The Weekend Preview – Back in the New York Groove

By Eric Sorenson. Posted on May 2nd, 2013 in National stuff
 

Grateful Dead-like, it’s going to be a long and strange trip this weekend. From Dingerville to Dogpiles, and Bayou Bashers to Burning on the Bowery. I hope to see some great baseball… and some rock-n-roll history as well.

IloveNY_stitches2

I’m off to the Big Apple this weekend. Gonna go see who gets the first tux fitting for the Big Dance. And while I’m there, I hope to see some of the famous punk venues on the Lower East Side, home to places like CBGB’s, Cafe Wha? and the Bowery Ballroom. It’s Dartmouth and Columbia for the Ivy League title. A best-of-three that will take place a few stops up the A-line from where I’ll be staying in a friend of mine’s apartment in SoHo.

Can’t wait.

 

But before I get to New Amsterdam, I’m hoping to take in tonight’s Florida-LSU series opener in Baton Rouge – weather permitting. As I’m writing this, I’m in the Baton Rouge Airport and the sky is battleship gray, with a 60% chance of rain. And you know how Tom Petty sang about Louisiana Rain… it’s soaks through your shoes.

 

We’ll see if it holds off.

 

So because my schedule is a bit of a whirling dervish this weekend, I’ll have a different schedule of postings too. This weekend preview will be a bit on the abbreviated side. And then I probably won’t post a Friday night column. I mean, c’mon, if you were going to New York City to hang with friends and watch the streetlights burn, you’d wanna skip a night of college baseball too, right? So bear with me.

 

Anyway, let’s get this shortened preview started. I’ll check back with you guys sporadically throughout the weekend.

.

THE TOP 10 PLACES TO BE THIS WEEKEND. 

Okay Stitch-Heads, get your AAA agent to set your course for these locales this weekend. You won’t be sorry.

 

10- WICHITA STATE at MISSOURI STATE

By The Numbers

Wheatshockers:

- Record 26-21, 11-4 MVC

- RPI: No.  160

- Offense: .284

- Pitching: 3.56 ERA, MVC-best 331Ks

- Defense: .975

 

Bears: 

- Record: 27-13, 11-4 MVC

- RPI: No. 77

- Offense: .271

- Pitching: 2.96 ERA, MVC-low 114BBs

- Defense: .973

These two teams are tied atop the MoValley standings, so the winner here has the inside track at the regular season title. But this series certainly has bigger implications for MSU. WSU’s at-large hopes are shot, but the Bears are sitting way down at No. 77 in the RPI, so they need as many bonus points and intangibles as they can get. After all, if they can go on and win the MVC regular season title, it’ll have to hold some amount of cache with the selection committee.

 

.

9- COASTAL CAROLINA at No. 23 GEORGIA TECH

By The Numbers

Chanticleers:

- Record: 27-17, 13-5 Big South

- RPI: No.  46

- Offense: .268

- Pitching: 3.04 ERA

- Defense: .963

 

Yellow Jackets: 

- Record: 28-16, 12-12 ACC

- RPI: No. 21

- Offense: .313

- Pitching: 4.34 ERA

- Defense: .972

So it looks like there IS an up-side for the ACC’s over-ranking in the RPI, ‘coz if the Chanticleers can win a couple games here, it could go a long way in allowing them to hijack an at-large bid. CCU has had a hit-and-miss season (starting 4-8 and losing three of their last eight games. But coach Gary Gilmore and Co. can raise their profile here against a Tech team that has been on a major slump of their own the last few weeks, going just 7-11 since April Fool’s Day. Tech will lose a lot of legitimacy points if that continues.

 

.

8- LONG BEACH STATE at No. 5 CAL STATE FULLERTON

By The Numbers

Dirtbags:

- Record: 21-21, 9-8 Big West

- RPI: No. 98

- Offense: .266

- Pitching: 3.74 ERA

- Defense: .966

 

Titans: 

- Record: 36-7, 12-3 Big West

- RPI: No. 10

- Offense: .286

- Pitching: 2.47 ERA

- Defense: .976

Last year, this series decided the Big West title, and ultimately it also saw the Titans prevent the Beach from making the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 2008. This heated rivalry has really lost its luster, sad to say. I miss this donnybrook meaning something on the national stage. But keep an eye on the Dirtbags, because they still have a chance to climb into the Big West race with a series win here. A full 15 of the Beach’s 21 wins have come against right-handed starters and Titan Friday starter Thomas Eshelman (7-2, 1.41) had his worst outing of the season at Hawaii last weekend. File that away, just in case something freaky happens on Friday night. I also like that ESPNU will televise the Saturday game. The Titans swept the Beach a few weeks back in a non-conference weekend. Something tells me this one will be closer.

 

.

7- No. 27 STANFORD at No. 14 ARIZONA STATE

By The Numbers

Cardinal:

- Record: 24-15, 9-9 Pac 12

- RPI: No.  98

- Offense: .274

- Pitching: 3.09 ERA

- Defense: .969

 

Sun Devils: 

- Record: 29-12-1, 11-7 Pac 12

- RPI: No. 14

- Offense: .299, Pac 12-best 29HRs

- Pitching: 3.75 ERA

- Defense: .962

As my partner Mike Rooney pointed out on our High & Inside Baldcast from Wednesday night, the Friday matchup with Mark Appel (7-3, 1.49, 93Ks) and Trevor Williams (5-3, 3.30) could be the best matchup of 1st round MLB draft picks all season. You can see Roons do the color commentary on that game on ESPNU. Elsewhere, the bugaboo for SU is the pitching the rest of the weekend, just not sure it can measure up. Even with ASU not having a knock-the-cover-off-the-ball offense, they should still have enough to take down the Cardinal. And by the way, that RPI is no typo; No. 98. It’s do or die time for the Trees.

 

.

6- No. 13 OKLAHOMA at WEST VIRGINIA

By The Numbers

Mountaineers:

- Record: 27-19, 9-6 Big 12

- RPI: No.  79

- Offense: .279

- Pitching: 3.70

- Defense: .963, worst in Big 12

 

Sooners: 

- Record: 33-12, 10-5 Big 12

- RPI: No. 40

- Offense: .298

- Pitching: 2.84 ERA

- Defense: .970

Very quietly, new head coach Randy Mazey has built a winner of a team in Morgantown… even though they have played only seven games on their own home field. Keeping with that theme, this series will be played in Charleston. WV. But OU still has the comfort of having the best hitter in the conference, Matt Oberste (.427-10-48, all best in the Big 12) and the winningest pitcher (Jonathan Gray, 8-1, 1.10), so even though they may not have Dillon Overton hurling bee-bees, they’ll still have the talent and experience in their favor here. Still, it’s pretty remarkable what the ‘Neers have been able to do, going 10-3 since April 10th. Could be an interesting weekend either way.

 

.

5- FLORIDA at No. 4 LSU

By The Numbers

Gators:

- Record: 25-20, 12-9 SEC

- RPI: No.  19

- Offense: .271

- Pitching: 3.68 ERA

- Defense: .974

 

Tigers: 

- Record: 40-6, 16-5 SEC

- RPI: No. 4

- Offense: .307

- Pitching: 2.39 ERA

- Defense: .981

Keep a keen eye – or even a jaundiced eye – on the Tigers here. Something seems to be happening to the pitching staff after Aaron Nola leaves the mound. In fact, since this is a Thursday-Saturday series, coach Paul Maineiri has decided to start Cody Glenn for game one. He’s been a elevator man lately – good highs, poor lows – and he’ll face off against Jonathan Crawford here, who hasn’t posted wicked-good numbers this year (3-5, 4.06) but held LSU totally in check in his start vs. the Tigers last year in Gainesville, a game yours truly was in attendance for. Is Florida for real? Are they all the way back, ala Vandy of 2012? This is where the proof starts to get piled up.

 

 

.

4- No. 17 INDIANA at NEBRASKA

By The Numbers

Hoosiers:

- Record: 34-8, 11-4 Big 10

- RPI: No.  13

- Offense: .315, best in Big 10

- Pitching: 2.34 ERA, best in Big 10

- Defense: .966

 

Cornhuskers: 

- Record: 20-23, 11-4 Big 10

- RPI: No. 51

- Offense: .284

- Pitching: 4.69 ERA

- Defense: .982, best in Big 10

Seems strange, but these two come from completely different lots in life, but are still the co-leaders of the Big 10 (although Minnesota has the best winning percentage at 9-3). But I really believe this could be the last ditch effort for NU. Indiana’s fate has been sealed – as far as at least making it to the Big Dance, though they’re still hoping for a home Regional and National Seed – but if the struggling Huskers don’t pull out a series win here, I’m afraid of where their psyche will be from here on out. Plus, as you might’ve noticed, the Cornhuskers’ RPI has dropped 20+ spots since that doubleheader sweep of Arkansas. It’s now or never for the Big Red. From what I saw last weekend in Omaha, I’m just not sure they’re quite there yet.

 

.

3- SOUTH FLORIDA at No. 29 NOTRE DAME

By The Numbers

Bulls:

- Record: 29-15, 13-2 Big East

- RPI: No.  73

- Offense: .282

- Pitching: 3.81 ERA

- Defense: .965

 

Fighting Irish: 

- Record: 27-16, 7-8 Big East.

- RPI: No. 30

- Offense: .276

- Pitching: 3.68 ERA

- Defense: .972

Okay USF, here’s the weekend everyone’s been pointing toward for you guys ever since you got on this big-ass Big East hot streak. In their last four weekends they’ve swept Pitt, Alcorn State, UConn and St. John’s. Three of those four came at home. This will be a totally different animal. The Irish have one of the better defenses I’ve seen this season and have seemed to put that sweep at Pitt three weeks ago behind them. USF could use the RPI boost here and of course, the hutzpah to prove people wrong with a series win in South Bend. But watch out for Golden Domer sluggers Eric Jagielo and Trey Mancini, as they now lead the Big East in hitting at .387 and .384 respectively, which has made a huge difference in their offense.

 

.

2- No. 1 VANDERBILT at No. 9 SOUTH CAROLINA

By The Numbers

Commodores:

- Record: 39-6, 19-2 SEC

- RPI: No.  2

- Offense: .314, Best in SEC

- Pitching: 2.58 ERA

- Defense: .978

 

Gamecocks: 

- Record: 33-12, 13-8 SEC

- RPI: No. 9

- Offense: .286

- Pitching: 3.05 ERA

- Defense: .973

This is another one of those Tell Tale Heart series in the SEC. South Carolina is doing just like it did last year, heating up for a big stretch run (Could we be looking at trip No. 4 in a row to the CWS Finals? Hmmmm). They’ve swept Kentucky and won a series at LSU in the last two weeks – virtually holding up a sign saying “Look at us. We’re back.” And they’ve got a point. Relievers Adam Westmoreland and Tyler Webb were on absolute lock-down mode in TigerTown last weekend, tossing four combined innings of scoreless baseball in the two wins and accounting for a Win and two saves. But Vanderbilt could give a damn. They are like the Terminator. They feel no pressure, no sympathy and no remorse. They just keep beating the hell out of people and dare you to care. Let’s see where these two are going now. A possible National Seed is on the line for SoCar. You’ve got the spotlight guys. Go get ‘em.

 

.

1- THE IVY LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIP

Dartmouth at Columbia, Satow Stadium.

By The Numbers

Big Green:

- Record: 32-7, 15-5 Ivy League

- RPI: No.  126

- Offense: .306

- Pitching: 2.46 ERA

- Defense: .982

 

Lions: 

- Record: 24-19, 16-4 Ivy League

- RPI: No. 128

- Offense: .261

- Pitching: 3.49 ERA

- Defense: .969

Oh I love this stuff. This is the kind of college baseball I really love. Sure, there are 10,000 fans at some games that make for high stakes and a big atmosphere. But these are the studious sorts who probably aren’t going on to pro ball, who have exams that are more important that this weekend and who have no chance of making the NCAA tournament other than winning this best-of-three playoff. The Big Green was high up in the RPI early this season, but the rest of the Ivy League dragged that number down like an 800-pound gorilla. Still, Dartmouth was the best hitting, best pitching and best defensive team in the league this year. But CU provides a great contrast, stealing three times more bases (74-for-86 on the year), leading the Ancient Eight in strikeouts (304) and having the leading home run hitter in Alex Black. Of course, you’d think the big thing would be the Lions holding home field advantage. But the last two times these two played in the Ivy League Playoffs, the road team won. Does that mean I’m calling this Dartmouth’s series to lose? Yep.

.

.

OFF THE RADAR: 

- Tennessee Tech at Western Carolina

Records:

TTU: 33-12, 19-5 Ohio Valley

WCU: 31-17, 18-6 in SoCon

In an odd twist, the leaders of the Ohio Valley Conference and the Southern Conference hook up for a pair of games this weekend. But there’s much more at stake for the Catamounts as they hold on to a No. 63 ranking in the RPI, while TTech is down at No. 123. With their RPI within striking distance of at-large land, WCU can’t afford a slip-up (though if you ask me, no matter what they do they look likely to have to win their post-season tourney to get into the promised land). Still, this is a fun matchup with the leaders of the 12th-ranked conference (SoCon) and 20th-ranked conference (OVC) powwowing in Cullowhee this weekend. Keep an eye on the heavy-hitting ‘Mounts as Julian Ridings, Aaron Attaway and Tyler White have combined for 28 yard calls and 47 two-baggers this year.

 

.

.

I STILL LOVE YOU NEW YORK. 

This has to rate up there with the most ironic and surreal music videos I’ve seen. This is Ryan Adams’ ode to the Big Apple called “New York, New York” and was filmed across from the the Twin Towers four days before September 11th of 2001 – as you’ll see noted at the beginning of the clip. It’s a good song with interesting footage, knowing what happened a few days later to that city. Oh, and the Hammond organ sounds like Benmont Tench of Tom Petty’s band is playing it. Here you go:

 

 

COMMENTS:

May 3, 2013 at 1:01 am
Bb says:

Eric- it will be great to have you at Satow Stadium this weekend. Thanks for giving the Ivy guys some ink. The Big Apple is full of stitch heads!


May 3, 2013 at 2:30 pm
BillC says:

CBGB’s is now John Varavato’s clothing gallery. Pick yourself up a nice $300 belt!


May 3, 2013 at 10:45 pm
Matt says:

Good work as always Eric. Lookin’ forward to several series this weekend. Interested in the Coastal/Ga Tech series. But mostly, go Cocks. Time to get started in earnest.

Okay – enjoy New York. But you know, not too much. Need you to at least be cognizant for the 20 Mondays.