Analyzing Cal State Fullerton-Texas A&M Games 2/3
With Sunday's college baseball action in the books, here's our inside look back at the highlights and lowlights from around the country.
TEAM OF THE DAY: Cal State Fullerton
What a turn of events it was for the Titans this weekend. After getting dominated in the series opener against Texas A&M, the Titans showed a lot of fight by taking the final two games of the series on Sunday, 6-5 and 4-3. Interestingly, stud sophomore outfielder Michael Lorenzen played key roles in both games. In addition to some fantastic plays in the field and at the plate, the now two-way star closed out both games on the mound using a 97 mph fastball to shutdown the Aggies. The series win over A&M might've been the turning point for this club.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Brando Tessar, rhp, Oregon
The Ducks hoped to finish the weekend on a positive note, and did so with right-handed pitcher Brando Tessar leading them to a 4-0 triumph over Connecticut. Tessar was tremendous against the Huskies, striking out five batters and allowing no runs and four hits in a complete-game performance. Oregon finished the weekend with a 2-2 record.
UPSET OF THE DAY: Notre Dame over LSU
The Fighting Irish typically are known for their stout offensive lineup, but together an impressive overall performance in a 7-1 triumph over LSU. Notre Dame starting pitcher Sean Fitzgerald struck out four batters and allowed just a run on six hits in eight innings, while reliever Dan Slania struck out a batter in an inning of work. The Irish have a chance to go 2-0 against the Tigers with another contest on Monday.
FIVE BEST TEAMS
North Carolina: What a weekend it was for the Tar Heels. They closed the Clemson series out in style with a 6-5 triumph in 11 innings. Catcher Jacob Stallings recorded a double and home run, and knocked in two runs, while reliever Michael Morin was terrific with 2 1/3 innings of relief work.
UCLA: The Bruins put together an outstanding weekend at Georgia. They swept the series from the Bulldogs, taking the series finale 7-3 on Sunday. At the plate, outfielder Cody Keefer went 3-for-5 with a double and two RBIs, while reliever Scott Griggs closed out the game with three strikeouts in the ninth inning. UCLA has now won 10-straight contests.
East Carolina: The Pirates had the statement weekend they were looking for at the Alabama tournament over the weekend. ECU went 3-0 on the weekend, winning the tourney finale over Louisville, 9-4. ECU reliever Jeff Hoffman tossed four hitless frames, while Drew Reynolds, Philip Clark and Tim Younger each finished the day with two hits.
Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons certainly did their job in establishing themselves as an NCAA postseason contender this weekend. They finished the weekend with a 4-3 win over red-hot Maryland to sweep the series. Wake Forest starting pitcher Brian Holmes allowed just two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings, while catcher Brett Armour went 2-for-3 with two runs scored and an RBI.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack had the statement weekend they were looking for against Georgia Tech. Starting pitcher Logan Jernigan struck out nine hitters and allowed just two runs in six hitless innings, while shortstop Chris Diaz led the way at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a double, a run scored and two RBIs.
FIVE WITH SOMETHING TO PROVE
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs entered the weekend as one of the nation's hottest teams and with a 10-0 record, but finished the weekend series against New Mexico with a 10-3 record. Gonzaga starting pitcher Derek Callahan allowed four runs on five hits in 4 2/3 innings of work, while the offense only mustered one run despite eight hits.
Tennessee: The Volunteers showed some promise in the Houston College Classic last weekend, but took a step back this weekend with a home series loss to Louisiana-Monroe. UT starting pitchers Robbie Kidd walked two batters and failed to get out of the first inning after allowing four runs on three hits.
Florida Atlantic: It's an incredibly frustrating time for the Owls. In addition to the injuries they've sustained over the past couple of weeks, they just can't seem to get in a groove or establish consistency. FAU dropped two of three to Rutgers, losing Sunday's finale 10-4. FAU recorded 11 hits, but left 13 runners on base.
Houston: After taking a big step forward last weekend in the Houston College Classic, the Cougars took a big step back against Ole Miss over the weekend. The Cougars were swept by the Rebels, and were outscored 28-3 in the series. In Sunday's series finale, starting pitcher Aaron Garza was lifted after allowing two runs in the first inning.
Jacksonville: The Dolphins continue to be one of the biggest disappointments this season. They dropped a home series to Wagner, losing the series finale on Sunday, 6-5. JU starting pitcher Wes Torrez allowed two runs in four innings, while the bullpen struggle, particularly Sean Green. Also worth noting, highly touted first baseman Adam Brett Walker finished the contest 0-for-5 at the plate.
FIVE QUICK THOUGHTS
* What a big day it was for Cal State Fullerton. Honestly, I thought the Titans looked pretty rough in the series finale against the Aggies. But after a couple of days of listening to coach Rick Vanderhook, the Titans came out Sunday and were a very determined team against the Aggies. It showed in the final result. Fullerton two-way stud Michael Lorenzen made great play after great play, while stepping up on the mound. He struck out two Aggies to complete the first game on Sunday before closing out the second game in identical dominant fashion. On top of that, the Titans received other impressive performances. Starting pitcher J.D. Davis struggled to start the final game on Sunday, but calmed down and got into a groove with his 89-92 fastball leading the way. The Titans really showed me something by fighting back with two gritty victories ... For Texas A&M, it was a disappointing way to finish a weekend that began with so much promise. The Aggies were iffy defensively throughout the weekend, and lacked the ability to land the knockout punch against the Titans. Meanwhile, they appear to have a solid No. 3 starting pitcher in Rafael Pineda. Though Pineda allowed three runs in 5 1/3 innings, he had a decent fastball with good movement on his slider. He's a tall rangy guy and is one to watch for the Aggies.
* Perhaps it's the way they like it, but it seems like the Ole Miss Rebels are quietly putting together an impressive campaign. The Rebels hosted red-hot Houston over the weekend, and looked tremendous, sweeping the series in dominant fashion and winning the series finale 11-3. Bobby Wahl and R.J. Hively put together good starts in the first two games, while Mike Mayers allowed just a run in five innings in the series finale. The weekend rotation was a big question mark entering the season, but Wahl, Hively and Mayers appear to be getting in a groove. That's incredibly key as SEC play begins next weekend with an important series against Auburn.
* This might be the most important two weeks of the season for UCLA. The Bruins entered the weekend on a roll, and only improved their profile with a road series sweep over Georgia. Cody Keefer and Jeff Gelalich had productive weekends at the plate, while the pitching staff also rose to the occasion in opportune situations, with Scott Griggs doing the honors in the series finale. Winners of 10-straight games, the Bruins now have USC in midweek action before facing Arizona State at home to begin Pac-12 play. UCLA is red-hot at exactly the right time.
* The ACC postseason race certainly is shaping up to be an interesting one after only the first weekend of conference play. There were some series that weren't exactly surprises, such as Virginia taking two of three from Virginia Tech, Miami sweeping Georgia Tech and North Carolina taking a road series from Clemson. But Wake Forest took attention from Maryland with a sweep of the Terps, while N.C. State surprised Georgia Tech with a home series win. On top of all that, Florida State put together yet another impressive weekend on the mound in a road series sweep over Duke. The ACC is looking strong right now. It'll be particularly interesting to see if Wake Forest and N.C. State can establish consistency.
* So we're always interested in keeping track of teams that greatly increased their profiles, and also those that hurt their profiles. In terms of helping their profiles, you have to go with Cal State Fullerton, Ole Miss, UCLA, N.C. State and Wake Forest. In the hurt their profiles department, you have to go with Gonzaga, Houston, Clemson, Louisville and Tulane. This season is shaping up to be particularly interesting with 15-20 teams looking like they have the ability to reach the College World Series.