Sunday's RPI report
With Saturday's college baseball action in the books, here's our inside look back at the highlights and lowlights from around the country.
TEAM OF THE DAY: Washington
There have been several surprises in the Pac-12 this season, Washington being one of them. The Huskies haven't been great the entire season, but they've won some big games. UW took a big step forward this weekend by earning a series win over Oregon. The Huskies clinched a series win over the Ducks by splitting a Saturday doubleheader. In the first game of the day, freshman starting pitcher Tyler Davis was tremendous, allowing just three hits in six shutout innings, as the Huskies defeated the Ducks 5-0. UW is 2-1 in the Pac-12, and it'll be interesting to see how it fares the rest of the spring.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Dan Child, rhp, Oregon State
The Beavers have had some consistency issues at times this season, but finally appear to be hitting their strides. Talented right-handed starting pitcher Dan Child put together a fantastic start, as the Beavers captured a doubleheader sweep over California. Child struck out six batters and allowed just one run (none earned) and five hits in eight innings of work. The Beavers clinched a series victory over the Golden Bears, improving to 13-5 overall.
UPSET OF THE DAY: Virginia Tech over Georgia Tech
After dropping a tough rivalry series to Virginia last weekend, the Hokies were hoping to make some noise at Georgia Tech this weekend. They dropped the series opener to the Yellow Jackets, but bounced back Saturday with an impressive 12-9 triumph. Virginia Tech leadoff hitter Jake Atwell went 4-for-5 with a home run, four runs scored and three RBIs, while outfielder Andrew Rash went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and two RBIs. The Hokies need to find a way to win the series finale.
FIVE BEST TEAMS
Texas: The Longhorns certainly have gone through some tough times the past few weeks, but have taken a step forward this weekend with a series win over rival Oklahoma. The ‘Horns defeated the Sooners 9-5 on Saturday to clinch the series triumph. Third baseman Erich Weiss went 4-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, while second baseman Brooks Marlow knocked in two runs, and shortstop Jordan Etier knocked in three runs.
Oregon State: It was a special day for the Beavers. They’ve certainly gone through some growing pains at times this season, but they’re finally getting into a rhythm. OSU swept a doubleheader from California on Saturday by scores of 9-2 and 4-1. Ben Wetzler allowed just two runs in eight innings in the first game, while Dan Child was terrific on the mound in the second game. OSU suddenly has a terrific 13-5 overall record.
LSU: The Tigers hadn't really been tested a great deal entering the weekend, but are playing very well against Mississippi State. LSU clinched a series win over the Bulldogs with a 4-3 triumph on Saturday. Starting pitcher Ryan Eades allowed just a run and eight hits in seven innings.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack couldn't be off to a more impressive start in ACC play. Impressive freshman starting pitcher Carlos Rodon struck out nine batters and allowed just two runs and four hits in eight innings, as the Wolfpack defeated Wake Forest 6-2 to clinch a series victory. N.C. State now is 4-1 in the ACC, 14-3 overall.
Kentucky: Well, it's perfectly all right to now call the Wildcats for real. After beating South Carolina in wild fashion on Friday, the Wildcats once again beat the Gamecocks, 4-3, in another high-intensity matchup on Saturday. UK starting pitcher Jerad Grundy allowed three runs in 5 2/3 innings, while the bullpen did a terrific job with A.J. Reed, Tim Peterson and Trevor Gott getting the job done.
FIVE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS
Maryland: The Terrapins were terrific the first two weeks of the season, but have taken a step back the last two weekends. The Terps’ woes continued on Saturday in a 9-5 home loss to North Carolina to lose another ACC series. Maryland starting pitcher Michael Boyden allowed two runs in five innings of work, while the bullpen didn’t fare too well with usual starter David Carroll allowing four runs on three hits in just an inning.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets raised a little bit of a red flag last weekend with a road series loss to N.C. State. They need to finish this weekend’s series against Virginia Tech on the right foot. Yellow Jackets starting pitcher Matt Grimes was lifted after allowing four runs in 2 2/3 innings of work in a disappointing 12-9 setback to the Hokies.
Mercer The Bears were off to a terrific start this spring, and actually played pretty well against Mississippi State last weekend. However, they've dropped the first two games of their series against Kennesaw State, including an 8-0 decision on Saturday.
Texas Tech: The Red Raiders really need something to go their way. They dropped a pair of games to TCU last weekend, and have lost the first two games this weekend to Baylor. Tech closer-turned-starter John Neely allowed a run in 4 1/3 innings, while the offense only mustered three runs and seven hits.
Tennessee: The Volunteers started the season on a high note, but have since come back down to Earth a bit. The Vols have lost the first two games of the weekend series against Georgia, losing Game 2 on Saturday, 10-5. Vols starting pitcher Zack Godley had an uncharacteristic bad start, allowing seven runs and 10 hits in four innings of work.
FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
* With such a busy schedule traveling all over the country, very seldom do I have time to check out some of the better local mid-majors in Texas. For that reason, I made a point to go check out red-hot Texas State and Stephen F. Austin on Saturday, a game in which the Lumberjacks, surprisingly, won 8-6. Texas State right-handed pitcher Kyle Finnegan, one of the stars of the early season for the Bobcats, was on the bump. He started the game with a solid first inning before running into some trouble in the second with Bobby Loveless and the solid-hitting Lumberjacks leading the way. Finnegan eventually got into a groove, allowing four earned runs and nine hits in seven innings. He finished the contest with five strikeouts. Finnegan consistently sat at 90-94 throughout the game, getting stronger as the contest progressed. He also flashed a solid changeup at 80 mph, while he had a power slider at 87-88. We'll have much more on Finnegan in a story next week. While Finnegan didn't have his best start, the Bobcats' bullpen definitely was a disappointment in the setback. Dylan Adamek tossed 1 2/3 scoreless innings, but Hunter Lemke and Jeff McVaney surprising left something to be desired. With that said, I spent much of the afternoon trying to figure out how the Lumberjacks have struggled so much, particularly offensively. Bobby Loveless, Hunter Dozier, Jarid Scarafiotti and Freddy Villalobos all were impressive hitters.
* What an incredible start to the season for the Kentucky Wildcats. The Wildcats have been under fire the past few weeks for playing a weak schedule. And as we said earlier this week, the best way to silence doubters is by beating the elite teams. Well, the Wildcats have done the talking so far this weekend, taking the first two games from South Carolina by identical scores of 4-3. Most impressive to me is Kentucky's ability to get big-time hits in clutch situations and the bullpen. UK coach Gary Henderson talked to me earlier this week about how the bullpen's rise was the key to the season thus far. And again on Saturday, that bullpen rose to the occasion. Youngster A.J. Reed threw two solid innings, JUCO transfer Tim Peterson did his job, and stud Trevor Gott closed things out. You have to admit, this UK team is fun to follow.
* After taking in the Texas State and SFA game earlier in the day, I had a chance to watch Virginia and Florida State while watching some basketball. First things first, this Virginia team has a long way to go to become an NCAA postseason team at the end of the season. This team is filled with young players, and they just seem to make a lot of young mistakes. Still, the intensity in the field is there, so I have little doubt coach Brian O'Connor will get the Cavaliers there. Just depends on if it's this season or not. Virginia starting pitcher Scott Silverstein missed high and away a lot, and allowed five runs in 4 1/3 innings of work. Also found it interesting that Silverstein had an open windup very similar to that of former star pitcher Danny Hultzen ... For Florida State, where to start? I was very impressed with the Seminoles. Starting pitcher Brandon Leibrandt was just OK, but was thoroughly impressed with the new and improved Hunter Scantling. Scantling had major command issues last season, but looked terrific against the Cavaliers, throwing all of his pitches for strikes. He struck out four hitters and allowed just two hits in four scoreless frames. The 'Noles just might be in business if guys like Scantling rise up.
* Could you imagine losing 14 of the last 15 regular season series to one of your chief rivals? Well, if you can, you know how Oklahoma feels right now. The Sooners suffered another heartbreaking loss to rival Texas on Saturday, dropping a 9-5 decision. Jordan Etier, Jonathan Walsh, Brooks Marlow and Erich Weiss each had productive offensive performances for the Longhorns. The pitching staff also did their job for the most part. Just over a week ago, the 'Horns had a team batting average of .220 with an earned-run average well into the four range. Now? The Longhorns are hitting .245 with a 3.75 ERA. UT has a long way to go, but a road series win over Oklahoma certainly is a massive step in the right direction. Perhaps it took conference play for the 'Horns to get focused more than ever. Time will tell.
* There's no question the title races in the ACC and SEC will be intriguing, but has anyone bothered to look at just how balanced the Pac-12 is so far this season? Outside of perhaps Utah, which actually made a huge impression on me this weekend with a road series win over Southern California, every team in the league has a chance to win the regular season title. For instance, the Utes (6-11) are the only team in the league with a losing record, and no other Pac-12 team has more than six losses. At this stage, I'd say Stanford is the clear-cut favorite to win the league title, while UCLA, Oregon State, Arizona and Arizona State are very hot on the Bruins' heels. Washington, Washington State, California, Oregon and USC also have a chance to do something special. What a conference the Pac-12 is this season.