What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (3/8/19)

Image credit: Michigan lefthander Tommy Henry (Photo by Tomas DeRosa)

Rk. Team Opponents (Fri., Sat., Sun.) TV Notes
1 Vanderbilt Illinois State SEC Network+  
2 UCLA Michigan, Oklahoma State, vs. Southern California Pac-12 Network (Sun.) Dodger Stadium Classic, Los Angeles
3 North Carolina at (21) Clemson ACC Network Extra  
4 Stanford (9) Texas Pac-12 Network Plus  
5 Florida Yale SEC Network+ (Sat., Sun.)
6 Florida State Virginia Tech ACC Network Extra  
7 Oregon State vs. Minnesota, Indiana, (19) Coastal Carolina Pac-12 Network (Sun.) Seattle Baseball Showcase, Seattle
8 Mississippi State Maine SEC Network+  
9 Texas at (4) Stanford Pac-12 Network Plus  
10 Louisiana State California SEC Network+  
11 Texas Tech Wichita State Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Fri.), Texas Tech TV (Sat.), Fox Sports Southwest (Sun.)
12 Mississippi Alabama-Birmingham SEC Network+  
13 Louisville Boston College ACC Network Extra  
14 East Carolina Marist Pirates All-Access  
15 Georgia Presbyterian SEC Network+  
16 Arkansas Louisiana Tech SEC Network+  
17 Auburn Texas-San Antonio SEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.)
18 Michigan at (2) UCLA, at Southern California, vs. Oklahoma State Pac-12 Network Plus (Sat.) Dodger Stadium Classic, Los Angeles
19 Coastal Carolina vs. San Diego, Washington, (7) Oregon State Pac-12 Network (Sun.) Seattle Baseball Showcase, Seattle
20 South Carolina Valparaiso SEC Network+  
21 Clemson (3) North Carolina ACC Network Extra  
22 Duke at Virginia ACC Network Extra  
23 North Carolina State Pittsburgh ACC Network Extra  
24 UC Irvine St. John’s None  
25 Baylor Nebraska Facebook Live (Fr., Sat.), Fox Sports Southwest Plus (Sun.)

Top 25 Series/Tournaments To Watch

Dodger Stadium Classic, Los Angeles

(18) Michigan, Oklahoma State, Southern California, (2) UCLA

The Dodger Stadium Classic’s unique setup adds mystique to what is annually one of the best tournaments in the country. UCLA and USC host the first two days of the event before the weekend concludes Sunday at Dodger Stadium with a showdown between the crosstown rivals. The highlight of this year’s tournament will be Friday night’s game between Michigan and UCLA. The Wolverines (8-2) have started the season strong and will have ace Tommy Henry (3-0, 0.00) on the mound. But UCLA (9-2) will present a tougher test, especially with its own outstanding pitching staff that has a 1.08 team ERA. Oklahoma State (7-4) has had a mixed start to the season and heads to LA looking to get back on track after a series loss against Iowa. USC (4-7) is struggling in the early going and has lost back-to-back series against Arkansas and Grand Canyon. The Trojans need the big weekend to jumpstart their season before Pac-12 Conference play begins next week.

(3) North Carolina at (21) Clemson

Atlantic Coast Conference play opens this weekend, highlighted by a Top 25 showdown and matchup between last year’s division winners. The Tar Heels (12-1) rolled through the first three weeks of the season, but this is the first time they will leave Boshamer Stadium. The Tigers (9-3) are coming off a series loss to archrival South Carolina and are looking to get back on track. North Carolina’s rotation of righthanders Gianluca Dalatri, Tyler Baum and Austin Bergner has been excellent so far this season, but Clemson, led by Preseason All-American shortstop Logan Davidson, has the offensive firepower to challenge them.  

(9) Texas at (4) Stanford

Stanford and Texas, traditional non-conference foes, opened their annual four-game series Thursday, with the Longhorns winning, 4-0. Both are off to very impressive starts to the season, and the Longhorns’ sweep of Louisiana State last weekend vaulted them into the top 10. The Cardinal have steadily piled up solid wins as well and are coming off a series win at Cal State Fullerton. As usual, this should be a well-pitched weekend, and both teams enter the weekend ranked in the top 40 in the country in ERA. Texas sophomore righthander Bryce Elder (2-0, 0.44) will look to continue his strong start to the year on Friday night against a Stanford offense that has been led in the early going by two-way player Will Matthiessen (.378/.489/.649, 2 HR).

Seattle Baseball Showcase

(19) Coastal Carolina, Indiana, Minnesota, (7) Oregon State, San Diego, Washington

A new tournament this year, the Seattle Baseball Showcase, brings a strong field to T-Mobile Field Park. Oregon State (10-1) will be a part of two of the tournament’s premier matchups, as it will on Friday face Minnesota in a super regionals rematch and then closes the weekend against Coastal Carolina. The Chanticleers (12-2) have been flying high offensively and are averaging 9.1 runs per game, but now leaving the friendly confines of Springs Brooks Stadium for a weekend for the first time this year. Washington (8-2) is on a seven-game winning streak after losing its Opening Weekend series at UC Irvine and has a chance for some quality wins with Indiana, Coastal and Minnesota on its slate. Indiana (6-5) is also looking to help its NCAA Tournament resume with a weekend slate of Washington, Oregon State and San Diego. Minnesota’s brutal season-opening road swing continues. The Gophers (2-8) are racking up the miles and building their strength of schedule, but could use a nice, solid winning weekend to create some momentum. San Diego (9-4) has played well so far this season, but a weekend with Coastal, Minnesota and Indiana on the schedule will be a good test for the Toreros.

– Teddy Cahill

Under-The-Radar Series To Watch

Fresno State at Tennessee

The Volunteers have raised eyebrows early this season, as they’ve rushed out to a 13-0 start, largely on the strength of a pitching staff that has a 0.94 ERA and an .145 opponent average as a team. A series sweep of Indiana in the second weekend of the season is their most impressive feat of the young campaign, but doing something similar against Fresno State this weekend would be another good resume item. The Bulldogs took a series loss to Nevada-Las Vegas to open Mountain West Conference play last weekend, but they are 6-3 overall, including a 3-0 weekend in the Tony Gwynn Legacy tournament two weeks ago. Certainly, a Fresno State offense led by the hot-hitting two-way star McCarthy Tatum (.444/.459/.611) and outfielder Zach Ashford (.250/.415/.344) will be another quality test for Tennessee’s pitchers.

Oklahoma at Rice

With Oklahoma losing nine players to the draft after last season and Rice ushering in a new era with first-year coach Matt Bragga, it would have been hard to predict where these two teams would be by the time this series rolled around. As it turns out, they’re both in pretty good shape. The Sooners are off to an 11-2 start with a roster full of players who appear to have taken big jumps filling in for those departed players now off in pro baseball. The Owls’ 6-8 record might not stand out, but context is important here. Just two weeks ago, Rice was outscored 29-9 in getting swept by then-No. 25 UC Irvine at home. Since then, it has won two of three at the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic at Minute Maid Park and won a midweek game against crosstown rival Houston. If either of these teams are going to be in at-large contention come May, it’s series like these they will need to capture.

Indiana State at Mercer

Indiana State is off to a 9-1 start, with a season-opening sweep of Jacksonville serving as their most impressive result to this point. Lefthander Triston Polley (2-0, 1.00) has been as advertised thus far, and righthander Collin Liberatore (2-0, 1.59) has given him a quality running mate at the front of the rotation. With preseason Missouri Valley Conference favorite Missouri State stumbling a bit out of the gate, perhaps it suggests that there is room for the Sycamores to sneak up and contend at the top of the conference. Mercer (9-4) was swept by Florida State last weekend, but there’s little shame in that, and outside of that series, it has lost just once on the season. Something will have to give in the matchup between ISU’s pitchers and the Mercer offense, which is hitting .314 as a team, led by shortstop R.J. Yeager, who is hitting .358 with six home runs.

– Joe Healy

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