Saturday's player/prospect scoop (College Baseball Ticket)
The college baseball season finally has begun, and with the action heating up all over the country, we’re dedicated to taking you inside the action like no other.
We hope you, the fans, players, parents and scouts, enjoy our new weekend content format that will be present each Friday, Saturday and Sunday over the weekend.
There will also be some premium content (CBT) added as an additional supplement over the weekends. For instance, Sunday morning, we’ll unveil some in-depth thoughts on top prospects viewed at the Top 25 showdown between Florida and Cal State Fullerton.
Here’s our inside look at Saturday’s college baseball action.
TEAM OF THE DAY: Stanford
Time will tell if the Cardinal can keep it up, but you have to be impressed with their level of play in the first two games against Vanderbilt. After taking the series opener in solid fashion, the Cardinal emulated that success Saturday with a series-clinching 9-5 triumph. Starting pitcher Brett Mooneyham, who missed last season because of a finger injury, struck out eight batters and allowed just three runs on five hits in six innings. Brian Ragira had a perfect 3-for-3 day at the plate, while Kenny Diekroeger and Eric Smith each had two hits in the contest.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Scott Frazier, rhp, Pepperdine
The Waves were ecstatic before the 2011 season when right-hander Scott Frazier decided to go to college. Frazier was a highly touted recruit who turned down significant money to head to Pepperdine. Well, he had some injury issues last season. Now, he’s back and healthy, and was quite impressive in his debut against Oklahoma. Frazier struck out six batters and allowed just five hits in seven shutout frames in a 10-0 win over the Sooners. The Waves could be in business if Frazier meets expectations.
UPSET OF THE DAY: North Dakota State over Arizona
What an incredibly bizarre night it was for the Wildcats. Arizona starting pitcher Konner Wade struck out 13 batters and allowed just two runs on two hits in 7 1/3 innings. Still, the Wildcats managed to drop an 8-2 decision to North Dakota State thanks to a bullpen meltdown. Meanwhile, NDSU starting pitcher Luke Anderson allowed just two runs in seven innings, while reliever Kyle Kingsley allowed just two hits in two innings.
BEST FIVE TEAMS
Florida: Just like Friday’s win over Cal State Fullerton, the Gators put together a very business-like performance in a series-clinching 5-2 triumph over the Titans. UF starting pitcher Karsten Whitson put together a decent start, while Austin Maddox, who topped out at 95, tossed four shutout innings in relief. Offensively, freshman Taylor Gushue had yet another productive day at the plate.
Purdue: The Boilermakers are expected to be the Big Ten’s elite team throughout the spring. They certainly made a strong impression on Saturday with a pair of wins over Cincinnati. Starting pitcher Lance Breedlove struck out 11 batters in seven innings in a 6-0 win over Cincinnati, while PU finished the day with an impressive 9-4 triumph over Connecticut.
USC: Few teams have had as impressive of opening weekends as the Trojans. It has been a surprise really, but the Trojans are looking great against Jacksonville this weekend. USC clinched the series win on Saturday with an 11-3 triumph behind a solid performance from hurler Ben Mount. Mount struck out five batters and allowed just a run on three hits in six innings. Alex Sherrod and Brandon Garcia had impressive days at the plate.
New Mexico State: The Aggies could be very dangerous this season if they pitch at all. They’ve been impressive for the most part on the mound this weekend against Wake Forest. Ryan Beck led the way in the opener on Friday. And though the Aggies dropped a tough contest to begin Saturday’s doubleheader, Adam Mott allowed just a run in six innings to lead the Aggies to a 3-1 win in the nightcap. The two teams play one more game Sunday with NMSU leading the series 2-1.
Boston College: OK, which of you had the Eagles dominating the tournament field down in Conway, S.C., this weekend? It’s OK, we’re in the same boat. The Eagles made a strong impression Friday with a win over Virginia. They did exactly the same thing on Saturday with a pair of wins over Boston College and James Madison to win the tournament. The Eagles definitely are one of the biggest surprises – if not the biggest – of opening weekend.
FIVE WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers have had an amazing string of success the past few seasons, but perhaps this year will be a true rebuilding year for coach Gary Gilmore’s club. Time will tell, but after winning the opener of their tournament, the Chanticleers dropped contests to Virginia and Boston College by scores of 9-3 and 8-3, respectively. It’ll be interesting to see how this team performs as the season progresses.
San Diego State: Though it’s still very early in the season, it seems like a classic case of the same story. The Aztecs are off to another slow start this season. They dropped the series opener to Washington on Friday before losing 12-9 on Saturday. SDSU starting pitcher Travis Pitcher was lifted after allowing two runs on four hits in three innings. Meanwhile, the bullpen didn’t do much better with Justin Hepner and Bryan Crabb combining to allow six runs.
Nebraska: The Cornhuskers are in their first season with former big leaguer Darin Erstad as the head coach. Perhaps it’ll take some time for NU to get in a groove. It has shown some signs of greatness in the first two games, but has been unable to seal the deal. After losing 7-4 in the series opener, the Huskers dropped a 10-8 decision to Gonzaga in the second game of the series. NU starting pitcher Jon Keller allowed just three runs, but 10 hits in 5 1/3 innings pitched.
Alabama: After dropping the series opener to Florida Atlantic in close fashion, the Crimson Tide entered Saturday with a sense they’d bounce back. That didn’t happen, as the Owls pounded them on the way to a 9-2 triumph. Alabama starting pitcher Charlie Sullivan allowed four runs on six hits in four innings. The Crimson Tide now tries to avoid getting swept at home by FAU.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys certainly are leaving something to be desired on the West Coast this weekend. They simply haven’t played very well, dropping the series to Cal Poly with an 11-3 setback on Saturday. Arizona State transfer and starting pitcher Kyle Ottoson didn’t have a good OSU debut, striking out just three batters and allowing six runs on eight hits in just four innings. OSU needs to avoid getting swept, even if the series is on the road.
FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
* After catching a day full of action at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge on Friday, I decided to make the two-hour trek down to Gainesville, Fla., to catch the top-ranked Florida Gators against the No. 20 Cal State Fullerton Titans. The meeting between the two clubs didn’t disappoint. Florida starting pitcher Karsten Whitson put together a good, but far from dominant performance. He struck out just two batters and allowed two runs on five hits in five innings. Interestingly, he was 90-92 with his fastball, a couple of 94s, and had some location issues at times. UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan chalked the performance more up to being early in the season more than anything else … While Whitson wasn’t overly impressive, the opposite can be said for Florida reliever, right-hander Austin Maddox. Maddox, who we’ll have much more on early next week, was fabulous in relief, striking out three batters and allowing just one hit (no runs) in four innings. He topped out at 94 and had a filthy combination of sliders and changeups … Florida started four freshmen in the game, with once again, designated hitter Taylor Gushue really impressing me. Gushue looks like a veteran out there, and he had a hit and knocked in a pair of runs. Speaking of freshmen, Cal State Fullerton two-way player J.D. Davis passed the eyeball test. A big, physical, looking guy, Titans coach Rick Vanderhook agreed with me when I made the comment that he’d be a beast sooner rather than later. From Vanderhook’s perspective, it’s all about getting Davis repetitions, then things will take care of themselves … Fullerton freshman right-handed pitcher Grahamm Wiest didn’t bring the powerful punch to the mound that Whitson does, but he impressed me. He was consistently 85-86 with his fastball and reminded me a lot of Florida hurler Hudson Randall in the way he attacked the strike zone … It was good to see speedy outfielder Austin Kingsolver get a pair of hits in the game. Vanderhook had told us throughout the fall about how much he had improved. That much was evident in Saturday’s win over the Gators … Overall, Florida put together a business-like performance, while the Titans have absolutely nothing to hang their heads about. This is a team that will be very solid as the season progresses.
* Color me very surprised with the performance Duke right-handed pitcher and top prospect Marcus Stroman put together against Texas. Stroman topped out in the mid 90s as usual, but he lacked command in the worst way in a 4-0 loss to Texas. Stroman struck out just three batters, walking six and allowing three runs on four hits in five innings. Though it’s obviously still very early in the season, I’m interested to see how Stroman progresses as a starting pitcher. If things don’t work out after the first few weeks, I’d be surprised to see the Blue Devils keep him in the starting rotation. For now, though, it’s all about looking forward to next week for the ultra-talented right-hander.
* Stanford gets another stiff test next weekend when it plays host to Texas. But for now, we’re extremely impressed with the statement it has made so far this weekend. The Cardinal took care of Vanderbilt with little issue in the series and season opener on Friday. It was much the same on Saturday in a 9-5 triumph, paced by the start by talented starting pitcher Brett Mooneyham. Reliever David Schmidt also performed at a high level, allowing just one hit in two innings of work. Meanwhile, sophomore slugger Brian Ragira greatly impressed with a three-hit performance. The Cardinal has been a very complete team so far this weekend, something we weren’t real sure would happen. This Stanford club appears to be locked in and focused on reaching the College World Series after finishing last season in an NCAA Super Regional.
* Fresh off back-to-back national titles, South Carolina enters the season knowing it’s going to get everyone’s best shot. The Gamecocks took some punches from VMI this weekend, but held their own and earned a series sweep. The most intriguing game of the weekend was Saturday’s opening game of a doubleheader with right-hander Matt Price on the mound. Price, of course, has earned a reputation the past few years of being one of the nation’s elite closers, if not the elite closer in college baseball. Still, the Gamecocks felt the need to move him to the weekend rotation this spring. Interestingly, he had a stat line that only Matt Price could put together. He struck out seven batters and allowed no hits in five innings. However, he allowed two runs, walked three batters and hit three batters. There’s no cause for concern just yet, but Price must establish some consistency as a starting pitcher for the Gamecocks to keep him in the rotation throughout the season. Personally, I think he’ll make the necessary adjustments.
* There are plenty of statements being made this weekend, but there are some teams that have been more impressive than others … We knew Cal Poly would have a solid club entering the 2012 campaign, but I’ve been impressed with the sheer balance of the Mustangs’ performances this weekend. The pitching has been solid for the most part, while Larry Lee’s club is getting the key hits against Oklahoma State … There’s not much to say about Boston College but, hey, impressive. It’s obvious that starting pitcher Eric Stevens set the tone for the weekend with a very impressive performance against Virginia in the season opener. It’ll be interesting to see how Mike Gambino’s club builds off a potentially program-turning weekend of baseball … Purdue, San Francisco and USC are other teams making statements so far this weekend. The Boilermakers were near flawless in a pair of wins over Cincinnati and Connecticut at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge, while San Francisco’s pitching once again shined in a series-clinching win over San Jose State, and USC put together another dominant performance against a very solid Jacksonville club, a Dolphins team that likely will end the season heavily in the mix for an NCAA at-large bid.