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College : : Story
27 takes: Strong collection of arms
Published: Saturday, March 19, 2011

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HAVE YOUR SAY: What was Saturday's biggest surprise?

PREMIUM: Analyzing Florida vs. LSU (Game 2)

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Texas A&M: Just a day after being mystified by Oklahoma starting pitcher Michael Rocha, Michael Wacha and the Aggies returned the favor. Wacha struck out eight and allowed just a run on seven hits in a complete game performance as the Aggies defeated the Sooners 11-1. While Wacha led the way on the mound, seven A&M hitters had multi-hit games in the winning cause.

Virginia: The Cavaliers got off to a hot start this season and raised plenty of eyebrows last weekend with a road series sweep over Clemson. Well, the Cavaliers once again have recorded an impressive series win as they defeated Florida State 5-4 in a thrilling Saturday bout. Virginia starting pitcher Tyler Wilson had a tough outing, but Branden Kline allowed just a run in 3 1/3 innings of relief work. Pinch hitter Jared King provided the most heroics on the day with a walk-off home run to win it.

Pepperdine: What an amazing weekend it was for the Waves. They entered the series reeling from a tough series loss to Louisville last weekend. However, they returned to their winning ways this weekend. They defeated Coastal Carolina on Friday and swept a doubleheader from the Chanticleers on Saturday with victories of 2-1 and 7-1. Amazingly, the Pepperdine pitching staff allowed just three runs in three games. Matt Maurer and Aaron Gates led the charge on Saturday.

Utah: Don’t even dare to laugh, but the Utes are a legitimate Mountain West contender. They caught everyone’s attention a couple of weekends ago at the Houston College Classic, and have continued to impress. The Utes recorded a series win over rival BYU with a 15-6 victory on Saturday. Utah starting pitcher Brock Duke struck out seven and allowed just two runs on seven hits in five innings, while slugger CJ Cron had two hits, a home run and four RBIs.

Air Force: He may only be an interim coach, but Falcons coach Mike Kazlausky is putting together one heck of an audition this season. The Falcons earned a series-opening win over Portland on Friday before sweeping a doubleheader on Saturday to clinch the series with victories of 8-3 and 9-4. With the wins, the Falcons are sitting at .500 and continue to be a pleasant surprise.

Samford: The Citadel Bulldogs won the Southern Conference regular season title last season, but the Samford Bulldogs are aiming for the crown this season. The Bulldogs made a statement last weekend with a series sweep over Western Carolina. They’re doing it again this weekend, too. Samford went up 2-0 in the series against Georgia Southern with a 9-2 victory on Saturday. Solid prospect and starting pitcher Lex Rutledge struck out seven and allowed just two runs on four hits in seven innings.

Southeastern Louisiana: Remember when we said earlier this week the Lions were in good shape to make an NCAA postseason bid as long as they don’t lose any bad series in Southland play? Well, that has happened. The Lions dropped a 9-4 decision and the series to McNeese State on Saturday. SELU starting pitcher Joseph Koon allowed three runs in 2 2/3 innings and the bullpen didn’t fair much better. The Lions need to regroup and win the series finale.

Vanderbilt’s Grayson Garvin: It’s safe to say the Commodores are making a statement with their pitching this weekend. After tossing a shutout on Friday, the ‘Dores emulated that performance in a 4-0 win over Mississippi State on Saturday. Vandy starting pitcher Grayson Garvin put together another great outing, striking out six and allowing just two hits in seven shutout innings. That’s now 18 innings State has gone without a run against VU pitching.

North Carolina: The Tar Heels too a step back last weekend with a surprising series loss to Wake Forest, but they’ve bounced back this weekend against Virginia Tech. The Tar Heels clinched a series win over the Hokies on Saturday with a 5-4 triumph. UNC starting pitcher Kent Emanuel struck out nine and allowed just two runs on five hits in seven innings. UNC could use a series sweep this weekend.

San Diego: Toreros coach Rich Hill has to be ready to pull his hair out right about now. The Toreros entered the weekend hoping to change their fortunes against Oregon. However, they’ve had the opposite happen. USD fell to 4-13 on the year with a pair of losses to the Ducks, 6-3 and 10-7. The Toreros have another game to play against the Ducks. Inconsistent play and bad offensive production has led to USD’s incredibly slow start this season.

Georgia Tech: What an impressive season the Yellow Jackets have put together. The Jackets won the opener against N.C. State and clinched the series win Saturday with a dominating 12-0 victory. Tech starting pitcher and top prospect Jed Bradley only struck out five hitters, but allowed just five hits in seven shutout innings. Tech is pitching at an elite level and doing plenty offensively to record victories. The Jackets are one of the biggest surprises this season.

Stetson: The Hatters earned a win in the series opener against Mercer and took control of the Atlantic Sun with a thrilling 3-2 win over the Bears on Saturday. Hatters starting pitcher Kurt Schluter put together a fantastic performance, striking out 10 and allowing just two runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. The Hatters are 15-4, and let’s not forget they have a series sweep over Georgia to their credit, too.

Texas: Kansas State had the Longhorns on full alert entering the weekend. After all, the ‘Horns were well aware the Wildcats beat them two of three in Austin two seasons ago. Texas starting pitcher Hoby Milner struck out six and allowed just three runs on five hits in seven innings as the ‘Horns captured a 4-3 victory and the series. UT relievers Kirby Bellow and Corey Knebel also performed at a high level.

College of Charleston: The Cougars entered the weekend hoping to make a statement against good competition. However, they’re on the verge of going winless at home. The Cougars only scored two runs in a loss to Southern Mississippi on Friday, and didn’t fair better on Saturday in a 3-1 loss to Connecticut. Charleston starting pitcher Josh Renfro allowed just two runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings, while the offense only was able to score a run on five hits.

Oregon State: The Beavers had been solid so far this season, but there were some question marks about them entering the series against Long Beach State because of their relatively weak schedule. Those questions are no more as the Beavers captured a series victory over the Dirtbags with a 9-6 victory in Game 1 of a doubleheader. Danny Hayes led the way at the plate with a double, two hits and three RBIs. OSU greatly improved its stock with a road series win over LBSU.

Texas State: With Southeastern Louisiana losing its weekend series at home to McNeese State, the Bobcats are the clear-cut favorite to win the Southland Conference regular season title. The Bobcats clinched a series victory over rival Sam Houston State on Saturday with a 5-3 victory. Texas State starting pitcher Mitchell Pitts struck out three and allowed just three runs on five hits in seven innings. The Bobcats have a solid club at 14-4 on the year.

South Carolina: The Gamecocks showed they know how to respond to adversity. They dropped the series opener to Georgia on Friday and rebounded in Game with a 2-1 triumph. Gamecocks starting pitcher Steven Neff was fantastic on the mound, striking out four and allowing just a run on three hits in seven innings. Relievers John Taylor and Matt Price also threw well in the winning cause. South Carolina’s victory sets up a crucial series finale.

Louisville’s Justin Amlung: The Cardinals got an uncharacteristic start from Matt Koch in the series opener against Xavier, but right-hander Justin Amlung was having none of that in Game 2 against the Musketeers. Amlung struck out seven and allowed just five hits in seven shutout frames in a 3-0 victory. Amlung is having an amazing season and now has a 0.50 ERA for the season.

Miami: It was easy to be skeptical about the Hurricanes entering the weekend series against Wake Forest. The Hurricanes hadn’t exactly been impressive this season and the Demon Deacons were coming off a home series win over North Carolina. However, the ‘Canes prevailed on Saturday with a 4-3 victory to clinch a series win. Canes starting pitcher EJ Encinosa had a less than stellar performance, but relievers AJ Salcines, Adam Sargent and Daniel Miranda rose to the occasion.

UC Irvine: No matter what is said about the Anteaters’ schedule, there’s no debating they just continue to take care of business. Irvine won the series opener against Loyola Marymount on Friday before splitting a pair of games on Saturday to win the three-game series. The ‘Eaters won the finale 4-1. Irvine starting pitcher Andy Lines allowed just five hits in five shutout innings in the winning cause. UCI now has an impressive 14-2 record.

Fresno State: You can’t say enough about the job the Bulldogs have done this season. Fresno made a statement last weekend with a road series win over Nebraska with pitcher Greg Gonzalez leading the charge. Gonzalez was back at it again Saturday as he guided the Bulldogs to a series-clinching 7-2 victory over Washington State. Gonzalez struck out seven and allowed just two runs on four hits in 5 1/3 innings. Relievers Taylor Garrison and Josh Poytress also performed at a high level.

Southern Mississippi: The Golden Eagles are having a weekend to remember at the College of Charleston tournament this weekend. They went 15 innings with Rhode Island on Saturday and earned a thrilling 4-3 victory to improve to 2-0 in the tourney. USM starting pitcher Jonathan Thompson allowed just two runs on six hits in six innings, but reliever Collin Cargill had the most impressive outing. He struck out six and allowed just three hits in 7 2/3 innings.

Clemson: Coaches often say they learn the most about their teams during the roughest patches of the season. If that’s the case, Clemson coach Jack Leggett has to like what he’s seeing this weekend. The Tigers clinched a series win over Duke on Saturday with a 16-7 triumph. Outfielder Chris Epps recorded three hits in the game, including a home run. After losing all three games to Virginia last weekend, the Tigers could use a series sweep over the Blue Devils.

Auburn: After suffering a heartbreaking extra-inning loss to Arkansas on Friday, the Tigers hoped to return the favor in Game 2 on Saturday. They did just that with an impressive 9-5 triumph. AU starting pitcher Will Irvin struck out five and allowed just two runs on seven hits in six innings, while hard-hitting Kevin Patterson led the way at the plate with a home run, two total hits and four RBIs. AU’s win sets up a huge series finale.

Houston: What an up and down season it has been for the Cougars in Todd Whitting’s first campaign with the program. The Cougars opened some eyes on Friday with a series-opening win over Andrew Chafin and Kent State. They made another statement Saturday with a 4-3 series-clinching victory. UH crafty left-hander Jordan Lewis struck out four and allowed just three runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, while leadoff hitter Landon Appling led the way at the plate with three hits. A series sweep over a solid Golden Flashes club would be huge for the Cougars.

Florida: LSU coach Paul Mainieri wasn’t kidding when he said the Gators have the best pitching he has ever seen in college baseball. The Gators put together another fantastic performance in a 1-0 series-clinching victory over the Tigers. UF starting pitcher Hudson Randall only struck out two batters, but was extremely efficient with eight hits allowed in 6 2/3 shutout innings. UF relievers Greg Larson and Nick Maronde also were fantastic, with Maronde topping out around 95 mph. It was the first time the Tigers were shut out at the new Alex Box Stadium.

Cal State Fullerton: The Titans hit the road last week and dropped all three games of a series against LSU before losing a midweek bout to Texas A&M. After a nightmarish road trip, the Titans returned home and took care of business against struggling Washington this weekend. Fullerton swept both ends of a doubleheader on Saturday by scores of 6-1 and 9-4. Tyler Pill put together a solid start in the first game while Dylan Floro threw six strong innings in the second game. Perhaps a series sweep against the Huskies will get the Titans back on track for good.

Kendall Rogers is the managing editor of college baseball for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at kendall@perfectgame.org