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The Aggies need a strong weekend against Nebraska to head into next weekend’s series against rival Texas with an outright Big 12 title on their minds. The Aggies started the weekend on a positive note with a 7-3 triumph over the Huskers. A&M starting pitcher Michael Wacha struck out a career-high 12 batters and allowed just two runs on seven hits in seven innings. Offensively, leadoff hitter Tyler Naquin had another big night, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI.
The Sun Devils are aiming for a national seed and can’t afford to drop a series to USC this weekend. Well, they started the weekend on the wrong foot with a 5-1 setback to the Trojans. USC starting pitcher Andrew Triggs struck out six and allowed just a run on seven hits in a complete game performance. For ASU, starting pitcher Brady Rodgers struck out eight and allowed five runs on nine hits in seven innings. ASU needs to bounce back in Game 2.
Cowboys designated hitter Dane Phillips hit a walkoff RBI double in the 10th inning to beat Baylor 1-0 in a huge series opener, and the story of the game was the starting performances put together by BU’s Logan Verrett and OSU’s Mike Strong. Verrett, a highly touted draft prospect, struck out four and allowed no runs on four hits in eight innings. Strong, meanwhile, struck out 14 and allowed no runs and just two hits in eight innings. What a start to the weekend for both teams.
The Utes entered Friday’s contest against TCU just 1 1/2 games out of first place, and now are just a half game out after earning a solid 7-6 win over the Horned Frogs. Utah starting pitcher Rick Anton struck out five and allowed just three earned runs on nine hits in seven innings, while reliever Tyler Wagner allowed just a run on two hits in four innings. For TCU, starting pitcher Erik Miller allowed four earned runs on seven hits in eight innings. The Frogs must bounce back in this series to stay in the mix for an NCAA Regional host.
It’s safe to say the Huskies continue to play an outstanding brand of baseball. They earned yet another win in Big East play with a 6-2 triumph over Louisville. Huskies starting pitcher and top prospect Matt Barnes struck out nine and allowed just two runs (none earned) on six hits in eight innings. Mike Nemeth and Tom Verdi each had two hits in the game, while stud outfielder George Springer went 2-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs. The Huskies are in great shape right now.
Virginia stud pitcher and top prospect Danny Hultzen was the headliner entering Friday’s contest, but Miami freshman Bryan Radziewski outdueled him on the way to an impressive 6-2 triumph. Radziewski struck out seven and allowed just two runs on four hits in seven innings. Hultzen, meanwhile, was touched up for five runs the first two innings and finished the game striking out nine and allowing five run son six hits in seven innings. A road series win over the Cavaliers would greatly help Miami’s hosting chances.
Cal State Bakersfield
Hultzen wasn’t the only top prospect to be outdueled on Friday night. UCLA pitcher Gerrit Cole suffered the same fate as Cal State Bakersfield starter Mike McCarthy outdueled him on the way to a 5-1 triumph over the Bruins. McCarthy struck out seven and allowed a run on two hits in a complete game performance, while Cole had yet another rough start, allowing five runs on 10 hits in a complete game. CSB catcher Jeremy Rodriguez led the offensive charge for the Roadrunners, going a perfect 3-for-3 with two RBIs. The Roadrunners are out of the mix for a postseason bid for now, but a series win over the Bruins could get them back in the discussion.
USM went on the road Friday and earned a solid 6-5 win over Houston to begin an important Conference USA series. USM starting pitcher Todd McInnis struck out three and allowed just two runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings. Relievers Chase Horn and Collin Cargill weren’t great, but finished the job. Offensively, leadoff hitter Kameron Brunty and second baseman Isaac Rodriguez each finished the game with two hits. The Golden Eagles must win this series to stay in national seed contention.
This series could decide which team earns a national seed in a few weeks, and the Tar Heels are off to a hot start after earning a 3-2 victory in the series opener. UNC starting pitcher Patrick Johnson struck out six and allowed just two runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings, while Georgia Tech starting pitcher Mark Pope allowed three runs on nine hits in six innings. The two teams combined to use 13 pitchers in the contest. UNC is in great shape with another win this weekend.
The Owls have a very outside shot at a national seed, but would be in great shape entering next week’s Southern Miss series for an NCAA Regional host with a home series win over Memphis this weekend. The Owls started the weekend on a positive note, earning a 10-6 win in the series opener. Rice starting pitcher Austin Kubitza struck out six and allowed four runs on eight hits in 6 1/3 innings. Offensively, Rice top prospect Anthony Rendon hit his fifth home run of the season and J.T. Chargois, Shane Holescher and Michael Ratterree each had two hits in the game.
We’ve talked about how consistent the Chanticleers have been the past few weeks. Well, they suffered a minor setback on Friday with a 3-2 extra-inning loss to Big South foe Winthrop. Coastal starting pitcher Anthony Meo struck out six and allowed just a run on five hits in 7 2/3 innings, but the Winthrop staff did just a hair better with starter Tyler Mizenko striking out seven in eight innings and reliever Matt Pierpoint tossing two scoreless frames to end the game. We’ll see if the Chants can bounce back the rest of the weekend.
We’ve stopped trying to figure out the Big Ten regular season title race. The Spartans took a huge step forward last weekend with a series sweep over Purdue, but they started this weekend with an 8-6 loss to Indiana. MSU starting pitcher Kurt Wunderlich was touched for eight runs on 14 hits in seven innings, while Indiana got a monster offensive performance from first baseman Jerrud Sabourin, who went a perfect 4-for-4 with a run scored and three RBIs. Dustin DeMuth, Alex Dickerson and Brian Lambert each had two hits in the game. MSU still is in good shape in the title race with second-place Minnesota also losing.
The Tigers, overall, have had a horrid campaign this spring. But they’ve really played a solid brand of baseball the past few weeks. They also appear to be well on their way to another Big 12 series win this weekend after blowing out Texas Tech 11-1 in the series opener. MU starting pitcher Eric Anderson struck out six and allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings, while the bullpen also did a solid job. At the plate, first baseman Eric Garcia had a huge day, going 3-for-5 with a run scored and four RBIs. The Tigers are all the way up to fifth in the conference standings and could be an interesting team to watch in the conference tournament.
The Knights desperately need a road series win over UAB this weekend to stay in good shape in the postseason race. They started the weekend in solid fashion with a 5-3 triumph over the Blazers. UCF starting pitcher Brian Adkins struck out four and allowed just two runs on eight hits in 6 2/3 innings, while reliever Joe Rogers allowed a run in 2 1/3 innings of work. Offensively, Ronnie Richardson, D.J. Hicks and Ryan Breen each had two hits in the game. The Knights could make up some serious ground in the conference standings this weekend.
Winning in a variety of ways is a sign of a good team. Kent State ace pitcher and top prospect Andrew Chafin struck out just four and allowed five runs on four hits in four innings, but the Golden Flashes still managed an impressive 17-10 victory over Bowling Green. While Chafin struggled on the mound, the offense was fantastic with third baseman Travis Shaw going 4-for-5 with a home run, three runs scored and four RBIs. Evan Campbell and Ben Klafczynski each had three hits in the game. Kent now has an impressive 35-13 overall record.
Well, the Bulldogs don’t plan to make their potential trip to the postseason an easy feat. The Bulldogs are right back to square one after dropping a 7-4 decision to Kentucky, effectively dropping to .500 overall. UK starting pitcher Alex Meyer, a top prospect, struck out five and allowed three runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings, while Georgia starter Alex Wood allowed six runs on 10 hits in five innings. The Bulldogs are in big trouble from a postseason standpoint if they lose this series, so it’ll be interesting to see how they come out Saturday.
Sam Houston State
The Bearkats entered the weekend on the NCAA postseason bubble, but they might be completely off the bubble with another loss this weekend. SHSU began the weekend in dismal fashion with a 16-0 loss to Central Arkansas. SHSU starting pitcher Brandon Kimbrel allowed seven runs on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings, while the bullpen didn’t fair much better. It’s important to note that UCA leadoff hitter Ethan Harris went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and two RBIs. SHSU has its back against the wall the rest of the weekend.
It wasn’t an especially good night for several mid-majors out there, including the Ragin’ Cajuns. The Cajuns dropped a disappointing 3-1 home decision to a weak Middle Tennessee State club. MTSU starting pitcher Cody Tollison allowed just a run on five hits in 5 2/3 innings, while relievers Hunter Dawson and Paul Mittura were solid out of the bullpen. ULL needs to take care of business the rest of the weekend to stay on the good side of the NCAA bubble.
The Bulldogs entered the weekend on the good side of the NCAA postseason bubble, and they’re really helping their case so far with a pair of wins and a clinched series against rival Ole Miss. State captured the series victory with a 7-4 triumph on Friday. State starting pitcher Nick Routt allowed three runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings, while relievers Tim Statz and Caleb Reed took care of business to finish the game. Offensively, outfielder Brent Brownlee went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. While State is in much better shape right now, the Rebels are once again back to the drawing board.
The Hogs took a huge step forward last weekend with a series win over Florida. Now they’re once again off to a good start after earning an impressive 6-2 win over South Carolina. Arkansas starting pitcher DJ Baxendale struck out six and allowed just a run on six hits in six innings, while reliever Trent Daniel allowed just a run and a hit in three innings of work. Offensively, first baseman Dominic Fociciello recorded four hits and Matt Reynolds recorded three hits. The Hogs moved one step closer to earning an NCAA Regional host. Now we’ll see if they can earn the huge road series win over the Gamecocks.
The Panthers are playing an outstanding brand of baseball down the stretch. They extended their impressive winning streak to 14 games with a 3-2 win over Arkansas State. FIU starting pitcher Phil Haig allowed just two run son five hits in seven innings, while relievers Mason McVay and Jose Velazquez were solid in two innings of work combined. Offensively, Jeremy Patton and Mike Martinez each had three hits in the contest. Unfortunately for FIU, it didn’t gain ground in the Sun Belt standings with Troy beating Louisiana-Monroe.
The Anteaters definitely are one of those teams that could find their way out of the NCAA postseason mix with a poor finish to the regular season. Well, the ‘Eaters started the weekend like a team with extra motivation with a dominant 9-2 win over UC Santa Barbara. Irvine starting pitcher Matt Summers struck out six and allowed just two runs on eight hits in seven innings, while the bullpen faired well with Jimmy Litchfield and Phillip Ferragamo leading the way. Offensively, Brian Hernandez and Ronnie Shaeffer each had three hits, while Sean Madigan went 2-for-4 with a home run and Drew Hillman and Jordan Fox recorded two hits.
The night of upsets continued on the West Coast Friday with the Cardinal dropping a disappointing 6-2 decision to Oregon. Stanford starting pitcher and top 2012 draft prospect Mark Appel struck out five and allowed six runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings, while Oregon starting pitcher and top prospect Tyler Anderson was fantastic, striking out seven and allowing just a run on four hits in seven innings. Danny Pulfer, Kyle Garlick and KC Serna each had three hits for the Ducks. Stanford isn’t in danger of missing the NCAA postseason just yet, but it needs to establish some sort of consistency before the postseason arrives.
Cal State Fullerton
The Titans have total control of the Big West title race and began their rivalry series against Long Beach State with a solid 4-1 victory. Fullerton starting pitcher and top prospect Noe Ramirez struck out seven and allowed a run on two hits in eight innings, while Long Beach State starting pitcher Andrew Gagnon, also a solid prospect, struck out four and allowed three runs on eight hits in seven innings. Michael Lorenzen led the Titans at the plate with three hits.
The Bulldogs have had some consistency issues the past few weeks, but it appears they’re ready to make that ancient history. Fresno has been phenomenal so far this weekend against New Mexico State. The ‘Dogs defeated the Aggies 15-7 on Friday to improve to 2-0 in the series. But most impressive is the Bulldogs have scored 32 runs in two games against NSMU. Fresno designated hitter Kenny Wise led the offensive charge with a 2-for-5 night that included a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs. Danny Muno, Dusty Robinson, Jordan Ribera and Aaron Judge also had productive nights at the plate. Perhaps Fresno can get back in the mix for a host site.
The Sun Belt postseason bubble race appears to be clear as mud. Louisiana-Lafayette dropped a surprising contest to Middle Tennessee State and WKU dropped a disappointing 6-3 bout to South Alabama. USA starting pitcher Garrett Harris struck out six and allowed just three runs on nine hits in a complete game performance, while WKU starting pitcher Tanner Perkins allowed six runs on eight hits in 5 2/3 innings. WKU needs to take care of business the rest of the weekend to stay in NCAA postseason contention. It entered the weekend with an RPI of 73.
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 email@example.com