Good luck finding a more dangerous mid-major than Austin Peay State. The Governors are loaded with experienced veterans who have already proven themselves in high-pressure situations against marquee competition. APSU has not only made back-to-back regionals, but it has played well in both regionals.
Two years ago, Austin Peay stunned host Georgia Tech in the opener of the Atlanta Regional, knocking off the Yellow Jackets 2-1. Last year, the Governors lost the Eugene Regional opener in controversial fashion against Oregon, but they bounced back to eliminate Indiana State (beating ace Sean Manaea 1-0) and Cal State Fullerton before falling in the regional final against the Ducks.
So maybe Austin Peay is still under the radar nationally because it plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, but coaches know how dangerous the Governors are, and their 17-3 start this spring is far from a surprise. APSU had won nine straight games before dropping a midweek game at Indiana State yesterday, snapping what had been the nation's longest winning streak.
"Our guys expect to win. They expected to win last year, and they did," Austin Peay coach Gary McClure said. "They've won our regular season and conference tournament two years in a row and done well in regionals. Last year, shoot, we were a call away from probably winning that thing. They've got some savvy about them. Their goals and expectations are a lot higher than a lot of kids out there because of that, I think. And they believe in themselves. So we feel like our program is kind of getting to the point where our goals have definitely changed. We're getting a lot better players, there's no doubt about that." [...] Continue Reading »
Heading into an opening-weekend series at Wichita State, Pittsburgh coach Joe Jordano had no idea that the Shockers had never lost a home game in the month of February.
"I'm glad nobody told me that before we went," Jordano said. "One of my student managers mentioned to me after the first game that they were 69-0 in February, and I said, 'Interesting.' You know how Wichita State fits into the whole story of college baseball—it's pretty neat. Great atmosphere, great facilities, and I think they have a pretty good team. We just did some pretty good things this weekend."
The Panthers entered the season with little fanfare, picked by Big East coaches to finish seventh in the conference, well behind conference heavyweights Louisville, St. John's, Notre Dame and Connecticut. But Pitt created some shockwaves by sweeping the Shockers—the first time Wichita has been swept at home in any three-game series since 1970.
"I can assure you that Wichita State didn't expect it," Jordano said. "We just went in there and played very solid baseball the whole weekend. I think we're a very solid baseball team. We're one of only three teams that made the Big East tournament the last four years; we've been flying under the radar for quite some time, but two out of the last three years we finished in third place. We've had 40-plus players sign professionally in the last 10 years or so, and we're doing that on about nine and a half scholarships."
The Panthers haven't made a regional since 1995, but they've been knocking on the door, and their recruiting efforts have gotten a boost from the Petersen Sports Complex that opened in 2011, and from an impending move to the Atlantic Coast Conference. Jordano said his recruiting class of 2013 will be his first fully funded class, as the school ramps up its commitment to baseball in anticipation of the move to a power conference.
Jordano knows it will be a challenge to compete in the ACC, but it's a challenge he is excited to take on. [...] Continue Reading »
There's a different feel around the Dallas Baptist program than there used to be. Winning a regional for the first time has a way of transforming the culture for any program, and that has certainly been true for the Patriots, who accomplished the difficult task of earning an at-large bid as a Division I independent last year and then got within two wins of the College World Series.
"They definitely have the confidence," DBU coach Dan Heefner said of his players. "If we play the game right and do what we're capable of doing, I think they know now. In the past they had that belief that, 'We're kind of the underdog,' and loved playing in those situations. Now we walk in and have the belief that we should win, truly expecting to win those games, and there's disappointment when we don't. I'm not saying we didn't have that in the past, but it's been heightened."
So far, Dallas Baptist has managed expectations well, avoiding a post-super regional hangover by going 17-9 through the first seven weeks. Last year's at-large resume was built largely by accruing midweek wins against regional powers—and the Patriots haven't shied away from scheduling plenty of challenging midweek games this year either, including Tuesday's contest at Texas Christian. But this year, DBU is playing a Missouri Valley Conference schedule instead of an independent schedule, so the Patriots are using their top three pitchers in their weekend rotation, hoping a strong weekend record can carry them into a regional again in their final year as an independent (they join the Western Athletic Conference next year). Heefner said his pitching staff is deeper than ever, which keeps DBU competitive in midweek action. [...] Continue Reading »
North Dakota State opened its season at Arizona during alumni weekend for the Wildcats, who packed 4,000 fans (including more than 100 baseball alumni) into their new home, Hi Corbett Field. It was a homecoming for Bison coach Tod Brown, a Tucson native who played for Jerry Kindall at Arizona in the early 1990s and then served as a volunteer assistant for the Wildcats in 1999. But Brown wasn't only excited to see his old Arizona teammates; he thought his team had a chance to open some eyes in Tucson.
Wildcats coach Andy Lopez quickly came to that same conclusion.
"We had 4,000 people there Friday night, Terry Fracona was back, this and that," Lopez said. "I looked at my staff pregame and said, 'These guys are here to play. They don't look intimidated at all.' I really give credit to coach Brown—that was not an easy weekend. I told my club, 'Those guys are going to beat some people.' "
After losing 3-1 in the opener at Arizona, the Bison pulled off an 8-2 upset Saturday, breaking a 2-2 tie with six runs in the eighth.
"I had a feeling we had a chance after that first game because our guys were really pissed," Brown said. "If we get a hit here or there, we win that game. Our guys were not happy with saying, 'Well, we showed well, this is a moral victory.' We went out and beat them 8-2.
"It was kind of a magical weekend, to have all my teammates there when I beat Arizona. They knew I took over a program that was winning 12 games a year, and now we just beat the fifth-ranked team in the country." [...] Continue Reading »
In our Under The Radar segment last March, we wrote about Harford (Md.) CC lefthander Jamie Pashuck, who threw no-hitters in back-to-back starts. Paschuck is now at Maryland, but Harford keeps on throwing no-hitters.
Last week, the Fighting Owls recorded a pair of run rule-shortened no-hitters in a span of five days.
"It's amazing, amazing," Harford coach Tom Eller said. "It hasn't sunk in yet that it's been two in one week."
Freshman righthander Taylor Nace earned his first collegiate win by throwing a seven-inning no-hitter Wednesday against Delaware County, striking out 11 batters while walking six but allowing just one to reach second base. Eller describes Nace as "just a straight power guy" who pitches heavily off a high-80s to low-90s fastball, but he mixes in a curveball, slider and changeup.
On Sunday, in the second game of Harford's doubleheader sweep of Jamestown, freshman righthander Matt Petrizzi struck out six during a five-inning no-hitter (shortened because of the 10-run rule) in his first collegiate start. Petrizzi worked in the 84-87 mph range and mixed in a good curveball, Eller said. [...] Continue Reading »
It's hard to stay Under the Radar when your team goes on the road and wins a series at Louisiana State. So from that standpoint, Appalachian State (based in Boone, N.C.) is hardly Under the Radar anymore.
Until last weekend, though, the program was. Coach Chris Pollard believes his team's series win at Alex Box Stadium was more than just a good weekend. He hopes it's a sign that the program he's been building since arriving in Boone from Division II Pfeiffer (N.C.) has left its underwhelming past behind.
"It's a good validation of the progress we're making," Pollard said Monday morning, "but we've got to protect against just looking at one weekend. We don't want to look back at the end of the year and see that we went to LSU and won a series but didn't accomplish our other goals. So we need to enjoy it but get back to work soon and move on." [...] Continue Reading »
BY GREG AUMAN
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla.—Long before you get to the Bulls’ final record, this could be the Year of the Comeback for South Florida baseball.
That was clear after USF’s season-opening 5-3 win against Ohio State to open the Big Ten/Big East Challenge, a game that offered promising starts for two of the four key Bulls returning from major injuries.
Senior DH Todd Brazeal (pictured at right), who tore his ACL during fall ball, not only made it back for the opener, but he went 4-for-4, trying even to leg out a triple in his last at-bat, only to be thrown out at third. Brazeal’s recovery time was a blink compared to closer Ray Delphey, who pitched Friday for the first time in nearly two years due to shoulder problems, getting two strikeouts in a scoreless ninth for the save.
“I want to be in a late-game situation with the game on the line, no matter what,” said Delphey, a 5-foot-10, 200-pounder who had nasty curves for two third strikes Friday. “We did rehab every day over the fall . . . Hopefully it’s going to work out for us. It’s great to start off the year the way we did.” [...] Continue Reading »
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