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College  | Story  | 4/4/2024

Week 8 Preview Pick 'Em

Vincent Cervino      Craig Cozart     
Photo: LSU Baseball (LSU Athletics)
No. 8 Vanderbilt at No. 16 LSU

The Commodores (23-6) have been playing solid all-around ball and are (6-3) in league play, good for 2nd place in the SEC East. RJ Austin has been tremendous, batting .351 and snagging 16 bags on his way to scoring 28 runs thus far. They pitch as well as anyone in the rotation but the emergence of Ryan Genther and Brennan Seiber with their combined 8 saves has been huge. The Tigers (20-10) on the other hand are in a place they haven’t been in quite some time having lost 7 of their last 10 and are in a real predicament as they are (2-7) in conference play. Tommy White is heating up and Luke Holman is the real deal at the top of the rotation. However, the firepower throughout the lineup is inconsistent and they still seem to be looking for the right blend with their pitching staff. Vanderbilt hasn’t played well on the road, and it feels like it’s time for LSU to stand up and defend their home turf.

Cozy’s Pick: LSU

LSU is drawing all the headlines for their poor start to SEC play, dropping the first three series as they head home to welcome Vanderbilt to Baton Rouge. The Vandy-LSU series is always super compelling and we’ll get to see Carter Holton matchup against Luke Holman on Thursday night. Jay Johnson has pushed resiliency on his teams in the past and no one in the country is more up against the wall than the Tigers. For this reason I think LSU shows enough to take two of three at home.

Vin's Pick: LSU

No. 10 UNC at No. 13 Virginia

Making a profound statement last weekend by sweeping Wake Forest and handing Chase Burns his first loss of the season, the Tar Heels (25-4) are riding high. They sit (10-2) in ACC play, have won an insane 24-straight games at home dating back to last season and have been outstanding on the mound. Casey Cook has been driving the offense with his 9 home runs and 43 RBIs. While Matthew Matthijs is an insane (11-1) as the “reverse starter” out of the bullpen. The Cavaliers (23-6) have been a bit more difficult to figure out and have had to slug their way to wins a bit more than previous clubs. They hit .345 as a club, with Harrison Didawick and his 12 home runs and 40 RBIs doing much of the damage. They are (7-5) in the ACC and need pitch much better than their 6.90 ERA in league play to take this series. UNC is a dangerous club right now and UVA may not have the firepower on the mound to hold the Heels in check.

Cozy’s Pick: UNC

Another week and another top ten ACC matchup, or close to it at least. The Tar Heels have been one of the most impressive teams in the country, passing both the eye test and the numbers test with flying colors. Virginia is coming off a tough loss to Duke last week but I think that Carolina’s starting pitching will make the difference here and I expect the road Tar Heels to take the series.

Vin's Pick: North Carolina

No. 3 Texas A&M at No. 23 South Carolina

Braden Montgomery has thrived in College Station hitting side by side with Jace LaViolette and the dynamic lefthanded duo has combined for 30 home runs and 83 RBI to date. The Aggies (26-3) have won 8 of their last 10 and are off to a solid (6-3) start in SEC play. They are elite on the mound, sitting 2nd in the nation with a 3.21 team ERA and 2nd in the nation in K-to-BB ratio. The Gamecocks (21-7) have been tough at home with a (17-2) record and are currently (5-4) in league play. They pitch it well with Garrett Gainey locking down the end of the game but outside of Ethan Petry with his 12 round trippers, the offense has been spotty at times. This feels like it may be a lower scoring affair all weekend with the quality of their arms, but Texas A&M’s high-powered offense should be the difference.

Cozy’s Pick: Texas A&M

The Aggies top to bottom have looked like one of the most complete teams in the country as they head to Columbia to take on the Gamecocks. It’s been inconsistent for the Gamecocks as they followed up a home sweep of Vanderbilt with a road loss to Alabama. I think the Aggies boast one of the best offenses in the country and have one of the best stoppers in Evan Aschenbeck as I expect the Aggies to take care of business like a top three team should.

Vin's Pick: Texas A&M

UC Santa Barbara at No. 19 UC Irvine

The Gauchos (16-8) haven’t quite lived up to the extremely lofty pre-season expectations but are still having a solid year and are (4-2) in the Big West. They have been average with the leather, fielding .966 but they still have the arm talent to shut down any offense in the nation. Tyler Bremner is (5-0) in 9 appearances and has given them length in the bullpen but they are a sub-.500 on the road. The Anteaters (22-3) have been downright stingy with stellar defense, only allowing 13 stolen bases on the year and make opponents earn what they get by competing in the strike zone on the mound. Nick Pinto has been his usual outstanding self, sitting (5-1) with a 1.91 ERA as the ace of the staff. UC Irvine has won 9 of the past 10 and are in control in the league with a (8-1) record. They should expand that lead this weekend, taking care of business at home.

Cozy’s Pick: UC Irvine

This looks like the matchup of the Big West this year as the Gauchos head south to take on the Anteaters in Irvine. The Gauchos have been mired by inconsistency at times this year while Irvine is coming off a road sweep of Hawaii. Irvine’s consistency will be the difference here as I don’t expect too many fireworks but instead steady play from the ‘Eaters.

Vin's Pick: UC Irvine

Oklahoma at Oklahoma State

While they are only (16-12) overall on the year, the Sooners are (7-2) in Big 12 play and sit atop the standings. The problem is they have lost 6 of their last 10 and are coming off a weekend where they surrendered 31 runs to an upstart Lamar club. They have a very small margin for error as they don’t really slug at a high level and their rotation has a combined ERA that hovers around 5.00 so far. The Cowboys (19-10) are playing their best ball of the year, having won 8 of their last 10 as they sit (5-4) in the league. Their pitching has been outstanding with a combined 3.49 ERA and two-way stud Carson Benge has been great out of the bullpen and is batting .313 with 5 jacks and 26 RBI. You never know what the “Red River Rivalry” has in store but with Oklahoma State playing at home, they should take the series.

Cozy’s Pick: Oklahoma State

This in state rivalry has a lot on the line this week as the Cowboys were just outside of our Top 25 while Oklahoma leads the Big 12 but just got swept at home by Lamar. Brian Holiday is as sure fire of an ace in the Big 12 as anyone and gives the Cowboys an edge in starting pitching. The Sooners are scuffling and they face a tough test going on the road in a rivalry series and I like the Cowboys to take care of business.

Vin's Pick: Oklahoma State

Nevada at Fresno State

The Wolfpack (12-13) have righted the ship as they have embarked on Mountain West play and sit in 2nd place with a (7-4) record. Michael Ball has been on fire with the stick, batting .375 with 13 doubles, 5 home runs and 26 RBI. He leads the way for an offense that averages just over 6 runs per game and slugs .465 altogether. The pitching allows opponents to hit .274 against them and that has translated into a 5.39 team ERA. The Bulldogs have cruised to a (19-9) record so far and are in control of the league with a (9-3) record. Offensively, they only hit .269 as a club, have punched out over 400 times on the year but do slug with 95 doubles and 54 home runs as a unit. Tommy Hopfe has been an absolute workhorse out of the bullpen with 18 appearances and 11 saves already. This series can give Fresno State huge separation in the league standings, and I think they do just that.

Cozy’s Pick: Fresno State

This looks like a matchup of two teams that should be at or near the top of the Mountain West standings at the end of the year as Nevada heads to Fresno State. I really like the composition of the Bulldogs with a good top half of the lineup and a veteran starting pitching staff that limits baserunners. The matchups play out in Fresno’s favor and I expect them to handle the series.

Vin's Pick: Fresno State

College of Charleston at UNCW

The Cougars (18-9) are doing what they usually do, putting together yet another solid, consistent season. Transfer Cole Singsank has fit right into the middle of the order and is batting .316 with 8 home runs and 18 RBI. Their rotation has been a rock, and the team carries a 3.93 ERA, while Davis Aiken has secured 5 saves in his 15 appearances. They are 2 games out of first place with a (4-2) record, so this weekend is huge. The Seahawks (18-11) sit atop the Coastal Athletic Association standing with a perfect (6-0) record. They have won 8 of their last 10 and picked up a big midweek victory over Coastal Carolina on Tuesday. Tanner Thach has lived up to his All-American accolades and is batting .348 with 15 home runs and 39 RBI. Their rotation has been solid with a combined ERA in the mid-3.00s and Connor Kane has emerged as the man out of the pen with 3 saves and a 2.12 ERA. UNCW looks to stay perfect in the league, which is not likely, but they should win the series at home.

Cozy’s Pick: UNCW

Charleston enters at 4-2 in conference play while Wilmington has yet to drop a game in CAA play. The star power bodes well here for the Seahawks as they have one of the nation’s best power hitters in Tanner Thach while infielder Brock Wills just returned from injury. Add starter RJ Sales into the mix and you have some big names here as I expect UNC-Wilmington to remain at the top of the CAA standings by the weekend’s end.

Vin's Pick: UNC-Wilmington