reigning Big 12 Conference player of the year, will miss the first few weeks of the season after fouling a pitch off his kneecap in practice last week. Thompson suffered a hairline fracture of his left kneecap, but an MRI showed no ligament damage or other structural damage, the Jayhawks announced in a release this morning.
Dr. Jeff Randall, KU team physician, is confident that Thompson will be completely healthy within four to six weeks, according to the release. He is receiving treatment from Kansas baseball athletic trainer Ken Wainwright on a daily basis.
“Obviously it goes without saying that this is a devastating way for our team to start the 2010 season,” Jayhawks coach Ritch Price said. “The good news is that Tony will not need surgery, and he will be back in our lineup prior to the start of Big 12 Conference play. Our team will need to come together and find a way to survive until we can get Tony healthy and back on the field.” [...] Continue Reading »
South Carolina sophomore center fielder Jackie Bradley Jr. will miss four to eight weeks after breaking his right hand, the Gamecocks announced Sunday. South Carolina associate head coach Chad Holbrook said in a text message that the break apparently happened on a swing and miss in practice Saturday.
"We will get him back before SEC play," Holbrook said. "Gonna have to circle the wagons. I think we will."
Holbrook said the doctor who did the surgery said Bradley could be back to action by the second week of March. In that best-case scenario, Bradley would miss weekend series against Duquesne, East Carolina and Clemson. [...] Continue Reading »
Alan Schwarz may be covering the Super Bowl for the New York Times, but our former senior writer is still a Baseball American at heart. During Media Day on Tuesday, he couldn't resist asking a baseball question. Alan asked Peyton Manning for a football scouting report on the player who preceded him at quarterback at Tennessee, Rockies first baseman Todd Helton.
"Athletic quarterback. Probably didn't study his plays a lot—kind of relied more on his athletic ability more than the mental, cerebral approach," Manning said with a smile. "I'm the opposite, because I can not run, and have limited athletic ability, so I have to use the cerebral parts. He and I were little bit of opposites.
"He was a competitive quarterback. He always used to get annoyed with me because [quarterbacks coach David] Cutcliffe would ask a question about the offense that I used to answer first—like that annoying kid in class. Todd used to let me hear about it. Todd and I are still close." [...] Continue Reading »
Former Arizona State coach Pat Murphy has landed on his feet. The Padres have hired Murphy as a special assistant to baseball operations. They also hired former Arizona assistant Jeff Pickler as a professional scout.
This is probably a temporary move for Murphy, who seemed to have a passion for coaching college players and figures to make his way back to the college ranks at some point in the future. But this is a good fit in the meantime. It gives the dust from the NCAA's investigation into Murphy's ASU program and his subsequent ouster a little time to settle.
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