Three Strikes

Strike One: Georgia Tech Wrecks Opponents

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.

team is batting .327 on the year with three players hitting better than
.400: Danny Payne (.436-2-16), Whit Robbins (.431-4-26) and Wes Hodges
(.429-1-11). Here’s what’s scary: Georgia Tech is scoring all these
runs with Matt Wieters hitting .286. He batted .449-7-43 in 27 Atlantic
Coast Conference games last year, and the Jackets start league play
this weekend against Virginia.

Strike Two: Big Red Rolls On

started the year unranked after reaching the College World Series a
year ago, and even coach Mike Anderson admitted to wondering how his
fresh-faced lineup would fare. He hasn’t found much reason for concern
yet, largely because a Joba Chamberlain-led pitching staff has posted a
2.96 ERA. Nebraska pitching allowed three runs on 15 hits while posting
a 31-8 strikeout-walk ratio while sweeping through the field at the
Dairy Queen Classic in Minneapolis.

The strong pitching has
taken pressure off the offense, allowing players new to the program and
players new to their roles to excel during Nebraska’s 8-2 start. Junior
college transfers Luke Gorsett (.421-5-11) and Nick Jaros (.389-1-9)
have settled into the outfield corners and rank first and third on the
team in the triple crown categories. Sophomore Ryan Werhle is batting
.395-1-10 while moving to shortstop, and classmate Bryce Nimmo leads
the team with a .487 on-base percentage in his first year as the
full-time center fielder and leadoff man. Gorsett hit for the cycle to
key Friday’s 11-1 win against Notre Dame, Wehrle drove in the go-ahead
run in Saturday’s 3-1 win against Arizona, and senior first baseman
Brandon Buckman homered twice in Sunday’s 4-1 win against Minnesota.

Strike Three: Who’s The Best In The Northwest?

year ago, Oregon State emerged as the nation’s best feel-good story by
setting a school record for wins and advancing to the College World
Series. The Beavers are back in 2006, and off to a 9-4 start, but their
Pac-10 neighbors to the North are off to equally strong starts.
Washington stands 12-4 following a 4-2 showing at the Rainbow Classic
in Hawaii, while Washington State is 13-3 after a 3-1 weekend at the
Banana Belt Tournament, a split-site event held in Pullman, Wash., and
Lewiston, Idaho.

Washington expected a strong year in 2005,
but stumbled to a 2-6 start and never recovered, finishing 33-22, 12-12
in the Pac-10 to miss the NCAA Tournament. The Huskies blew an 11-3
lead after seven innings in their season opener this year, but quickly
put that game behind them by winning 10 of their next 11 games.
Washington handed Arkansas its only loss of the year Tuesday behind a
seven-inning, eight-strikeout effort from junior righthander Tim
Lincecum, who threw 128 pitches on three days’ rest.

State hasn’t taken strides after going 21-37, 1-23 in coach Donnie
Marbut’s first year–these are more like leaps. Marbut and his staff
overhauled the roster thanks to hard-working recruiting efforts, and
the new faces have meshed well with the holdovers. Junior righthander
Wayne Daman Jr. (4-0, 2.77 with 32 strikeouts in 26 innings) and senior
left fielder Jay Miller (team-best .435 average) stayed with the
program through the coaching transition, while junior college transfers
such as righthander Nick Ison (4-0, 1.00) and shortstop Paul Gran
(.336) and true freshman outfielder Jared Prince (.417) have started
their Cougars careers as winners.


The 11.7-scholarship limit and the increasing growth of and commitment
to college baseball across the country continue to bring parity to the
game. Teams ranked in the Top 25 went 12-12 (South Carolina did not
play) on Friday, a day when most teams’ best pitchers take the mound.

• Wake Forest junior third baseman Matt Antonelli
hit three home runs in a series sweep against Wright State, concluding
the weekend with a 4-for-5 day in which he hit two home runs, scored
four runs and drove in a career high-tying five runs. The preseason
All-American is batting .346-5-11 on the year, already reaching his
2005 home run output.