Junior College Notebook (3/15)
Even with a perfect 27-0 record, North Carolina’s Louisburg College was deprived of the top spot in the latest Perfect Game ranking of the nation’s Top 50 Junior College teams.
The Hurricanes, coming off a 26-27 season, had already topped their victory total of a year ago, while moving from No. 5 to No. 3, but couldn’t supplant Texas’ Howard College or California’s Orange Coast College from the top two spots. Howard (16-2) maintained its pre-season No. 1 ranking while Orange Coast (17-2-1) held fast at No. 2 after starting the season at No. 4.
Louisburg, meanwhile, was ranked No. 38 to start the 2012 season. After moving to No. 5 in PG’s first in-season ranking, it was only able to leapfrog two more teams this time, Tennessee’s No. 4 Walters State (20-2) and Iowa Western (7-0), both of which actually fell a spot to the fast-charging Hurricanes despite losing just one game between them over the last two weeks.
The Hurricanes, under first-year coach Mike McGuire, find themselves in some fast company as the nation’s top five JC teams are a combined 87-6-1. But they are the hottest club around and legitimized their standing as one of the nation’s top teams by opening Region X play over the weekend with a four-game sweep of North Carolina rival, Pitt CC, which has dominated the state JC ranks in recent years.
Louisburgcontinues to get excellent mileage from the left side of its infield with Steve Nyisztor (.372-4-24, 15 SB) at shortstop and Zach Houchins (.394-4-29, 10 SB) at third. Nyisztor is a transfer from Rutgers while Houchins, who played short a year ago, was an unsigned 15th-round pick of the Washington Nationals. As a team, the Hurricanes are hitting .335.
With a 2.22 ERA, the team’s pitching staff has been ever more dominant. It has been led by 6-foot-8 righthander Tim Brechbuehler (5-0, 2.23, 32 IP/37 SO), a North Carolina transfer who pitched his best game of the season Saturday against Pitt, winning 4-0. He struck out eight in seven innings, while allowing four hits, and was still pumping his fastball at 93 mph in the seventh inning.
Top-ranked Howard, meanwhile, has no shortage of premium arms itself, including Oregon-bound closer Nick Sawyer (1-0, 1.69, 2 SV), whose fastball topped out at 96-97 mph last week. Former Nebraska lefthander Logan Ehlers (3-0, 0.38) and ex-Texas righthander Clayon Crum (3-0, 0.69) have been the Hawks top two starters. Ehlers has been consistently between 89-92 mph, Crum between 92-94. Overall, the Howard staff has a 2.66 ERA while the Hawks are hitting a robust .405 as a team.
2-27 - Rankings as of February 27