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What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (4/12/19)

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East Carolina slugger Spencer Brickhouse (Greg Thompson, Getty Images)

Top 25 Schedule

RankTeamOpponentTV
1UCLA(10) East CarolinaNone
2StanfordWashingtonPac-12 Networks
3Georgiaat TennesseeSEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.)
4North Carolina State(20) LouisvilleACC Network Extra
5Mississippi StateAlabamaSEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.), SEC Network (Sun.)
6Vanderbilt(9) ArkansasSEC Network (Fri.), ESPNU (Sat.), SEC Network+ (Sun.)
7Oregon Stateat (13) Arizona StatePac-12 Network Plus
8Arkansasat (6) VanderbiltSEC Network (Fri.), ESPNU (Sat.), SEC Network+ (Sun.)
9TexasKansas StateLonghorn Network
10East Carolinaat (1) UCLANone
11Texas Techat West VirginiaMountaineer.TV
12Louisiana Stateat MissouriSEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.), SEC Network (Sun.)
13Arizona State(7) Oregon StatePac-12 Network Plus
14Texas A&M(22) AuburnSEC Network+
15MississippiKentuckySEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network (Sat.)
16UC Irvineat (19) UC Santa BarbaraBigWest.TV
17Clemsonat Florida StateACC Network Extra (Fri., Sat.), ESPN2 (Sun.)
18Georgia Techat Boston CollegeNone
19UC Santa Barbara(16) UC IrvineBigWest.TV
20Louisvilleat (4) North Carolina StateACC Network Extra
21North Carolinaat Notre DameACC Network Extra
22Auburnat (14) Texas A&MSEC Network+
23Texas ChristianSeton HallHFTV
24Michiganat Ohio StateBig Ten Network Plus
25BaylorOklahomaFox Sports Southwest Plus (Fri.), Fox Sports Go (Sat.), ESPNU (Sun.)

Series To Watch

(10) East Carolina at (1) UCLA

UCLA (24-6), fresh off its blockbuster series win last weekend at No. 2 Stanford, now welcomes in East Carolina (25-7) for an intriguing, cross-country, non-conference matchup. The Bruins’ 2.57 ERA is the second best in the country, and their premium pitching staff will be a significant test for the Pirates’ powerful offense led by sluggers Spencer Brickhouse (.376/.496/.731, 8 HR), Alec Burleson (.373/.388/.568) and Bryant Packard (.343/.424/.559). ECU has a good pitching staff of its own—its 3.09 team ERA ranks 13th nationally—but it will have a tough matchup trying to contain a lineup that is averaging 7.17 runs per game in Pac-12 play. For the Pirates, this is an opportunity to make a non-conference statement to add to their hosting resume. This is a tricky series for the Bruins, who must avoid a letdown after winning a series at Stanford and stepping out of conference play.

(20) Louisville at (4) North Carolina State

This is a big series in the ACC race. NC State (29-5, 12-3 ACC) ran off to a sensational 25-1 start, but is now 4-4 over the last two weeks. It still leads the ACC Atlantic Division, but that lead is just a game over Clemson and two games over Louisville (25-8, 10-5 ACC). The Cardinals last week lost a road series to the Tigers, and the Wolfpack could seemingly knock them out this week. But a series win for Louisville would ensure that this is a three-team race that goes down to the wire. How the Cardinals’ 1-2 punch of lefthanders Reid Detmers (5-2, 1.65) and Nick Bennett (4-2, 3.40) bounce back from losing last week will be key, as they will be counted on to contain a potent Wolfpack lineup led by Patrick Bailey (.353/.470/.647, 7 HR), Evan Edwards (.333/.438/.643, 10 HR) and Will Wilson (.338/.416/.628, 9 HR).

(8) Arkansas at (6) Vanderbilt

Two of the best teams in the SEC meet for a top-10 series in Nashville. Vanderbilt (25-8, 7-5 SEC) is coming off a tough series loss at Georgia that saw it held to seven runs on the weekend. Its offense exploded for 15 runs in a midweek romp at Middle Tennessee State, and it will be looking to carry that momentum into the weekend. Arkansas (25-8, 8-4 SEC) is part of a three-way tie atop the SEC West and scored a solid road series win last weekend at Auburn. It’ll be looking for another this weekend in its toughest interdivision series of the year.

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(7) Oregon State at (13) Arizona State

It’s not quite the No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup we had last week in the Pac-12, but it’s nearly as interesting. The winner of this series will emerge as the chief competitor to UCLA and Stanford for the conference title. It also presents a fascinating matchup as Oregon State (23-7-1, 9-3 Pac-12) has one of the best pitching staffs in the country—it ranks fifth nationally with a 2.78 team ERA—and Arizona State (26-5, 9-3 Pac-12) has one of the best offenses, ranking third in scoring at 9.6 runs per game. The Sun Devils are 22-1 at Phoenix Municipal Stadium, but they also haven’t faced a team like the Beavers. Arizona State has slipped in the RPI over the last week as it has lost four of its last five games to Long Beach State, Nevada-Las Vegas and Southern California. To stay in both the Pac-12 and hosting race, it needs to arrest that slide this weekend.

(16) UC Irvine at (19) UC Santa Barbara

This is the series of the year in the Big West Conference and it’s hard to overstate its importance. These are the only two Big West teams with winning records and it’s hard to see them not finishing 1-2 in the standings, meaning this series will have outsized importance in the title race. It also is vital for both teams’ hosting hopes. UCSB (24-5, 2-1 Big West) has the RPI to host already, but establishing itself as the best team in the conference would be a big boost to its resume. UCI (21-6, 5-1 Big West) has RPI work to do and this is its best opportunity to do it. It should be a fun matchup on the mound as both teams rank in the top 30 nationally in ERA (UCI at 3.19 and UCSB at 3.40) and both have premium rotations, with All-American righthander Andre Pallante (5-2, 2.83), righthander Tanner Brubaker (4-1, 2.04) and righthander Trenton Denholm (6-0, 1.53) excelling for the Anteaters and lefthanders Ben Brecht (6-0, 3.00) and Jack Dashwood (4-0, 2.27) fronting the Gauchos’ staff.

Louisiana Tech at Florida Atlantic

FAU (23-9, 11-1 CUSA) and LaTech (22-10, 8-4 CUSA) sandwich defending champion Southern Mississippi in the Conference USA standings, and if either team is going to dethrone the Golden Eagles, they need to win this series. They are the two hottest teams in the country, as the Bulldogs have an eight-game winning streak, the nation’s longest, and the Owls are right behind with a seven-game streak of their own. Both need a series win for their postseason resumes. FAU last week made a big RPI move into the mid-60s after going 4-0 on the road and would make another (needed) jump with a series win this weekend. LaTech got swept by Southern Miss last month and can’t afford to miss another opportunity against a conference power that would leave it falling off the pace of FAU and Southern Miss.

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