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Three Strikes
Quick impressions on the weekend in college baseball

by Will Kimmey
February 27, 2006

Strike One: Florida Falls Hard

A week after Florida's pitching staff looked strong against Miami, it gets destroyed by Missouri during a 1-2 weekend at home in the Pepsi Baseball Classic. The Tigers rang up 14 runs on 22 hits and five Gators errors Friday night in a 14-5 win, while junior righthander Max Scherzer shredded the lineup, striking out eight batters while allowing a run over seven innings and showing off a plus changeup to go with his mid-90s fastball and slider.

Wake Forest junior righthander Charlie Mellies held the Gators to five singles in a 4-0 win Sunday. Florida rang up 14 hits and 10 runs in a victory against Ohio State on Saturday, but batted .167 in the other two games. And while that paltry showing was in part due to not having reigning NCAA home run champ Matt LaPorta (who didn't play in the tournament after straining an oblique muscle on a swing Wednesday night), the lack of offense must be troubling.

"We have to swing the bats better and put the ball in play, and our guys will find a way to do that," Florida coach Pat McMahon said after Sunday's loss.

Strike Two: Carpenter carves 'em up

The Larry Cochell saga cost Oklahoma more than bad press; it also cost them an ace. Sacramento City (Calif.) College righthander Drew Carpenter committed to Oklahoma in the summer of 2004, but changed his mind to Long Beach State during the OU upheaval and subsequent coaching search. It couldn't have worked out better for Long Beach State, where Carpenter has emerged as the ace.

Carpenter, a 6-foot-3 junior, threw a complete-game one-hitter in a 6-0 win against Illinois-Chicago on Saturday. He struck out eight batters, walked one and threw 94 pitches. He's 2-0, 1.29 with a 23-4 strikeout-walk ratio in 28 innings. He has allowed two runs in his last 18 innings, covering starts against California, Rice and UIC.

Carpenter throws five pitches, though he relies on an 89-91 mph fastball and a splitter most of the time, as well as a changeup, curveball and slider.

"He's just a horse," Long Beach State pitching coach Troy Buckley said. "He made some good adjustments in the fall, learning to stay over rubber a bit better, getting more angle on his fastball. The split has always been his pitch, and he's more downhill with it now. "He's got a really good feel for what he's doing. He throws five pitches, and I don't normally do that with a guy, but he can. His slider wasn't good at Rice, so he went curveball. His curveball wasn't there this weekend, so it was the slider."

Carpenter is the third straight junior college transfer to slot directly and successfully into the Long Beach State rotation. Jason Vargas emerged as a second-rounder for the Marlins in 2004, and righthander Marco Estrada was a sixth-round pick of the Nationals in 2005.

Strike Three: How about Hawaii?

Apparently, Honolulu isn't just for meaningless football all-star games and wonderful vacations. Let's add baseball as well. The Rainbows drew 10,404 fans to a three-game series against Southern California. Compare that to the 16,134 announced attendance at the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl on Christmas Eve.

This weekend's attendance included a season-high 3,433 for Friday night's 4-3 win. Hawaii topped that mark a game later, as a standing room-only crowd of 4,345 watched the home team score a 7-3 win and take a series from the then-No. 24 Trojans.

Junior righthander Steven Wright beat USC ace Ian Kennedy on Friday, improving to 3-0, 1.82 by holding the Trojans to three runs on nine hits and a walk over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out nine and boasts a 27-5 strikeout-walk ratio in 30 innings. Sophomore shortstop Joe Spiers rang up five hits and three RBIs in the first two games.

Hawaii lost Sunday, snapping its seven-game winning streak, but the club still owns an 11-3 record heading into this week's Rainbow Baseball Classic, which features 9-0 Arkansas and 9-2 Washington.


• There are two intriguing Tuesday games this week, one on each coast. No. 10 Florida State saved usual Saturday starter Tyler Chambliss (3-0, 0.95) for the game at No. 5 Florida. Also, No. 7 Cal State Fullerton visits No. 12 Pepperdine.

• Dallas Baptist junior righthander Rodney Brantley (3-0, 0.43) threw a no-hitter Saturday in a 9-1 win against UT-Arlington. He struck out seven batters and walked one, and permitted an unearned run. He held Stephen F. Austin scoreless on one hit over six innings Tuesday.

• The ugly weather continued for Baylor. Its Friday night game with Arizona State got postponed by rain, marking the sixth time in 11 dates that a Baylor game was bothered by weather (three cancellations, two postponements and a fog-shortened game). The Bears did not play a Friday game in February for the first time since 1985. This weekend, Baylor visits Long Beach State, where the early forecast calls for--what else?--rain.

• Texas Tech senior lefthander Dustin Richardson made three appearances this week, and the wins he earned in two of them might have taken a back seat to his other appearance. That one was on "Knight School," the ESPN reality show in which students try to make Bob Knight's Red Raiders basketball team as walk-ons. Richardson made the first cut, and was one of 16 athletes remaining. Maybe it spoils the drama, but the fact that Richardson threw 12 innings for the baseball team and isn't listed on the hoops roster might mean he's not going to make Knight's team.

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