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College  | Story  | 3/2/2017

Weekend Preview: Week 3

Patrick Ebert      Mike Rooney      Jheremy Brown     
Photo: TCU Athletics

Perfect Game Top 25 | PG/Rawlings Player/Pitcher of the Week | PG College Player Database

The rankings come Monday undoubtedly will experience some shakeup, as 13 of the teams ranked within the Top 25 are playing other ranked teams, and several of those clubs will play multiple ranked clubs. The Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic in Houston will serve as the home for five of these ranked teams (as well as surging Baylor) not to mention dozens, if not hundreds, baseball scouts. The Frisco College Baseball Classic will also offer an interesting collection of teams and talent and the weekend will also have the USA Baseball-Irish Classic in Cary, N.C., the LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C. and the Dodgertown Classic in Los Angeles.

In addition to those tournaments South Carolina and Clemson will play their annual home-and-away series, Cal State Fullerton travels to Houston and Texas heads to Stanford. Keep your Twitter feed open this weekend as you won't want to blink and miss any of the action.

LakePoint will once again be in action as part of Perfect Game's Spring Swing with several junior college programs taking the fields. Follow all of the action from Emerson, Ga. in the Scout Notes from PG Park at LakePoint blog.

Stay tuned to Perfect Game throughout the weekend as Jheremy Brown will be in Houston covering the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic, Britt Smith will be at the Frisco College Classic and Mike Rooney, as well as Steve Fiorindo, will provide observations from the Dodgertown Classic.

Top 25 in Action

Rk. Team Opponent Location
1 Texas Christian LSU, Texas A&M, Ole Miss* Houston, TX
2 Louisiana State TCU, Baylor, Texas Tech* Houston, TX
3 Florida home vs. Columbia Gainesville, FL
4 Florida State home vs. Oakland Tallahassee, FL
5 South Carolina away/home vs. No. 20 Clemson Clemson, Columbia, SC
6 Louisville home vs. Eastern Michigan Louisville, KY
7 Oregon State home vs. UC Davis Corvallis, OR
8 Ole Miss Baylor, Texas Tech, TCU* Houston, TX
9 North Carolina home vs. Long Beach State Chapel Hill, NC
10 Vanderbilt home vs. CSU Northridge Nashville, TN
11 Louisiana home vs. Southern Miss Lafayette, LA
12 NC State Rhode Island, Maryland, UMass Lowell@ Cary, NC
13 East Carolina Western Carolina, St. John's, Appy State^ Greensville, NC
14 Oklahoma State Nebraska, Arizona, Arkansas# Frisco, TX
15 Cal State Fullerton at No. 19 Houston Houston, TX
16 Texas at No. 18 Stanford Stanford, CA
17 Stanford home vs. No. 16 Texas Stanford, CA
18 Clemson home/away vs. No. 5 South Carolina Clemson, Columbia, SC
19 Washington home vs. Sacramento State Seattle, WA
20 Houston home vs. No. 12 Cal State Fullerton Houston, TX
21 Arizona Arkansas, Oklahoma State, Nebraska# Frisco, TX
22 Texas A&M Texas Tech, TCU, Baylor* Houston TX
23 Virginia home vs. Niagara, La Salle Charlottesville, VA
24 Texas Tech Texas A&M, Ole Miss, LSU* Houston, TX
25 Dallas Baptist home vs. Jacksonville State Dallas, TX

*Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic

#Frisco College Baseball Classic
@USA Baseball-Irish Classic
^LeClair Classic

Houston, with a hint of Omaha

It’s safe to say that Houston will be the epicenter of the college baseball world this weekend as the Shriners Classic is set to take place at Minute Maid Park and will offer an atmosphere that only postseason baseball can replicate. Why all the excitement heading into the weekend? Five of the six participating teams are ranked within Perfect Game’s most recent Top 25, including the top two ranked clubs in TCU and LSU, while Baylor has serious momentum after a sparkling 8-0 start. All six teams have combined to go 42-4 over the first two weeks of the season.

Good teams typically have plenty of top-flight talent and there’s no exception here as upperclassmen and fresh faces are scattered throughout the lineups and have made their impact felt in the early stages of the season. Below are quick hits on all six clubs as complete player reports will be added to the Perfect Game College Player Database over the course of the weekend, detailing all the talent in Houston.

Baylor: The preseason hype around talented freshman Shea Langeliers has proven to be true and then some as he’s been arguably one of the most talented bats not only on the team, but in the entire Big-12. He’s leading the club in virtually every offensive category as his .353-2-7 stat line indicates and he’s done it while hitting in the three hole. This weekend will put Langeliers’ talent on display as he and the Bears will face off against all three participating SEC clubs who will provide high-octane stuff.

Louisiana State: You could throw a dart at the LSU roster and hit the name of a legitimate prospect though the conversation needs to begin with senior lefthander Jared Poché as he began the 2017 season with 15 consecutive no-hit innings before finally allowing a base hit. Poché’s decision not to sign after a 14th-round selection by the San Diego Padres last June was huge for Coach Paul Mainieri and his staff as they gain another legitimate ace who knows how to perform in the juggernaut that’s known as the SEC.

Mississippi: An immediate association when you hear about the Rebels is their ultra-talented freshman class, and rightfully so as they’ve not only had four everyday starters, but they’ve also performed at a high level. The rotation has been even better than expected with David Parkinson and James MacArthur leading the way and when you combine the stats of all four starters they’ve managed to strike out 48 while walking just eight. That type of productivity is going to yield results, regardless of the competition.

Texas A&M: You don’t have to be a math major to assume the Aggies’ .342 team batting average and cumulative ERA of 2.86 would result in more wins than losses so it’s no surprise that Coach Rob Childress’ club has opened the year with a 6-1 mark. Freshman sensation Braden Shewmake has been better than advertised as he’s hitting .469 with a team-high 15 base knocks while senior outfielder Nick Choruby has been seeing beach balls at the plate and has been a catalyst to this potent offense.

Texas Christian: Senior outfielder Nolan Brown missed almost all of 2016 with an injury to his hand though his early performance this spring shows no signs of rust offensively whatsoever as he leads the team with a .391 batting average and has gone 4-for-4 in stolen base opportunities. All eyes will continue to follow sophomore slugger Luken Baker and he too appears to have picked up where he left off as he’s already connected for three home runs and has helped anchor the offense of the top-ranked Frogs.

Texas Tech: Coach Tim Tadlock’s club was a new entrant into the rankings this past week, but if their hot start is any indication of things to come then the Red Raiders aren’t going anywhere but up in the rankings. It’s hard to point to a single player for the team’s success as it has truly been a collective effort, whether if be from freshmen Grant Little and Josh Jung, Hunter Hargrove or Orlando Garcia, who have show some heavy thump already, or the weekend staff that has combined to go 5-0 with a sub-2.00 ERA and 41 strikeouts to just six walks. It’s safe to say Tadlock has a well-oiled machine that’s firing on all cylinders.

Johnnies knock knock knocking on Top 25 door

Expectations were high heading into the 2017 season for Coach Ed Blankmeyer’s club as they were one of the favorites to take home the always challenging Big East title, and so far it’s safe to say those expectations have been met, and probably exceeded. This is a St. John’s club that is on the cusp of entering the Top 25 and narrowly missed this past week after opening the season with a 7-0 record, which includes an extra-inning win over the reigning national champs Coastal Carolina.

Plenty of teams have started the year undefeated but what helps set the Johnnies apart is how they’ve done it as a team. Their cumulative batting average (.363) and ERA (1.97) are outstanding numbers and place them within the top 10 nationally in both categories, the only team coast-to-coast to rank that high in each. Both sides of the ball will need to show up once again as they travel to Greenville, N.C. for the LeClair Classic, which includes includes a Saturday affair against nationally ranked East Carolina. 

Of the seven players who have started all seven game this spring six are hitting over .300 while four of those six have eclipsed the .400 mark, including redshirt junior John Valente, who has hit to the tune of .516 in the early going. The pitching staff has been equally impressive especially when you consider their youth both in the rotation and out of the bullpen, led by sophomore Mike LoPresti, who has thrived in the Saturday role and leads the team with 16 strikeouts in just 10 innings.

– Jheremy Brown

College baseball shout outs

The Horizon League deserves the first shout out of the week as UIC basks in the warmth of its very impressive series win at Vanderbilt. These two teams have squared off five times in the last seven years and you might wonder whether that familiarity helped the Flames avoid the intimidation of the Vandy program’s massive talent and recent history.

The Youngstown State Penguins won the Sunday game at Georgia Tech by a score of 12-4 and that may very well be the biggest victory in program history. And Wright State won the Sunday affair at South Carolina to finish their six-game set versus Clemson and the Gamecocks at 3-3. Those are three huge wins for the league and let’s not forget that the Raiders have been to a Regional final in each of the last two seasons.

The second shout out must go to college baseball’s growing fan base. Through the first two weekends it looks like we are in for a banner year from an attendance standpoint.

Ole Miss has hosted two tremendous opponents in East Carolina and UNCW. On top of that, the weather has been outstanding for February. Having said that, it is still amazing that the Rebels set school records with over 12,000 fans for Opening Day and then over 33,000 total fans for that same series. Through just seven games, Ole Miss has drawn over 66,000 fans.

Not to be outdone by their SEC West rival, Arkansas packed over 29,000 fans into Baum Stadium for their opening weekend series sweep of Miami of Ohio.

Finally, the most exciting attendance statistic of the year belongs to Minnesota. The Golden Gophers opened U.S. Bank Stadium for college baseball for the first time and drew over 4,600 fans for the weekend. Keep in mind, the month of February doesn’t exactly scream college baseball in the state of Minnesota.

Even without mentioning the upcoming “Big Three” tournaments (Shriners Hospital Classic in Houston, Frisco College Baseball Classic, Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic), there are several teams with outstanding resume-building opportunities this weekend. Here are some of the other matchups that could have postseason implications:

Long Beach State at North Carolina
Cal State Northridge at Vanderbilt
Southern Miss at Louisiana
South Carolina vs. Clemson
Texas at Stanford
Cal State Fullerton at Houston
West Virginia at Tulane
UCSB at Kentucky
Wichita State at Louisiana Tech
Pepperdine at Rice

– Mike Rooney