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March 15-17: Stories to watch and Open Thread
Here are some items to watch for college baseball this weekend:
#2 LSU takes on the 8th ranked Mississippi State Bulldogs as SEC conference play begins. Senior 1B Mason Katz leads the SEC in HRs, while Frosh OF Mark Laird is among the SEC leaders in hitting, makes good contacy and walks more than he strikes out (8/3). From the bump, Soph. hurler Cody Glenn leads the starting staff in ERA. He doesn't strike hitters out at an elite level, but he doesn't walk a lot either with a K/BB of 14/3. Look for Senior LHP Chris Cotton to close. He has 5 saves on the year and has struck out 15 in 10.2 IP, while walking none.
The Bulldogs won't go quietly. Led at the dish by Juniors Hunter Renfroe (Garrioch #83) and Alex Detz (.560 OBP), they hope to establish a lead in the West and carry it into tourney time. Sophomore starters Jacob Lindgren and Will Cox (with two of the best page photos I've ever seen) will be interesting to follow this season and next.
All of the SEC pitching matchups for the weekend can be found here. (PDF)
This matchup is a perfect segue to a series of columns that I will begin posting next week about historical college programs. The first two I have slated are the 1991 Champion LSU team and the 1985 Mississippi State squad.
I try hard here in my columns to not repeat stories.I don't do very well. It is a very difficult standard to adhere to because the cream rises to the top and there is consistency on the internet with regard to the players and teams that people are talking about.
One of those players is The University of San Diego Toreros' Kris Bryant. Bryant was already touted as the best college hitter in this year's draft and in the last two weeks is hitting absolutely out of his mind and needs to be followed. Thursday night, Bryant, the WCC POTW, was 3 for 3 with 3 HRs, including the game winning walk-off job against BYU. Bryant has 10 HR now on the season, is hitting .400, has 23 walks and an OBP of .573. Bryant is also slugging an even 1.000. He is having a freakish run and will continue to harass the Cougars this weekend.
Shaded by the largesse of the Pac-12 Conference is the West Coast's "other" powerhouse: the Big West. #20 Cal Poly (San Luis Obispo) began their weekend series with #17 Notre Dame on Thursday with a win, pushing their record to 15-2.
Jacksonville State is a well-regarded baseball program that is not on a lot of radars. Junior RHP Chris Anderson should change this, however, for the average prospect hawk. This year Anderson, listed at 6'4" and 225lbs, is sitting on a 0.87 ERA with 45 Ks to 5 BBs in 31 IP while opponents are hitting a mere .139 against him in his 4 starts. Let me do the math for you: 9/1 K/BB. Efficient and dominant. He snagged the Atlantic Sun Conference's Pitcher of the Week honor last week, and this weekend he takes on East Carolina.
The University of New Mexico Lobos' Junior 3B D.J. Peterson is a possible 2nd Rounder and could float his way into the first round if he keeps up his current pace. Peterson is clearly in a class by himself in the Mountain West Conference, easily leading in hits, AVG, OBP, SLG, HR, Total Bases, one behind the leader in walks, and tied for the conference lead in doubles and triples. He has more HRs (8) than strikeouts (6), and he is even 2 for 2 in stolen bases. It'll be interesting to see if #28 UNLV can contain him.
Eric Sorenson and Kyle Peterson are doing good things blogging and podcasting from the Easton website.
Aaron Fitt of Baseball America has a great write-up of the SEC West contenders in his weekend preview.
Follow all of the scores of the weekend here.