Friday First Takes - Grading on a Curve Edition

In my Thursday Thoughts I alluded to all the offense we've seen make a comeback in the 2007 college baseball season. So to counter that, I was wanting to take one Friday where we look at some of the top aces from across the country and put them under the microscope for their performances.

Here's what I came up with.

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Getting out the red pen---
Here's a quick grading of a baker's dozen of top mound aces and their Friday performances. (In no particular order).

- Nick Schmidt, Arkansas. GRADE: C-
Result: Lost 6-1 at Georgia
Innings: 8.0 (complete game)
Hits: 7
Earned runs: 5
Strikeouts: 4
Walks: 0
The 2nd inning saw Schmidt give up two home runs, two hit batsmen and triple as Georgia cruised from there.

- Barry Enright, Pepperdine, GRADE: C
Result: Won 10-3 vs. Santa Clara
Innings: 8.0
Hits: 9
Earned runs: 3
Strikeouts: 5
Walks: 0
Not the smoothest of days for Enright. SCU came in hitting just 13 home runs all year but hit two today off the Waves ace.

- Adam Mills, Charlotte, GRADE: C+
Result: Won 4-2 vs. Dayton.
Innings: 7.1
Hits: 9
Earned runs: 2
Strikeouts: 3
Walks: 4
Like Enright, Mills gave up nine hits and wasn't close to dominant. Still, only two runs crossed the plate.

- Kyle Nicholson, Texas A&M, GRADE: A
Result: Won 4-2 vs. Oklahoma State
Innings: 8.1
Hits: 8
Earned runs: 2
Strikeouts: 9
Walks: 0
Considering he was facing the most potent offense in the country, this is a great day of work on the mound.

- Preston Guilmet, Arizona, GRADE: A-
Result: Won 3-1 at Washington State
Innings: 8.0
Hits: 7
Earned runs: 1
Strikeouts: 12
Walks: 3
Only once was Wazzu able to get back-to-back singles. Guilmet also got eight of his Ks with Cougars on base. He's now 8-0.

- Bryan Henry, Florida State, GRADE: A-
Result: Won 4-2 vs. North Carolina
Innings: 8.0
Hits: 4
Earned runs: 1
Strikeouts: 8
Walks: 2
Henry came in with a 2.37 ERA and he did better than that tonight against a great hitting Tar Heel team. Henry is now 10-0 on the season.

- Robert Woodard, North Carolina, GRADE: C-
Result: Lost 4-2 at Florida State
Innings: 7.0
Hits: 9
Earned Runs: 2
Strikeouts: 8
Walks: 2
This was Woodard's first loss of the season, coming against a team that hits .370. Eight-hole hitter Mark Gildea had his number with three hits and three ribs.

- Harris Honeycutt, South Carolina, GRADE: B-
Result: Lost 8-5 at Ole Miss
Innings: 6.0
Hits: 7
Earned runs: 2
Strikeouts: 5
Walks: 2
If the Carolina offense had come up huge as they've been doing lately, this performance was certainly capable of pulling a W.

- Will Kline, Ole Miss, GRADE: B-
Result: Won 8-5 vs. South Carolina
Innings: 7.0
Hits: 5
Earned runs: 5
Strikeouts: 8
Walks: 2
Lasted longer than Honeycutt, but gave up more earned runs. Then again, this was the home run bashing Gamecocks he went up against.

- Jacob Thompson, Virginia, GRADE: B
Result: Won 5-3 at Clemson
Innings: 8.0
Hits: 6
Earned runs: 3
Strikeouts: 6
Walks: 1
Thompson improved to 9-0 against what has become a light-hitting Tiger team. Talk about being tough when he needed to, he never let CU get two hits in a row.

- David Price, Vanderbilt, GRADE: A
Result: Won 3-1 vs. Tennessee
Innings: 8.0
Hits: 5
Earned Runs: 1
Strikeouts: 14
Walks: 0
Maybe we're too harsh with young David here. I mean do we expect too much? 14Ks? Just five hits? No walks? And still, no grade of "A+"? This guy's wicked.

- Mike Stutes, Oregon State, GRADE: A
Result: Won 3-1 vs. UNLV
Innings: 8.0
Hits: 2
Earned Runs: 1
Strikeouts: 12
Walks: 3
Way after most of you hit the hay tonight, Stutes was working hard shutting down a Rebel offense with his best outing of the season, improving his record to 9-1.

- Wes Roemer, Cal State Fullerton, GRADE: C
Result: Won 18-1 vs. Pacific
Innings: 6.0
Hits: 3
Earned Runs: 1
Strikeouts: 6
Walks: 2
Roemer improves to 6-4, but this is still far from the domination we got used to last season. But at least he got plenty of offensive help, unlike most games this season.


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Other well-armed performances outside of the red pen---
Houston - 7
Tulane - 0 (on CSTV today)
Friday ace Aaron Brown was on again. After going 7.1 innings and allowing six hits in a win against Rice last Friday, Brown went one step better against the Greenies, going 7.0, seven Ks and just five hits. The Coogs improve to 7-3 in the C-USA. Tulane, meanwhile, drops to 8-5 and needs to buck up. I haven't been overwhelmed with their play. Although... some of the defensive plays that right fielder Aja Barto was making, blew me away. (Diving catch, robbed a home run, assisted on a throw-out of a runner at home plate)

Texas - 0
Nebraska - 8 (on CSTV tonight)
I liked how NU coach Mike Anderson said about pitcher Tony Watson after the game, "his first three pitches of the game were his worst. He was great from then on." Watson goes the distance and - though it's hard to believe - gave up just two hits to a team that came in hitting .328. Watson also struck out six and walked none. Ryan Wherle was a man possessed, going 4-for-5 at the dish with a single, two doubles and an epic home run blast. UT Player of the Year candidate Kyle Russell was the victim of a hot pitcher, striking out twice and going 0-for-4.

North Carolina State - 1
Georgia Tech - 2
The cardiac Jackets are at it again. Tech scores two runs in the bottom of the 9th to put away a Friday win over the Pack. Starter David Duncan was the big story, striking out 11, walking none and allowing one run on just two hits. Unfortunately, Duncan left after 8.2 innings, so he didn't get the win. Wally Crancer's deep two-RBI double to the gap supplied Tech's winning - and only - runs of the day. Brad Rulon got the win by getting one measly out in the game. Doesn't seem fair, does it? Oh well.


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Nice going Augie---
There's a reason why Texas coach Augie Garrido is one of my favorite coaches of all-time... regardless of sport. In tonight's loss at Nebraska, Garrido got tossed by 1B umpire David Aschwege in the 6th inning. While walking off the field, he was serenaded by the NU fans with the familiar "left, right, left, right" as he walked off the field. All at once in front of the Nebraska dugout, Garrido froze in his tracks and looked at the crowd with a sheepish grin. I have to admit, I was nearly in tears laughing at that one.


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One late note from the islands---
Louisiana Tech - 4
Hawaii - 7
On a week that saw the passing of the great Don "Tiny Bubbles" Ho, the Rainbows rally with four runs in the 8th inning to win game one of their WAC showdown with the conference top dogs. But it was the painful manner in which they scored. Justin Frash came up with two men on and UofH trailing 4-3. He slapped a single that went off the pitcher's glove and bounded toward third baseman Courtney Jones. Trying to make a play, he chucked the ball down the right field line, allowing one run to score. Then, right fielder Jericho Jones also committed a throwing error that allowed Frash to score as well. This came to the delight of the Murikami Stadium crowd of 3,973, the biggest crowd of the season. Although Saturday's game is within 200 tickets of being a sellout.


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From Conway, Arkansas to Twitty, Texas---
On my way home from work today I heard a really cool old rockabilly song called "Rock House" on Sirius radio, channel 26 (Underground Garage). After the song was over, the DJ, Kid Leo, came on with this intriguing side story...
"You just heard a Harold Jenkins song. Interesting story behind Mr. Jenkins. He was drafted by both the Philadelphia Phillies and the U.S. Army in the mid-50s. Guess who won that battle, huh? Anyway, after he was discharged from the service, he hung out at Sun Studios in Memphis with all the legends of rock-n-roll: Elvis, The Killer, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash. Eventually, Jenkins would go on to become a country music legend. But that song you just heard was 'Rock House' from his Sun Studios days. The days before he became better know as... Conway Twitty."

Thank you Underground Garage for another lesson in rock-n-roll.


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It's late. So I'm done. I'm going to try to see San Diego's Brian Matusz or Josh Romanski pitch in one of two games of a double-header at Loyola Marymount tomorrow. But then again, there are sooooooo many good TV games tomorrow too. Hell, I don't know what to do. Either way, I plan on seeing lots of good baseball.

G'night.

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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