Where were you this weekend? I was home in Columbia, South Carolina where the Gamecocks hosted Florida for an epic weekend showdown where the series winner would emerge in sole possession of 1st place in the SEC East. South Carolina won Friday night’s game 4-1 as I took in the game several rows behind the third base dugout. LHP Jordan Montgomery showed a sharp fastball-changeup combo and was topping out at 91-92 mph on the gun.
Want to know what happens when I’m not able to show up to support my team? Bad things. I couldn’t make the next two games of the series and Florida won both to upset the Gamecocks on their home turf to move into 1st place.
In other news, I ran into Bears wide receiver and former Gamecock, Alshon Jeffery at a bar on Saturday night.
On to the highlights...
No. 5 Florida State (27-8, 14-4 ACC) and No. 1 Virginia (30-6, 14-4 ACC) remain in 1st place in the Atlantic and Coastal divisions. FSU dropped a series to Georgia Tech while UVA won their series with Clemson.
Ace of the Week: Drew Van Orden – RHP – Duke – The senior righty tossed a dandy (8 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, BB, 11 K) in a 2-0 win on Friday against NC State.
Statement Sweep of the Week: No. 9 Louisville (27-8, 7-2 AAC) hosted No. 14 Houston (26-9, 4-5 AAC) this weekend and handed the Cougars an impressive three-game sweep.
Pitcher Spotlight: Nick Burdi – RHP – Perhaps the most electric relief arm in the country. Burdi regularly hits triple digits and notched two crucial saves over the weekend against Houston.
Still in 1st place though...UCF – You won’t see the Knights (22-15, 10-2 AAC) in the polls but they have been doing work in conference play. They host Louisville next weekend in what should be a epic showdown.
AAC Hitter of the Week: Blake Davey – OF – UConn – The junior batted 6-for-12 with a pair of homers in the Huskies series win over Cincinnati.
(Big 12 Highlights)
Sweep of the Week: No. 7 Texas (29-8, 9-3 Big 12) continues their sensational return to Top Ten relevancy after a few lackluster years with a huge road sweep at rival Oklahoma.
(Big West Highlights)
Best In The West: No. 3 Cal Poly (30-5, 8-1 Big West) – What a banner year this is becoming for the Mustangs who carry the highest ranking of all West Coast based teams now. Ace lefty Matt Imhof still leads the country with 88 strikeouts.
Stock Up: UC Irvine (24-11, 8-1 Big West) – The Anteaters may be unranked and may have an absurd school mascot, but by golly don’t sleep on them as they are tied with Cal Poly for 1st after their sweep of Cal State Northridge.
Nation’s Leading Hitter: Joey Epperson – 3B – No. 22 UC Santa Barbara – The senior continues to rake and now leads the country with a .453 average. He should make an attractive value sign pick in the draft.
(Mid Major Highlights)
Entering The Rankings Part 1: No. 30 Liberty – The Flames (29-9, 14-1 Big South) continued to steamroll and that’s right, I called it last week that they’d be hitting the polls soon. Definite tourney sleeper to watch.
The Atlantic 10 has a new 1st place team and that is St. Joseph’s (19-9, 8-3 A-10), following their sweep of Fordham.
The Atlantic Sun also has a new 1st place team, Lipscomb (24-13, 12-3 A-Sun), following their big series win over heavy conference favorite, Mercer.
Big Run Machine: William & Mary – The Tribe (22-13, 6-2 CAA) scored 46 runs in their series win over James Madison and now lead the country with 331 runs scored or 9.46 runs per game.
Entering The Rankings Part 2: Electric Bugaloo: No. 26 Indiana (21-11, 8-1 Big Ten) – The Hoosiers – a preseason top ten team – are back, baby! Queue Aerosmith – Back In The Saddle Again.
Player Spotlight: Kyle Schwarber – C/1B – Indiana – Big weekend for the big hitter: 7-for-12, two doubles, one triple, and a home run versus Morehead State.
Mid Major Ace of the Week: Kyle Freeland – RHP – Evansville – The top draft prospect had a sensational outing against Wichita State, allowing four hits while striking out 15, including fellow top draft prospect Casey Gillespie twice.
Ragin Cajun Update: Yes, the Cajuns are still easily the best mid-major in the land. No. 2 Louisiana-Lafayette (34-4, 14-1 Sun Belt) leads the country in Team OPS (.955) and is a Virginia hiccup away from ranking No. 1.
Entering The Rankings Part 3: And You Thought We Were Done: No. 28 Pepperdine (27-8, 12-3 WCC) – Awesome campus, awesome baseball team.
Player Spotlight: Two-way stud Aaron Brown is now 7-1 on the mound with a 2.33 ERA and 65 K’s in 65.2 IP. He also leads the Waves with 6 bombs and is batting .328.
Top Dogs: No. 15 Washington (24-7, 12-3 Pac-12) – The Bulldogs remain in 1st place after a nice series win over Stanford.
2nd Best in the West: No. 4 Oregon State (27-7, 11-4 Pac-12) is right behind the Huskies following a road series win at Washington State.
Player Spotlight: Michael Conforto – OF – The likely first rounder had a big weekend (6-for-12) and now leads the nation with his absurd .538 OBP.
The SEC remains an absolute dogfight as not one team in the conference pulled off a sweep over the weekend…
Stock Up: No. 18 Florida (23-13, 9-6 SEC) – As you may have skipped in my intro, they moved into 1st in the SEC East after a road series win in South Carolina.
SEC West Leader: No. 17 Alabama (24-11, 10-5 SEC) – The Tide now have the best SEC record after their series win over bitter in-state rival Auburn.
In-State Showdown Winner: No. 12 Ole Miss (29-9, 9-6 SEC) – The Rebels went into Starkville, one of the toughest road environments in the country, and emerged with a series win over No. 22 Mississippi State.
National OPS Leader: A.J. Reed – 1B – Kentucky – The two-way stud now carries a 1.280 OPS at the plate.
(Photo courtesy of: Bourne Braves)
Hitter Of The Week: Max Pentecost – C – Kennesaw State
Pentecost received this prestigious honor back in February and I’m handing him the weekly award again. Why? Because I can. Pentecost had a ridiculous 8-for-12 weekend at the plate which included a pair of bombs and a pair of doubles. He also drive in six, scored five, stole two bases, and did not strike out once. All in one weekend, folks. Many consider him the best all-around catching prospect in the draft and I won’t argue with that considering he won Cape Cod League MVP last Summer and is batting .380/.435/.572 on the season. Here is Matt Garrioch’s draft profile on him.
(Photo by: lsusports.net)
Pitcher Of The Week: Aaron Nola – RHP – LSU
While he may not be the best overall prospect in the draft, Nola is easily the best pitcher in college baseball right now if you ask me. He struck out a career high 13 batters over seven dominant innings of work in LSU’s 5-3 win over Arkansas on Friday. He’s allowed just 5 earned runs all season and carries a 0.70 ERA in 64 innings pitched with 31 hits allowed, 13 walks, and 84 strikeouts. Nola stands at 6’1″ 195 pounds and according to this latest draft profile from Perfect Game (subscription required), may have pitched himself into Top 10 discussion in the 2014 draft.
The latest rankings via College Baseball Writers
Baseball America’s Draft Prospect Stat Roundup
The latest RPI’s via Boyd’s World
D1 Stat Leaderboard via Boyd’s World
That’s it for this week. Stay classy not crassy, folks.