College baseball has scored a major victory in its never-ending battle for more television exposure, as ESPNU announced it will televise a Thursday night Southeastern Conference baseball game of the week next season. The network will televise SEC games on seven consecutive Thursdays, starting with the April 7 South Carolina at Tennessee game.
“ESPNU is thrilled to feature a seven-week SEC Thursday night baseball series,” Rosalyn Durant, vice president of ESPNU, said in a release. “Showcasing the vast talent of SEC baseball is great for the sport, fans, league and ESPNU. We appreciate the partnership with the SEC in creating this consistent Thursday night national package.”
Ordinarily, of course, weekend series run from Friday through Sunday, and most SEC series will stay on that schedule. The series featuring the Thursday game of the week will run from Thursday through Saturday, however.
The Thursday night package is in addition to the 50-plus regular-season SEC games that will already be televised. SEC spokesman Chuck Dunlap said the rest of the league's TV schedule, including the Friday night ESPN/ESPNU games, will be announced at a later date.
The full schedule (all games will start at 7:30 p.m. ET):
April 7: South Carolina at Tennessee
April 14: Tennessee at Alabama
April 21: Mississippi at Auburn
April 28: Kentucky at LSU
May 5: Florida at Arkansas
May 12: Mississippi State at Ole Miss
May 19: Vanderbilt at Georgia
Last week, we posted observations from the Cal State Fullerton-San Diego scrimmage. Since then, I've taken in fall scrimmages at Long Beach State, UC Irvine and UCLA. Now it's time to shake out the notebook with some fall ball tidbits, some of them borrowed from my Twitter feed:
• The first two spots in UCLA's weekend rotation are occupied by All-Americans Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer, of course, but there is plenty of competition for the Sunday spot and the Tuesday starter job. The front-runner for the Sunday job is touted freshman righty Adam Plutko, who has not shown as much velocity this fall as he did in the spring but has impressed with his polish. On Wednesday, he worked in the 88-90 range and flashed a nice, tight slider at 82 mph, a good changeup around 79, and a slow, loopy curveball in the 71-74 range. The Bruins have also been impressed with fellow freshmen Zach Weiss and Nick Vander Tuig; don't be surprised if they occupy the Tuesday starter and closer roles, respectively.
• As for Bauer, his stuff was characteristically sharp on Monday. He worked in the 88-94 range and employed four secondary pitches: a 74-78 changeup, a 79-84 slider, a 76-84 changeup and a pitch he calls a "reverse slider" in the 84-89 range, with screwball action. Cole has taken the fall off after a long spring followed by a summer with Team USA.
• UCLA has has just two lefthanders on its 33-man roster, so hulking fourth-year junior Mitchell Beacom is one of the most important players on the team. He dominated on Wednesday with an 86-90 fastball and a 76-78 Frisbee slider from a low three-quarters slot. Fifth-year senior Jordan Haver has pitched just 13 innings in his collegiate career, but he figures to log quite a bit more time out of the bullpen this year. Haver allowed just three hits over five shutout innings Wednesday, dominating with an 88-91 mph fastball and a sharp 76 curveball. [...] Continue Reading »
USA Baseball announced the four members of the 2011 collegiate national team coaching staff on Thursday. Missouri's Tim Jamieson will manage the club next summer, and he will be joined by pitching coach Rob Walton (Oral Roberts) and assistant coaches Dave Van Horn (Arkansas) and Scott Stricklin (Kent State).
Jamieson and Walton made their Team USA debuts together on the 2005 national team coaching staff, serving as an assistant coach and the pitching coach, respectively, for manager Steve Smith of Baylor. Walton also served as head coach in 2008. Van Horn and Stricklin will both be wearing the red, white and blue for the first time.
"We are thrilled to announce Tim Jamieson as our 2011 manager," said Eric Campbell, USA Baseball general manager of national teams. "His experience from 2005—coaching players like David Price, Matt Wieters and Matt LaPorta—will serve him well, and teaming him with Dave Van Horn, Scott Stricklin and Rob Walton will provide our athletes with a unique opportunity to learn from some of the best college coaches in the game. Once again, the college coaching community has rallied around the collegiate national team program."
Jamieson enters his 17th season as Missouri's head coach in 2011. He is the second-winningest coach in Mizzou baseball history and will begin the 2011 campaign with a career record of 544-382-2. While with the 2005 collegiate national team, Jamieson helped lead Team USA to a 16-4 record, which included games played in Japan and Taiwan.
North Carolina sophomore outfielder Brian Goodwin has been suspended for the 2011 spring semester for violating university policy, the school announced this afternoon. He plans to return to UNC for the 2011-12 academic year, according to the release. UNC also said the case is not related to the NCAA's investigation into the North Carolina football program.
Goodwin, the No. 6 prospect in the Cape Cod League last summer, is one of the nation's top prospects for the 2012 draft. He's also UNC's most talented player, and his loss is a colossal blow to a team that was relying on his big bat to anchor the middle of the lineup.
Southern Illinois head coach Dan Callahan died Monday at his home in Carterville, Ill.
Callahan, 52, lost a courageous battle with neurotropic melanoma, a rare form of skin cancer. He is survived by his wife, Stacy, daughters, Alexa (19) and Carly (14), and parents Ann and Gene.
Funeral arrangements are pending and the University will announce its plans to pay tribute to Callahan's life at a later date.
"This is a tremendous loss and very sad day not only for the baseball program, its alumni, athletic department, but the entire community," Southern Illinois Athletics Director Mario Moccia said. "He was loved and respected by so many people. Our thoughts and prayers go out to Stacey, his girls, family and friends." [...] Continue Reading »
Today marks the start of college baseball's early signing period, during which colleges can officially sign prospects in the high school class of 2011 to national letters of intent. Signing day in baseball is less exciting than it is in football and basketball, partly because there can be a greater element of surprise in those other sports, and largely because many of the top signees in baseball will never set foot on campus, instead opting to sign pro contracts out of high school.
Many schools will not announce their classes until the signing period ends next week, at which time we'll unveil our usual early signing period coverage—a chart with commitments for our top 100 high school prospects, and a full analysis.
FULLERTON, Calif.—I spent most of the last week driving from North Carolina to Orange County, Calif., where I will continue to cover college baseball on a national level for BA out of my new West Coast office. Fortunately, I arrived in time to catch a fall scrimmage between San Diego and Cal State Fullerton at Goodwin Field this weekend. Here are a few observations, culled from my Twitter feed:
• The Titans are loaded on the mound. Ace Noe Ramirez looked good in his three scoreless innings, working around 90-91 mph and effectively mixing his devastating 84 mph changeup against both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. He looks primed for a huge junior year. Likely Saturday starter Dylan Floro, a sophomore righthander, followed with three scoreless innings of his own, attacking hitters with a lively 87-89 fastball that topped out at 91 and a nice changeup.
But the Titans kept on rolling out big arms after that duo. Righty Jake Floethe, who sat out last year after transferring from Fresno State, was 91-92. Righthander Chris Devenski was a pleasant surprise, pounding the zone with a 91-93 fastball that touched 94. And Fullerton didn't even use two of its other top arms, Tyler Pill and Colin O'Connell. The Titans look well positioned to succeed in what figures to be a pitching-dominated new era with the BBCOR-certified bats. [...] Continue Reading »
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