Teams of the Week, March 12-18
There are too many good teams in the South to overlook here. Please bear with me on this one.
'Coz I know, I know. The first thing you're going to say is that I didn't include anything about the scintillating Vanderbilt-Ole Miss series in my Teams of the Week feature. And it's true, VU deserves some mention for pulling out two wins in one of the most exciting series of the whole season. That Friday night showdown with David Price going up against Will Kline is the stuff of legends, man. It just is.
But it's the road warriors fault.
In the South alone, Arkansas went on the road to beat an undefeated team twice (Kentucky) and under-notorized Troy swept a ranked opponent on its own home field (Florida Atlantic). So you can't hold a grudge against performances like that, even though Vandy deserves a huge amount of credit. In fact, so does Georgia, who swept Auburn at home this weekend. But on that one, I'd rather chalk that one up to a team that hasn't played anyone with a pulse on the road, period (Auburn), more than I would say Georgia is legit or anything.
So let's get on with the Teams of the Week in college baseball, going from our usual right to left geographically.
Team of the Week: Virginia (3-1)
W29-2 vs. Niagara
W7-2 (11inns), W9-6, L9-4 at North Carolina
Nice rebound weekend after losing two of three at Wake last week. According to head coach Brian O'Connor, the Wahoos played "a very successful weekend" to beat the Heels at Boshamer Stadium. Lead off hammer Greg Miclat was obscene, going 9-for-19 with five walks. Against the Purple Eagles, LF Brandon Guyer went 4-for-6 with nine RBI, four of them coming on a pair of 1st-inning singles. Not to beat around the bush here, it was freakin' ugly.
Honorable Mention: Charlotte (2-1)
W7-6, L4-2, W7-6 (10inns.) vs. No. 30 College of Charleston
The showdown of Carolina mid-majors goes to the resurgent 49ers, who prove that they may be the cock of the walk on the East coast non-BCS conference scene. Late game heroics were the order of the day as Charlotte scored two runs in the bottom of the 9th in Saturday's first game, thanks to a Cougar throwing error. But on Sunday, it was hero-city for Senior Cory Lane who cranked out a two-run bomb in the 10th to give Charlotte the series win. The Niners are now 16-4 on the year. CofC drops to 14-6 and out of the rankings.
Team of the Week: Troy (3-0)
W12-6, W8-3, W13-5 at No. 29 Florida Atlantic
Don't know how they did it, but the Trojans managed to lose a series to Middle Tennessee last week and then win all three games - in blowout fashion - at FAU this week. The Trojans didn't screw around either, never trailing at all this weekend and out-scoring the Owls 19-1 in innings 1-through-3. The schedule gets real interesting for the 13-8 Trojans now, with three of the next four weekends at home vs. Sun Belt contenders Florida International, Louisiana-Lafayette and Coastal Carolina. Trojan Up boys!
Honorable Mention: Arkansas (3-1)
W10-2 vs. Oral Roberts
W10-2, L7-5, W14-5 at Kentucky
First the Hogs got revenge for a pair of losses to ORU last year. Then they drubbed previously unbeaten UK for two bad losses. Wildcat leadoff hitter Mike Brown came into the weekend hitting an SEC best .525, but left going 1-for-12. The Razorbacks also handed Friday starter Chris Rusin his first career loss, getting eight hits and seven earned runs off the stud. Yeah, I know, considering Kentucky's schedule up 'til now... this is shocking. Just shocking.
Team of the Week: Wichita State (3-1)
W18-3 vs. Kansas
L2-1, W8-7, W7-6 (13inns) vs. Long Beach State
This had to be the best series of the weekend as three white-knucklers took place at Eck Stadium. The Shocks are on an 8-1 sprint right now and come off one of the best three-game series of the season. Coming up clutch on Saturday and Sunday, WSU got save No. 4 from Noah Krol and then saw pinch hitter Andy Dirks knock home the series winning run on Sunday. Rob Musgrave improved to 4-0 with the rout of Kansas. WSU is now 16-5 entering MVC play this weekend. And I've gotta say this - I hope the Wichita-Long Beach non-conference series never ends. Great rivalry here.
Honorable Mention: Texas (4-0)
W7-1 vs. Winthrop
W3-2, W14-2, W8-3 at/vs. Baylor
Good week for the Horns, although I admit I'm starting to wonder about the Eagles and Bears as far as quality goes. Both were struggling coming into the week and Texas merely re-affirmed that notion. UT got a sweep of the limping Bears, which included Augie Garrido's 1,600th career win on Friday night. Despite the history of battles here, only Friday's game was close as starter James Russell went 6.2 innings, giving up just four hits and zero earned runs to improve to 4-2. Randy Boone earned save No. 5 for the pitching-heavy Longhorns.
Team of the Week: San Diego State (3-1)
L4-3 (10inns) at UC Riverside
W8-2, W12-6, W5-3 vs. UCLA
The Aztecs could be legit. And it's been a long time coming. Nice sweep of the Bruins here improves SDSU to 15-11 going into MWC play this coming weekend. And the one game the Aztecs lost, they shouldn't have, leaving the bases loaded in the 10th inning vs. the Highlanders. Troy Hanzawa was a demon, going 8-for-15 on the week. One thing SDSU is doing that it hasn't in the past, is pitch. The team ERA is now 3.64 and opponents are hitting just .242.
Honorable Mention: San Diego (4-0)
W5-1 at Cal State Fullerton
W8-1, W5-4, W8-3 vs. Houston
Okay, USD has now added the Titans to its list of victims. So, it's good to see the Toreros are finally getting some love by being ranked in the BA, Rivals, Collegiate Baseball and the NCBWA polls this week. 'Bout time, right? (Helloooo, just ask Texas there, people.). Josh Romanski was named the WCC Player of the Week, getting the win on the mound vs. a dangerous Fullerton team on Tuesday and going 7-for-15 at the dish in the four games. Damn!