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Three Strikes: Feb. 26

Aaron Fitt -

This week's three strikes takes aim at Midwestern cold-weather schools that had successful weekends against powers from the South, and checks in on strong starts by preseason All-Americans such as Andrew Brackman, Kellen Kulbacki and David Price.

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Three Strikes: Feb. 19

Aaron Fitt -

Strike One: West Coast ShowdownAt least 50 scouts were on hand for Friday's showdown between San Francisco ace Aaron Poreda and UC Riverside ace James Simmons, and they did not leave disappointed. The Highlanders won 3-0 as Simmons struck out 15 in a four-hit, complete-game shutout. Riverside pushed across a pair of runs in the third inning, but Poreda was stingy on the whole, allowing just the two runs on eight hits while striking out seven over 5 2/3 innings. UCR coach Doug Smith said Poreda, a 6-foot-6 junior lefty, was "filthy," running his fastball up to the 94-95 mph range."We were fortunate to scrape up our runs early against him," Smith said. "Poreda's arm is electric, the ball jumps out of his hand--boy, he was really good. we saw him last year at 89-90, and we had heard reports that he was firmer this year, and he was. He's got a little slider/cutter that's effective, and the changeup has a chance to be a plus pitch for him. And he commands it, he's around the plate."

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Three Strikes: Feb. 12

Aaron Fitt -

Strike One: That's Why They Call 'Em DirtbagsLong Beach State coach Mike Weathers tempered his expectations a bit heading into the season, and with good reason. Of the 35 players on the Dirtbags roster, 21 are freshmen or sophomores."It's the youngest team I've had," said Weathers, who took over as LBSU head coach in 2001. "This is the first time I haven't had a starting pitcher back on the weekend--we had Jered Weaver, Abe Alvarez and then last year we had Jared Hughes. This year we don't have one guy, so it's going to be different for us."That inexperience was supposed to translate into a down year for the Beach, but somebody forgot to give the Dirtbags the memo. LBSU followed up its surprising series win against Southern California last weekend by taking two of three this weekend against No. 7 Texas.

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Three Strikes: Feb. 5

Aaron Fitt -

Strike One: Catch Those Pop-ups!In a slightly wacky weekend of college baseball, two games turned when routine pop-ups were dropped. First on Friday, UCLA's Tyson Brummett and Winthrop's Alex Wilson engaged in a super pitching duel, where runs were hard to come by. With the score knotted at one with two outs in the UCLA eighth, Winthrop second baseman Phil Carey dropped a high pop-up and allowed Will Penniall to score from second. Penniall had started things with a pinch-hit double. Give Winthrop credit for coming back with a 6-4 win Saturday, but the Bruins answered with 19 runs on Sunday. The Eagles could have stolen another season-opening series on the road if Carey had squeezed a little tighter Friday night.

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Three Strikes: Jan. 29

Aaron Fitt -

Strike One: Beaver FeverWith apologies to Dennis Green, it would be premature to crown Oregon State again this early, but the Beavers were certainly impressive in a season-opening four-game sweep of Hawaii-Hilo. Granted, that's exactly what they were supposed to do against a clearly inferior Hilo team, but still, you have to give them credit for doing it, and doing it with style. As we wrote in Friday's blog, Oregon State opened up 2007 with a combined no-hitter of the Vulcans, led by ace righthander Mike Stutes, who struck out seven in five innings before handing off to relievers Josh Keller, Mike Grbavac and Jorge Reyes. But the Beavers didn't stop there, winning both games of Friday's doubleheader by scores of 17-4 and 9-3, then taking Saturday's finale 10-2. The most encouraging thing about the sweep was the performance of OSU's starting pitchers, who cruised against Hilo's admittedly weak offense. Joe Paterson struck out seven and allowed just one unearned run in five innings in Friday's first game; Daniel Turpen struck out five and allowed just one earned run in four innings in the nightcap; and senior lefthander Anton Maxwell won his first game since April 1 of last year by holding the Vulcans to one run over five innings while striking out five. If Maxwell, an 11-game winner as a sophomore in 2005, can give OSU that kind of production on a regular basis this season, that pitching staff will be in great shape. We'll find out soon enough how good this staff really is, but Beavers coach Pat Casey had reason to be encouraged by his team's quick start.

College | #Three Strikes

Three Strikes

Will Kimmey -

Mississippi State won four games last week to remain the nation's only undefeated team while extending its record to 15-0. That's a better start than the 1985 Bulldogs club that featured future major league all-stars Jeff Brantley, Will Clark, Rafael Palmeiro and Bobby Thigpen. Mississippi State has relied on one of the deepest and most effective pitching staffs in the nation, one that has delivered a 2.07 ERA and held opponents to a .222 average.

College | #2006#Three Strikes

Three Strikes

Will Kimmey -

It was a big weekend for the Missouri Valley Conference. It earned four bids (three at-large) in the men's basketball tournament, a happening that engendered plenty of coverage for the league. While it's not likely to earn that many NCAA bids in baseball, the MVC boasts two clubs on double-digit winning streaks. Wichita State (17-2) has reeled off wins in its last 13 games and broke into the rankings at No. 23 this week. The Shockers boast the nation's most versatile middle infield, with second baseman Damon Sublett and shortstop Noah Krol batting .408-4-16 and .326-1-5 while combining to allow only one run in 15 innings of relief. Sublett has earned a win and three saves while recording 12 strikeouts, while Krol has notched 11 strikeouts and two saves.

College | #2006#Three Strikes

Three Strikes

Will Kimmey -

At 13-0, Georgia Tech holds the nation's longest winning steak and is off to its best start since going 17-0 in 2003. And to no one's surprise, the Yellow Jackets are doing it with offense. GT batted .404 and scored 48 runs in a three-game sweep of Rutgers. The hitters make it easy for those of us who aren't enrolled in Tech's engineering school, scoring 130 times in 13 games for a tidy 10 runs per game average.

College | #2006#Three Strikes

Three Strikes

Will Kimmey -

A week after Florida's pitching staff looked strong against Miami, it gets destroyed by Missouri during a 1-2 weekend at home in the Pepsi Baseball Classic. The Tigers rang up 14 runs on 22 hits and five Gators errors Friday night in a 14-5 win, while junior righthander Max Scherzer shredded the lineup, striking out eight batters while allowing a run over seven innings and showing off a plus changeup to go with his mid-90s fastball and slider.

College | #2006#Three Strikes

Three Strikes

Will Kimmey -

Arkansas sophomore lefthander Nick Schmidt held Texas Christian hitless for six innings Friday night in 1 5-2 win. Schmidt struck out seven batters and walked one before leaving the game after 91 pitches. He threw six hitless innings in his first start as well, notching six strikeouts and three walks against Oklahoma State.

College | #2006#Three Strikes

Three Strikes

Will Kimmey -

The Houston Astros College Classic drew a record 27,134 fans Saturday, the fourth-largest crowd ever to watch a college baseball game. Most came for the marquee matchup between Texas and Rice that night. The fans were treated to the best game of the young season.

College | #2006#Three Strikes