Teams of the Week, April 16th to April 22nd
Fellow stitch-heads, let me start by saying this.
I mean it when I say that this was a tough week to figure out the best of the four regions. Just too many teams had great weeks. I mean, how could I diss performances from teams like Creighton (4-0), Lafayette (6-1), Boston College (4-0), New Orleans (3-1), Cal (3-1), Coastal Carolina (3-1), San Diego (3-1) or Central Michigan (4-0)? These teams played great this week.
It ain't easy people. So don't get hacked off if your favorite team isn't listed here. Mea culpa in advance.
But bravely, we carry on with the honors going to the highly-honorable. Well, it doesn't take that much bravery to be honest, it's just college baseball.
So here we go, spanning East to West.
Team of the Week: Georgia Tech (4-0)
W8-2 vs. Georgia
W2-1, W4-3, W7-3 vs. North Carolina State
With the three game sweep of the Pack, GT moved to within a half-game of coastal division leader North Carolina at 13-7 and 26-14 overall. Tech pitchers were K-engineers with David Duncan getting 11 strikeouts on Friday and four pitchers combined on 14 strikeouts on Saturday. Wally Crancer hit a jog-off double to win Friday's game and Danny Payne got the game-winning RBI single on Saturday. But the Jackets need an even bigger step up with Clemson, North Carolina and Florida State remaining on the schedule. Batten down the hatches.
Honorable Mention: Rutgers (4-0)
W10-3 vs. Iona
W5-2, W7-5 (10inns), W10-5 at South Florida
Just when the toughest trip in the Big East came about, the rest of the conference thought it was time to play catch-up to the league-leading Knights. But Rutgers put a stiff-arm on the rest of the league with an impressive three-game sweep in Tampa. That leaves the Knights at 12-4, a game ahead of Louisville and St. John's. OF Dave Williams was named to the Big East Honor Roll for hitting .500 over the weekend.
Team of the Week: Florida (3-1)
W5-4 at Florida State
L9-2, W10-7, W5-4 vs. Kentucky
Their won-loss mark may not be sexy (23-20), but the Gators aren't going away anytime soon. This was a great week for the blue and orange, especially lacing an "L" on their in-state rivals on Tuesday. Brian LeClerq, SEC Player of the Week, was broiling at the dish, going 9-for-15, including a 4-for-4, three RBI and a home run performance against the 'Noles. It was FSU's first home loss in 30 games at Dick Howser Stadium.
Honorable Mention: Western Carolina (4-0)
W7-3 vs. East Tennessee State
W4-2, W4-3, W5-4 vs. Elon
The Catamounts sweeping three from the previously second-place Phoenix means they now take over the 2-spot behind College of Charleston at 11-4. The Cats have now won 13 of 14 and are 27-12 overall. SS Brent Greer played the hero twice for WCU. On Saturday, he hit a game-tying home run in the 9th inning (which led to Jonathan Greene getting plunked with the bases-loaded for the winning run.). Then on Sunday, he cracked a 10th-inning yard call to help the Catamounts sweep. A yard call that, according to our own Mark Etheridge, went over the "purple monster."
Team of the Week: Oklahoma State (5-1)
W9-6 vs. Kansas State
W7-2, W12-3 vs. Arkansas-Pine Bluff
L4-2, W6-4, W12-11 at Texas A&M
At 31-10 and a single game behind Texas at 10-5 in Big 12 play, I have to admit, this looks a lot more impressive than the team I saw get beat twice at Cal State Northridge back in February. (Which begs the question, how can a team lose twice at mausoleum-like Northridge, but win a series at hostile Pat Olsen Field?). There was plenty of 9th-inning magic for the Pokes this weekend as Saturday and Sunday games were decided by Keanon Simon's RBI double in game two and Ty Wright's two-run home run in game three. Even Friday's loss saw OSU score two runs and get the winning run to the plate, before running out of outs.
Honorable Mention: Missouri (3-1)
W3-1 at Missouri State
W11-4, W14-11, L8-3 at Baylor
You wonder why I keep pimping the Tigers? Now that they've won three of their four Big 12 conference weekends, they've improved to 9-6, good for third place. Plus they are also 28-12 overall and - I'll give credit where credit is due - back in Kendall Rogers' Rivals.com rankings. Good job Kendall. I think they belong there. But keep in mind, the one time I saw them play this season, Coach Tim Jamieson's charges split a pair with high-powered Arizona State, including a 3-2 clampdown by the young Mizzou arms. So I might be a little bit biased by their good performance.
Team of the Week: Arizona State (3-0)
W8-2, W11-8, W9-6 vs. Louisiana-Lafayette
The Sun Devils didn't waste time against the Cajuns, jumping out to leads of 5-1 and 11-1 in the first two games. Junkballer Josh Satow struck out 11 Cajun batters to improve to 9-2. Sunday saw ASU have to come from behind for the first time all weekend. The Devils got a two-run double in the 8th from Matt Spencer to put the game away. Ike Davis managed to steal home in the 6th inning (someone at the game told me made it to home plate before the pitch did) to knot the score at 5-5. Super frosh Jason Jarvis picked up the save on Saturday and got his first collegiate win on Sunday, going the last three innings. ASU is now 32-10 and winners of 11 straight.
Honorable Mention: TCU (3-1)
W11-4 vs. Oklahoma
L5-0, W14-2, W7-0 vs. BYU
First the Frogs get an RPI boost with the mid-week win over the Sooners (and with their RPI at No. 52, every bit helps) then on the weekend, after running into a buzzsaw of a pitcher in BYU's Jesse Craig on Friday (complete-game 7-hitter), the Frogs turned mean, blasting out 26 hits and scoring 28 runs. They also improved to 12-2 in MWC play, a game and a half better than San Diego State. The Aztecs come to Lupton Stadium for a huge three-gamer this weekend. Get your tickets early.