What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (5/14)

Image credit: (Photo courtesy of Clemson)

Top 25 Schedule

Rank Team Opponents (Fri., Sat., Sun.) TV
1 Arkansas at (5) Tennessee SEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network (Sat.)
2 Vanderbilt at (17) Mississippi SEC Network (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network+ (Sat.)
3 Mississippi State Missouri (Thurs.-Sat.) SEC Network+
4 Notre Dame Idle  
5 Tennessee (1) Arkansas SEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network (Sat.)
6 Texas Christian Louisiana-Monroe ESPN+
7 Texas Idle  
8 Texas Tech at Oklahoma SoonerSports.com (Fri., Sun.), Bally Sports Oklahoma (Sat.)
9 Florida Georgia SEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.), SEC Network (Sun.)
10 Arizona Washington Pac-12 Network+
11 Louisville at North Carolina ACC Network Extra
12 East Carolina at Cincinnati ESPN+
13 Florida State Clemson ACC Network (Fri.), ACC Network Extra (Sat., Sun.)
14 Stanford at California Pac-12 Network+
15 Oregon at Utah Pac-12 Network+
16 Pittsburgh North Carolina State ACC Network Extra
17 Mississippi (2) Vanderbilt SEC Network (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network+ (Sat.)
18 Louisiana Tech Texas-San Antonio CUSA.TV (Fri., Sat.), ESPN+ (Sun.)
19 Charlotte at Rice CUSA.TV
20 Southern Mississippi at Florida Atlantic CUSA.TV
21 Indiana at Michigan Big Ten Network+ (Fri., Sat.), ESPN2 (Sun.)
22 UC Irvine UC Riverside ESPN+
23 Old Dominion Western Kentucky CUSA.TV
24 South Carolina at Kentucky SEC Network+
25 Fairfield Idle  

(1) Arkansas at (5) Tennessee

Arkansas (37-9, 17-7) faces yet another premium matchup away from Baum-Walker Stadium. Already this season, it has played Louisiana Tech, Mississippi, Mississippi State, South Carolina, Texas, Texas Christian and Texas Tech – all teams currently ranked in the Top 25 – away from home. It hasn’t bothered the Razorbacks much – they’re 12-3 in those games. For Tennessee (38-11, 17-7), this is another chance to prove itself as one of college baseball’s elite teams. Against the SEC’s best, the Volunteers have a series win against Florida and a series loss against Vanderbilt, both at home. This could be a pretty offensive series, as Arkansas leads the SEC in scoring (8 runs per game) and Tennessee ranks fourth (7.3 runs per game).

(2) Vanderbilt at (17) Mississippi

This weekend was supposed to feature two of the best 1-2 punches in the country. But Ole Miss this week lost righthander Gunnar Hoglund for the season due to Tommy John surgery and while Vanderbilt righthander Jack Leiter is on Saturday slated to go after he was last weekend scratched late from his start, there is some uncertainty about what to expect in his return. Regardless, the series will still feature a premium matchup Friday night of Rocker and Ole Miss lefthander Doug Nikhazy. As Ole Miss battles to secure a home regional, it will need its powerful offense to help pick up its pitching staff. With Jacob Gonzalez, Kevin Graham and TJ McCants leading the way, Ole Miss ranks second in the SEC in scoring (7.8 runs per game). This weekend represents a key test for the Rebels.

Clemson at (13) Florida State

This season has been one long roller coaster ride for Clemson (23-21, 15-15) and this weekend will play a big role in determining how it will end. After a midseason seven-game losing streak, the Tigers had appeared to right the ship with a seven-game winning streak that included a sweep of Louisville. But last weekend, Clemson was swept at Georgia Tech to fall to .500 in ACC play and back onto the NCAA Tournament bubble. It started this week with a win against archrival South Carolina and now will look to keep that momentum going in Tallahassee. While the Tigers are just 5-12 in road games, a series win this weekend would be a big boost to their resume. Florida State (26-18, 17-13) is coming off a big road series win of its own at Notre Dame. That result put the Seminoles back in the discussion to host regionals, but they’ll need a strong finish. Florida State will be looking for another strong performance from its pitching staff, which leads the ACC in ERA (3.23).

(23) Indiana at Michigan

Indiana (23-10), Michigan (23-12) and Nebraska (23-11) are separated by one game atop the Big Ten standings with three weeks left to play in the season. They’ll all play each other down the stretch, starting with this weekend’s showdown in Ann Arbor between the Hoosiers and the Wolverines. Michigan has the Big Ten’s best offense (7.2 runs per game), while Indiana has its best pitching staff (2.83 team ERA). While both the Wolverines and Hoosiers have clear strengths, they can also play the other’s game. Michigan has a strong 1-2 punch in its rotation with Steven Hajjar and Cameron Weston and Indiana can also put runs on the board in a hurry thanks to powerful hitters like Grant Richardson and Cole Barr. But with first place on the line, this weekend may come down to which team gets to play its preferred game.

UCLA vs. UC Santa Barbara

This is perhaps the best non-conference series left on the schedule. It doesn’t have quite the same level of spice as it did on paper coming into the year, when UCLA was the Pac-12 favorite and UCSB was the Big West favorite. But there is plenty to watch in this series, which will be played Friday and Sunday at UCLA, with Saturday’s game at Santa Barbara. The Gauchos (30-16, 21-11) are coming off a tough series loss to UC Irvine, which dropped them to second place in the Big West and left them in sore need of a statement series for their NCAA Tournament resume. UCSB played four-game series at home this season against Oregon and UCI and went just 1-7 against the best two teams on its slate. That mark, combined with a subpar RPI of 70, leaves UCSB on the NCAA Tournament bubble. UCLA (28-15, 14-10) is positioned to make the NCAA Tournament and is looking to build some momentum down the stretch. The Bruins have won six of their last eight games coming into the weekend.

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