College : : Story
Sunday, May 15, 2011

27 takes: Several set the stage

Kendall Rogers        

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Florida and Vanderbilt
The Commodores led the Gators in the series opener on Friday before it was suspended until Saturday. Well, the Gators rallied in the latter innings in the continuation of the opener and defeated the ‘Dores 6-5. Vandy, though, wasted little time sulking about the loss, as it erupted at the plate in Game 2 to earn an impressive 14-1 triumph. The series finale between the two teams will be fantastic with the Gators having the opportunity to move into a first-place tie with VU.

The Cavaliers dropped the series opener to Miami in disappointing fashion, but responded in solid fashion on Saturday with a 3-2 triumph. Virginia starting pitcher Tyler Wilson struck out 11 and allowed just one hit in 7 2/3 innings, while Kyle Crockett and Branden Kline closed out the game out of the bullpen. Offensively, first baseman Jared King finished the game with two hits. For Miami, starting pitcher Eric Whaley actually put together a solid start, allowing just two runs on four hits in six innings. The series finale between the two teams should be a dandy.

South Carolina
The Gamecocks looked out of sync in the series opener against Arkansas, but bounced back in style on Saturday with a solid 6-5 triumph. South Carolina starting pitcher Forrest Koumas struck out six and allowed just two runs on seven hits in 5 1/3 innings, while second baseman Scott Wingo led the way at the plate by going 3-for-5 with a home run, a run scored and two RBIs. Arkansas starting pitcher Randall Fant allowed five runs on eight hits in five innings in the losing cause. Arkansas has hosting aspirations entering the series finale, while the Gamecocks hope to remain in great shape for a national seed.

Oregon State
The Beavers sure have put together an impressive campaign, and continued their winning ways on Saturday with a Game 2 win over Washington to clinch a big road series victory. OSU dropped the series finale to the Huskies, but remains in first place and in fantastic shape for a national seed. With the series win, the Beavers improved to 37-12 overall. What coach Pat Casey has done with his team this season is extremely impressive and worthy of National Coach of the Year honors thus far. It should be interesting to watch the Beavers in the postseason.

Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets dodged a huge bullet on Saturday in a 9-8 win over North Carolina. Georgia Tech starting pitcher and top prospect Jed Bradley wasn’t sharp, allowing six runs on five hits in six innings. But the offense picked him and the staff up in the ninth inning with a five-run frame that led to an important victory. While Bradley struggled on the mound, designated hitter Daniel Palka did the honors at the plate with a four-hit performance that included a home run and two RBIs. Kyle Wren, Matt Skole, Mott Hyde and Zane Evans each had two hits in the game. The series finale could determine who gets a national seed.

The Tigers have played a solid brand of baseball the past few weeks and continued their consistent ways on Saturday with a pair of wins over Virginia Tech by scores of 7-2 and 8-3. In the series opener, starting pitcher Dominic Leone struck out seven and allowed just two runs on six hits in six innings, while in Game 2 starter Justin Sarratt struck out eight and allowed just three runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. With the win, the Tigers improved to 15-11 in the ACC and an impressive 36-15 overall.

Texas A&M
The Aggies are taking care of business as expected this weekend and setting the stage for a huge series against rival Texas next week. A&M starting pitcher Ross Stripling struck out six and allowed just a run on two hits in eight innings as the Aggies cruised past Nebraska 5-2. While Stripling led the way on the mound, leadoff hitter Tyler Naquin, Gregg Alcazar and Kenny Jackson each had two hits in the game. A&M needs to finish off the Huskers with a series sweep on Sunday.

Southern Mississippi
After fighting back and earning a win in the series opener on Friday, the Golden Eagles’ rash of luck ended on Saturday with a 6-5 setback to Houston. USM starting pitcher Geoffrey Thomas wasn’t solid, striking out just two batters and allowing five runs on five hits in five innings, while UH reliever Dustin Fuerst was the arm of the day, allowing just a run and a hit in five innings of work. For the Eagles, right fielder Tyler Koelling went 2-for-4 with two RBIs. USM’s national seed hopes could come down to Sunday’s series finale.

UC Irvine
The Anteaters know they have little room for error down the stretch, and they’re playing like it against UC Santa Barbara this weekend. Irvine clinched a series win over the Gauchos with a 7-4 triumph in Game 2. UCI starting pitcher Matt Whitehouse was lifted after allowing four runs in three innings, but relievers Andrew Thurman and Jimmy Litchfield were fantastic, combining to throw six shutout innings. Offensively, third baseman Brian Hernandez went 2-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. UCI improved to 33-13.

The Tigers likely lost their chance for an NCAA postseason berth with some struggles the past few weeks, but they definitely have an opportunity to play spoiler this weekend. The Tigers fell short in the series opener against the Owls, but fought back on Saturday for a 5-3 victory. Memphis starting pitcher Ryan Holland allowed just two runs on five hits in 5 1/3 innings, while reliever Ben Paullus allowed just a run and a hit in 4 2/3 innings. The Owls’ NCAA Regional hosting chances would take a huge hit with a series loss to the Tigers.

UCLA’s Trevor Bauer
The Bruins took a step back in the series opener against Cal State Bakersfield with a loss, but Bauer helped the Bruins bounce back in Game 2 with a 10-1 triumph. The right-handed top prospect was exceptional, striking out 13 and allowing just a run on eight hits in a complete game performance. It was Bauer’s sixth-straight complete game performance. While Bauer led the way on the mound, Cody Keefer led the charge at the plate with three hits, while Beau Amaral, Dean Espy, Cody Regis, Chris Giovinazzo and Steve Rodriguez also had productive performances.

Fresno State
Apparently the Bulldogs haven’t liked the talk of them losing an NCAA Regional host spot in weekly projections. The Bulldogs have been incredible against New Mexico State this weekend, and continued their winning ways with a 17-2 triumph. Fresno starting pitcher Josh Poytress allowed just a run on six hits in six innings, but the offense was the headline of the day. Outfielder Dusty Robinson had a huge day, going 3-for-4 with a pair of home runs, two runs scored and six RBIs. Brennan Gowens, Garrett Weber, Kenny Wise and Aaron Judge each had two hits. Fresno has scored 49 runs in three games against the Aggies.

After losing the series opener to the Ducks, the Cardinal had little room for error in Game 2 on Saturday. They were down 8-1 going to the sixth inning, but rallied for eight runs the final few frames to earn an important 9-8 triumph. Stanford starting pitcher Danny Sandbrink didn’t make it out of the second inning, while relievers A.J. Talt and Chris Reed performed at an extremely high level. Offensively, Zach Jones and Brian Ragira each had three hits, while Tyler Gaffney, Stephen Piscotty, Dave Giuliani and Lonnie Kauppila each had two hits. The Cardinal isn’t in danger of missing the postseason, but they need to take this series.

After losing a pair of midweek games to Florida State and Florida International, the Hatters entered the weekend against Lipscomb with something to prove. It has been so far, so good for the Hatters. They swept a doubleheader from the Bison by scores of 9-5 and 6-4 and aim for a series sweep on Sunday. The Hatters likely are still in good shape for an NCAA Regional host if they take care of business in the series finale, as they still have an RPI in the top 20. Nice job of responding so far this weekend by the Hatters.

The Bears are fighting for an NCAA postseason spot and played like it against Oklahoma State on Saturday on the way to an 8-1 triumph. BU starting pitcher Josh Turley allowed a run on seven hits in 7 2/3 innings, while reliever Dillon Newman tossed 1 1/3 shutout innings in the winning cause. It’s also worth noting catcher Josh Ludy recorded three hits while Chris Slater, Dan Evatt and Jake Miller each had two hits in the game. The series finale is huge for the Bears, who likely would be in very solid shape for the postseason with a road series win over the Cowboys.

Coastal Carolina
The Chanticleers aren’t in danger of missing the NCAA postseason, but they’ve taken a step back in the eyes of many this weekend against Winthrop. The Chants dropped a heartbreaker in the series opener and lost again Saturday, this time 6-5 in extra innings. CCU starting pitcher Josh Conway allowed just three runs on six hits in seven innings, while Winthrop starting pitcher Robert Lake allowed three runs on four hits in 6 1/3 innings. Winthrop reliever Eric Ruth also was solid, tossing two scoreless frames to end the contest. Coastal still leads the Big South by one game over Liberty.

The Huskies have played exceptionally well in Big East play and wrapped up the Big East regular season title on Saturday with a doubleheader split against Louisville, earning a series win over the Cardinals. The Huskies won the opener before the Cards avoided a sweep with a win in the series finale. In the first game, Huskies starting pitcher Greg Nappo allowed five runs in seven innings, but relievers Will Jolin and Kevin Vance picked up the slack with a pair of solid innings. Give credit to coach Jim Penders for keeping his team together after some tough times in non-conference play.

East Tennessee State
The Buccaneers took a huge step forward last weekend with a road series win over N.C. State, but the biggest question mark about their postseason resume was a weaker than expected Atlantic Sun record. Well, the Bucs have taken care of that problem this weekend. They won the series opener against Campbell on Friday before sweeping the Camels with a pair of wins on Saturday. ETSU now is 34-17 and really helped its postseason case with a weekend series sweep.

Kent State
Say what you want about Kent State’s level of competition in the MAC, but it continues to take care of business in a variety of ways. After winning an offensive showdown in the series opener against Bowling Green, the Golden Flashes were fantastic on Saturday on the way to an impressive 8-0 triumph. Kent starting pitcher Kyle Hallock struck out 10 and allowed just five hits in 8 1/3 innings, while reliever Justin Gill closed out the game. Offensively, leadoff hitter Evan Campbell recorded five hits and four others recorded two hits. Kent is 36-13 and in fantastic shape from a postseason standpoint.

Central Florida
It’s safe to say the Knights are elevating their game at the right time. They entered the weekend in desperate need of a series win and haven’t disappointed. The Knights won the series opener before earning a series-clinching 9-0 win over UAB on Saturday. UCF starting pitcher Danny Winkler struck out six and allowed just five hits in 6 1/3 innings, while reliever Nick Cicio allowed just two hits in 3 1/3 shutout innings to finish the contest. Offensively, right fielder Erik Hempe led the way with a three-hit day while leadoff hitter Ronnie Richardson once again was solid with two hits and two RBIs.

Cal State Fullerton
The Titans won the series opener against rival Long Beach State behind a solid performance from starter Noe Ramirez, but they used offense to take care of the Dirtbags 14-12 on Saturday. The Titans actually made a strong attempt to blow the game, but relievers Jake Floethe and Nick Ramirez held down the fort to end the game. Offensively, center fielder Michael Lorenzen had another great game, going 3-for-5 with two runs scored and four RBIs while shortstop Richy Pedroza went 2-for-5 with a run scored and four RBIs. The win clinched a series win for the Titans.

Arizona State
The Sun Devils were surprised by the Trojans in the series opener on Friday, but bounced back in solid fashion on Saturday with a 7-4 triumph. ASU starting pitcher Kramer Champlin actually had a poor start, allowing four runs on nine hits in 4 2/3 innings, but relievers Alex Blackford and Mitchell Lambson did a great job of picking him up. Offensively, center fielder Andrew Aplin went 3-for-4 with a triple, two runs scored and two RBIs, while Riccio Torrez and Austin Barnes each had two hits in the game. ASU needs to take care of business in the series finale.

We highlighted the Tigers earlier this week as one of several teams that were living life a little too close to the .500 mark. Well, the Tigers are doing their best to avoid further postseason complications this weekend against rival Alabama. The Tigers won both ends of a doubleheader on Saturday to improve to 28-23 overall. A series sweep over the Crimson Tide would be absolutely huge with just one week left of SEC regular season action. Alabama, meanwhile, dropped to 30-22 overall, 12-14 in the SEC, and suddenly could be in trouble from a postseason standpoint.

While Auburn was a close to .500 team before the weekend and has taken a step forward with a pair of wins over Alabama, the Bulldogs have done the complete opposite so far this weekend. They dropped a tough one in the series opener against Kentucky before losing 12-5 on Saturday to drop to 25-26 overall. Georgia starting pitcher Michael Palazzone allowed 11 runs on 15 hits in 5 1/3 innings, while UK starter Cory Littrell allowed just four runs on seven hits in six innings and Thomas McCarthy led the way at the plate with four hits. The Bulldogs desperately need to win the series finale against the Wildcats.

Southeastern Louisiana
Several bubble teams are having iffy weekends, but the Lions aren’t one of them. Perhaps the Lions caught struggling SFA at exactly the right time. The Lions swept a pair of games by scores of 5-4 and 9-4 on Saturday to improve to 34-18 overall. But more importantly, the Lions improved their conference resume. The Lions still aren’t in pristine shape for an NCAA postseason bid, but they’ve definitely helped their case so far this weekend. They need to finish off the Lumberjacks in the series finale.

Florida International
What an amazing run the Golden Panthers have put together the past few weeks. They won their 15th-straight game on Saturday with a solid 6-1 triumph over Arkansas State, clinching a series win over the Red Wolves. FIU starting pitcher R.J. Fondon struck out four and allowed just a run on five hits in seven innings, while relievers Mason McVay and Bryam Garcia also threw at a high level. Offensively, left fielder Jabari Henry and Rudy Flores each finished the contest with two hits. FIU now is tied with Troy for first in the Sun Belt standings.

The Horned Frogs dropped a tough bout to Utah in the series opener, but bounced back in solid fashion on Saturday with an 8-5 triumph. TCU starting pitcher Andrew Mitchell struck out nine and allowed just three runs on five hits in 7 1/3 innings, while reliever Trent Appleby closed the game. Offensively, Jason Coats and Taylor Featherston each had three hits while leadoff hitter Brance Rivera collected two hits. The series finale against the Utes is huge for the Frogs’ hosting chances.

Kendall Rogers is the managing editor of college baseball for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at

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