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College | Story | 3/7/2019

Weekend Preview: Week 4

Patrick Ebert         Mike Rooney        
Photo: Brendan Beck (Stanford Athletics)

College Top 25 | Player/Pitcher of the Week | College Player Database

The fourth weekend of the 2019 college baseball season is somewhat of a swing week in that the ACC schedule begins, the Pac-12 is involved in some high-powered matchups while all 14 SEC programs stay at home one week before their own conference slates begin.

Last weekend we were treated to several high-profile tournaments, particularly in the state of Texas, and that continues this weekend, although the focus shifts to the West Coast. No. 3 UCLA and Southern California play host to the annual Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic with No. 19 Michigan and previously ranked Oklahoma State coming to town. In Seattle, host Washington welcomes No. 1 Oregon State, No. 21 Coastal Carolina, Minnesota, Indiana and San Diego to T-Mobile Park, home of the Seattle Mariners.

The biggest series of the weekend is one we've grown accustomed to during the non-conference season with No. 5 Stanford hosting No. 7 Texas. Texas of course is coming off of their huge series sweep over the previously top-ranked LSU Tigers while few teams have been as steady as Stanford has been over the last two years. Both the Longhorns and the Cardinal are evenly matched as we go into greater detail on this series below.

Stay tuned to Perfect Game throughout the weekend as Brian Sakowski will be in both Lexington and Louisville, Ky. for Middle Tennessee State/Kentucky and Boston College/Louisville and both Mike Rooney and Steve Fiorindo will be in Los Angeles to cover the Dodger Stadium Classic between Oklahoma State, Michigan, UCLA and USC.

Top 25 in Action

Rk. Team Opponent Location
1 Oregon State vs. Minnesota, Indiana, No. 21 Coastal Carolina* Seattle, WA
2 Vanderbilt home vs. Illinois State Nashville, TN
3 UCLA vs. No. 19 Michigan, Oklahoma State, USC^ Los Angeles, CA
4 North Carolina at Clemson Clemson, SC
5 Stanford home vs. No. 7 Texas Palo Alto, CA
6 Mississippi State home vs. Maine Starkville, MS
7 Texas at No. 5 Stanford Palo Alto, CA
8 Florida home vs. Yale Gainesville, FL
9 Ole Miss home vs. UAB Oxford, MS
10 Louisville home vs. Boston College Louisville, KY
11 Texas Tech home vs. Wichita State Lubbock, TX
12 Arkansas home vs. Louisiana Tech Fayetteville, AR
13 Florida State home vs. Virginia Tech Tallahassee, FL
14 Louisiana State home vs. California Baton Rouge, LA
15 Auburn home vs. UTSA Auburn, AL
16 East Carolina home vs. Marist Greenville, NC
17 NC State home vs. Pitt Raleigh, NC
18 Texas A&M home vs. Gonzaga College Station, TX
19 Michigan vs. No. 3 UCLA, USC, Oklahoma State^ Los Angeles, CA
20 Texas Christian at Long Beach State Long Beach, CA
21 Coastal Carolina vs. San Diego, Washington, No. 1 Oregon State* Seattle, WA
22 Georgia home vs. Presbyterian Athens, GA
23 UC Irvine home vs. St. John's Irvine, CA
24 Baylor home vs. Nebraska Waco, TX
25 Connecticut at Texas State San Marcos, TX

* Seattle Baseball Showcase | ^ Dodger Stadium Classic

All eyes on Texas, Stanford

Without a doubt the biggest series of the weekend pits a pair of Top 10-ranked teams against one another as Texas and Stanford continue their long-time annual series against one another. The two teams have been playing every year since 1998, which nearly coincided with the arrival of Augie Garrido in Austin, as he and Mark Marquess (who were semi-pro teammates back in 1966) recognized the importance of the early season test between two of the most storied programs in the sport.

The series expanded to four games starting in 2015. In both 2015 and 2016 the teams split the four-game set with Stanford taking three of four each of the last two years. Texas hasn’t claimed the series since 2014, when it was a more traditional three-game weekend set, although they appear to be in prime position to do so this year.

However, winning on the road is never an easy task, and for as exciting as Texas’ play has been so far this season, Stanford has been just as good. Their team numbers are quite similar, as their respective batting averages (.269 for Texas, .244 for Stanford) don’t reflect what are both deep, balanced lineups. However, their staff ERAs (2.79 for Texas and 2.46 for Stanford) is very reflective of the depth of talent each team possesses on the mound.

Due to the series starting on Thursday we won’t see the teams’ aces square off against one another as Texas has opted to keep their weekend trio on the respective weekend day with freshman Ty Madden taking the ball in Game 1 opposite Stanford ace Brendan Beck. Bryce Elder will go on Friday against Jacob Palisch followed by Blair Henley vs. Alex Williams in Game 3 on Saturday and Coy Cobb vs. Erik Miller in Game 4 on Sunday.

Like Madden, Cobb is also a freshman, as is Williams for Stanford. Madden and Cobb were part of Texas’ impressive recruiting haul and have hit the ground running, as Madden is 2-0 with a 1.04 ERA as the team’s midweek starter with Cobb going 0-1 with a 3.60 ERA on Sundays. The development of Elder, a sophomore, has been particularly noteworthy considering he posted an ERA of 5.55 in 22 appearances spanning 35 2/3 innings last year as a freshman. The strikeouts (22 in 20 2/3 innings) remain up while the walks (6) and hits allowed (14) have dropped. That’s not too surprising considering the Texas flamethrower hurls his fastball in the mid-90s with a mid- to upper-80s slider.

The bullpen continues to be a bright spot as well, as Cole Quintanilla has really taken to the closer role. In seven relief appearances he has recorded three saves over 12 2/3 innings of work, allowing just five hits and a single walk with 18 punchouts. Kamron Fields, Donny Diaz and another freshman, Mason Bryant, have all been turned to frequently as well, and that quartet has combined to allow just one earned run in nearly 30 combined innings.

With so much time talking about the pitching don’t overlook Texas’ offense. The numbers may not be as impressive as the arms’, but it’s an equally deep lineup. Austin Todd in particular has broken out thus far in 2019, with 20 RBI already on the young season. Ryan Reynolds and Eric Kennedy are also hitting on the sunny side of .300 while Duke Ellis spends more time on base (.516 OBP) than not as the team’s leadoff hitter, thanks to a nation-leading 23 walks.

For Stanford there’s a lot of recognizable names in the everyday lineup, although they’re not necessarily hitting like it to this point of the season. Brandon Wulff and Will Matthiessen have played hero more than a handful of times already, but Andrew Daschbach, Kyle Stowers and Tim Tawa have yet to find their power strokes.

However, we all know that Stanford wins with pitching and defense and sophomore Brendan Beck has taken another step forward after an impressive freshman season to serve as a plenty-worthy staff ace. He has yet to record a win, largely due to the lack of run support, but all of the other numbers fit the role, particularly his 23-to-1 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 19 innings of work.

Fellow sophomore Jacob Palisch has done a nice job making the transition from reliever to starter with hard-throwing lefthander Erik Miller providing a more-than-solid option on Sundays. Williams, the freshman, is also off to a nice start for a team that only has one pitcher with an ERA above 3.60.

Stanford’s bullpen is just as good as Texas’ with Preseason All-American Jack Little living up to his early billing with three saves in six appearances. Zach Grech, Cody Jensen and Carson Rudd have yet to give up an earned run while Austin Weiermiller has allowed just one.

So what does all of this mean? You can expect four tight, well-played ballgames between these two college baseball giants. A split by both teams would be considered a victory, so a series win by either would be a significant early season statement.

– Patrick Ebert

Weekend quick hits

For most conferences, this is the final weekend of non-conference play. So this is your last chance to add to your postseason resume outside of midweek and league games. The competition for at-large bids in college baseball has never been stiffer so much is at stake in some of these very intriguing matchups. Let’s take a look.

Start of ACC play
As ACC play opens up this weekend, the league feels more uncertain than in most years. The top tier appears to be Florida State, North Carolina and Louisville. The next tier is a moving target.

Duke may be reeling from its midweek home sweep at the hands of the Penn Quakers. The Blue Devils head to Charlottesville to face a Virginia program trying to find its footing a year after missing a Regional for the first time in the Brian O’Connor era.

Georgia Tech heads to Miami and this is a battle of two proud programs who have not been back to a Regional since the 2016 season. North Carolina travels to Clemson to face a team licking its wounds after getting blown out in the rubber game of their rivalry series with South Carolina. The Tigers are clearly very talented but this program may be fighting the doubts associated with losing three straight home Regionals.

Big league tourneys
The Dodger Stadium Classic and Safeco Field Tournament both feature outstanding fields playing in big league parks. In Seattle, a Coastal Carolina team with immense physical talent will get a West Coast test versus San Diego, Washington and Oregon State. It will be interesting to see if Coastal has Omaha-level talent or maybe looks just short of that.

In Los Angeles, Michigan faces a similar proving ground. The Wolverines appear to be the class of the Big Ten. They will face a UCLA team with national title upside and an Oklahoma State team with high-level pitching. Just how high is the ceiling for this team from the upper Midwest?

The road is your friend
As we near the time of RPI relevance, road victories are precious treasure for a postseason resume. And a road victory in SEC territory can carry even more weight. So for Louisiana Tech (at Arkansas), Fresno State (at Tennessee) and Gonzaga (at Texas A&M) this weekend is a chance to make a big statement.

Hello selection committee, my name is …
It’s never too early to start putting teams on your NCAA Tournament “Big Board.” This weekend slate offers a multitude of series involving teams who have peaked our postseason interest.

Tulane hosts UCSB and these teams are a combined 18-5. Connecticut travels to Texas State and combined these teams already own wins over Rice, Houston, Illinois, College of Charleston, Louisville and Louisville again.

Speaking of College of Charleston, the Cougars make their way to the desert to tangle with a very young Arizona team that has lost five of its last eight. Indiana State plays at Mercer and both clubs look like they will be in the hunt for their respective league titles. Speaking of conference favorites, St. John’s will bring some metropolitan flavor to Orange County as they take on UC Irvine. Were Dallas Baptist or Oral Roberts to lose their respective conference tournaments, this weekend series in Tulsa could become a carrying tool on Selection Monday.

When you’re not, you’re not
The LSU pitching staff walked 22 Texas hitters last weekend and that was a major contributor to the Tigers’ shocking sweep at the hands of the Longhorns. Things do not get easier for that staff as the best hitter in America will visit Alex Box Stadium this weekend.

Andrew Vaughn is the defending Golden Spikes Award winner and his real name may as well be Clark Kent. If even humanly possible, Vaughn is playing better in 2019. His triple slash line (.529/.680/1.176) looks like a calculator exploded on the stat sheet. And how about these metrics: Vaughn is averaging nearly two RBI per game and a home run every five official at-bats.

For a group of young and possibly shaken LSU arms, we’ll see if “hair of the dog that bit you” is an expression that also applies to pitching.

Undefeated Over/Under: 2.5
Four teams enter this weekend undefeated: Tennessee, Florida State, NC State and Arizona State. Tennessee will host Fresno State, Florida State hosts Virginia Tech and NC State hosts Pittsburgh to open ACC play, and Arizona State will play Xavier in the friendly confines of Phoenix Municipal Stadium.

I'm taking the over …

– Mike Rooney

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