So let me ask you guys, what do we do with LSU?
I haven’t had the Tigers inside the Top 20 of my Power Rankings because they’ve played a Charmin-soft schedule (rated No. 175 going into this weekend) and they’ve taken on some bad losses to teams like Appalachian State, Notre Dame and a series loss at Auburn.
But now, the Tigers have won a pair of games against visiting Arkansas, who came in ranked as high as No. 3 in the country. Pretty impressive, right?
Well, to be honest, I’ve had my doubts about the Razorbacks as well. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying 22-5 isn’t impressive nor anything against the talent level of Arkansas. No, not at all. I think they have the potential to make it to Omaha. So does LSU. But that’s where I get confused. It’s “potential” that hasn’t shown itself in the form of dominance.
As talented as LSU and Arkansas are, I don’t feel a strong need to give high rankings to teams who play weak schedules and still take on bad losses to perceived weaker teams. Hell, I don’t even like it when those power teams struggle to beat lesser teams, like Arkansas has done many times this year against teams like Valparaiso, Binghamton or Northwestern State. And both teams struggled to put away an injury-plagued Mississippi State team as well. Under normal circumstances, I figure the Tigers and Razorbacks would be posting impressive, jaw-dropping wins. But they haven’t.
So where should I put these teams? Do I think LSU should be in the top 10? After the first two games of this weekend, yeah, probably so. But do I look at the season as a whole and judge it from there? If I do that, I’ve still got to keep them on the fringe of the Power Rankings and drop Arkansas like a lead balloon, right?
One of the things I promised I was going to do was try to keep the Power Rankings to resemble how teams are playing in the here-and-now, not on past reputation or on future promise or on talent level. I still can’t see how the voters in the popular polls can put LSU so high up until this point, coming into this weekend there was nothing on their resume to make you slap you forehead in shock like the dad on the box cover of the old board game “Sorry”.
Either way, this has been a pretty humbling experience for Arkansas so far, and a pretty good boost of confidence for the Tigers. Could we see a 2008-like 23-game win streak from the Purple and Gold now? I’m not gonna say it’s out of the question, I mean the pitching is there. And Friday night, with their three circuit clouts included in a 17-hit barrage, the Tigers proved their offense could be coming around too.
On Saturday night, the Tigers didn’t have that same kind of hot streak at the dish. But because Ryan Eades was so stellar on the mound, the Bayou Bengals didn’t need much offense. In fact, when Ty Ross came to bat in the 9th inning with two men on base and two outs, the Tigers were just 1-for-8 with five strikeouts with runners in scoring position on the night. Then, Ross cranked an RBI single to score Mason Katz from 2nd and give the Purple Gang their second straight win over the Razorbacks.
Game three should be outstanding. Trying to figure out where to put these guys in the Monday rankings won’t be.
The best of the day in college baseball.
So, you think it’s time to rank these guys again? Sound off Stitch-Heads. Me personally, beating No. 2 Stanford for the second straight day at Hi Corbett Field would normally be grounds for doing so, yes. Tonight, the hero was Konner Wade, who went the distance, striking out seven and walking one in a three-hitter on the bump for the Desert Cats.
2- The Big Guns From the Outfield.
Two outfielders had the dream situation fall their way today by throwing out would-be baserunners at home plate to preserve wins in the final outs of the day.
Missouri centerfielder Brannon Champagne had a day to dream about, leading the Black & Gold at the dish with a 2-for-4 day with one RBI and also scoring a run. But it was his golden right arm that was the deciding factor when he threw a strike from his post in the meadow to nab Texas A&M pinch runner Jace Statum for the final out of the game at home plate to preserve the 4-3 win.
Meanwhile, in the 10th inning of a game between UL-Monroe and FIU, the Warhawks took a 3-2 lead in the top of the frame with a home run from Taylor Abdalla. Then in the bottom of the 10th, with two outs and two men on, left fielder Les Aulds threw a pin-point strike to nab FIU pinch runner Roche Woodard at home plate to preserve the win for the Warhawks.
3- Chris Rowley, RHP, Army
Other than the future service of protecting his country, Rowley did the most important thing he will ever do in his life by beating Navy today with a complete-game one-hitter with five Ks in the Black Knight’s 2-0 win. Rowley also improved to 5-0 on the season as the Cadets took the series from the Mids for the ninth straight time, earning the “Star” for the series win with a double-header sweep, 2-0 and 6-2.
- The Other Tigers.
Clemson downed No. 7 Miami for the second straight day, by a 3-1 count, this time behind Dominic Leone’s 7.0 inning, 6-hit, 6-strikeout effort and Patrick Andrews’ 2.0 innings of scoreless, 1-hit relief. The Tigers improved to 14-12 and 5-6 in the ACC as they look for a pretty improbable sweep in IPTAY-town on Sunday.
Leone came into the day with an ERA of 6.08 with 17 walks in 26.2 innings, but was unlike he’d been all year today, giving up only three walks along the way and improving to 4-2 on the mound. Is this another Tiger team that is starting to grow into its teeth?
- Sparks flying again.
UCI has a real star of the future in the form of Taylor Sparks. For the second day in a row, the super-frosh won the game for the Anteaters in their final at-bat, ripping a bases-loaded, two-run single the bottom of the 8th, providing the game-tying and go-ahead runs in the 7-4 win.
- Eastern Kentucky.
For the second day in a row the Colonels got a stout pitching effort in taking two straight games from SIU-Edwardsville. Friday it was Matt Harris going the distance in an 8-1 win. Today it was Shane Grimm, allowing two runs and just five hits in an 8-2 win.
- Chadd Krist, Cal.
The Bears stud catcher went 3-for-5 with a double and a home run, accounting for five runs batted in. He was part of a 17-hit brigade by the Berkeley boys in their 12-2 rout of Texas to even the series at a game each. Texas won another blowout on Friday by a 13-3 count. Sunday’s rubber match should be pretty interesting. Can we get a freaking’ pitcher’s duel between these two.
- Georgia Tech pitching.
In a pair of wins over Duke today, the Bees got a pair of shutouts by 1-0 and 8-0 scores. In th two games combined, Tech pitchers held the Dookies to just five hits and struck out 20 batters, while walking just three batters in 18 innings.
Buck Farmer gave up just three hits with 11Ks himself in the game one win, getting 21 first pitch strikes in the 33 batters he faced. The pre-season All American also called this his best performance “since the Virginia game of my Freshman year.”
- The Duel.
Florida State’s Mike Compton and Virginia Tech’s Marc Zecchino put up a good battle in Saturday’s 2-1 Seminole win. Compton went 7.2 innings, a longer stretch than any other FSU starter this season, while striking out eight. Compton becomes the first six-game winner in the ACC this year. VPI’s Zecchino went 7.0 innings and gave up just three hits and the two runs in his tough-luck loss.
- Vanderbilt’s Tyler Beede.
The 1st round phenom had some poor luck in his previous three decisions so far this season. But today, he got his first win with a 6.0 inning effort where he held South Carolina to five hits and one earned run, while also striking out seven Gamecock batters to improve to 1-3 on the season.
The Ducks re-established themselves as legit contenders with a pair of great pitching and defense exhibitions, downing Arizona State 1-0 and 3-1 in a Pac 12 doubleheader. Alex Keudell threw a complete game in the opener, giving up just four hits and two walks. In game two, Jake Reed went 7.1 innings and Jimmie Sherfy went 1.2 innings, combining to give up just six hits and one walk. The Duck defense committed just a single error and turned four double plays.
- No. 400 for Schreiber.
Purdue beat Penn State in West Lafayette today, 2-0, handing head coach Doug Schreiber his 400th win at the stern of the Boilermaker program. Starting pitcher Lance Breedlove went the distance, giving up just two hits and no walks to improve to 4-2. The Boilers are now 20-4 and 4-1 in the Big 10.
The worst of the day in college baseball.
1- The Top 17.
Like Friday, there was a lot of carnage at the top of the rankings as 10 of the nation’s top 17 teams all went down to defeat. Florida was able to bounce back from their opening round defeat on Friday, but No. 2 Stanford, No. 3 Arkansas, No. 6 Miami, No. 7 Texas A&M, No. 9 South Carolina, No. 10 Kentucky, No. 11 Rice, No. 15 Arizona State and No. 17 Louisville all got shot down.
The Aggies, Owls and Cardinals were the only ones to lose on their home fields. Only No. 4 Florida State, No. 8 UCLA and No. 12 Cal State Fullerton have gone unscathed so far this weekend among the top 17 teams.
2- Stanford’s offense.
Not sure anyone saw this two-game skid at Arizona coming this weekend. The Cardinal have now lost 8-7 and 4-2 games in Tucson to drop to 2-3 in Pac 12 play against a game bunch of Wildcats. The biggest shock was the fact that the big bats of their vaunted offense gathered just three hits in the process. In addition to all that, the usually solid defense of SU faltered for the second straight game, as they have now committed six errors and allowed four unearned runs in the two games vs. the Cats.
3- The Rest of the NorCal Teams.
It was as if the San Andreas Fault swallowed every team in the area up whole. Not only did Stanford lose today at Arizona, but everybody else this side of Cal had a really crap day up in the Bay Area.
- San Francisco.
Lost to San Diego for the second straight day, by an 11-5 count. Not only that, but the Dante Benedetti Classic wasn’t even able to be played at AT&T Park after all. The damned MLB team decided that the conditions were too wet to be played there as planned, so the game was switched to the Dons’ home field.
- Saint Mary’s.
Lost for the second straight day at LMU, 2-1, despite having Martin Agosta strike out 10 Lion batters in 7.0 innings of work.
- Santa Clara.
The Broncos were able to get just two hits against three Portland pitchers in a 2-0 loss. SCU has now lost six of its last eight games, including an 0-5 start to WCC play.
- UC Davis.
Out on the Islands late in the evening (while i was still watching “Finding Bigfoot”â€¦ where ironically, they never find Bigfoot), the Aggies dropped a 5-4 game in 11 innings to Hawaii.
- Sacramento State
The Hornets lost the weekend series at Cal State Bakersfield with Saturday’s 11-4 rout down in the San Joaquin Valley.
For the second straight day, the hard-luck Tigers allowed UC Irvine to come from behind in their last at-bat in a 7-4 loss.
The Bulldogs entered today far and away the best team in the Northeast Conference and 5-0 in conference play. But today, they took a pair of games on the chin in a visit to LIU-Brooklyn as the Blackbirds won 8-1 and 7-3 back-to-back.
- Southeastern Louisiana.
The Lions dropped to 20-8 with today’s 6-4 loss at Lamar. SLU even doubled the Cardinals hit total with 14 to their seven, but the problem was they had zero knack for the timely hit, stranding a total of 13 base-runners in the game. Lamar stranded just five.
The Broncos dropped a pair of one-run games to Canisius on Saturday by 6-5 and 8-7 scores. But Rider out-hit the Griffins by a 20-17 margin in the two games, though they were vexed by 14 walks, five errors and four hit batsmen in their 16 innings played.