Three College World Series start this weekend, beginning Friday at 11 a.m. in Appleton, Wis., where the Division III World Series is being held. The NAIA World Series will begin later in the day in Lewiston, Idaho, and Division II starts Saturday at 1 p.m. in Cary, N.C.
The Division II Series headliner is Mount Olive (N.C.) righthander Carter Capps, the top small college prospect in this year’s draft. Capps was picked as preseason Pitcher of the Year and followed that up by remaining undefeated in his career with a 14-0, 1.37 mark. He has struck out 124 batters in 111 innings. Capps broke the Division II record for consecutive victories, extending his career winning streak to 24 games. Mount Olive is chasing its second national championship in four years and will likely be the fan favorite in Cary. Mount Olive, the official host school, is located about an hour and a half from Cary.
BA intern Kyle Dugan updates the national junior-college postseason picture:
San Joaquin Delta Wins COA Title
In a state title series matching the top two seeds from Northern California, San Joaquin Delta, based in Stockton, defeated defending state champion Ohlone twice to win its first state juco championship since 1959.
In the clincher at Bakersfield JC, lefthander Jeff McKenzie earned his first victory since his American Legion days in 2009. McKenzie was a .237 hitter as the Mustangs’ regular center fielder and had pitched five innings in four games over the last two seasons prior to the state championship game. Named the tournament MVP, McKenzie went the distance, striking out seven. While he allowed an unearned run and seven hits while walking three, he picked four runners off at first base. [...] Continue Reading »
Here's a quick look at the postseason ramifications of Wednesday's action in college baseball. We'll break it down by the races for national seeds, hosts and at-large spots.
NATiONAL SEED RACE
Texas A&M was Wednesday's big winner, although the Aggies are still not in national seed position. But for them to climb back into national seed footing, a day like Wednesday was a necessary starting point. The Aggies beat Texas Tech, 10-5, while most of the other contenders for the last national seeds lost. Missouri upset Texas, 6-4. North Carolina State pounded Florida State, 7-0. Clemson smashed Georgia Tech, 9-0. UAB jumped out to a 9-0 lead and held off a furious rally to upset Rice, 9-8. In this week's Stock Report, we had A&M, Texas, FSU, Tech and Rice competing for two national seeds, which we awarded to Texas and Florida State. Wednesday's action was not enough to dislodge Texas as a national seed, but Florida State has now lost four of its last five games, and it probably needs to win both of its next two games in pool play—against Clemson and Georgia Tech—to feel good about its national seed chances again. Likewise, if the Yellow Jackets win their next two games against N.C. State and FSU, they would seemingly edge ahead of FSU in the national seed picture. If both teams go 1-1 in those next two games, and Rice or A&M finishes strong in their respective tournaments, both ACC teams could find themselves out of national seeds. [...] Continue Reading »
HOOVER, Ala.—Michael Roth is on the short list of most charismatic players in college baseball. Truly, he's a reporter's dream.
He's also a coach's dream—and not just because he's one of the nation's best pitchers. Because he's honest.
So when Roth told South Carolina coach Ray Tanner that he wanted to pitch in Wednesday's SEC tournament opener instead of Thursday as the coaches had originally planned, Tanner listened to his junior lefthander. Roth, in turn, threw South Carolina's first complete game of the year in a 7-3 win against Auburn.
"You know, over the years that I've been coaching—as an assistant, a head coach, a long time—I've always listened to players, but sometimes you have to really evaluate what you hear," Tanner said. "Sometimes they tell you what you want to hear, and sometimes they're not completely honest and open. But ever since Michael Roth has been in our program, he's been candid from day one.
"He explained why he wanted to go today . . . I said, 'All right, big guy. As long as you're solid with your information, let's go.' " [...] Continue Reading »
HOOVER, Ala.—Mississippi State held a 5-2 lead on powerhouse Florida in the seventh inning Wednesday, but Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan did not think the game was out of reach. So he had a quick meeting with his hitters before they went to the plate in the bottom of the frame.
"We needed to have better at-bats," O'Sullivan said. "We had some opportunities . . . I thought if we could just put some quality at-bats together, we could make a run."
It helped that Mississippi State's pitchers struggled to throw strikes all day, combining to issue seven walks and hit a batter. A hit batsman and a walk jumpstarted a Florida rally in the fateful seventh, helping set the table for Brian Johnson's go-ahead grand slam down the right-field line. The Gators went on to a 7-5 win.
"The grand slam's not the issue; it was how those two guys got on second and third there," MSU coach John Cohen said. "I thought that was really the ballgame . . . you just can't hand a team like Florida an opportunity like that, and I thought that's what we did." [...] Continue Reading »
Coastal Carolina junior righthander Anthony Meo threw the first no-hitter in Big South tournament history today in a 5-0 win against Radford. Meo retired the first 16 batters he faced until Blake Sipe reached on an error in the sixth. He finished with nine strikeouts and just one walk.
“This was one for the record books for sure," Coastal coach Gary Gilmore said. "Anthony and (coach) Drew (Thomas) had a great plan and Anthony really executed it. He was in total command. To see Anthony pitch like that with as many scouts that were here today and this close to the draft was really awesome. Anthony has tinkered here and there a lot this year, but found a way today to put it all together."
A likely first-round pick in the upcoming draft, Meo has a premium fastball, of course, regularly sitting in the mid-90s and touching the high 90s. But two weeks ago, Gilmore told BA that Meo had really elevated his game in the previous two weeks, showing a much better ability to throw his slider for strikes, and throwing more quality strikes with all his stuff to keep his pitch count in check. He needed just 106 pitches in the no-hitter against the Highlanders.
"This was exciting, and to do it in a tournament makes it more special," Meo said afterward. "I really settled in through the middle innings and got in a great groove. I had good command today and my slider was really sharp. I am glad I was able to help our team out and keep our bullpen fresh.”
DURHAM, N.C.—Clemson roughed up Georgia Tech ace Mark Pope for four runs on nine hits, and then tacked on five more in the ninth to win the first game of the ACC tournament 9-0 on Wednesday afternoon. The victory continues the Tigers' hot streak that has the team back in the mix to host an NCAA regional next weekend.
Clemson has completely turned its season around since getting swept at North Carolina, which dropped the Tigers record to 13-12. Since then, Clemson has gone 26-5.
“I think we’ve been as good as anyone in the country through the last 31 ballgames,” coach Jack Leggett said.
The Tigers are responsible for two of Pope’s four losses this season, also beating him April 29 in Clemson.
Pope said he didn’t have a good feel for his slider today, the second time that’s happened to him in the Durham Bulls Athletic Park this season. The first time it occurred, Pope was able to persevere for a 9-2 complete game-victory against Duke on April 1. But against a more talented Clemson club, his lack of a slider made Pope vulnerable. [...] Continue Reading »
HOOVER, Ala.—For the second straight year, I co-hosted the SEC's "BP Show" on the field with Eric SanInocencio while teams took batting practice today. We had coaches and players appear on the show as guests, and I picked up a few pitching tid-bits to pass along:
• Top-seeded South Carolina surprised everyone by announcing that ace Michael Roth will start Wednesday's opener against Auburn, which will counter with Jon Luke Jacobs. Roth, the usual Friday starter, went Thursday last week and convinced Tanner to move him up another day for the start of the conference tournament. Keep in mind: The No. 8 seed has beaten the No. 1 seed on the first day five years in a row at the SEC tournament.
• The other beasts of the SEC East are taking a more conservative approach, starting pitchers Wednesday who are not in their weekend rotations. Vanderbilt will go with freshman T.J. Pecoraro, while Florida will start junior righty Tommy Toledo, with Nick Maronde also likely to see significant innings. Gators coach Kevin O'Sullivan said Toledo has reached 95 mph in each of his last two starts. Florida will throw Brian Johnson on Thursday, with Hudson Randall and Karsten Whitson scheduled to follow if the Gators play that long. Also keep an eye on righthander Greg Larson in the Florida bullpen; O'Sullivan said he's been throwing very well of late. [...] Continue Reading »
On the same day the NCAA's 2011 Academic Progress Rate report was released, revealing continued progress for baseball, two of Southern Mississippi's three weekend starters were ruled academically ineligible for the postseason.
Righthander Jonathan Thompson (7-1, 3.49), the team's No. 3 starter, is ineligible for the rest of the season, regardless of how far the Golden Eagles go in the NCAA tournament. Fellow righty Geoffrey Thomas (10-3, 3.09), a first-team all-CUSA selection, is ineligible right now, but his status is pending.
It goes without saying that this news is a massive blow for Southern Miss, which won a share of the C-USA regular-season title for the first time since 2003 and is right in the thick of the race to host a regional. Thomas and Thompson have been fixtures in the weekend rotation all season, combining for 27 starts and 154 innings. Boomer Scarborough (1-1, 2.79), Dillon Day (1-2, 4.91) and Josh Thomason (2-1, 2.91) seem like the most likely candidates to replace them in the rotation.
Meanwhile, baseball's four-year average score in the APR climbed five points to 959—compared to football's 946 and basketball's 945. Baseball's APR has risen every year since 2003-04, when it scored just 933. This year it reached 966. Eight teams in other sports received postseason bans for inadequate APR scores, and seven others received conditional waivers, but no baseball teams appeared on either list.
One other nugget to pass along: Southern California announced that pitching coach Tom House will retire from coaching at the end of the season. House, a former USC pitcher under Rod Dedeaux, will focus his attention on the RDRBI (Rod Dedeaux for Research and Baseball Institute) and serve as a non-coaching life skills advisor to the USC program. He spent four years as the Trojans' pitching coach.
A logical candidate to replace him would be San Diego State pitching coach Eric Valenzuela, a Los Angeles native who knows USC coach Frank Cruz well from their days together in the West Coast Conference (Valenzuela played at Pepperdine, coached at St. Mary's and San Diego while Cruz coached at Loyola Marymount).
In a much-anticipated move, Tennessee announced Monday that it has fired head coach Todd Raleigh after four disappointing seasons. The Volunteers went 108-113 (.489) overall in the Raleigh era, including a 42-78 (.350) mark in SEC play. They failed to reach a regional or the SEC tournament during Raleigh's tenure.
When Raleigh was hired from Western Carolina in 2007, the Volunteers were hampered by scholarship limitations as a result of low Academic Progress Rate scores, and many of their scholarships were tied up with players who were not contributing for various reasons. But Raleigh was simply never able to get the program—which went to the College World Series in 1995, 2001 and 2005 under Rod Delmonico—going again. This year was rock bottom for Tennessee, which was swept five times and finished just 7-23 in the league, even after winning its final two games of the year against Auburn.
"We feel our baseball program, unfortunately, has not made the progress on the field that it should have over the last four years," director of athletics Mike Hamilton said in a release. "We believe a change in leadership is necessary in order to move the program forward. We appreciate Todd's efforts and wish him the best in all future endeavors." [...] Continue Reading »
Conference tournaments get underway in most leagues this week, so our final Stock Report of the season takes a look at what's on the line in conference tourneys, as well as in the handful of leagues that are still playing regular-season games. As usual, we're just looking at who's in, who's out, and who's on the bubble for regionals, hosting spots and national seeds.
During this discussion, we will reference the the Boyd's World pseudo Ratings Percentage Index rankings, which have been updated through the weekend's games and are close to the NCAA's official RPI rankings (which will be updated Tuesday afternoon here). We'll make use of records against the top 50 or top 100 in the RPI, but keep in mind that there might be slight variations between those figures and the official figures.
We'll get to at-large chances in a bit, but let's start with a look at which teams are on track to earn national seeds and which are on track to host regionals through the first 13 weeks of the season:
SECURE TEAMS: Florida, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Virginia, North Carolina
ON THE BUBBLE (IN): Texas, Arizona State, Florida State
ON THE BUBBLE (OUT): Georgia Tech, Rice, Texas A&M, Oregon State, Cal State Fullerton [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Confident Tar Heels Make A Statement
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—Danny Hultzen dominated North Carolina for four perfect innings Friday night, striking out nine of the first 12 batters he faced.
Tar Heels coach Mike Fox said his team went in with a game plan to try to keep it close by swinging at strike one, being aggressive against Hultzen.
"He's just so good, he was pounding it and creating that angle and has that good breaking ball," Fox said. "We didn't want it to get to two strikes; we told our hitters to swing at strike one. But then (Chaz) Frank went deep in the count against him (to lead off the first), and we thought maybe that was the way to go. That didn't look so good after the first few innings, though."
Initially, it didn't work, but eventually it did. The Tar Heels got to a tiring Hultzen in the eighth inning, with the score just 1-0 Cavaliers. A Ben Bunting leadoff single, a sacrifice bunt, a wild pitch and a walk put runners at first and third for Levi Michael, and he tied the game with a line-drive single to center, scoring Bunting. With runners again at the corners, freshman Colin Moran—0-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts against the nation's top lefty—came to the plate.
Fox said Frank had informed Moran to look for sliders. Naturally, Moran went down 0-2 in the count on fastballs. But Moran's no ordinary freshman, and he adjusted in his fourth at-bat. He got a slider he could handle, and even though he was out front, he got enough to loft a sacrifice fly to right field to give the Tar Heels their first lead. [...] Continue Reading »
Two more teams punched their tickets to regionals Sunday, bringing the total of teams already in the 2011 NCAA tournament to four (Princeton and Bethune-Cookman are already in). In the Northeast Conference, Monmouth won an elimination game against Central Connecticut State, 6-3, to earn a date with Sacred Heart in the championship round. But the Pioneers cruised to a title-clinching 9-2 win behind a gem from Kody Kerski (9 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K). Sacred Heart allowed just four runs in its perfect 3-0 run through the NEC tournament, and it heads to regionals riding a seven-game winning streak—and an 11-game winning streak against NEC opponents. It will be Sacred Heart's second trip to regionals, and its first since 2006.
In the Southwestern Athletic Conference, Eastern Division champion Alcorn State beat Western Division champion Southern 12-6 in Sunday's championship game. Kenny Rowan (2-for-3, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR) led Alcorn State's 12-hit attack, and Steve Easter (3.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER) earned the save with strong relief work. The Braves had lost seven straight games—all on the road against Arizona and Dallas Baptist—heading into the SWAC tourney, but they outscored their opponents 51-11 in their perfect 4-0 march through the conference tournament. Alcorn State will head to regionals for the first time ever.
"I am so proud of the players and my coaching staff," Braves coach Barrett Rey after the game, "as this was our goal before the season started—to win the SWAC. The guys never gave up, gave it their best, and I could not be more proud than I am today. I would also like to thank all of fans who supported us during the season. Now, it's on to the NCAA."
There was regular-season action in a few other conferences Sunday. Here's a quick roundup: [...] Continue Reading »
A day after Nebraska finished the regular season in last place in the Big 12, the school announced it is parting ways with head coach Mike Anderson after nine seasons.
After sweeping a doubleheader from Missouri on Saturday, the Cornhuskers finished the season 30-25 (9-17 in the Big 12). They will miss regionals this spring for the third straight year, after reaching the NCAA tournament in five of Anderson's first six seasons. In his nine seasons, Anderson guided the Nebraska program to a 337-196-2 record, including two Big 12 titles (2003 and 2005) and the school's third College World Series appearance in 2005. In that season, Nebraska won a school-record 57 games and the Huskers captured the program's first CWS victory.
But the Cornhuskers have not won more than 10 conference games since 2008.
"I appreciate the efforts of Mike Anderson and his coaching staff, but I have made the decision to change the direction of our baseball program," Nebraska athletic director Tom Osborne said in a release. "Mike has done an outstanding job with our baseball program academically, and he enjoyed outstanding success on the field early in his head coaching career here at Nebraska. I want to thank him for all of his hard work and everything he has done for our baseball program." [...] Continue Reading »
Saturday was a thrilling day in college baseball, as numerous conference races came down to the final day of the regular season. We'll get to those momentarily, but let's start the roundup with a look at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, where Bethune-Cookman won it sixth consecutive tournament championship—and 11th in coach Mervyl Melendez's 12 years at the helm—with a 9-3 win against Norfolk State.
Preseason All-American Peter O'Brien (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) led the B-CU offense in support of Patrick Goelz (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). O'Brien went 8-for-14 with eight RBIs in Bethune-Cookman's 3-0 run through the MEAC tournament to capture MVP honors. B-CU's incredible MEAC winning streak now stands at 46 games. Now the Wildcats join Princeton as teams that have secured trips to regionals.
"They're all special," Melendez said of the sixth straight championship. "It doesn't matter how many you win, it doesn't get old."
Here's a look at how the races unfolded in the four power conferences that mostly concluded their regular seasons on Saturday, followed by highlights from the Pac-10 and around the nation. We'll reference pseudo RPIs below—all are according to warrennolan.com, which uses data updated through Saturday. [...] Continue Reading »
We'll start the Friday roundup with a look at the action in the five power conferences:
• Danny Hultzen (7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K) carried a shutout into the eighth inning, when Levi Michael delivered an RBI single to tie the game, then scored the winning run on a sacrifice fly to give North Carolina a 2-1 win over top-ranked Virginia. UNC, which sits atop the Ratings Percentage Index rankings, handed Virginia its first series loss of the season and put itself in stellar position to earn a national seed. Kent Emanuel (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 6 BB, 7 K) was strong in a no-decision for the Tar Heels.
• Georgia Tech failed to capitalize on the UVa. loss, falling to Virginia Tech, 7-5, to remain a game back of the Cavs in the ACC's Coastal Division. Since Virginia won the head-to-head series against the Yellow Jackets, the Cavs clinched the top seed in the ACC tournament with Tech's loss Saturday. Jed Bradley (3.2 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) struggled for the second straight week for Tech.
• Will Lamb (3-for-5, 2 RBI) and Chris Epps (2-for-3, RBI) homered in support of Justin Sarratt (5.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K), as Clemson evened its series at Florida State with a 7-4 win. [...] Continue Reading »
With most conference tournaments kicking off in the middle of next week, a number of conferences are playing Thursday-through-Saturday series this week. Here are some highlights from Thursday's busy slate, starting with a look at the action in the power conferences.
• Patrick Johnson (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K) threw North Carolina's first shutout since Alex White in 2009, leading the Tar Heels to a 6-0 win against No. 1 Virginia. UNC broke a scoreless tie with five runs in the sixth against Cody Winiarski (5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER). Johnson, who improved to 10-1 on the season, moved into fifth place on UNC's career strikeout list (280).
• No. 4 Florida State clinched its fourth ACC Atlantic Division title in the last six years with an 8-6 win against No. 18 Clemson. Sean Gilmartin (7 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) took a line drive off his chest in the first inning but stayed in the game and battled his way to his 10th win of the season. James Ramsey (2-for-4, 3B, 3 RBI) led the FSU offense, which chased Clemson ace Dominic Leone (3.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 5 ER) in the fourth. Florida State is in strong position for a national seed, but one more win against Clemson would almost certainly wrap one up, regardless of what happens in the ACC tournament. [...] Continue Reading »
The Southeastern Conference announced Thursday that the SEC tournament will remain at Regions Park in Hoover, Ala., through 2016. There had been talk of moving the tournament—the league had also sent bid packages to Memphis, Jacksonville and three other cities—after the expiration of the SEC's current agreement with the Alabama Sports Foundation and the City of Hoover following the 2011 tournament. Instead, the five-day, double-elimination event will remain in Hoover, where it has been held every year since 1998.
“We are very pleased about continuing our relationship with the Alabama Sports Foundation and the City of Hoover,” SEC commissioner Mike Slive said in a statement. “We have seen the tournament grow through the support of those two entities and our great fans. SEC baseball supporters have had a major impact on the success of this event, and we look forward to continuing to provide them with a great environment and experience.”
The 2010 SEC tournament drew more than 126,000 fans and nearly 10,000 per game, both records for the event. Five times time in the last eight years the tournament has surpassed the six-digit mark in total attendance. The top 15 crowds in tournament history have come at Regions Park.
The City of Hoover has made nearly $6 million in stadium improvements and renovations over the last five years, including most recently the installation of a state-of-the-art, high-definition video board. All games are televised live and in HD as part of the league’s recent television contract with ESPN.
In other news, East Carolina announced that it has accepted penalities imposed by the NCAA for self-reported academic fraud violations in 2010. The baseball team had to vacate 17 wins from last season and received a reprimand and one year of probation, but it did not lose any scholarships and will still be allowed to play in the postseason.
Ken Medlin of WRAL in Raleigh attended the press conference and tweeted that a women's tennis player wrote papers for four baseball players, who were all later dismissed from the team. According to Medlin, the NCAA reduced the probationary period from an expected two years to one year due to satisfaction with ECU's response.
Southern California announced Thursday that it has elevated interim head coach Frank Cruz to full-time head coach, removing a major domino from the offseason coaching market.
Cruz was informed he got the job at 7 a.m. Thursday, and athletic director Pat Haden told the team in the locker room later in the morning.
"That might have been the first standing ovation I've gotten ever from a team," an elated Cruz told Baseball America. "It was awesome. It was touching. Whatever happens, we're bonded together, we always will be.
"I had a feeling this might happen, I was hoping like hell it would happen, I was praying it would happen . . . It's a great university, it has all the resources it needs. It's an unbelievable job, I'm telling you—an unbelievable job."
Cruz spent 12 seasons as the head coach at Loyola Marymount, then spent the last two years as a volunteer assistant at USC under Chad Kreuter. When new athletic director Haden ousted Kreuter last August, Cruz was installed as the interim head coach. He inherited a team finished last in the Pacific-10 Conference (7-20) in 2010 and had gone 39-63 in Pac-10 play in the four years since Kreuter took over for Mike Gillespie.
Though they are just 20-28 overall, the Trojans have shown significant improvement this spring, going 10-11 in the Pac-10 and winning series against Stanford, Arizona State, Oregon and Washington over the last five weeks. USC does not have the most talented roster, but it has played hard for Cruz and his staff. [...] Continue Reading »
This time of year, a hefty majority of all questions submitted in our weekly college chat, as well as those sent via e-mail or Twitter, center around the battle for postseason positioning. Our readers want to know how the races for national seeds, host sites and at-large bids are shaping up—so every Wednesday here on the College Blog, we examine how the postseason picture has shifted over the weekend. Rather than get bogged down in the jigsaw puzzle that is a full field of 64 projection, we're not going to worry about which regionals teams get sent to. We're just looking at who's in, who's out, who's on the bubble. This discussion is weighted much more toward performance and remaining schedule than projection based on talent, but it's also not intended to show what the field would look like if the season ended today. We're still looking ahead.
During this discussion, we will reference the NCAA's official Ratings Percentage Index report, which was updated Tuesday. We'll also reference the useful RPI Needs Report at Boyd's World. And we'll make use of records against the top 50 or top 100 in the RPI, but keep in mind that those figures are not official, and there might be slight discrepancies between those figures and the NCAA's official figures.
We'll get to at-large chances in a bit, but let's start with a look at which teams are on track to earn national seeds and which are on track to host regionals through the first 13 weeks of the season:
SECURE TEAMS: Virginia, Florida, Vanderbilt, South Carolina, Florida State
ON THE BUBBLE (IN): Oregon State, Texas A&M, Georgia Tech
ON THE BUBBLE (OUT): Texas, Arizona State, North Carolina [...] Continue Reading »
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