FSU's Luke Weaver - Matt Ryerson-US PRESSWIRE
March 22-24: Stories to watch and Open Thread. You know, cause you're not paying attention to anything else this weekend.
There are a lot of great matchups this weekend, so let's get into what to watch for in college baseball this weekend:
Luke Weaver, strikeout, walk, and batting-average-against leader for the nation's 5th ranked Florida State pitching staff heads into this weekend with a showdown against the nation's top offense, #15 Georgia Tech. The action starts Friday with a double header. The games can be seen on ESPN3.
Also on ESPN3 Friday are the #16 Arkansas Razorbacks trying to recover from an awful weekend two weeks ago. The task for Dominic Ficociello, Ryne Stanek, and the rest of the Hogs will not be easy as they face off in this SEC battle with the #6 South Carolina Gamecocks in Columbia.
Nobody on the West Coast is as hot right now as the #4 Beavers of Oregon State. They are 11-1 in March, 18-1 overall, and enter the weekend following a 3 game sweep of the #20 Arizona Wildcats, the defending College World Series Champions. The Beavers host the #21 Arizona State Sun Devils.
It would be safe to say that University of San Diego's Kris Bryant is the Golden Spikes favorite. He was hyped coming in to the season and it seems that he is living up to and exceeding every bit of it. His story is so good that I am compelled to keep writing him up, against my own intentions. The Toreros' slugger is sitting on 12 home runs to lead the nation and is just raking in awards. He was honored with the Conference Player of the Week for the second week in a row and the third time in five toatal weeks, and the Collegebaseballinsider.com's National Player of the Week. (Just give them all to him.) The Toreros' website links to Baseball America's Aaron Fitt's column in which an interviewee says of Bryant, "...Troy Glaus, Jayson Werth, Pat Burrell...It's a combination of those three guys all wrapped into one." I promise that if Bryant comes back to Earth, I'll stop mentioning him.
From the Allow Myself to Indulge Myself Department: my alma mater, Arkansas Tech University (D-II, Great American Conference, Russellville, Arkansas, Nickname: Wonder Boys), has moved into the D2.com Top 25, coming in at #19. They face #17/18 Southern Arkansas in a crucial set for both teams. The Wonder Boys (origin) are 23-8 this season and are led by Junior starting pitcher Ryan Taylor (1.99 ERA, .177 BAA) and Senior second baseman Cesar Abreu (.421/.537/.533).
D-II baseball doesn't get much press and doesn't see a lot of players taken high in the draft or placed on many Top 100 prospect lists, but there are plenty of D-II players on MLB rosters and quite a few who produce. Some D-II alums include Sergio Romo, Steve Cishek, Mike Aviles, Matt Joyce, Ryan Vogelsong, Josh Willingham, Mike Fiers, and Ryan Hanigan. D2BaseballNews.com has a list of current DII players in pro ball and Baseball America's Top 10 D-II Draft Prospect list.
I grew up in a D-II town and started enjoying D-II sports as a fan of UC-Davis in the early 80's. While it took the Aggies years to establish themselves on the diamond, they have increased exposure over the last five years, producing their first Major Leaguer, Daniel Descalso, and a couple almost-prospects in the Giants' Tyler LaTorre and the Orioles' Ty Kelly.
Division II baseball can be incredibly fun to follow so take a weekend off from the big guys and find a good D-II program close to you to check out some games.
Step away from the basketball and keep up with the weekend scores here.