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College : : Story
State of College Baseball
Kendall Rogers        
Published: Tuesday, April 09, 2013


WINNERS

LSU: The Tigers put together yet another fantastic weekend, sweeping Kentucky at home with authority. Junior hard-throwing right-handed pitcher Ryan Eades had yet another solid start. For the season, Eades is now 7-0 with a 1.30 ERA in 55 1/3 innings of work. He also has struck out 51 and walked 13.

Vanderbilt: Outside of LSU, there's not a more consistent team in the SEC than the Commodores. They hit the road over the weekend and did a clean sweep of struggling Ole Miss. The 'Dores have plenty of contributors on this club, but keep an eye on sophomore right-handed closer, who quietly is having an exceptional year, carrying an 0.81 ERA in 33 1/3 innings.

Florida State: You really can't say enough about the job coach Mike Martin and his staff is doing this season. The Seminoles continued their winning ways over the weekend with a fantastic road series win over Miami. To no surprise, veteran right-handed pitcher Scott Sitz stepped up once again. He now has a 6-0 record with a 0.57 ERA in 47 innings.

Oregon State: The Beavers took a step back two weekends ago with a tough series loss to San Diego, but bounced right back in Pac-12 play with a road series win over UCLA this past weekend. OSU welcomed back shortstop Tyler Smith, who in addition to being an excellent defender, is hitting .313 with a home run and 13 RBIs.

Ryan Eades and LSU have their sights on something special this season. (LSU photo)

Mississippi State: The Bulldogs actually put together a very solid week. In addition to beating a very good South Alabama club in midweek action, they took care of business at home against Florida. State continues to get a big-time campaign from outfielder Hunter Renfroe, who's hitting .417 with 10 homers and 38 RBIs.

Arizona State: The Sun Devils have really played a good brand of baseball over the past couple of weeks. They captured two wins over Wichita State in midweek action before taking two of three from Oregon over the weekend. Right-handed pitcher Trevor Williams is back on track with a 2.84 ERA in 57 innings.

North Carolina State: The Wolfpack certainly has played confident since getting shortstop Trea Turner back in the lineup full-time. N.C. State had a huge weekend that included a series sweep over Virginia Tech with Grant Clyde (.260/2/12) and Logan Ratledge (.203/0/8) each having big weekends.

Arizona: Suddenly, the Wildcats are playing a solid brand of baseball. They captured a home series sweep over California this past weekend, and have now won six-straight conference games. The Wildcats, in their last six games, are hitting .352, while the pitching staff has had a 2.67 ERA.

Campbell: The Camels just continue to impressive this season. Greg Goff's club picked up another nice series win over the weekend, sweeping much improved Presbyterian College. Clayton Brown is hitting .452 to lead the offensive charge, while Brent Graham is hitting .394 and Ben McQuown is hitting .362.

Michigan: Erik Bakich and his coaching captured a huge series win over rival Michigan State this past weekend. Keep an eye on talented left-handed pitcher Evan Hill moving forward. Hill is having a fantastic campaign with a 1.74 ERA in 51 2/3 innings of work, with teams hitting just .208 against him.

Kansas State: Oklahoma certainly leads the Big 12 right now, but could the Sooners get some intense competition from … K-State? The Wildcats picked up a big home series sweep over Texas Tech this past weekend. Keep an eye on talented Ross Kivett, who's hitting .388 with 20 RBIs.

Sam Houston State: Sure, the Bearkats got off to a slow start this spring. But they're on fire right now with a 7-2 conference record and 19-12 overall record. SHSU has several talented starting pitchers, including midweek starter Tyler Eppler in addition to weekend starters Cody Dickson (3.06, 50 IP) and Caleb Smith (3.25, 44.1 IP).


LOSERS

Texas: The Longhorns are right back in the situation they were in last season, needing a strong finish to have a chance at the NCAA postseason. The 'Horns dropped a tough home series to Oklahoma with usually outstanding closer Corey Knebel suffering a loss in the series finale. UT is now 3-6 in the Big 12.

Texas A&M: The weekend rotation was and continues to be a big question mark for the Aggies as they head through Southeastern Conference play. The Aggies dropped a tough home series to Auburn over the weekend with the weekend pitching struggling, including freshman Grayson Long getting ousted after just 2 1/3 innings.

Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are without outstanding outfielder Brandon Thomas because of Mononucleosis, and that really hampered their offensive production in a tough road series loss to Duke over the weekend.

Oklahoma State: OSU had a lot of momentum entering its series against Kansas, but took a step back over the weekend with a tough loss to Kansas. OSU ace right-handed pitcher Jason Hursh struggled in the series opener, allowing seven runs (four earned) on 10 hits in 3 2/3 innings.

Cal Poly: The Mustangs had a tough weekend on the road against UC Santa Barbara, and surprisingly, their pitching wasn't all that great at times. For instance, in Game 2 of the series, starting pitcher Matt Imhof, who typically is very good, allowed four runs on eight hits in five innings in a setback.

Houston: The Cougars finally had a weekend to forget, and it'll be interesting to see how they respond from it. UH lost a midweek bout to Sam Houston State before hitting the road and losing two of three to Marshall. UH was in cruise control in the series opener before allowing 15 runs in the fourth, fifth and sixth innings combined.

Missouri State: Just a week after looking so impressive against Indiana State, the MSU bats kind of took the weekend off in a series loss to Illinois State. Cody Schumacher had a tough start for the Bears last weekend, allowing four runs on seven hits in just 5 1/3 innings.

Dallas Baptist: It's a huge surprise the Patriots are struggling immensely this spring. DBU dropped to 17-14 over the weekend and right-handed pitcher Jake Johnasen had a tough outing against the Aggies, allowing seven runs on five hits in two innings of work.

Santa Clara: The Broncos are having what you'd call a season to forget thus far this spring. SCU has now lost 13-straight contests after losing all three games to BYU over the weekend. For the season, SCU is now 8-21 overall.

Central Florida: Terry Rooney's club has an excellent ace starting pitcher in Ben Lively, but has some work to do moving forward. The Knights have lost five-straight contests, including all three games against Memphis over the weekend. They're now 18-15 overall, 4-5 in C-USA play.


GOING STREAKING

Here are some notable streaks on the national stage:

Winning streaks:

Bryant (13)

Delaware (12)

LSU (12)

Vanderbilt (10)

Cal State Fullerton (7)

Radford (7)

Arizona (6)

North Carolina State (6)


Road winning streaks:

North Carolina (13)

Cal State Fullerton (11)

Campbell (8)

Saint Louis (7)

Indiana (6)


Home winning streaks:

LSU (18)

Bryant (11)

Delaware (11)

Kansas State (10)

Oregon (10)


Did you know?

LSU has had quite the amount of success on the baseball diamond over the past 20 or so years, capturing six national titles. But in terms of the best start in school history, that title belongs to this year's Tigers. With the series sweep over Kentucky this past weekend, the Tigers are off to the best start in school history. LSU is an amazing 30-2 overall with an 11-1 SEC record.


POSTSEASON PICTURE


Five surprising RPIs

South Alabama (15): The Jaguars have put together a solid campaign so far this season. Interestingly, though, this RPI is a little surprising considering their best series win came against Troy, which has an RPI of 75. The Jaguars are 1-3 vs. RPI Top 50 and 8-9 vs. RPI Top 100.

Mercer (27): The Bears are showing you just how important midweek wins over teams like Georgia Tech can be from an RPI standpoint. MU has an RPI of 27 despite its marquee series win coming against Kennesaw State, which has an RPI of 115. The Bears are 2-2 vs. RPI Top 50, 5-5 vs. RPI Top 100.

Austin Peay (29): Gary McClure is doing another impressive coaching job, and this will be an interesting team to watch down the stretch. The Governors have a marquee series win over Michigan State, which has an RPI of 55. APSU is 0-1 vs. RPI Top 50 and 5-3 vs. RPI Top 100.

Rice (69): There's little doubt the Owls are one of the nation's better clubs, but they're going to need some serious help in the RPI department down the stretch to host an NCAA Regional. The Owls have an RPI of 69 and finish the season with weekend series against UCF (203), Houston (45), UAB (152), Memphis (117) and Marshall (207).

Stanford (82): There's a good chance the Cardinal wouldn't reach the NCAA postseason if the season ended today from an RPI standpoint. The Cardinal has a rough RPI of 82, and much of that comes from losing a home series to Utah. Stanford is 0-0 vs. RPI Top 50 and 8-6 vs. RPI Top 100.


PROSPECT WATCH

RALEIGH, N.C. -- No matter what he does on the mound, many observers will always look at North Carolina State sophomore left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodon with a fine-toothed comb.

Perhaps that comes with the territory when you factor in the freshman campaign Rodon put together, or the fact he's one of the elite prospects for the 2014 MLB draft, even the early favorite to be the top overall pick.

Fair or not, that's become reality in Carlos Rodon's world.

Rodon has received some mixed reviews so far this spring. Though he has racked up outstanding strikeout totals, there are times when he has deterred from the plan at hand and been a little inconsistent. That would explain why he has a 4.20 earned-run average despite having 83 strikeouts, 23 walks, and with teams only hitting him at a .189 clip.

From the standpoint of N.C. State coach Elliott Avent, there's a good and logical reason why Rodon has been up and down at times.

"Here's what we think. Carlos threw 114 2/3 innings last year, then he went off to play at Team USA. You can't turn down Team USA when you have a chance to play in Cuba, where his family heritage is from," Avent said. "With that said, we had the full intention to shut him down last summer, but he ended up with Team USA.

"Because of his stint with Team USA, we needed to shut him down in the fall. And possibly, if we had to do it again, we wouldn't have done that. We would've gotten him going a little earlier," he continued. "His arm wasn't in as good of shape entering the season. And on top of that, the weather up here has been brutally cold for the most part. Now, it's getting warmer and he's starting to be him again."

Rodon was on display last Friday when the Wolfpack played host to hard-hitting Virginia Tech. Though Rodon finished the game allowing five runs (three earned) on six hits in 5 2/3 innings of work, there's no doubt he showed flashes of greatness with elite stuff.

Rodon was consistently 91-94 with his fastball, but also dipped down to 88-89 with that pitch some innings. The talented left-hander was still touching 94 on my radar gun when he left the game in the sixth inning.

Otherwise, Rodon was consistently 83-85 with a sometimes very sharp slider, while he also threw a few 77-80 changeups.

Rodon, at least not yet, may not be to the level he was as a freshman last season. However, it's also true that his so-called intense struggles are greatly exaggerated.


NATIONAL NOTEBOOK

* Texas Tech junior right-handed pitcher Trey Masek was having a fantastic campaign  through his start against Texas in mid-March. Masek has since missed three-straight starts for the Red Raiders, though, TTU said at the time of his removal from the weekend rotation that the injury was simple arm soreness and nothing major. It'll be interesting to see if the talented righty can return to the mound this weekend against Lubbock Christian.

* N.C. State is getting closer and closer to being healthy again. Second baseman Logan Ratledge (hand) is finally back and healthy, while shortstop Trea Turner is back from a broken ankle earlier this season. Turner, coach Elliott Avent says, is still only about 80 percent, but continues to battle through the lingering effects of the injury. Also tough for the Wolfpack is the injury to right-handed pitcher Logan Jernigan. Jernigan broke his hand earlier this season and there's still no concrete timetable on when he'll be able to return to the mound.

* Duke has a bit of good and bad news from an injury standpoint. Infielder Aaron Cohn had a torn PCL before the season began, but could return to action for the Blue Devils in the next couple of weeks. Meanwhile, in a hint of bad news, the Blue Devils will be without catcher Mike Rosenfeld the remainder of the season after he suffered a hand injury in the series against Miami.

* Virginia Tech left-handed pitcher Joe Mantiply missed a few starts early in the year, but is back in action. Mantiply started Sunday's performance I saw against N.C. State in less then stellar fashion, but ended the day on a positive note, refining his stuff as the game progressed. Velocity-wise, Mantiply was 86-89 with his fastball, 79-81 with his changeup and 77-82 with his slider. The CH became a good pitch as the game progressed. Mantiply also had a good, well-put together, frame.

* Georgia Tech really misses hard-hitting outfielder Brandon Thomas, who's hitting well over .400 this season. Well, the Yellow Jackets won't know until later this week when they reevaluate the veteran outfielder, but they could be without him for a couple of more weeks because of Mononucleosis. Thomas is hitting an impressive .441 with nine doubles, a triple, a home run and 16 RBIs.

* North Carolina has an incredibly deep and talented pitching staff, so the Tar Heels have been able to plug and chug away from a closer standpoint. Well, as the postseason gets closer, the Tar Heels would like to settle on a full-time closer. Freshman right-handed pitcher Trent Thornton is moving toward nailing down that role. The talented righty was 92-94 with his fastball against Maryland this past weekend, also flashing a 78 changeup. Thornton has had a variety of roles this season, including midweek starter, and has an 0.60 ERA in 45 innings. Teams are hitting just .196 against him.

Last but not least, a look at some intriguing NCAA statistics:

* It's well-documented at this point, but LSU freshman shortstop Alex Bregman is having a sensational season for the Tigers, hitting .441 on the season. But what about some of the other top hitting freshmen sluggers? Here are a few more first-year players to watch on the national stage:

3B Nick Tanielu, Washington State (.402)

OF Skye Bolt, North Carolina (.389)

OF Zach Gibbons, Arizona (.387)

C Patrick Mazeika, Stetson (.383)

OF Tate Matheny, Missouri State (.383)

2B Matt Gonzalez, Georgia Tech (.378)

* In terms of freshmen pitchers, UNC right-handed hurler Trent Thornton leads the first-year players in earned-run average (25 minimum innings pitched). Some others to watch for?

Scott Effross, Indiana (1.02)

Thomas Eshelman, Cal State Fullerton (1.09)

Jimmy Herget, South Florida (1.14)

Andrew Moore, Oregon State (1.28)

Ian Lewandowski, Illinois-Chicago (1.58)

Zac Favre, UCF (1.60)

PJ Conlon, San Diego (1.69)

Jake Lemoine, Houston (1.69)



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