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College  | Story  | 4/12/2024

Week 9 Preview Pick 'Em

Vincent Cervino      Craig Cozart     
Photo: Texas A&M Baseball (Texas A&M Athletics)
No. 6 Vanderbilt at No. 3 Texas A&M

Currently 2nd in the SEC East, the Commodores (26-7) won last weekend’s series at LSU the hard way after dropping game one. Their offense continues to generate runs in a variety of ways, whether they need the long ball or must swipe a bag. The bullpen is rounding into one of the best in the nation with Miller Green, Ryan Ginther and Brennan Seiber all securing multiple saves thus far. The Aggies (29-4) are sitting in 2nd place in the SEC West and arguably have the most complete pitching staff in the nation. Braden Montgomery is having a career year and has pushed himself into top-10 pick consideration in the coming MLB Draft. This is a matchup of two of the elite teams in the nation with real national title aspirations. Texas A&M is averaging around 7,000 fans per game on SEC weekends and are (20-1) in College Station this season, so I think they will secure the series.

Cozy’s Pick: Texas A&M

Both the Commodores and Aggies enter this weekend at 8-4 in SEC play, each 2nd place in their respective divisions. Both teams are ranked in the top 6 nationally in what looks to be a major conference weekend this year. I like the home team here in Texas A&M but this series should definitely swing back and forth.

Vin's Pick: Texas A&M

Miami at No. 8 Florida State

The Hurricanes (16-16) have had a bunch of quality wins in 2024 but have hit a rough patch in the last couple weeks and have lost 7 of their last 10 games. Daniel Cuvet has been sensational in his freshman year and is a huge part of a lineup that can really slug. The pitching staff, however, has struggled to find the right mix in the bullpen and that is a major reason they sit in 6th place in the ACC Coastal. One of the best turnarounds of any team since 2023, the Seminoles (27-5) have already eclipsed their win total from a year ago and are in 2nd place in the ACC Atlantic. James Tibbs III will be one of the first lefthanded sticks to come off the board in July and Jamie Arnold could be the first LHP taken in the ’25 MLB Draft. With a rivalry that is this historic, you never truly know what to expect but this does look a bit lopsided on paper. FSU should take this series and potentially sweep.

Cozy’s Pick: Florida State

Miami has had a bit of an up and down season, flashing some impressive stuff without consistency, while the Seminoles have enjoyed a resurgence. This is still a rivalry series so I don’t expect this to be any sort of blowout but I do expect Florida State to handle their business at home.

Vin's Pick: Florida State

No. 17 UCF at West Virginia

The Knights (21-9) are riding high, having won 8 of their last 10 and four consecutive series in Big 12 play. Head coach Rich Wallace and staff have this club play with a ton of confidence and the pitching has made an impressive jump since last year. Chase Centala already has 7 saves and is 3-0 in his 11 appearances out of the bullpen. This team has put together a solid resume with quality midweek wins and could position themselves as a host come postseason. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers (19-12) weathered the storm while their star, JJ Wetherholt, was out with an injury. He has returned to the lineup and now you look up and they are sitting atop the conference standings at (8-4). If they can shore up the bullpen in the second half, they may be hard to catch. UCF has learned from their first conference road trip where they got swept by Oklahoma and should be ready for the task in Morgantown.

Cozy’s Pick: UCF

UCF recently joined the Top 25 and head on the road to take on the current top of the Big 12 in West Virginia. The Mountaineers are 8-4 in Big 12 play which is really impressive considering they didn’t have star JJ Wetherholt until this past weekend. I think Wetherholt gives West Virginia a spark and the Mountaineers have enough firepower to win the series at home.

Vin's Pick: West Virginia

No. 23 Mississippi State at Ole Miss

It had been a tough couple years in Starkville following the Bulldogs (21-12) national championship but the 2024 club has the home crowd reinvigorated. Dakota Jordan has been an absolute monster in the middle of the order with his light tower power. The pitching staff seems to have found its way and have cut down on the free passes while eliminating contact at vital times. The Rebels (18-15) started the season in a rough manner, then really took off but now sit (3-9) in SEC play and have lost 8 of their last 10 matchups. Transfer Andrew Fischer has put together a huge year in the middle of the lineup but overall, the offense has struggled with a .272 team BA. Their team ERA is approaching 6.00 and the back end of the bullpen has not been the most secure situation. This is another one of those archrival matchups that usually come with a lot of uncertainty, but it feels like Mississippi State is in a better spot as a club right now.

Cozy’s Pick: Mississippi State

In state rivalries are always exciting as newly-ranked Mississippi State heads to Oxford to take on the Rebels. This Mississippi State club is deep and talented and while rivalries always take wild swings, particularly this rivalry, I think the Bulldogs are deeper in some key areas and should handle business.

Vin's Pick: Mississippi State

No. 25 Nebraska at Rutgers

There is a lot of excitement surrounding the Cornhuskers (22-8) right now and sit in 2nd place in the Big 10 with a (5-1) record. They are on a run where they have won 8 out of 10 and have a chance to put distance between themselves and the rest of the league. Riley Silva paces the high-pressure version of offense as he has swiped 19 of the teams 47 stolen bases on the year. On the mound, Brett Sears is one of the best starters in the nation, already 6-0 with a 1.14 ERA. The Scarlett Knights (20-12) are off to a surprisingly slow start at (1-5) in league competition. Josh Kuroda-Grauer has been outstanding leading a solid offense but outside of Justin Sinibaldi, the pitching has been a real challenge. You would expect Rutgers to turn things around in the league sooner rather than later, but I don’t think it happens against Nebraska this weekend.

Cozy’s Pick: Nebraska

It’s been a dream start to the season for Nebraska who comes into this weekend at 22-8 and first in the Big Ten while Rutgers has dropped its first two conference series. Rutgers still has some pieces though, including the best player on the field in Josh Kuroda-Grauer and I think this is the weekend where the Scarlet Knights rebound.

Vin's Pick: Rutgers

Florida Gulf Coast at Stetson

The Eagles (15-16) have really struggled on the road this season, but they have all the pieces necessary to make a run at the ASUN title. They slug the ball as usual and Ian Farrow leads the lineup in almost every major offensive category. The mystery is what to do on the mound as Chase Kriebel is the only regular starter with an ERA south of 5.00 so far. Meanwhile in Deland, the Hatters (23-10) have won 9 of their last 10 and are (9-3) in league play, good for 1st place. They grind out at-bats and use an active, high-pressure type offense as they have swiped 60 bags so far. Anthony DeFabbia has run off to a 6-0 start on the bump and Cole Stallings is 3-0 with 4 saves to lead the charge with the staff. This has been a wild series in the past few years and Stetson is playing extremely well and should extend their lead in the standings this weekend.

Cozy’s Pick: Stetson

The Hatters currently stand at 9-3 in conference, good enough for a share of first place in the ASUN, as they welcome FGCU to town who is currently 8-4. Both teams have their fair share of talent but the home field advantage could play the edge here; I like the makeup of this Stetson starting rotation and middle of the order and think that pushes them across the finish in this one.

Vin's Pick: Stetson

San Diego at Portland

Maybe the hottest team on the West Coast right now, the Toreros (20-10) have won 9 straight and have the top of the West Coast Conference standings in sight. Jakob Christian is at the core of an offensive surge, and they field a stellar .976 as a team. The bullpen has been a strength with Conner Thurman carrying a 0.90 ERA over 16 appearances. Flying under the radar from a national standpoint, the Pilots (21-10) have been perfect in conference play at (6-0) and are all alone in 1st place. The pitching staff is well balanced, they get length from the rotation and have lock down pieces at the end like Tanner Douglas and his 5 saves. They can score in a variety of ways, but the arms just know how to miss barrels and eliminate opponents scoring opportunities. It may not be a sweep, but Portland will remain atop the standings for a while yet.

Cozy’s Pick: Portland

This is another matchup between two top teams as Portland is 6-0 and San Diego 7-2 in WCC conference play. San Diego has a bona fide Friday guy in Josh Randall while the offense is littered with veteran performers. This will be another close series but I like the Toreros to end up on top.

Vin's Pick: San Diego