Teams of the Week, April 9th to April 15th
This was an interesting freakin' week in college baseball. The career saves record being captured by UC Irvine's Blair Erickson. Michigan whipping their rivals so bad even Bo was smiling up there. Arkansas going all manic on Florida. UCLA making their most famous alum, Jackie Robinson, as proud as blue and gold could get by sweeping USC on a weekend that all levels of baseball paid homage to the man.
It's a good time to be a college baseball fan, I tells ya'.
With that in mind, let's take a quick whirl around the country and see who did what in their corner of the baseball world. Here are the best of the best from around the country this past week.
Team of the Week: Northeastern (4-0)
W9-2 vs. Holy Cross
W3-2, W11-2, W5-4 at Winthrop
Man, where has this team been all season? (I know, probably trying to dodge the horrible weather up there in the Northeast this spring). A three-game sweep of the pre-season No. 24 ranked team? You kiddin' me? Nice job Huskies. Friday starter Kris Dabrowiecki out-dueled Alex Wilson in game one, going 7.1 innings of six-hit ball. Senior catcher Dan Milano only went 3-for-12 but got a hit in each game of the series to increase his hitting streak to a school record 17 games.
Honorable Mention: St. John's (5-1)
W8-4 vs. Fairfield
W7-2, W12-2 vs. Fairleigh Dickinson
L10-9, W8-1, W15-1 vs. Pittsburgh
Okay, the first three games were virtual gimmies. But the series win over former second-place Pitt is what has catapulted the Johnnies into second place themselves, just a game behind Big East-leading Rutgers. After an 0-7 start, the Red Storm are on a 20-5 run. And, it was nearly a clean-sweep weekend as SJU scored five runs in the 9th inning of Friday's game, but left the bases loaded in their lone loss to the Panthers.
Team of the Week: Arkansas (4-0)
W2-0 vs. Missouri State
W14-3, W7-1, W10-7 vs. Florida
In a battle of SEC division leaders, the Hogs ran wild. In fact, they made minced meat of the Gator pitching staff, blasting 33 hits and scoring 31 runs in the three games. If I'm not mistaken, didn't Danny Hamblin come into the weekend hitting something like .238 or so? Well, he didn't leave that way, feasting on the UofF arms, hitting .462 with two home runs and eight RBI. The Razorbacks are now two games ahead of the pack in the West at 11-4. Just imagine how much better they'd be with a healthy Shawn Seibert starting on Sundays. Damn.
Honorable Mention: New Orleans (3-0)
W16-11, W12-7, W8-3 at Middle Tennessee State
This was a bit of a surprise, as the Privateers ambushed the former second-place Blue Raiders in their own back yard. Nothing seemed to faze the Bucs either. Not the two rain post-ponements, not the MT pitching staff. Not anything. UNO handed MT's Brad Robinson, the staff ace, his first loss in seven starts and roughed up reliever Brett Reilly in Sunday's first game. The 'Teers are now on a 22-7 tear and find themselves just a game and a half behind UL-L in the Sun Belt.
Team of the Week: Michigan (6-0)
W11-4, W9-1 at Eastern Michigan
W10-4 (10inns), W12-4, W6-3, W13-3 at Ohio State
If there is an exclamation point to anyone's weekend, it would have to go to the Wolverines. Winning four straight in Columbus against their biggest rivals, and mostly by blowout margins is a dream for any Michigan fan. And don't dis-count those two wins at EMU as well, seeing as how the Eagles have won games at Tennessee and at Arizona. Adam Abraham was the hero in the OSU series, getting the game winning two-run double in game one and then slamming a 4-bagger yard call to start off game two. Some people still don't see fit to put Michigan in their Top 25... the rankings should cease to exist.
Honorable Mention: Wichita State (4-0)
W5-3 vs. Nebraska
W10-7, W8-4, W19-9 at Southern Illinois
The Shockers racked up another good week, this time getting a mid-week win over a good Nebraska team (that went on to win a series at OU) and then extinguishing any MVC title hopes of former second-place SIU. Slick-fielding 3B Conor Gillaspie was named Valley Player of the Week after going 9-for-17 in the four games. But another tough week lies ahead for the Shocks as they take on '06 Regional teams Oral Roberts and Kansas before traveling to Missouri State for the weekend. At 30-8 and 10-2, everyone will be gunning for them... again.
Team of the Week: Long Beach State (5-0)
W10-7 (11inns), W6-5 at/vs. Pepperdine
W11-2, W4-2, W7-2 vs. Cal State Northridge
The Dirtbags withstood a 70-day rain delay to pull out the first win over the Waves in extra innings. Utility man Shane Peterson figured huge in both wins, getting the game-winning RBI single in the 11th of game one and then getting the game-tying RBI double in game two. The Beach then went on to sweep Northridge in three straight to go to 5-0 on the week. With the wins, the Dirtbags are now 21-12 overall and have played the nation's toughest schedule and have a pRPI of No. 3. Despite all this, some people still don't find them worthy of a Top 25 ranking. The rankings should cease to exist... or have I mentioned that already?
Honorable Mention: Cal Poly (2-1)
W5-4, L3-2, W12-0 at UC Irvine
The Mustangs were able to overcome all the hype of Blair Erickson's record setting saves performance on Saturday and still come out with a pair of impressive road wins to help them maintain their lead in the Big West standings. As I noted in my blog from Saturday night, I couldn't help but be very impressed with lumberjack swinging Grant Desme, who seemed unstoppable going 4-for-4 that night. Coupled with his 3-for-4 game on Sunday (that included his 12th home run of the season), Desme is now hitting a sprite .408 on the season. Eric Massingham and Derrick Saito combined on an 11K, six-hit performance on Friday and Thomas Eager improved to 7-2 with 7.2 innings of four-hit work on Sunday. Nice series W for Poly here.