Helped its case
South Alabama: The Jaguars still have some business to take care of, but moved one step closer to potentially earning an NCAA Regional host with an impressive series-opening 8-1 win over Troy. Jaguars outfielder Nick Zaharion went 2-for-5 with a home run, a run scored and three RBIs, while on the mound, reliever Anthony Izzio rose to the occasion, striking out five and allowing just two hits in 4 2/3 shutout innings. The Jaguars improved to 40-14 on the season. South Alabama's RPI is up to 13.
Sam Houston State: The Bearkats are in good shape atop the Southland Conference standings, but hope to do enough to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA postseason should they not win next week's conference tournament. SHSU right-handed pitcher Tyler Eppler was terrific in a 7-3 win over Central Arkansas, striking out three, walking three and allowing a run on four hits in seven innings. SHSU's RPI is up to 48.
Auburn: The Tigers likely are a win away against Arkansas this weekend from essentially punching their ticket to the NCAA postseason, of course, assuming they don't play bad in next week's SEC tournament. AU left-handed pitcher Conner Kendrick struck out eight, walked one and allowed four hits in 7 1/3 shutout innings, while reliever Terrance Dedrick was fantastic in 1 2/3 shutout frames. With the win, Auburn's RPI is up to 29.
Mississippi State: With the Bulldogs aiming for a host site this weekend against South Carolina, it was important to start the weekend on the right foot. Well the Bulldogs did just that on Thursday, scoring four runs in the bottom of the eighth, including the go-ahead run on a bases-loaded walk to beat Tyler Webb and South Carolina 5-4. State catcher Nick Ammirati went 3-for-4 with two runs scored and an RBI, while first baseman Wes Rea hit a home run in the contest.
Creighton: The Bluejays certainly don't have an incredibly great overall postseason resume, but they could help their case going into the conference tournament with a big series win over Missouri State this weekend. CU won the series opener 4-3 on Thursday with starting pitcher Tommy Strunc striking out four, walking just two and allowing two runs on two hits in five innings. Meanwhile, reliever Bryan Sova pitched very well in his 3 2/3 innings of work. RPI-wise, CU is sitting at 52 after the contest.
Houston: Though very much a long shot at this point, the Cougars are trying to make one last statement before the regular season closes against Southern Miss at home this weekend. UH starting pitcher Daniel Poncedeleon struck out two and allowed just two runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings of work in a 3-2 victory. UH is now 12-10 in Conference USA, along with an RPI of 57.
South Florida: Lelo Prado's Bulls could very well stay on the good side of the bubble after this weekend if they can do a clean home sweep of Rutgers. USF started the weekend in solid fashion with an 11-4 win over the Scarlet Knights. Versatile outfielder James Ramsay had a huge day at the plate, going 4-for-5 with two runs scored and two RBIs, while starting pitcher Jimmy Herget allowed two runs in five frames.
Miami (Fla.): Some think the Hurricanes would be in trouble in terms of making the postseason if they dropped a series at home to Georgia Tech this weekend. Good thing the 'Canes didn't have to ponder that idea Friday night, as they captured an 8-3 win over the Jackets. Miami right-handed starting pitcher Eric Whaley was fantastic against the hard-hitting Jackets, allowing just two hits in five shutout frames. With an RPI in the top 20, I still think Miami is pretty safe.
Clemson: The Tigers entered the mix as an NCAA Regional host in our latest projections, and could very much solidify that status this weekend with a road series win over Florida State. Clemson seized an opportunity Thursday night with FSU throwing No. 4 starting pitcher Peter Miller. The Tigers jumped on Miller early and won 8-2 to take a 1-0 series lead. Meanwhile, sophomore right-handed pitcher Daniel Gossett again was terrific, striking out three in six shutout frames.
Ohio State: After losing a midweek game to Louisville and getting swept by Oregon in the last week, the Buckeyes need all the wins they can get this weekend to feel very good about their NCAA at-large chances entering the Big Ten tournament. OSU right-handed pitcher Brad Goldberg was terrific in a 2-1 home win over Indiana, a series that will decide the conference regular season championship. Goldberg struck out three and allowed just a run on four hits in six innings. OSU's RPI is up to 56.
Illinois: The Fighting Illini were outside the bubble in this week's projections, but could move on the good side with a strong showing on the road against Minnesota this weekend. Illinois freshman left-handed pitcher Kevin Duchene struck out three and allowed just two runs on six hits in six innings in a 6-2 win over the Golden Gophers, out-dueling big-time Gophers lefty Tom Windle. With the win, the Fighting Illini are up to 33 in the latest RPI.
Hurt its case
Kentucky: It's rather safe to say at this point that Kentucky is in a must-win situation the next two days against Missouri. UK already entered Thursday bad shape, but dropped a 4-2 decision to the Tigers to drop to 10-18 in the Southeastern Conference. That wouldn't be worth of an at-large bid at this point. UK starting pitcher A.J. Reed allowed four runs on nine hits in 4 1/3 innings of work. The silver lining for UK is that it clinched an SEC tourney berth with Tennessee's loss to Texas A&M.
San Diego State: It's safe to say the Aztecs were an extreme long shot to make the NCAA postseason entering the weekend, at least as an at-large team. Well, the Aztecs started off their huge home series against New Mexico on a negative note, dropping a tough 14-6 decision. SDSU starting pitcher Michael Cederoth struggled in the contest, striking out five, walking three and allowing six runs on seven hits in six innings.With the loss, the Aztecs are down to 99 in the latest RPI.
Coastal Carolina: The Chanticleers likely will get into the NCAA postseason field no matter what happens this weekend, but things could get very interesting at-large wise with a series loss to Charleston Southern. In the series opener, CSU starting pitcher Ryan Gunther allowed just three runs in eight innings, while for the Chants, starting pitcher Ben Smith allowed five runs in 3 2/3 innings of work. With the loss, CCU's RPI is still at 41, but could get worse with another loss this weekend.
Seton Hall: The Pirates are in good shape from a postseason standpoint right now, but a poor showing against St. John's this weekend could change their situation. SHU starting pitcher Jon Prosinski allowed four runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings of work in a series-opening 4-3 loss to the Johnnies. With the loss, the Pirates are down to 39 in the latest RPI.
Notre Dame: I thought the Fighting Irish were very much a long shot for an at-large berth to enter the weekend, but their situation got worse Friday night in a 9-5 loss to Cincinnati, which announced earlier in the day it was parting ways with long-time head coach Brian Cleary. Notre Dame starting pitcher Adam Norton had a tough night on the mound, allowing seven runs and 11 hits in six innings. With the loss, the Irish are down to 43 in the latest RPI.
Pittsburgh: The Panthers are in good shape right now, but things could change if they fail to win a game against Louisville this weekend. Pitt starting pitcher Ethan Mildren allowed five runs on eight hits in seven innings of work, while they were unable to get much going against UL starting pitcher Chad Green in a 5-2 setback. With the loss, the Panthers are 40-13 overall, RPI of 69.
West Virginia: The Mountaineers had a golden opportunity in the past week to take a step forward and pretty much solidify an at-large bid. However, a couple of home losses to TCU, and another loss to Marshall, later, and the Mountaineers now have an RPI in triple digits after dropping a 7-4 road contest to Oklahoma State. WVU starting pitcher Dan Dierdorff had a tough night on the mound, allowing seven runs on 10 hits in seven innings.
Nebraska: The Huskers simply can't afford to lose another game this weekend at home to Michigan. The Big Red dropped the series opener to the Wolverines, 7-5, on Thursday, dropping to 24-27 overall. Remember, you need to be a game above .500 to be eligible for the NCAA postseason. NU starting pitcher Kyle Kubat allowed three runs in six innings, but Dylan Vogt and the bullpen struggled. NU's RPI sits at 35.