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What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (4/18/19)

Baylor catcher Shea Langeliers (Photo by John Williamson)

Top 25 Schedule

1UCLACaliforniaPac-12 Networks (Thurs., Fri.)
2Stanfordat OregonPac-12 Networks (Thurs., Fri.), Pac-12 Network+ (Sun.)
3Mississippi Stateat (10) ArkansasESPNU (Thurs.), SEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.)
4GeorgiaMissouriESPNU (Thurs.), SEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.)
5Oregon StateArizonaPac-12 Networks (Thurs., Fri.), ESPNU (Sat.)
6Vanderbiltat AlabamaSEC Network+ (Fri., Sun.), SEC Network (Sat.)
7LouisvilleMiamiACC Network Extra
8UC Santa BarbaraUC DavisBigWest.TV
9North Carolina Stateat Wake ForestACC Network Extra
10Arkansas(3) Mississippi StateESPNU (Thurs.), SEC Network+ (Fri., Sat.)
11Texas A&Mat South CarolinaSEC Network+ (Thurs., Fri.), SEC Network (Sat.)
12East CarolinaConnecticutPirates All-Access
13Georgia Techat Virginia TechACC Network Extra
14Arizona Stateat UtahPac-12 Network+
15Louisiana StateFloridaSEC Network (Thurs., Fri.), ESPN2 (Sat.)
16Texas Tech(19) BaylorFox Sports Southwest+ (Thurs.), FS1 (Fri.), Fox Sports Southwest (Sat.)
17North CarolinaBoston CollegeACC Network Extra
18Mississippiat (24) AuburnSEC Network+
19Baylorat (16) Texas TechFox Sports Southwest+ (Thurs.), FS1 (Fri.), Fox Sports Southwest (Sat.)
20Texasat Oklahoma StateFS1 (Thurs.), Fox Sports Southwest+ (Fri.), ESPNU (Sat.)
21UC IrvineCal State NorthridgeNone
22Texas Christianat Kansas StateESPN3
23ClemsonDukeACC Network Extra
24Auburn(18) MississippiSEC Network+
25West VirginiaKansasMountaineerTV

Series To Watch

(3) Mississippi State at (10) Arkansas

As the cage fight in the SEC West Division continues to rage, Mississippi State’s trio to Arkansas is a crucial series in the race both for the division title and top-eight seeds. The Bulldogs (32-6, 10-5 SEC) go into the weekend in first place, a game ahead of the Razorbacks (27-10, 9-6 SEC). The series should be an entertaining one and potentially high scoring as both teams rank in the top 25 in the nation in scoring and the ball flies well at Baum Stadium. Slowing down the Bulldogs’ offense will not be an easy task for the Razorbacks, but they do have homefield advantage and are 18-4 this season at Baum Stadium. Mississippi State center fielder Jake Mangum enters the weekend needing seven hits to tie former Louisiana State star Eddy Furniss’ SEC hits record (352).

Connecticut at (12) East Carolina

After a tough sweep last weekend at No. 1 UCLA, East Carolina (26-10, 8-1 AAC) returns to American Athletic Conference play against UConn (24-13, 7-5 AAC). The Huskies are in third place in the standings, 2.5 games behind the Pirates, and if they’re going to remain in the race down the stretch, they need to win this series. ECU bounced back after the UCLA sweep with a midweek victory at Elon, completing a stretch of eight straight road games with a 4-4 record. Now it gets back to Clark-LeClar Stadium, where it is 15-3 and will resume its quest for the conference title and the chance to host a regional for the second straight year.

(19) Baylor at (16) Texas Tech

The Big 12 race is as jumbled as any in the country. Baylor (25-10, 8-3 Big 12) tops the standings now, while Texas Tech (23-12, 6-6 Big 12), the preseason favorite, is 2.5 games off the pace. But the road is about to get much tougher for the Bears, starting this weekend. Three of their final four conference series on the road, all against contenders (Texas Tech, Texas Christian and Oklahoma State). To this point, Baylor has played just six road games, so how it responds to such a tough test down the stretch will be crucial. Texas Tech is coming off a rough trip east that saw it go 1-3 at West Virginia and Duke. But its schedule is almost the inverse of Baylor’s. It plays three of its final four Big 12 series at home (Baylor, Oklahoma State and TCU) and its homefield advantage at Rip Griffin Park, where it is 15-3, is considerable.

(18) Mississippi at (24) Auburn

Mississippi State at Arkansas isn’t the only SEC West series to watch this weekend. Ole Miss (26-12, 9-6 SEC) travels to Auburn (24-13, 8-7 SEC) in a critical series for both teams. The Rebels are coming off a home series loss against Kentucky, while Auburn last weekend lost at Texas A&M. Both face very difficult closing stretches and could very much use a series win this weekend if they’re going to remain in the SEC West and hosting races. The Tigers are beat up on the mound and will now have to contend with the Rebels’ offense, which is averaging eight runs per game, third most in the SEC.

Army at Navy

This is one of the best rivalries in college sports and this weekend will bring the top two teams in the Patriot League to Annapolis. Army (21-15, 8-5 Patriot) and Navy (28-12, 13-4 Patriot) split a two-game set last month in West Point and will now settle the season series with a three-game series. The Midshipmen have a three-game lead on the Black Knights, but with three games in hand, Army will have a chance to make that ground up. It will look to start this weekend in Annapolis, where it last year swept the Patriot League Tournament championship series. Saturday’s opener will provide an excellent matchup between Navy righthander Noah Song (7-0, 1.53) and Army righthander Daniel Burggraaf. Song is on an All-America track and leads the nation with 110 strikeouts in 59 innings, creating a very difficult task for the Black Knights.

Indiana State at Evansville

These in-state rivals both harbor Missouri Valley Conference title aspirations and hopes of securing NCAA Tournament bids. This series will have plenty of implications for both. Evansville (18-15, 5-1 MVC) has hit a skid and has lost six straight games after getting swept at Indiana this weekend but remains tied for first place in the MVC. Indiana State (27-8, 4-2 MVC) is a game off the pace and will be looking to flip that this weekend. Evansville has already won a series against Dallas Baptist, another title contender, and if it can beat Indiana State this weekend, it would have to be considered the MVC favorite. The Sycamores have a tough stretch left, with road series against Evansville, Illinois State and Dallas Baptist, the other biggest MVC contenders. Starting its stretch run with a series win would be a big boost.

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