We’ve got some ground to cover before getting to this week’s mailbag, starting with Tuesday’s action in Houston. It’s always an event when Texas and Rice get together, but yesterday’s meeting was even more significant, as Longhorns sophomore Kyle Russell launched his 21st homer of the season, breaking UT’s single-season record. He knew it was gone right off the bat, as the Daily Texan reports. Of course, Rice got the final word, winning 7-4. Perhaps even more important was the strong outing of Owls junior lefthander Cole St. Clair, who threw three hitless, scoreless innings to record the save.
“I felt fine,” St. Clair told the Daily Texan. “I didn’t have much time to warm up. Every time I get out there, I get to feel a little bit more like I did last year. It’s been a while since I’ve seen hitters in a game situation.”
With St. Clair looking strong and senior righty Ryne Tacker dealing in the weekend rotation, the Owls are starting to look like the team everyone thought would contend for a national title back in the preseason.
There were also a couple of major upsets yesterday, as No. 1 Vanderbilt blew a 2-0 lead against Lipscomb, falling 5-3, and No. 2 North Carolina lost to Campbell 7-5 in 11 innings, despite four-hit days for Dustin Ackley, Chad Flack and Tim Federowicz.
“It was just one of those nights where they did everything right, we did everything poorly,” UNC coach Mike Fox said.
Other smaller upsets included Oral Roberts’ win over Wichita State, UCLA’s win over Pepperdine, San Diego State’s victory over San Diego, Loyola Marymount’s win against Long Beach State, and Bethune-Cookman’s win against Stetson.
There was a no-hitter yesterday in the NAIA, as Oklahoma City’s Ben Langridge struck out five over five innings in the second game of the Stars’ doubleheader sweep of Rogers (Okla.) State. The game was called on the run rule after the fifth, with Oklahoma City leading 11-0.
We’re a little late on this one, but it’s still worth passing along. We’ve got a new nominee for individual performance of the year. Jason Rust, a senior right fielder for Division II Wilmington (Del.) College, blasted four home runs in a 5-for-5 game against Philadelphia’s University of the Sciences last week. Rust completed the home run cycle, starting his day off with a two-run homer, then adding a solo shot, a three-run shot and finishing with a grand slam. Onto the mailbag:
Have you heard a consensus from scouts on the draftability of Grant Desme, outfielder from Cal Poly? I saw him this weekend against UC Irvine, and he looks like he has a strong arm, runs well, and has hit 11 home runs this season.
Fountain Valley, CA
Desme actually mashed his 12th homer of the year in Cal Poly’s 12-0 win against UCI on Sunday, capping a 3-for-4 day. That raised his overall numbers to .408/.491/.751 to along with 44 RBIs and seven stolen bases in nine attempts. Desme’s stock has skyrocketed with his numbers, and he is now generating late-first-round buzz in the scouting community. He also has struck fear into the opposition.
“He’s the best hitter we’ve seen all year, bar none,” said one coach whose team has played a three-game series against the Mustangs. “He’s athletic, he can throw from the outfield, he can run, he can hit, he can hit for power–he’s the real deal. It was pretty evident, because there were a lot of (scouts) in to see him.”
In addition to his impressive physical package (6-foot-2, 210 pounds), Desme has improved his approach at the plate. The junior has drawn 22 walks and struck out 34 times in 147 at-bats, after posting a 27-76 walk-strikeout ratio his first two seasons.
“He killed us all weekend with count leverage,” the opposing coach said. “When he got count leverage he made us pay. He’s got great balance as a hitter, and he just didn’™t seem like he had many holes. The thing that’s so impressive to me is the kind of athlete he was, the kind of baserunner he was, the kind of outfielder he was. When he hit a ball on the ground, he got down the line in a hurry. By far, bar none the best player we’ve seen so far this year. He is everything that he’s billed to be. Pretty impressive.”