Teams of the Week, May 7th to May 13th
As I write this, I'm watching the movie "Riding Giants." This is the most incredible, awe-inspiring surf film I have ever seen (Have you seen it Coach Hill?). From the story of the first native Hawaiian surfer in the days of King Kamehameha to the closing chords of The Waterboys' "This is the Sea" which howls during the scrolling credits, it's an incredible rush of adrenaline and homage to the power of the ocean and those crazed fools that dare ride these monsters.
Just like these monstrosities, the following college baseball teams are the ones who had the most incredible seven days of anyone in Division I. In honor of the sport of surfing, we'll go from the West coast to the East this time on our roll of honor.
Team of the Week: Arizona State (3-0)
W16-14, W5-4, W11-10 vs. UCLA
Talk about a flair for the dramatic. The Devils overcame deficits of 14-7, 4-3 and 9-3 in the three games. ASU's unrelenting lineup paid dividends big time this weekend. The three come-from-behind wins puts ASU back in first place in the Pac 10 at 14-4 and firmly into the conversation for top eight national seeding status. Matt Spencer was - dare I rip off a phrase - en fuego, going 9-for-12 with seven RBI and Super-Frosh Jason Jarvis picked up saves six and seven on the weekend.
Honorable Mention: Gonzaga (2-1)
W5-3, W7-1, L4-3 (11inns) at Pepperdine
The Zags move into second place with a (slightly) surprising series win in Malibu. Not only that, but they also clinched a spot in the WCC playoffs in two weeks down at San Diego, where the Dogs will play a three-game set at USD's Cunningham Stadium May 25-27. Clayton Mortenson struck out 15 Pepperdine batters in Saturday's 7-1 win. A win that propelled the Zags into the WCC playoffs. Boyd Nation still has the GU RPI way down at No. 69, so winning the best-of-three series vs. USD (which they did earlier this season) might be imperative.
Team of the Week: Penn State (3-1)
W5-4, L11-5, W9-3, W15-5 at Michigan
Don't be too shocked here people. Remember, the Nittany Lions are the same bunch that won a game at North Carolina and played two others in Chapel Hill very well. This weekend vaulted them into 3rd place in Big 10 ( play with the series win at The Fish. Drew O'Neill factored into two of the wins on the mound, he got the win in game two, going three innings and giving up just one hit. Then he got the save in game three, getting six straight outs in two innings of work. How about this for depth, Penn State has had five different pitchers receive a weekly award this week.
Honorable Mention: Creighton (5-0)
W13-5, W12-2 at North Dakota State
W10-3, W5-3, W7-3 at Illinois State
Not that this is a groundbreaking 5-0 week or anything, but it's probably high-time I gave the Bluejays some props for this late season run they're on. Plus, they've now entered the polls for the first time this season at No. 27 with a 37-12 record. With the three wins over the Redbirds, CU is now tied at the top of the MoValley standings with No. 14 Wichita State at 18-6. And as the 8th ranked conference in the country, you have to figure at least two teams get into the Big Dance. OF Darin Ruf got the Player of the Week honors in the MVC by hitting .579 on the week.
Team of the Week: Western Carolina (5-0)
W7-3, W12-2 at Ohio State
W26-12, W21-3, W14-1 at Wofford
Last week, Doug Kroll took a trip with East Carolina to their series at Houston and one of the things that stuck with him was the Pirates raving about WCU. Then this past weekend, I spent a good portion of my time listening to the Ohio State SID and radio guys talk about the Catamounts like they were CWS worthy. I gotta see these guys play, man! WCU is now tied with College of Charleston atop the Southern Conference at 18-6. They had an RPI of 47 coming into the week. That should get better.
Honorable Mention: Austin Peay (4-1)
W3-2 (11inns), W7-5 vs. Mississippi State
W7-3, L7-6, W15-3 at Murray State
The Governors kept their one-game lead in OVC play with a good series win against the Thorobreds, but made much bigger news prior to that by taking a pair of games against then-No. 13 State. Senior Jake Lane had a pair of game-winning bombs in that mid-week series. APeay is currently on a 12-1 run. Senior Shawn Kelley is 7-0, 2.48 in OVC play.
Team of the Week: Lafayette (2-0)
W8-3, W7-3 vs. Army
This amounts to Lafayette's first-ever Patriot League title and now the Leopards will return to the NCAA tournament for the first time since Vanilla Ice was on top of the shallow music industries record charts (1990). While doing so, the Lafayette nine also extended the school record wins in a season to 32. Note to whoever LC plays next, they've stolen by 130 bases on the season, led by James Conrad, who set the school career record of 81.
Honorable Mention: Delaware (4-1)
W6-1 at Temple
W5-2 at LaSalle
L6-5, W3-1, W2-1 at Virginia Commonwealth
The Blue Hens went into the Rams den and kept their hot streak alive, winning two of three to forge a 2nd place tie in the CAA standings at 16-10. Alex Buchholz hit .500 for the week including three doubles, two triples and a home run. Buchholz is now hitting .403 and is in the midst of an 18-game hitting streak. Speaking of streaking, UD has now gone 24-1 since April Fool's Day and is 27-16 overall.
As a closing statement, my favorite quote from the movie "Riding Giants" came from the famous surfboard designer, Billy Hamilton, who was asked about what gives these guys the ability to go out and surf on 30-to-50 foot waves. He responded with, "It's because of a third testicle we got added at birth."