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What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (3/28/19)

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Arkansas' Isaiah Campbell (Photo by Justin Tafoya/NCAA Photos via Getty Images)

Top 25 Schedule

Rk.TeamOpponentTV
1UCLAat Southern CaliforniaPac-12 Networks
2Mississippi State(17) Louisiana StateESPNU (Thurs.), SEC Network (Fri.), SEC Network+ (Sat.)
3Stanfordat Washington StatePac-12 Network Plus
4VanderbiltTennesseeSEC Network+ (Fri.), SEC Network (Sat., Sun.)
5North Carolina StateVirginiaACC Network Extra
6Georgiaat KentuckySEC Network (Thurs.), SEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.)
7TexasXavierLonghorn Network
8Oregon Stateat WashingtonPac-12 Networks
9North CarolinaDukeACC Network Extra
10Arkansas(22) MississippiESPNU (Fri.), SEC Network (Sat.), SEC Network+ (Sun.)
11Texas Techat Kansas StateESPN3
12Texas A&MMissouriSEC Network+
13East Carolinaat South FloridaYouTube (BullsVision)
14Arizona StateArizonaPac-12 Networks
15FloridaAlabamaSEC Network+
16LouisvilleWake ForestACC Network Extra
17Louisiana Stateat (2) Mississippi StateESPNU (Thurs.), SEC Network (Fri.), SEC Network+ (Sat.)
18Auburnat South CarolinaSEC Network+ (Fri.), SEC Network (Sat., Sun.)
19UC Irvineat HawaiiBigWest.TV (Fri., Sat.)
20Coastal CarolinaArkansas StateChanticleer Sports Network (Sat.)
21Florida StateBoston CollegeACC Network Extra
22Mississippiat (10) ArkansasESPNU (Fri.), SEC Network (Sat.), SEC Network+ (Sun.)
23Texas ChristianOklahoma StateFoxSports Southwest (Fri., Sat.), HFTV (Sun.)
24Clemsonat Virginia TechACC Network Extra
25Oklahomaat West VirginiaMountaineer TV

Series To Watch

(17) Louisiana State at (2) Mississippi State

There’s no love lost between these two SEC West Division foes, which should make for a fun weekend in Starkville. Mississippi State (23-3, 4-2 SEC) last week earned a hard-fought series win against Auburn, punctuated by its potent offense scoring 35 runs over the last two games. But its pitching staff showed some cracks of its own, particularly in the bullpen, and it will likely have a different look this weekend. LSU (17-8, 4-2 SEC) pitched well last weekend in a series loss at Georgia, particularly over the first two games of the series. But it has lost three straight games and its potent offense has gone cold. Over four games in the last week, the Tigers have scored a combined eight runs. Thursday’s opener will be highlighted by a showdown between LSU righthander Zack Hess (2-1, 2.97), who is riding a 14-inning scoreless streak, and Mississippi State lefthander Ethan Small (2-0, 1.75), who ranks fifth in the country with 58 strikeouts in 36 innings.

(8) Oregon State at Washington

These two Pacific Northwest foes have developed a healthy rivalry in recent years, and this season both are off to good starts following their appearance in the 2018 College World Series. Oregon State (16-5-1, 3-3 Pac-12) will still be without righthander Kevin Abel, the 2018 Freshman of the Year, at the front of their rotation, as he remains sidelined by a back injury. Washington (14-6, 5-1 Pac-12) has thus far mostly gone under the radar and produced another solid start to the season, but that would change with a series win this weekend. Washington catcher Nick Kahle is quietly producing an impressive season at the plate and is hitting .415/.565/.600 with three home runs. Adley Rutschman, his counterpart this weekend, leads the Beavers and is hitting .429/.588/.814 with eight home runs.

(22) Mississippi at (10) Arkansas

The SEC West gauntlet produces not just one, but two Top 25 series this weekend. Arkansas (21-4, 5-1 SEC) is rolling and has this season lost just once at Baum Stadium. Ace righthander Isaiah Campbell (5-0, 1.93) and closer Matt Cronin (1-0, 0.00, 6 SV) lead a deep pitching staff that will be challenged this week by Ole Miss’ powerful offense. The Rebels (18-8, 3-3 SEC) are coming off a series loss at Missouri and now face another difficult road series. Outfielders Ryan Olenek (.420/.496/.560) and Thomas Dillard (.337/.482/.685, 9 HR) make for a powerful duo in the lineup.

Spencer_Jones_BillMitchell.jpg

2019 California Collegiate League Top Prospects

This year's top prospects in the California Collegiate League are led by Vanderbilt's Spencer Jones, who has true two-way ability.

Arkansas State at (20) Coastal Carolina

It’s early, but this series has turned into a showdown between the two division leaders in the Sun Belt Conference. It’s no surprise to see Coastal (19-6-1, 5-1 Sun Belt) atop the East Division, as the Chanticleers have lived up to expectations this year. But A-State (17-8, 5-1 Sun Belt) is a surprise in the West. The Red Wolves haven’t made the NCAA Tournament since 1994 and last year finished tied for fourth place in the division. But they’ve won three straight series and nine of their last 12 games. This will be their biggest test of the season, however.

Nebraska at Minnesota

These two teams have combined to win the last four Big Ten titles and are coming off sweeps on the first weekend of conference play. Minnesota (8-13, 3-0 Big 10) has played a brutally tough schedule—all on the road—but remains one of the conference favorites. The Gophers have dug themselves a hole, but they still have time to get back into the mix for the NCAA Tournament and a series win this weekend would be a good step in the right direction. Nebraska (12-7, 3-0 Big 10) is 9-2 since the calendar flipped to March and has won six straight games. This weekend will be a difficult test for the Huskers, but a series win would be another strong indication that they’ve put a disappointing 2018 in the rearview mirror.

UC Santa Barbara at Cal State Fullerton

Big West Conference play starts this weekend with an intriguing matchup between UCSB (17-4) and Fullerton (11-11). The Gauchos, who have missed the NCAA Tournament the last two years after reaching the CWS in 2016, are off to an excellent start and look to figure prominently into the Big West title race. The Titans, however, have sputtered this month after a solid 4-2 start to the season. They are 7-9 this month, a mark that would look much worse without a sweep last weekend of uncharacteristically poor Long Beach State (3-20). The Big West has just three teams that are at least .500 entering conference play (No. 19 UC Irvine is the third), so this weekend has outsized importance in the title race.

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