Oregon captured another important victory with a road triumph over Vanderbilt, while Cal Poly has been the other big surprise on the West Coast.
Cal State Fullerton and UC Irvine were the clear-cut favorites to compete for the Big West title, but the Mustangs are gaining steam after starting the season with a 6-1 record, including a pair of series wins over Oklahoma State and Loyola Marymount.
The Mustangs headline our look back at Sunday's college baseball action.
TEAM OF THE DAY: Cal Poly
The Mustangs are off to a terrific start this season. They made a statement last weekend with a home series sweep over Oklahoma State. They’re doing it again this weekend by winning the first three games of a four-game set against Loyola Marymount. Cal Poly swept a doubleheader from LMU on Saturday by scores of 12-5 and 6-2. The ‘Stangs had a big-time day at the plate, with red-hot outfielder Mitch Haniger finishing the afternoon with five total hits. Can anyone cool down coach Larry Lee’s club?
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Colin Moran, 3b, North Carolina
It should come as absolutely no surprise Moran is doing a great job at the plate so far this season. After all, he was an All-American as just a freshman last season. Moran had an amazing day at the plate as the Tar Heels defeated Wright State 14-0. Moran went hit for the cycle, going 5-for-6 with three runs scored and six RBIs. For the season, Moran is now hitting .458 with a home run and 10 RBIs.
UPSET OF THE DAY: Holy Cross over Texas A&M
It’s not a reach to say the Crusaders could easily already have won this series against the highly touted Aggies. They picked up a huge upset victory with a 7-3 triumph on Saturday. Holy Cross starting pitcher Matt Croglio allowed two runs in four innings of work, while relievers Tommy Marra and Mike Ahmed took care of business. Marra allowed just a run on five hits in 4 1/3 innings, while Ahmed tossed 1 2/3 scoreless frames.
FIVE BEST TEAMS
Oregon: Ducks talented freshman pitcher Jake Reed struck out five and allowed just two runs on three hits as they clinched a road series win over Vanderbilt with a 7-2 triumph. With the win, the Ducks have won six-straight contests since losing their season opener to Hawaii.
South Carolina: The Gamecocks are off to an incredibly quiet 5-0 start, at least from a media standpoint. Gamecocks starting pitcher Matt Price was fantastic in a series-clinching 3-2 win over Elon. Price struck out eight and allowed just a run in five innings of work. Relievers Tyler Webb (seven strikeouts) and Forrest Koumas also performed at a high level.
Stanford: The Cardinal continues to play at an extremely high level, clinching a home series win over Texas with a 6-2 triumph. Starting pitcher Brett Mooneyham returned to old form by striking out seven and allowing just a run on three hits in eight innings. Meanwhile, Jake Stewart and Kenny Diekroeger each finished the contest with three hits.
Rice: What an incredible start to the 2012 campaign for the Owls. Starting pitcher Matthew Reckling was fantastic on Saturday, as the Owls captured a series-clinching 2-0 win over Dallas Baptist. Reckling struck out 11 and allowed just two hits in 8 1/3 shutout innings of work. Offensively, speedy outfielder Michael Fuda finished the afternoon with a pair of doubles and three hits. The Owls are now 7-0.
Tennessee: The Dave Serrano era really couldn’t have gotten off to a better start. The Volunteers improved to 6-0 on Saturday with a 3-2 extra-inning triumph over a solid Seton Hall club. Vols starting pitcher Zack Goodley struck out seven and allowed just a run on three hits in six, innings, while reliever Nick Williams was fantastic in relief, finishing the game with two strikeouts without allowing a run in 2 1/3 innings.
FIVE WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE
LSU: Tigers highly touted starting pitcher Ryan Eades allowed just a run on four hits in 6 1/3 innings, but his team still managed to drop a disappointing 1-0 decision to Appalachian State. LSU finished the game with just three hits, but give Mountaineers starting pitcher Ryan Arrowood some credit. He struck out 10 and allowed just two hits in seven shutout frames.
Arizona State: Like LSU on Saturday, the Sun Devils ran into a buzz saw in UC Riverside pitcher Eddie Orozco in a 3-1 setback. Orozco allowed just a run on four hits in six innings, while the Highlanders bullpen with Ben Doucette and Joie Dunyon also impressed. For the Sun Devils, only shortstop Deven Marrero chipped in a multi-hit performance.
Oregon State: We’re not real sure what has been wrong with the Beavers the past couple of days. They were dominated by San Diego State on Friday before getting thrashed 13-2 by San Diego on Saturday. OSU starting pitcher Dan Child allowed five runs in 3 1/3 innings, while relievers Carlos Rodriguez and Scott Schultz combined to allow eight runs on nine hits.
San Jose State: The Spartans are expected to have a solid spring, but they’re certainly scuffling out of the gate this season. SJSU dropped another game to UC Santa Barbara on Saturday, this time 3-2. UCSB starting pitcher Andrew Vasquez put together a solid start, allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings. SJSU now has an overall record of 1-4.
Winthrop: The Eagles must find a way to put all the important pieces together sooner rather than later. Winthrop starting pitcher Eric Ruth allowed just a run in seven innings of work against Georgia, but his club still dropped a 2-1 decision. The Eagles mustered just three hits against Bulldogs pitching, falling to 0-6 on the season.
FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
* We’ve wondered about the Matt Price experiment ever since South Carolina coach Ray Tanner announced the Gamecocks would be moving him from closer to the weekend rotation. Price was both great and iffy at times in his first start two weekends ago. However, his second start against Elon was something special. He struck out eight batters and allowed just one hit in five innings of work. It looks like that Price experiment as a starter is going to work out after all. Of course, did we ever have any doubt in a Ray Tanner-led plan?
* Everyone knows all about Stanford ace pitcher Mark Appel, but what about No. 2 starter Brett Mooneyham? Mooneham was one of the club’s most highly touted pitchers last season, but missed the campaign because of a finger injury. Now, he’s back in the mix and doing a great job. The talented left-hander allowed three runs in six innings against Vanderbilt last weekend. On Saturday against Texas, he struck out seven batters and allowed just a run on three hits in eight innings. The Cardinal is going to be incredibly tough to beat if Appel and Mooneyham consistently have this type of one-two punch.
* Georgia Southern is expected to be an easy NCAA postseason team this season, but it’ll now be interesting to see how the program proceeds without stud outfielder Victor Roache. As we reported early Saturday night, Roache could miss the rest of the season with a serious wrist-area injury, which includes a bone fracture. Without his big-time bat, the Eagles are in a real pickle at the plate. They’re hoping freshman Hunter Thomas or redshirt freshman Zach Lenns rise to the occasion. It’ll be interesting to see how the two improve as the season moves along.
* If you’d talked to Rice coach Wayne Graham over the course of the past two seasons, you’d know just how much potential he believes right-handed pitcher Matthew Reckling has. Reckling has the staff to be one of the nation’s elite, but consistency has been the key. Unfortunately for the Owls, he didn’t have much of that the past couple of seasons. However, he’s a changed man this spring. Reckling had a sensational start against Dallas Baptist on Saturday, striking out 11 and allowing just two hits in 8 1/3 innings. Most impressive is the fact Reckling has a 0.00 ERA in 15 1/3 innings this season. He has struck out 20 and walked four, while teams are hitting him at an incredibly low .115 clip. The Owls are in great shape moving forward if he continues at this clip.
* It’s hard to say there are turning points in a college baseball team’s season this early in the campaign, but that just might be the case for UCLA. The Bruins were thrashed by Baylor in their series opener on Friday, but bounced back in impressive fashion Saturday with a 9-3 triumph over the Bears. UCLA starting pitcher Nick Vander Tuig was just OK, while the bullpen trio of David Berg, Ryan Deeter and Scott Griggs did an impressive job. Also worth noting, and perhaps most important, is the fact five Bruins had multi-hit performances, including outfielder Beau Amaral’s three-hit performance. Sunday’s game against the Bears is a big one.
Kendall Rogers is the college baseball managing editor for Perfect Game and can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org