Baseball America

Weekend Preview: April 12

THIS WEEK:

1. Arkansas searches for winning combinations with Kentucky coming to town.

2. A pair of Southeast Missouri State seniors put long streaks on the line.

3. Energized Hofstra visits UNC Wilmington in CAA showdown.

4. Quick Takes on the weekend’s other big series.

(Razor)Back To The Drawing Board

Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn knows how important this weekend’s series against No. 3 Kentucky is for his team. With road series looming over the next two weeks against Mississippi and Florida, the Hogs must take care of business at home to keep pace with Louisiana State in the SEC West race and bolster their regional hosting case.

“We need to find a way to win this thing,” Van Horn said of the UK series. “They’re extremely tough to beat. They’re just so balanced up and down that lineup—there’s a lot of .300 hitters, there’s some power. We’re going to have to score some runs.”

Top 25 Schedule
(1) Florida State at Boston College

(2) Texas A&M at Kansas

(3) Kentucky at (11) Arkansas

(17) UCLA at (4) Arizona

Alabama at (5) Louisiana State

(16) Oregon at (6) Stanford

(7) Florida at Tennessee

(8) Baylor at Kansas State

(9) Rice at Marshall

Mississippi State at (10)South Carolina

(12) Cal State Fullerton at UC Irvine

(13) Miami at Virginia Tech

(14) North Carolina at Virginia

(15) Central Florida at Southern Mississippi

(18) Mississippi at Georgia

Illinois at (19) Purdue

La Salle at (20) San Diego

Southern California at (21) Arizona State

(22) North Carolina State at Clemson

Oklahoma State at (23) Texas

(24) Sam Houston State at Lamar

(25) New Mexico State at Sacramento State

Kentucky is hitting .281 with 13 homers in SEC play, while Arkansas is hitting .267 with four homers—but the Wildcats have actually scored just three more runs than the Hogs, who rank third in the conference with 64 runs in 12 league games.

Still, Arkansas fans began gnashing their teeth about the team’s offense after the Hogs were swept at LSU two weeks ago. They struck out 40 times while walking just five times in that series and mustered just three runs combined in the last two games of the series. The bottom third of the Arkansas lineup went just 1-for-34 in that series, then went 1-for-11 in last weekend’s series opener against Georgia, prompting Van Horn to make some changes.

“I think the thing is a lot of times, older players, even though they’re struggling, not getting the job done, they almost sometimes feel like they’re entitled,” Van Horn said. “If they’re not getting it done, we’ve got to move and get some other guys into the lineup. I’m going to do what I have to do to put a lineup out there that can score some runs.”

The next two days against Georgia, Van Horn replaced second baseman Bo Bigham with junior-college transfer Jacob Mahan and inserted him into the No. 2  hole, where he reached safely three times in Saturday’s win. The lefthanded-hitting Mahan lacks Bigham’s range and arm strength defensively, but he has a knack for making consistent contact against lefthanded pitching as well as righties.

Van Horn plugged freshmen Joe Serrano and Brian Anderson into the No. 7 and No. 9 slots, and they found ways to get on base and move runners along.

“They give you good at-bats,” Van Horn said of the freshmen. “Serrano, he’s a tough player. He can do some things, he knows the strike zone, makes you pitch to him. He might see four, five, six pitches every at-bat, he can bunt and hit-and-run. Anderson’s almost the same type of player, taller, a little better athlete, has some power, but he knows the strike zone. He has an incredible arm, big-time tools—he’s going to be a great player. I like playing those guys, I like playing freshmen. They can definitely help you win if you don’t have to play them every day.”

Of course Oklahoma shut out the visiting Razorbacks on Tuesday night behind eight scoreless innings from Damien Magnifico, who hit 100 mph or higher more than 20 times on the L. Dale Mitchell Park scoreboard radar gun. Bigham went hitless in that game, while Serrano drew a walk as a pinch-hitter.

Arkansas won’t see many arms of Magnifico’s ilk, but nine weeks into a 14-week regular season, the Razorbacks are still looking for the right combinations. That is true on the mound as well.

Van Horn made a fairly dramatic move last weekend, sliding sophomore righthander Barrett Astin from the closer role into the weekend rotation. Astin (0.84 ERA, six saves, 34 strikeouts and 12 walks in 32 innings) has been fantastic at the back of the bullpen, but the Hogs had lacked consistency in the rotation aside from ace Ryne Stanek (6-1, 1.65), who has settled nicely into the Friday starter role. Randall Fant (1-2, 5.40) averaged fewer than four innings per outing over his six starts, and Nolan Sanburn turned in three lackluster innings in his lone start at LSU.

“Astin really wanted to start,” Van Horn said. “I would still love to have Astin come out of that bullpen, but this weekend I’m thinking I’m just going to let him go on Saturday. If we have another guy step forward, we might put him back in the bullpen later. When it comes tournament time for us, that could be the way we go.”

Astin’s fearless demeanor is a great asset in the back of the bullpen, but right now he fills a greater need in the rotation. Van Horn said his stuff was outstanding for the first two innings last week against Georgia, but his velocity and command started to fade around the fourth or fifth, so the Hogs still need to build up his endurance. His feel for pitching and his quality four-pitch repertoire—an 88-93 mph fastball, a good two-seamer with life, a cutter that is nasty when it’s on and a a power slider that is another big weapon when he stays on top of it—should allow him to succeed in either role.

The Hogs feel confident in lefthander Cade Lynch and righty Brandon Moore in middle to long relief roles in the bullpen, and Sanburn’s electric stuff gives him tons of upside as the closer. The top prospect in the Northwoods League last year and a second-team preseason All-American this spring, Sanburn sits comfortably in the 94-96 range and tops out at 97-98. When he commands his power curveball, it can be devastating. But Arkansas recruited him as a two-way player, and he’s still learning the nuances of pitching.

“He’s strong, very competitive, a tremendous arm with tremendous upside,” Van Horn said. “But as far as right now, he’s still developing big-time. But I see him playing a big role down the stretch for us. It’s about location with him, and movement.”

Location and movement were never problems in the past for the Hogs’ other weekend starter, junior righthander D.J. Baxendale. In fact, Baxendale’s calling cards during his hugely successful first two seasons were his command, his fastball life and his mental toughness. But Baxendale wasn’t himself in his two starts prior to last week, allowing 13 runs on 17 hits in just 5 1/3 combined innings. After his rough outing in Baton Rouge, pitching coach Dave Jorn sat him down for a long talk.

“I think they butted heads a little bit, then they started really communicating,” Van Horn said. “What happens a lot of times is that junior year, you’ve got everybody in your ear, what you’ve got to do to go higher in the draft, do this or do that. D.J. hadn’t had a lot of that going on, and it confused him. They worked on mechanics Monday, had a good bullpen on Wednesday, and he pitched lights-out (Friday). It was back to slowing things down, don’t try to throw the ball 95 mph, just pitch in the upper 80s, low 90s. He spotted it all day and had a good breaking ball. You could see in his face and his demeanor that he was back.”

Baxendale turned in eight shutout innings, striking out seven without issuing a walk, in the Hogs’ 8-0 win Sunday, and Razorback Nation breathed a collective sigh of relief.

Suddenly, Arkansas’ weekend rotation looks imposing again. Its bullpen is deep, and so is its pool of position players—it’s just a matter of figuring out how the pieces of the puzzle fit together. Maybe it’s taken longer than usual to sort that out, but Arkansas has had only one losing weekend all year; throw out the LSU series and the Hogs are 7-2 in conference play. Overall, Arkansas is 24-8.

Not bad for a team still searching for answers.

“Our mindset is that we’re not really where we can be,” Van Horn said. “Whether it’s two or three guys not playing up to their potential yet, some young guys still gaining experience. The arms are healthy, we don’t over-pitch guys, and guys are just begging to get the ball. We feel like we could be a good team in a tournament situation because we have a lot of options. If we could just get better offensively—and we’re working hard at it—we think we can make a run.”

Let’s Streak Together

Extensive turnover on the pitching staff has taken its toll on Southeast Missouri State this spring, largely accounting for the team’s 10-24 record this season. But college baseball fans should make a point of checking the Redhawks’ box scores this weekend.

Two SEMO seniors will put remarkable streaks on the line this weekend at Morehead State. On April 1 against Eastern Illinois, third baseman Trenton Moses set the school record for most consecutive games reaching base safely, while shortstop Kenton Parmley set the record for longest hitting streak in school history in the same game.

Parmley broke former big leaguer Kerry Robinson’s 17-year-old record in his final at-bat in that game. Since then, he has hit safely in five more games to extend his hitting streak to 41 games, tied for sixth-longest in Division I history. Moses has kept his streak going, too; he has now reached safely in 54 consecutive games, a streak that included hitting streaks of 18 and eight games.

“In this business it’s like Maris and Mantle, like Pippen and Jordan—that’s the way Parmley and Moses have played off each other,” Southeast Missouri State coach Mark Hogan said. “I think it’s been a big-time helper to both of them to have their own friendly competition from one at-bat to the next. It’s fun. I think it kind of keeps both of them grounded.”

They’re not Maris and Mantle, of course, but good luck finding a pair of teammates in college baseball this year with better numbers than Parmley and Moses.

Parmley is tied for fourth in the nation in hits (53). In 137 at-bats, he is batting .401/.465/.555 with four homers, nine doubles, 19 RBIs and seven stolen bases. A four-year starter, Parmley had a big sophomore year (.380/.429/.570 with 11 homers), but Hogan said the shortstop struggled under the weight of expectations and the draft as a junior, when he slumped a bit to .308/.374/.458. But his hitting streak began late last season, and he entered his senior year brimming with confidence.

Parmley takes advantage of hitting atop the lineup, knowing pitchers don’t want to walk the leadoff man. So he looks for pitches to drive early in counts and early in games—he has gotten a hit in his first at-bat in 17 of the 41 games during his streak.

“He’s just an attacker,” Hogan said. “He’s a good ball-striker, not many swings and misses, and he’s a very aggressive hitter. He doesn’t have a lot of walks in his career. He’s an offensive guy; if somebody serves one, he’s going to take a hack at it. But he’s a good two-strike hitter as far as contact. He’s a real good table setter for us and also a good RBI guy for us, even though he’s been in the leadoff spot all four years.”

Moses, meanwhile, is putting up one of the loudest statistical seasons in college baseball. A year after hitting .395/.502/.672 with 11 homers in 177 at-bats as a junior, Moses already has managed to exceed his homer total (12) in 120 at-bats this spring. He’s batting .408/.544/.800 with 37 RBIs, and he ranks in the nation’s top three in homers, slugging, on-base percentage, total bases and OPS.

“Moses is just amazing,” Hogan said. “He’s a guy that gets his front foot down, lets the ball get deep, and he’s got great hands. That’s going to be an attribute that all great hitters have: They get in good hitting position and use what part of the field where the ball is pitched.”

Hogan said his fine hitting coach, Chris Cafalone, does a very good job taking young players who arrive in college as dead-pull hitters and teaching them how to use more of the field. Parmley can hit to the opposite field but tends to get most of his hits to the pull side because he’s attacking fastballs early in counts. Moses, though, sees a lot of offspeed pitches and therefore must be able to drive the ball all around the park.

“Moses sits in that three-hole, everybody throws their best against him, they know him, and he continues to execute,” Hogan said. “He’s hit balls down the right-field line, down the left-field line, to dead center. He’s got big power to all parts of the field, and he doesn’t strike out very much for a big man. Just a fabulous approach at the plate.”

A quality approach is a prerequisite to put together the kind of streaks Moses and Parmley have manufactured. The streaks have injected a little excitement into a down year for SEMO.

“Some of these records have been around 30 or 40 years—this doesn’t happen very often,” Hogan said. “(Moses’ streak) is one of those weird ones because it doesn’t matter how you get on—it’s not like the DiMaggio sizzle. Parmley’s deal, honestly it hasn’t been cheap. It’s been a loud 41 games—it hasn’t been a bunch of six-hoppers, or people screwing with the scorebook, giving him a hit when it should be an error.

“It’s been a joy for me to watch it.”

Pride Of The CAA

It’s safe to assume a series between Hofstra and UNC Wilmington has never been a bigger deal than it will be this weekend. Since the Pride joined the Colonial Athletic Association in 2002, Wilmington has been a perennial power in the CAA, making the conference tournament every year and reaching regionals four times. Hofstra has made the CAA tournament only once and has finished in the bottom two of the standings in eight of its 10 seasons in the league. The last time Hofstra posted a winning record overall was 1999, when it went 24-20. A year ago, the Pride went 15-32 overall, and 12-18 in the CAA.

So Hofstra’s 18-13 start in 2012 is one of college baseball’s great surprises.  The Pride enters this weekend with a 9-3 record in CAA play, putting it just a game behind first-place UNCW (10-2).

And Hofstra has had to overcome some adversity along the way. Joe Perez, who hit nine of the team’s 18 home runs a year ago, will miss all of 2012 with a torn labrum. Ace righthander David D’Errico, a third-year member of the weekend rotation who beat Miami a year ago, had season-ending Tommy John surgery after five games this spring, after getting off to a 2-1, 2.97 start.

The adversity started before that, as head coach Patrick Anderson left for a job in pro ball in January. But fourth-year recruiting coordinator John Russo slid seamlessly into the interim head job.

“The only good thing was I had recruited all but about three of these kids, and they had a lot of trust in me,” Russo said. “I have a lot more aggressive style than they had in the past. Last year we had stolen 43 bases; this year we have 93 (second-most in the nation). I feel like that’s given the kids a lot of confidence.”

Hofstra isn’t blessed with an abundance of blazing runners, but the coaches aren’t afraid to send runners in any count, no matter how many outs. Not that they’re reckless; the Pride has a 73 percent success rate (93-for-129), a testament to the ability of its baserunners to get quality reads and jumps. Four Hofstra players have double-digit steals, led by senior outfielder Danny Poma’s 18.

Poma is the team’s best player, and the most dynamic player in the CAA. Poma’s 2010 sophomore year at Cuesta (Calif.) JC was derailed by a broken hand after he was hit by a pitch, so he went undrafted and overlooked by college recruiters. Russo said the Pride scooped him up in June, and he went on to earn fist-team all-CAA honors as a junior. But he has elevated his game to new heights as a senior, hitting .459/.517/.737 with six homers and 34 RBIs to go along with his 18 steals and 19 doubles (tied for most in the nation).

Russo coached former Notre Dame star and Diamondbacks first-round pick A.J. Pollock at Vermont in the New England Collegiate League, and he says Poma is a “carbon copy” of Pollock in everything he does.

“He has the same exact build. A.J. in pro ball right now is wearing out doubles, and Danny is the same way,” Russo said. “He runs a 6.6 60, he was voted the best defensive outfielder and best arm in the preseason. There’s nothing he can’t do. We hear it from every coach we play—he’s always the best player on the field.”

Scouts are starting to take notice—Russo said one national crosschecker who watched Poma play called Russo the next day and said, “I can’t believe what I saw yesterday.”

Second baseman Matt Ford (.391/.474/.470, 11 SB, 23 RBI) also has garnered some attention from scouts, Russo said. The team’s shortstop a year ago, Russo slid to second base when Dalton Rouleau—a juco transfer from California like Poma—showed up this fall. Rouleau (.349/.458/.442) has been an on-base machine in the leadoff spot, and he has teamed with Ford (the son of Cornell associate head coach Tom Ford) to form a very slick double-play tandem.

Russo said Florida State coach Mike Martin raved about the Hofstra middle infielders when the Pride opened its season with three games in Tallahassee. Though it was swept, Hofstra gave FSU a competitive series, scoring eight runs Saturday and six Sunday.

“We played Florida State really tough—some of the highest run totals they’ve given up all year,” Russo said. “We finally broke through with the sweep of VCU the second conference series, and it’s been no looking back after that. There’s nobody we don’t think we can beat now.”

Hofstra has had potent offensive teams before, but in the 10 years it has been in the CAA, it has posted a staff ERA below 6.50 just once (5.92 in 2006). Twice in the last decade, the Pride has posted an ERA above 9.58 (including a 9.78 ERA in 2009).

This year, Hofstra has a 4.96 ERA, down from 6.70 a year ago. Russo gives sophomore catcher Matt Reistetter—who calls all the pitches—a good deal of credit for the improvement of the staff. But the Pride also has more quality arms than it has in many years, with two weekend starters that can reach 90 mph ( John Tiedemann and David Jesch) and a closer who tops out at 93 (Bryan Verbitsky). With D’Errico sidelined, junior Jared Rogers has emerged to fill in admirably as the Friday starter; the Pride hopes to get five or six innings out of him at Wilmington, then hand the ball to Verbitsky.

Russo knows this weekend is a huge measuring stick for his team. He said the Pride coaching staff has tried to model itself after the Seahawks, who are typically aggressive on the basepaths and play solid defense. That is the case this year as well—Wilmington has 53 steals in 65 tries and is fielding at a solid .971 clip.

“That’s one thing we do pretty good is we can run up and down the lineup, with the exception of two guys,” UNCW coach Mark Scalf said.

The addition of junior-college transfer Tyler Molinaro, an unsigned 15th-round pick, has added some punch to the lineup—he has eight of the team’s 17 home runs. Wilmington isn’t a juggernaut offensively, but it has a steady group of veterans in the lineup. The key, Scalf said, is for his Seahawks to do a better job driving in runners than they did last weekend at Texas Christian, where they lost two of three.

Defensively, UNCW has its own solid middle infield duo in much-improved shortstop Jake Koenig and second baseman Michael Bass. Andrew Cain and Thomas Pope have worked hard to improve their reads and routes in the outfield, Scalf said, which has also made a big difference.

But Wilmington’s greatest strength is its pitching, especially its deep bullpen. The Seahawks use a committee approach in the ‘pen, and they have confidence in about six relievers who give hitters different looks. Tyler DeLoach and Kelly Secrest have different slots from the left side. Six-foot-10 righty Jack Lane throws from a sidearm slot, while William Prince and Tom Timoney are a foot or more shorter. Traditional three-pitch righty Ricky Holden (1-0, 1.62) has the best numbers of the group.

The rotation is fronted by a pair of veterans with good pitchability in righthander Tyler McSwain (4-2, 4.22) and lefty Mat Batts (2-4, 2.90). Sunday starter Jordan Ramsey (2-2, 3.00), a freshman righty, has the best stuff of the lot, with an 88-92 fastball that bumps 93 and a pair of promising offspeed pitches, but Scalf said he’s still learning how to pitch.

The Seahawks have played a strong nonconference schedule, including an early three-game series at Mississippi and last weekend’s set at TCU (a series that was added late because of a cancellation).

“It worked out, it was a good weekend for us,” Scalf said. “It was a great test for us in the middle of the year. After going out to Ole Miss early in the year, I think it definitely helps us. If we’re fortunate enough to play well enough at the end to be in a regional tournament, playing in those settings puts you in position to relax and play.

“Unfortunately the first eight or 10 games of the year our guys really pressed offensively,” added Scalf, whose team was 3-9 at one point. “We finally started to relax a little bit after about 10 or 12 games and figured it out.”

Wilmington is battle-tested and still must be regarded as the favorite in the CAA until further notice. But Hofstra—of all teams—has a chance to serve that notice this weekend.

“I’m excited for the guys, and it’s going to be an awesome atmosphere for us down at Wilmington,” Russo said. “I think they have the best home-field advantage of any team in the conference. But we did play a lot of games on the road and we feel like we’re well tested on the road.

“It’s been a three-year process to get to this point. It’s just been starting over, a building process. I feel like we’ve finally gotten to where we want to be.”

Quick Takes

• It’s a big weekend in the Pac-12, as first-place Arizona (9-3) hosts UCLA (tied for second place at 8-4), while the other second-place team—Oregon (8-4)—travels to Stanford (4-5). This weekend marks the end of a grueling stretch for the Ducks, featuring a home series at Arizona State followed by back-to-back road series at UCLA and Stanford, with a pair of midweek games (and wins) against San Francisco in between. “We said going into this stretch that we’ll know if we’re in the race after the Stanford series, and then we’ll still have a lot of work to do,” Oregon coach George Horton said.

Stanford’s vaunted offense has been much quieter over the last three weeks than it as over the first four weeks, but the Cardinal busted out with 19 runs in a win at Cal on Monday, as Stephen Piscotty, Brian Ragira and Kenny Diekroeger combined for 11 hits and 16 RBIs. Stanford still has unrivaled star power in its lineup, and if its offense can use Monday’s outburst as a springboard to get back on a tear, look out. The Cardinal kept it going with an 8-3 win against Pacific on Wednesday. The other major development for Stanford is in the Sunday starter role, where A.J. Vanegas turned in six strong innings last week at Washington after John Hochstatter had struggled in recent weeks. Vanegas, as we have written repeatedly, has significant upside, and if he can hold down a starting job the rest of the way, Stanford will look even more formidable.

The UCLA-Arizona matchup features a pair of teams with athletic defenses and potent offenses, but they have different approaches on the mound. Arizona doesn’t have the shut-down bullpen that is usually a staple of an Andy Lopez team—the Wildcats will try to ride Kurt Heyer and Konner Wade deep into games most weeks. The Bruins faced major questions about their bullpen coming into the year, but that unit has become the backbone of its staff. Between sidearmer David Berg, power righties Ryan Deeter and Scott Griggs and indispensable crafty lefty Grant Watson, the Bruins have all the pieces they need in the ‘pen.

“We feel our strength is our bullpen,” UCLA coach John Savage said. “We like our starting pitching—six innings, the old typical quality start is what we go after. We’re not going to go eight, nine innings, and we’re used to that. Our bullpen is our strength.”

• Another intriguing Pac-12 series is Washington’s trip to California. The tables have turned for these two teams—Washington is 28th in the latest NCAA RPI rankings and right in the thick of the at-large race, while Cal is 66th and facing an uphill battle to get back to regionals. The upstart Huskies have done well to avoid sweeps at Oregon State and against Stanford over the last two weeks, but they lost a pair of home midweek games to Gonzaga this week, and they need to rebound with a series with on the road to keep themselves on track for a run at regionals, which Washington hasn’t played in since 2004. That was Tim Lincecum’s freshman year.

Since we’re invoking the Freak, the Huskies need deeper outings from their Saturday and Sunday starters—neither Tyler Davis nor Austin Voth has lasted five innings in either of the last two weekends.

• Baylor puts its 12-0 Big 12 record on the line with its second straight road series—at Kansas State. The Bears own the nation’s longest winning streak (16 games), and they responded well to their first road test of conference play last week at Missouri, after opening conference play with three straight home sweeps. The Wildcats have lost their first three conference series, but their road has also been more challenging than Baylor’s—they made trips to Texas A&M and Oklahoma and hosted Texas. It doesn’t get easier for the Wildcats this weekend, as Baylor is a buzz-saw right now. The Bears have played well in all phases during their winning streak, but its stellar pitching has been the foundation. “The reason (the streak) is continuing is because we’re playing consistent baseball,” Bears coach Steve Smith said after his team beat Louisiana-Monroe on Wednesday. “We’ve had some luck, but everybody does in this game. I just think we’ve been consistent and we’ve had decent pitching for the most part.”

• There are three big series to watch in the ACC: North Carolina and Georgia Tech will try to rebound from sweeps with road trips to Virginia and Wake Forest, respectively; and N.C. State aims to bounce back from a series loss at Maryland with a trip to Clemson. This is the third road series in the past four weeks for the Wolfpack, which lost the first two (at UNC and at Maryland). The Tigers, meanwhile, have played better since getting swept at Virginia, winning two of three against Miami and sweeping a series at Duke.

The Cavaliers are even hotter, with 11 wins in their past 13 games, including sweeps of Clemson and Wake Forest (sandwiched around a tough series loss at N.C. State). Friday’s pitching matchup between UVa. righty Branden Kline and UNC lefty Kent Emanuel should be a great one.

Wake Forest has hit the skids since getting off to a 16-4 start in preconference play, losing its first four ACC series. Georgia Tech, at 6-9, is just a game better in league play, so both teams should be hungry this weekend. Both teams remain inside the top 50 of the RPI rankings, so their at-large hopes remain intact, but neither can afford to fall into a much deeper hole in the conference standings.

• The aforementioned Arkansas-Kentucky is the main event on the SEC calendar this weekend, but I’m also keeping an eye on the Mississippi at Georgia series, and Mississippi State at South Carolina. Georgia has lost three straight series and desperately needs to win a home series against a dangerous Ole Miss team coming off a series loss of its own at Kentucky. The other Bulldogs—of Mississippi State—snapped a three-series losing streak by taking two of three from Vanderbilt last weekend, and now they must travel to Columbia in a matchup between two teams that are 5-7 in the league. The SEC is cruel—just when you catch your breath, it’s time to dive back into the deep end.

• The centerpiece of my schedule this weekend is the rivalry series between Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine. At No. 68 in the RPI and coming off a weekend during which it scored just three runs in a three-game sweep at the hands of Cal Poly, Irvine is desperate for a series win. The Titans have been the much more consistent team this season. I’ll have a report on that series Monday, and Friday I will have Twitter updates from San Francisco blue-chipper Kyle Zimmer’s start at Loyola Marymount.

• Florida visits Tennessee on the heels of losing two straight series. The Gators will shift Jonathan Crawford to the Friday start, with Karsten Whitson starting Saturday and TBA on Sunday. Coach Kevin O’Sullivan says junior righthander Hudson Randall, the Friday starter the last two years, is still day-to-day.

College | #2012 #Weekend Preview

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