The Weekend Preview – The Stretch Run Starts.

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on April 18th, 2013 in Thursday thoughts
 

 

Nebraska has gotten hot, with the help of Dylan Vogt (#26) and Blake Headley (#22), who played key roles in sweeping No. 10 Arkansas this week.

Watch out for these guys down the stretch in May: Nebraska has gotten hot, with the help of Dylan Vogt (#26) and Blake Headley (#22), who played key roles in sweeping No. 10 Arkansas this week.

It’s just the times we live in.

 

I think I’ve come to hate that phrase.

 

It runs the gamut from cell phone texting, to endless lawsuits, to Facebook, to single parent homes, to terrorist bombings. Good or bad, they’re part of the times we live in.

I don’t mean to get too maudlin or fatalistic about the fupped-duck world we live in. But I’ve had close connections with both the Boston Marathon bombings and the fertilizer plant explosion in the small town of West, Texas that has dominated our news this week.

 

It just re-enforces the fact that there are way too many stupid people in this world. Again, the times we live in.

 

Lady Stitch-Head works for a company which has two locations; one in Santa Monica and one on Newbury Street in Boston. That Newbury location is full of people we consider to be close friends and is also one block away from the Boston Marathon’s finish line on Boylston Street.

 

As some of you may recall, I was in Boston two weeks ago as part of my trip to the NCAA Hockey Regionals in Manchester, New Hampshire. I actually stayed one night at the Lenox Hotel, which ironically was the same hotel that Teddy Bruschi and his family were at when the bombs went off. Bruschi said the two bombs were a block away in each direction, essentially surrounding the hotel.

 

Luckily, the Boston Marathon is a day off for businesses in the area, so I didn’t know anyone who was in the area of the bombs when they went off and no one I know suffered injuries from the blasts. But that’s just small mercies when you think of all the families effected by the event.

 

Strangely, the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas was also something that effected relatives of mine. Lady Stitch-Head has family members who live in the tiny hamlet of West. Again, as luck would have it, nobody we know died from the explosion, though sadly there has been plenty loss of life, especially to the volunteer firefighters who were trying to deal with the fire when the plant exploded.

 

I now this is a screwed-up way to think about it, but I just hope like hell this accident wasn’t caused by someone on a cell phone when they shouldn’t have been, or something of that ilk.

 

Two horrible events in a three day span that involved plenty of loss. Luckily, none that were near and dear to me. Though that’s just by luck and I know there has been plenty of tragic loss to others. But it does bring to mind one thing: this re-iterates my assertion that I no longer believe I’m going to lose my mortal coil from this world due to old age or disease. I’m convinced my final days will be due to some ridiculous terrorist attack, a dipshit gang-banger or some kind of human error.

 

The sad truth is, there hasn’t been any major terrorist attacks of any sort in Los Angeles. Not yet anyway. This town is way too big for the idiots of this world not to plan something. I know this sounds morbid, but in this day and age, it’s unavoidable to think about.

 

It’s the times we live in.

 

Okay, sorry for the grim subject matter at the beginning here. Let’s just move on to baseball and things will get a lot better, I promise.

 

 

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THE TOP 10 PLACES TO BE THIS WEEKEND: 

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10- WESTERN KENTUCKY at SOUTH ALABAMA 

By the Numbers:

Western Kentucky:

- 20-17, 10-5 Sun Belt.

- RPI: No. 89

- Offense: .263

- Pitching: 3.79

- Defense: .961

 

South Alabama:

- 27-11, 10-5 Sun Belt

- RPI: No. 12

- Offense: .287

- Pitching: 3.70

- Defense: .970

 

Not to get over-dramatic here, but there’s a lot at stake here. First, there’s the top rung of the Sun Belt Conference, where the Jags and ‘Toppers are tied for first and look to take control going into the stretch run. But then there’s also the fact that USA is sitting pretty in the latest RPI, while WKU is mired down at No. 89. You think the Hilltoppers want to earn some bubble points here, or what? Ryan Huck has 11 home runs and leads WKU with a .345 average. But the Hilltoppers have been ravaged by nicks and bumps in their lineup, which explains the .263 team average.

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9- KANSAS STATE at No. 27 OKLAHOMA STATE 

By the Numbers:

Kansas State:

- 27-11, 6-3 Big 12

- RPI: No. 47

- Offense: .333

- Pitching: 3.76

- Defense: .975

 

Oklahoma State:

- 25-10, 5-6 Big 12

- RPI: No. 105

- Offense: .294

- Pitching: 2.87

- Defense: .969

 

Unstoppable offense vs. sound pitching. That’s what this weekend comes down to between the Purple Crew and the Cowpokes. KSU has the best offense in the country and has four batters in the Big 12′s top 10 at the dish. They’ll go up against the second-best pitching staff in the conference, led by Vince Wheeland, who is one of the most versatile pitchers in the country, as you’ll note from the Q&A with coach Holliday elsewhere in this column. Something tells me Boone Pickins U. will rebound.

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8- No. 26 CLEMSON at MIAMI 

By the Numbers:

Clemson:

- 26-11, 12-6 ACC

- RPI: No. 16

- Offense: .278

- Pitching: 3.15

- Defense: .972

 

Miami:

- 24-15, 8-10

- RPI: No. 14

- Offense: .253:

- Pitching: 3.74

- Defense: .968

 

Both of these teams have a little bit of an identity problem in 2013; I’m not sure if anyone believes in their exorbitant RPI rankings. Both teams have won a game at North Carolina. In fact, since winning in Chapel Hill, the Tigers have now won 10 straight games. The Canes have yet to sweep an ACC series and has won just two conference series of their six played. Interesting side note: Miami is 7-0 in one-run games this season. I bet they’ll win two more here.

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7- No. 18 KENTUCKY at No. 15 SOUTH CAROLINA 

By the Numbers:

Kentucky:

- 24-11, 7-8 SEC

- RPI: No. 25

- Offense: .274

- Pitching: 3.20

- Defense: .970

 

South Carolina:

- 27-10, 8-7 SEC

- RPI: No. 18

- Offense: .284

- Defense: 3.16

- Pitching: .974

 

The Bat Cats are hanging on to the cliff… barely. Ever since a 5-4 mid-week win at Louisville, they’ve gone just 2-6, including an embarrassing three-game sweep at the hands of LSU, where they were out-scored by a combined 31-6. They lost two of three at home vs. Tennessee last weekend and now look down the barrel of a seven-game roadie, starting with this weekend’s trip to Columbia. Maybe a trip away from home will help the Blue Cats concentrate and dig in. But then again, going to Carolina Stadium as a confidence bunch is a rare occurrence. And shouldn’t we expect SoCar to be so pissed off after last week’s three-game sweep at Florida? My guess is yes. In fact, take cover UK.

 

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6- No. 23 RICE at HOUSTON 

By the Numbers:

Rice:

- 26-13, 7-5 Conference USA

- RPI: No. 66

- Offense: .270

- Pitching: 3.07

- Defense: .976

 

Houston:

- 26-11, 6-3 Conference USA

- RPI: No. 53

- Offense: .272

- Pitching: 3.55

- Defense: .964

 

First off, allow me to personally thank coach Todd Whitting for helping to make the Silver Glove Series relevant again. Now, I’ve seen both of these teams play in person and have seen them both play like world-beaters and like limp kittens at the same time. But this is for the Silver Glove, so look for both teams to give their best efforts. Which translates for me into, look for the Owls to come out on top. Although I like the direction the UofH program is going under coach Whitting – which I should point out is in better shape RPI-wise than the Owls at this time – I still like the Owl arms much better. And it’s also stunning to note that both teams are looking up at Southern Miss in the C-USA standings with UofH a half-game back and the Owls a full game behind. That will change according to whoever wins this one in H-town.

 

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5- No. 25 ARIZONA at No. 24 STANFORD 

By the Numbers:

Arizona:

- 24-12, 8-7 Pac 12

- RPI: No. 58

- Offense: .310

- Pitching: 3.67

- Defense: .974

 

Stanford:

- 20-11, 7-5 Pac 12

- RPI: No. 112

- Offense: .271

- Pitching: 3.03

- Defense: .969

 

These two teams seemed to be running in syrup just a few weeks ago, but have started to turn things around. And believe me, any coach or scout will tell you that these two programs are much too talented to be down for long. The Trees have gone 2-1 in weekends against Washington State, USC and Washington and look to be finding their bats too. Stanford has averaged nearly 10 runs a game in their last seven wins and is now hitting .272 as a team. The Wildcats have won nine of 10 after a 15-11 start which cumulated in a sweep at the hands of Oregon in Eugene, which I saw the Friday night game of in person. But the Cats lead the Pac 12 in hitting and have a huge offensive advantage. They also have momentum on their side, after overcoming a 9-4 deficit in beating Arizona State on Tuesday.

 

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4- No. 17 NORTH CAROLINA STATE at No. 16 GEORGIA TECH 

By the Numbers:

N.C. State:

- 29-10, 11-7 ACC

- RPI: No. 19

- Offense: .279

- Pitching: 3.35

- Defense: .964

 

Georgia Tech:

- 27-10, 11-7

- RPI: No. 17

- Offense: .321

- Pitching: 3.58

- Defense: .978

 

You could say this is 11-up vs. 11-down. NC State has now won 11 straight games entering the weekend, six of which have been close calls of a run or two. The return of Trea Turner has been a huge boon, as he leads the ACC with a .420 average. The Techsters are just 6-5 in their last 11 games, having suffered two blowouts (10-1 at Mercer and 7-2 vs. UVa) and two shutouts (2-0 and 3-0 at Duke) along the way. In that time span, the Jackets’ bats have gone cold, from the top-hitting team in the country to hitting just .251 as a team in their last 11.

 

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3- No. 12 UCLA at No. 7 OREGON

By the Numbers:

UCLA:

- 23-10, 7-5 Pac 12

- RPI: No. 23

- Offense: .252

- Pitching: 2.62

- Defense: .980

 

Oregon:

- 28-8, 12-3 Pac 12

- RPI: No. 6

- Offense: .268

- Pitching: 2.93

- Defense: .988

 

These two teams seem to mirror one another; great pitching, smooth defense and an offense that seems on life-support at times. Ryon Healy leads the Pac 12 with seven home runs and 85 total bases, but beyond him no regular hits better than .291. But the offense has improved recently in their six-game win streak (all on the road). And we’re nit-picking here since we’re still talking about the 1st-place team in the Pac 12. The Bruins will be a formidable staff for the Duck bats to overcome, as they strangely seem to pitch better on the road, having gone 8-3 away from Jackie Robinson Stadium. This one’s a toss-up. Make note of the free bases given away – walks, balks, wild pitches, errors, bonehead plays.

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2- No. 4 CAL STATE FULLERTON at No. 22 CAL POLY

By the Numbers:

Fullerton:

- 32-5, 8-1 Big West

- RPI: No. 8

- Offense: .288

- Pitching: 2.51

- Defense: .974

 

Cal Poly:

- 25-9, 6-3 Big West

- RPI: No. 64

- Offense: .287

- Pitching: 3.09

- Defense: .974

 

This series should be a lot more of a “marquee” series nationwide. You guys have probably heard me expound on the more-sane virtue of the ISR rankings for years, and right now, these two teams sit at No. 4 and No. 24 in those rankings. You can double and nearly triple that for their respective RPI rankings. But the quality can’t be argued. The Titans lead the nation in issuing just 52 walks as a team and rank 10th in team ERA. But don’t sell the ‘Stangs short either as starters Matt Imhof (4-1, 1.51) and Joey Wagman (7-2, 2.95) have held their opponents to .256 and .234 averages respectively. Also, the showdown of saves specialists Michael Lorenzen (12 saves) and Reid Reilly (9 saves) should be epic.

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1- No. 5 FLORIDA STATE at No. 8 VIRGINIA 

By the Numbers:

Florida State:

- 31-6, 13-5 ACC

- RPI: No. 5

- Offense: .290, 88 team doubles.

- Pitching: 2.60

- Defense: .966

 

Virginia:

- 31-6, 13-5 ACC

- RPI: No. 7

- Offense: .307

- Pitching: 2.70

- Defense: .968

 

It’s hard to pick against the Seminoles, although I often feel I should. But ole Mike Martin keeps putting a high-quality product on the field, even after losing marquee players year-in, year-out. Starters Scott Sitz and Luke Weaver have combined to go 11-0 with 91 Ks and just 19 walks in their 16 combined starts. But they’ll face one of the most disciplined pitching staff in the country this weekend as UVa has issued only 77 walks this season. Plus, the big stat that doesn’t show up above is the fact that the Cavs are 22-3 at home in 2013 and the ‘Noles are just 6-4 in true road games. Color this weekend Wahoo Orange and Blue.

 

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OFF THE RADAR: 

- The SWAC battles.

If you’re looking for a Shakeout Saturday, look at the SWAC and their matchups. A pair of Saturday doubleheaders will pit the top two division leaders against each other in both the Eastern and Western side of the standings.

 

- Alabama State (23-17, 13-5) at Jackson State (21-16, 15-3)

Ahhhh, the Mervyl Melendez factor. Coach Melendez has turned the Hornet program around completely and now, here they are playing for the SWAC East lead, on their home field. ASU leads the conference with 325 punchouts from its pitching staff, but will face off with the most patient team in the SWAC as Jax State has culled 171 walks at the dish this season. Another thing to watch; these two teams LOVE to run. ASU is 96-for-118 in stolen bases and J-State is 95-for-117. This’ll be fun.

 

- Texas Southern (16-16, 8-7) at Prairie View A&M (17-15, 6-6)

What, no Southern at the top? Weird, I know. But the Jags are actually tied with PV and Arkansas-Pine Bluff just a half-game back of the Tigers. Ellis Stephney is the key to the TSU offense, hitting .353, while the rest of the team hits just .243 without him.

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OFF THE RADAR 2:

- Illinois at Ohio State.

Neither team leads the Big 10 or is in the national rankings, but look at their RPI numbers: The Illini are at No. 54, the Buckeyes are at No. 40. For Big 10 teams, that’s right on the cusp of at-large land. (Well, for OSU, they’d be in). Right now, both are on the heels of Minnesota and Michigan, who are tied at the top of the Big 10 standings with 7-2 records. UofI is at 5-4 (23-10 overall) and OSU is 7-5 (23-12 overall). It’s another great hitting vs. pitching matchup as the Illini are 2nd in the Big 10 with a .307 team batting average and OSU is 2nd in the Big 10 with a stellar 2.68 team ERA. Keep in mind that Illini OF Justin Parr is boiling hot right now, clipping along at .440 and coming off  a Big 10 Player of the Week honor after hitting for the cycle against Purdue on Sunday.

The Baylor Bears are a team worth keeping an eye on as they heat up down the stretch.

The Baylor Bears are a team worth keeping an eye on as they heat up down the stretch.

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TEAM TO WATCH: 

- Baylor.

19-7 overall

7-4 Big 12

No. 68 RPI.

 

Bet you’ve forgotten about the Bears, haven’t you? But last week’s series win over Oklahoma injected an all-new vial of adrenaline into their veins. At 7-4 in the Big 12 that puts the Green and Gold a half-game back of Big 12 leading Oklahoma. And considering they won the series vs. the Sooners and also won the series vs. Kansas State a few weeks ago, the team they are tied with for 2nd place, the Bears seem to be sitting in a pretty good position going forward. My favorite part? Senior Nathan Orf, a transfer from Illinois-Chicago, now leads the Big 12 with a .407 batting average and a .503 on-base percentage.

 

BU has another tough assignment this weekend, playing three games at TCU. The Frogs just came off of a series win at home vs. Oklahoma State.

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BEST MIDWEEK WIN.

- Nebraska swept a DH from No. 10 Arkansas, 3-0 and 4-2.

 

Get this: Game one was a combined no-hitter from Kyle Kubat, Tyler Niederklein and Dylan Vogt. Game two was a 1-1 tie in the 8th inning when seldom-used pinch hitter Blake Headley came on to crank out solo home run, which was followed by a bases-loaded error from UofA shortstop Brett McAfee, which is sort of a season-long reoccurrence by the Hog defense.

 

I made some hay about this on Twitter (What, you don’t follow me on Twitter? Gah!), how it was weird to see Nebraska not only beat the Top 10 Hogs twice, but to dominate them in that manner. Kyle Kubat, who hadn’t pitched all season, got the start in the no-hitter and went 5.0 innings, giving up only a walk. And it’s not like NU was going up against a bunch of Hogs scrubs, as the two games were both played against the same batters I saw Arkansas use this past weekend vs. LSU.

 

The other up-side for the Big Red here is that it helped jump their RPI ranking up to 43 (Arkansas is now at No. 65). After a murderous early season schedule, the Cornhuskers are now 16-19 and starting to look like one of those teams who just need to get over .500 to get into the Big Dance. Granted, that may be tougher to do coming from the Big 10, but with these two wins here, it sure makes things interesting for Husker fans down the stretch.

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COACH SPEAK

My Q&A with Oklahoma State’s Josh Holliday.

 

While I was driving back from Fayetteville to Oklahoma City on Monday, I was able to stop into Stillwater and have a quick talk with the new OSU head coach.

 

Me:

I know you’ve probably been asked this a million times, but how excited were you to get this job at Oklahoma State?

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Coach Holliday:

One of the great memories of my life was being here as a player and as a kid growing up in this town. Oklahoma State has always been a part of me. Now, at the time I had a great job (at Vanderbilt) and i was very happy. I loved my boss, I loved that school and I loved the players we had. But this opportunity was just too special to pass up. To get that phone call to come here, it really meant a lot.

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Me:

I first met you at Arizona State when you were working for Pat Murphy. Then you went to Vanderbilt under Tim Corbin. The thing I wanted to ask you was, what did you gain from those experiences to get you ready for this gig?

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Coach Holliday:

You learn a lot from everywhere you go. You see things all the time that make you think “I don’t want to run a program like that” or “That’s how I’d run things.” At Arizona State, it was a great lesson in how to run a state university with a great program and great tradition. Vanderbilt offered a very unique opportunity to learn about a private university and see a baseball program explode onto the scene. It was an awesome learning experience under Corbs, I think he teaches leadership and teamwork and unity as well as anyone I’ve ever seen. I credit him for giving me the opportunity to go to “finishing school” and prepare me for this position. I didn’t feel like I was ready to lead a program until I went to work for him. Everything he does is so first class and I think it really dawned on me that this is what a head coach is supposed to be like.

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Me:

The coaching staff that you put together with Marty Lees and Rob Walton, the former head coach at Oral Roberts, it’s like an all-star team you’ve put together. Was that your plan to put together such a talented staff?

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Coach Holliday:

Oh absolutely, I have the utmost respect for assistant coaches and what they do since I had been one for 10 years. To get Rob on board, with his track record as a coach and his connection to Oklahoma State, that was tremendous. He gave us a lot of stability right away. And then to bring a guy like Marty in a week later was an amazing get for us because of his unique background in winning, recruiting and his passion for the defensive side of baseball. I think that side of baseball is so under-taught, but it’s so critical to the success of any program. We now have a staff that a lot of kids would want to play for and learn under. I think hiring those guys gave us instant credibility.

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Me:

OSU has been a little wounded the last few years. But how soon do you see yourself being an Omaha-type of team?

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Coach Holliday:

You have to convince your kids that anything is possible. There’s enough great Cinderella stories every year that are out there, you just have to convince them that if you get into the tournament and then get hot for a two-or-three week period, anything can happen. We’ve seen that the last few years. But you know, I don’t talk about Omaha because I have too much respect in knowing what it takes to get there. I think the teams I’ve been on that have made it to Omaha – one at Tech, one at Arizona State, one at Vanderbilt and then the two I played on here – it was always a case where you looked up and all the sudden you were there in Omaha because you didn’t think about trying to get there. You just tried to win the day, you tried to get better. You weren’t arrogant enough to talk about Omaha every day, it just happened. You realize how hard it is to go to Omaha. But if we keep getting better and keep working hard and get into the tournament you know that anything can happen. How soon? I’d like to think if this group keeps getting better day-in, day-out and we get the opportunity, we could be dangerous. But building a program takes time, the right recruits, the right system, but you want to build the foundation of repeated success. You use the word “wounded” and I think that’s an accurate term. Until we get some stability and the roster starts to look familiar, that’s our goal. Consistency in our performance.

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Me:

Now that we’re past the halfway point, what do you like about the team you’ve inherited here?

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Coach Holliday:

I think they’re tough kids and that they’ve been willing to buy into what we’re doing. I also like the idea that we’re still getting better. Because of that, we have every right to believe we can make the post-season and make a run. I love the fact that we’ve got newcomers who have blended together to become a cohesive unit, the fact that we’re evolving. To me, that’s more satisfying that having a lot of returning guys coming back and having a big season.

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Me:

Obviously, I haven’t seen you guys play yet this year – I’m working on it. But one of the things that jumped out at me is Vince Wheeland. Seventeen appearances, one start and yet he’s 6-0 as of today. Is his role going to change down the stretch?

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Coach Holliday:

I think what you see with Vince is a true “stopper” role. You have starters, you have closers, but Vince is a true stopper. Once we have a lead and we need to finish a game, we’ve been able to turn to him and get two or three or four innings. We’ve only used him when we feel we have a chance to win or when it’s at the point of a game where we need to shut down a rally to give us a chance to win. So we’ve been able to use him in a lot of games very effectively.

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Me:

I’m assuming he’s also one of these guys who could give you an effective start in a tournament situation where you get into the loser’s bracket and have to win your way out or something?

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Coach Holliday:

Oh sure. He’s thrown as many as 80 pitches and as few as 20 pitches in games. He’s able to roll out there throw when we need him. And he’s strong enough to be able to need him for a 100-pitch outing as a starter if we need him to. But we really like the role he’s got now in locking down wins for us.

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Me:

Talk about the Big 12, they’re a little on a down-cycle right now with TCU not living up to pre-season expectations and Texas near-.500 again. How do you see the future of the Big 12, ‘coz I’m assuming this is just a blip on the screen, no?

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Coach Holliday:

My opinion is this: I’ve coached in the SEC, I’ve coached in the ACC, I’ve coached in the Pac 12 and I was on teams that won championships in all three conferences. I personally look past the record. Texas record right now is not what you would expect it to be, but they’re still a talented opponent. TCU’s record is not what you would expect, but it’s nothing reflected in how talented that team is. I don’t think the Big 12 is as down as people are saying it is right now. I hear people saying it’s not a good league and it’s only going to get two teams in… that’s a joke. Because you can’t tell me that the SEC is five times better than the Big 12 and that they deserve 10 teams in the NCAA tournament. I know that’s not true because I’ve coach in both leagues.

 

Now, is the competition level in that league elite? Absolutely. Is it high-end? Absolutely. Is it a grind to get through a three-game weekend in the SEC? Absolutely. But the Kansas’, the TCU’s, the Texas’ and the Oklahoma State’s of the world… the three-game grind to get through those programs is the same three-game grind to get through those conferences we’re talking about. Now, the thing that is carrying those leagues is the elite status of the top four or five teams. I think some of the marquee teams that have been carrying our league is down right now but I don’t view the competition that we’re playing week-in and week-out as any less than what they’re playing. Now, the RPI points and the effect of the crossover the ACC and SEC get from playing the same teams in the mid-week to build an RPI, but Wichita State and Missouri State and Oral Roberts are no less of teams that the mid-week games those two conferences are playing. I know that’s true because I’ve been in those leagues. So to just say that these teams are 60 slots lesser than some of those teams, that’s just not accurate. If you go look position-by-position at the teams in our league and the teams in theirs, there’s no difference. There is still talent on the rosters. I know there is commitment to baseball and there is still talent, so I know we’ll be back at that top level again, even though I feel like we’re not as far off as people are saying we are.

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Me:

What do you hope to see from your team down the stretch run of the season?

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Coach Holliday:

First and foremost I hope to see the consistency of our pitching stay the same. We’ve gotten some excellent starts from our three weekend starters – all of whom were injured last year and didn’t pitch – I think our bullpen has been nails. I’d like to see our offense continue to grow, we’ve got some guys who have made some adjustments and hit a little bit of a skid. We’d like to get those guys back to the level they were and get our offense going. I feel like we have a chance to be in every game we play and that’s huge. We can kind of make our own luck down the stretch.

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THE BRAVEST MAN IN COLLEGE BASEBALL – UPDATE.

- Jim Koerner, head coach North Carolina Central.

 

After an 18-9 start, the Eagles have gone 5-9 the last three weeks, having dropped two of three at Bethune-Cookman this past weekend. But the Eagles are still in contention in the Southern Division, sitting two games back. This weekend they’ll host 2nd-place Savannah State in a key MEAC showdown. On Tuesday, NCCU beat a Campbell team that came in with a 31-7 record, by a score of 5-1. Third baseman Troy Marrow paced the offense by going 3-for-4 with 2RBI, including what ended up being the game-winner in the 1st inning with an RBI single. The Dr. of College Baseball snapped this pic of Coach Koerner and cleanup hitter Ronald Thompson:

NCCU head coach Jim Koerner and his cleanup hitter Robert Thompson, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the Tuesday win over Campbell.

NCCU head coach Jim Koerner and his cleanup hitter Ronald Thompson, who went 1-for-3 with an RBI in the Tuesday win over Campbell.

 

Just as a reminder, Coach Koerner took over a program that went 7-39 in 2011 and turned the Eagles into a 19-32 last season. But again, a 23-18 record so far this season is pretty freakin’ cool.

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TWEET OF THE WEEK:

This from @ArizonaBaseball:

“Since moving to Hi Corbett Field, UA has 10 wins in its final at-bat. Couldn’t do it without tremendous fan support.”

 

On Tuesday, in front of 5,396 at Hi Corbett in Tucson, the Wildcats came from a 9-5 deficit with six outs left and beat rival Arizona State 10-9 in a wild finish. Arizona has now won nine of its last 10 games and is 24-12 overall. But again, if only they could do something about that No. 58 RPI.

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FLIGHTS TO OMAHA.

This past week I finally made my flight reservations for the College World Series, as did a couple of buds of mine from North Carolina. So just to give you an idea of what you can expect to pay, here is what we were charged for flights.

 

- Los Angeles to Omaha: $345 on United Airlines

- Raleigh to Omaha: $450 on Southworst

 

So depending on what airline you’re wanting to fly and where you’re flying from, there’s your price range. It’s not bad flying from the west coast right now, though I once paid as low as $215 for a round-trip flight. So fare thee well.

 

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GARY CLARK JR. 

On Tuesday night, I finally got the chance to catch the Austin-based blues guitarist at The Roxy in Hollywood. Clark is one of a rare breed, in this day and age. He’s a blues guy. Do you know how many young black men decide to take up the guitar and play a style of music that is so far down the totem pole of success like the blues?

 

It was a good show. Not a great show. I mean, there is not a lot of glitz and glam to playing blues music. It’s something you chill to. And that’s what Gary Clark Jr. did. If you get the chance, pick up or download his “Blak and Blu” CD. I brought it with me on the trip to Arkansas this past weekend and listened to it repeatedly. It’s an odd collection of songs, some blues, some more rockin’ stuff, and even some pop-ish songs. But still an enjoyable listen.

 

Here’s a clip of the lad playing the gravelly-guitar’d song “Numb” on Jimmy Kimmel:

 

 

COMMENTS:

April 19, 2013 at 9:54 pm
James says:

$592 for flights out of Tallahasse for June. I realize what I am implying here, but no way am I counting out Fsu. Unfortunately I dont have the funds this year so I guess I better start saving for next year. See you in 2014, Stitch!


April 20, 2013 at 3:12 pm
BCSBusters says:

Coach Holliday:
My opinion is this: I’ve coached in the SEC, I’ve coached in the ACC, I’ve coached in the Pac 12 and I was on teams that won championships in all three conferences. I personally look past the record. Texas record right now is not what you would expect it to be, but they’re still a talented opponent. TCU’s record is not what you would expect, but it’s nothing reflected in how talented that team is. I don’t think the Big 12 is as down as people are saying it is right now. I hear people saying it’s not a good league and it’s only going to get two teams in… that’s a joke. Because you can’t tell me that the SEC is five times better than the Big 12 and that they deserve 10 teams in the NCAA tournament. I know that’s not true because I’ve coach in both leagues.

Now, is the competition level in that league elite? Absolutely. Is it high-end? Absolutely. Is it a grind to get through a three-game weekend in the SEC? Absolutely. But the Kansas’, the TCU’s, the Texas’ and the Oklahoma State’s of the world… the three-game grind to get through those programs is the same three-game grind to get through those conferences we’re talking about. Now, the thing that is carrying those leagues is the elite status of the top four or five teams. I think some of the marquee teams that have been carrying our league is down right now but I don’t view the competition that we’re playing week-in and week-out as any less than what they’re playing. Now, the RPI points and the effect of the crossover the ACC and SEC get from playing the same teams in the mid-week to build an RPI, but Wichita State and Missouri State and Oral Roberts are no less of teams that the mid-week games those two conferences are playing. I know that’s true because I’ve been in those leagues. So to just say that these teams are 60 slots lesser than some of those teams, that’s just not accurate. If you go look position-by-position at the teams in our league and the teams in theirs, there’s no difference. There is still talent on the rosters. I know there is commitment to baseball and there is still talent, so I know we’ll be back at that top level again, even though I feel like we’re not as far off as people are saying we are.

…That’s the most intelligent quote from a baseball quote I have heard in a long time…this guy gets it because he has coached in 3 of the premiere leagues in college baseball…that RPI thing needs to go, along with the ubiquitous and ridiculous ranking system in college football.

It’s why I love late May and June in College Baseball…it gets settled on the field and the Kent States’ and Stony Brooks’ have a chance…it’s what makes America great and worth fighting for!


April 20, 2013 at 8:34 pm
Mash says:

Stitch…….You’re the man!

Nice interview with Josh Holliday. Coach Holliday being raised in Stillwater, growing up in Gary Ward’s dugout as a kid with his brother Matt, and then getting to play for his dad in Stillwater, this guy has orange running through his DNA. I’m pretty stoked that OSU was able to get him back to Stillwater. AD Mike Holder seems to have a hire from within system going on and hopefully it’s successful like it has been in football.

I couldn’t agree more with BCSBusters. I may still love college football, but over the past few years college baseball has passed football and basketball for me because it has the most exciting post season tournament in all of sports. No arguing who should represent in the NC, no Dayton play in games. Just a good clean 64 team field. I really hope the ncaa leaves the current baseball tourny format alone. It’s bracket perfection.

Go Pokes