Virginia has now held a lockdown on the number one spot in the country for the last month. This week’s RPI update from Boyd’s World has a sleek new format to it that I am loving. No surprise that Virginia is number one in the RPI’s too. Did I mention that the Cavs were my pre-season pick to win the title, thus ending the ACC’s absurd 50+ year title drought? If I haven’t, I just did now. You can hold me to it when somehow no ACC teams make it to Omaha in June.
Indiana, Florida, Ole Miss, and Florida State round out the Top 5. Interesting to see the Hoosiers that at No. 2 but they did play a brutal out of conference slate which likely factors in to their high ranking.
On to the highlights…
Best Weekend Showdown: No. 1 Virginia (37-8, 18-6 ACC) at No. 6 Florida State (30-9, 17-7 ACC)
The Cavaliers are the nation’s top team for a reason and they didn’t let the other top dog in the ACC thwart their position as they came away with a huge series win at FSU.
Sweeper Of The Week: Duke (28-17, 15-9 ACC) – The Blue Devils have rolled off nine straight with their weekend sweep of Wake Forest. Many considered them a pre-season sleeper and with good reason.
Entering The Rankings: No. 30 Central Florida (28-16, 15-3 AAC) – The Knights continued their 1st place roll by sweeping Rutgers and have finally cracked the writers poll, giving the American three teams in the Top 30.
Sweeper Of The Week: No. 8 Louisville (33-11, 8-4 AAC) – A sweep of UConn pushes the Cardinals back into the top ten.
(Big 12 Highlights)
No. 9 Oklahoma State (31-13, 13-5 Big 12) strengthened their 1st place lead with a huge series win at No. 12 Texas.
Hot Streakin: No. 22 TCU (30-13, 10-5 Big 12) – The Horned Frogs have rattled off eight straight, including a weekend sweep of Cal State Northridge, a matchup that make no utter sense at this time of the year.
Stock Down: Kansas State (23-22, 4-11 Big 12)- Remember when the Wildcats hosted a regional? Yea, that was just this past June. After getting swept by West Virginia (who’s won 6 straight), they’re now in 2nd to last place.
Pitcher Of The Week: Jordan Piche – RHP – Kansas – The Senior tossed a one-hit shutout against Baylor with 5 K’s.
(Big West Highlights)
No. 4 Cal Poly (36-7, 12-3 Big West) had their first "down week" in a while if you consider a 2-2 record a down week. Who was responsible for the two losses…
Long Beach State (20-21, 7-5 Big West) – That’s who. Nice home series win for the 49ers who have had an uneven performance overall on the year.
Stock Up: UC Irvine (28-14, 11-1 Big West) – With Cal Poly’s series loss, the Anteaters (great name) have quietly bumped up to 1st in the Big West.
Riding a 7-game win streak, St. Joseph’s (26-10, 13-4 A-10) is now back in 1st place of the Atlantic 10.
Mercer (34-11, 16-4 A-Sun) still sits atop the A-Sun but watch out for Max Pentecost (7-for-13, HR vs ETSU) and Kennessaw State, who have rolled off 11 wins in a row.
Draft Stock Rising:– C – FIU – Garcia is one of the best hitting catchers in the country and now leads the C-USA with his .353 batting average and 7 home runs.
With first-round talent LHP Kyle Freeland (a frequenter of this column and personal favorite) leading the charge, Evansville (28-14, 9-3 MVC) has now moved into 1st place in the Missouri Valley. Here’s a recent article on Freeland’s rise.
Knockout Punch of the Week: 1st place UNLV (28-15, 16-8 MWC) took down New Mexico (who spent all of one week in the Top 30) with a dominant sweep, outscoring the Lobos 39-to-10.
Draft Sleeper: Jake Kelzer – RHP – No. 19 Indiana – The 6’7″ draft-eligible freshmen has drawn praise for his "major-league outpitch curveball" and a fastball that touches 93 MPH. He’s a former swimmer with limited pitching experience.
Re-Entering The Rankings: No. 29 Liberty (35-10, 19-1 Big South) – The Flames make their glorious return after dropping out for a week. Like I’ve said before, watch out for them as an upset team in the tournament.
Sam Houston State (30-14, 13-8 Southland) pulled off a crucial home game sweep of Southeastern Louisiana, knocking the Lions out of 1st place and ruining my older brother’s weekend.
No. 3 Louisiana-Lafayette ("only" took 2-of-3 from Texas State this weekend. But, they continue to look like the mid-major "team of interest" to root for to make a National Title run. And how cannot you not root for a team called the Ragin’ Cajuns?
No. 13 Washington (29-10, 16-5 Pac-12) remains in 1st after a series win over in-state rival Washington State. Baseball America profiled the Huskies success in their three strikes column.
Best In The West: No. 2 Oregon State (31-8, 14-4 Pac-12) – The Ducks have supplanted Cal Poly has the highest ranked West-Coast team. The Beavers pulled off the biggest sweep of the weekend taking down in-state nemesis No. 10 Oregon.
Stock Up: USC (24-17, 12-9 Pac-12)- The Trojans have been smokin lately with nine straight wins and a weekend sweep of UCLA.
Stock Up: No. 14 Florida (30-15, 15-6 SEC) – The Gators are rolling and now have the best record in SEC play after sweeping Missouri.
Pitcher Spotlight: Aaron Rhodes – RHP – University of Florida's Rhodes tosses a on-hit shutout and was named a National Pitcher of The Week.
No. 7 South Carolina (34-11took a big series from SEC West leader Alabama. I was there for Friday’s 9-3 win and then watched the next two games in the comforts of my apartment on ESPN, because we’re kinda that important that ESPN comes to Columbia.
Nation’s Home Run Leader: A.J. Reed – 1B – Kentucky – The nation’s best two-way talent now has 19 bombs and counting on the season. The next closest is Brandon Thomasson with 15 for Tennessee Tech.
(Photo By: Jay Clark – East Carolina)
Hitter Of The Week: Kurt Wertz – OF – Towson
I generally like to keep the focus on which notable draft prospect had the best weekend at the plate when I choose this award. But, I have damn good reason to do otherwise this week because Wertz had an unbelievable weekend; plus he goes to Towson, just down the street from my high school, and where my cousin, Bruce Zimmerman, pitches. Over the weekend he hit 10-for-21 with 4 home runs, 2 doubles, a triple, and 15 RBI’s, garnering National Hitter Of The Week honors. He went undrafted after his Junior season but weekends like this will certainly get him on the radar has a potential Senior sign pick in 2014.
(Photo Courtesy Of: NC State Athletics)
Pitcher Of The Week: Carlos Rodon – LHP – NC State
Carlos Rodon’s "Jeckyll and Hyde act" of a season continues. One week, his fastball dips into the low 90′s at times and proves hittable, with just a plus slider to compliment it. Other weeks, he’s pumping mid 90′s with plus tail, and consistently flashing a wipeout 80-grade slider throughout his outing. This was one of those weeks. I guess he saw Jeff Hoffman’s stellar outing last weekend and decided he had to better it for the scouting contingent on hand this weekend. This was easily his best outing (9 IP, 6 H, ER, 2 BB, 15 K) of the season. Once again, though, Rodon’s pitch count ran into the 130′s which has created some controversy.
Draft Prospect Stat Roundup from Baseball America
D1 Stat Leaderboard via Boyd’s World
That’s it for this week. Stay classy, not crassy.