Teams of the Week, Feb. 26

Sigh. Once again, it was slim pickin's for Team of the Week honors, particularly in the East, where no one really shined huge, and in the South, where all the big money boys either played Carnation-Instant-Ws or lost ignominiously to said teams of that ilk.

But let's give a hearty round of hip-hop-hoorays to the Midwest boys. Many of them took to the road to avoid the steady stream of blizzards in this unusually bitter February and came away with impressive wins. Guess they just had a lot of pent-up anger they needed to take out on someone.

Because of the success of teams like Miami University, Kent State and Wright State, teams like Wichita State, Michigan and Nebraska, who might garner more accolades, had to take a back seat in the Team of the Week honors.

So in the words of Grand Funk Railroad, come on dudes, let's get it on:

(You guys DO know who Grand Funk Railroad is right? )


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EAST---

Team of the Week: South Florida (3-1)

L9-4 at Stetson
W 3-0, W5-0, W13-1 vs. Manhattan

Not anything that will rock your world here (wait... I hate that phrase), but USF was certainly bullish on the Jasper bats in the three game sweep, allowing a mere 11 hits and doling out 25 strikeouts. Now ranked No. 30 by Collegiate Baseball, the Bulls improve to 9-1 on the season.


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Honorable Mention: Duke (3-1)

W7-1 vs. Albany
W4-3 vs. Washington
W4-2 vs. St. John's
L11-4 at East Carolina

The wins over Washington and St. John's may not sound huge, but considering those two teams won 36 and 40 games last year, that's pretty good. Another reason to like the Dookies? On Tuesday, a pitcher that goes by the name Mike Ness will start against North Carolina A&T. That's the same name as the lead singer of seminal punk band Social Distortion. (Sorry, I couldn't resist)


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SOUTH---

Team of the Week: Rice (4-0)

W7-1 vs. Dallas Baptist
W4-2 vs. Florida Atlantic
W9-5 vs. Nebraska
W14-1 vs. Texas A&M-Corpus Christi

After a 3-4 start, the Owls have taken the momentum of two wins over Long Beach State and parlayed that into a six-game win streak. The win over Nebraska was particularly impressive after digging themselves a 5-zip hole early on. No rest for the smart boys as they travel to play at Cal State Fullerton this weekend. Gotta love that matchup.


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Honorable Mention: Kennesaw State (3-1)

W7-5 vs. Georgia Southern
L5-2, W18-0, W14-12 at Samford

It's been a season of "almosts" so far for these Owls, include a lid-lifting 10-inning loss to Georgia Tech two weeks ago and a pair of close losses to Western Carolina. This week, however, outfielder Adam Cross got fed up and went nuts at the plate, going 10-for-20 with two home runs, three doubles and five RBI as KSU beat the team that swept Georgia Tech and the team projected to win the Ohio Valley Conference. The Owls are now 5-5 on the season.


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MIDWEST---

Teams of the Week: Wright State (2-1)

L3-2, W1-0 (5inns), W5-2 at Ole Miss

Considering the low profile of the Horizon League and the lack of outdoor practices so far, there was really little to indicate a weekend like this would take place. But wow! You freakin' kiddin' me?! Dan Barker pitched a "complete-game" in Saturday's 5-inning mini-match, getting out of two bases-loaded jams in the process. Jeremy Hamilton's three-run yard call won Sunday's getaway game.


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Honorable Mention: The MAC monsters

Miami University (W6-5, W6-2, L5-4 at Winthrop)
Kent State (W10-4, L7-0, W1-0 at Florida)

As stated above, so many Midwest teams had great weeks. Give big props to the Red Hawks and Golden Flashes. They really deserved these wins and took huge advantage of their opportunities. Miami had a wild pitch cost it a chance at a series sweep at Winthrop. And KSU's underrated pitching kept the Gators swinging at air, much like in the series loss to VMI two weeks ago. Nice week for the MAC in general... hopefully people won't forget them come June. But sadly, my guess is they will.


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WEST---

Team of the Week: Long Beach State (3-0)

W14-1 vs. UCLA
W4-1, W8-3 vs. California

Make way for another great Dirtbag infielder as SS Danny Espinosa went 6-for-12 at the dish, including all four ribs in the Friday night win over Cal. Long Beach is now 9-4 on the season, but look at what's next: Three games at Arizona State, at UCLA, three at Wichita State, three vs. Cal State Fullerton and three at UC-Irvine. That's right, we're not talking Tennessee Tech and Duquesne here people. Typical Dirtbags

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Honorable Mention: Stanford (4-0)

W4-1 vs. San Francisco
W6-5, W4-1, W7-6 vs. Kansas

Four wins over NCAA tourney teams from last year? Not bad. There would be no Rock Chalkin' in Palo Alto this time around as the Trees avenged last year's stunning series loss to the Big 12ers from Toto-land. Reliever David Stringer picked up saves 2-3-4-and-5 in the four wins this week. A junior now, Stringer's first career action was in last year's Kansas series where he was saddled with a loss.

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Eric Sorenson Eric Sorenson
Eric Sorenson is CSTV.com's National Baseball Columnist, and also appears on CSTV as a baseball expert