NCAA Baseball: Road to Omaha
By: Trent A. Brinkley Louisville, KY. (Analyzed Sports). February 16, 2015.
It is an exciting moment that NCAA Baseball is back, and we are only 117 days away from Omaha. Last year, in 2014, Vanderbilt walked away with the CWS Championship, and Virginia were the CWS Runner-Ups. I will be doing a NCAA Baseball: Road to Omaha Series, where I will break down all things NCAA Baseball, from the Top 25 Rankings, to my Top 10 Takeaways, to the Top 5 Questions from the Weekend, and a look at Players of the Weekend from each conference in the nation. Who will come out on top this year and walk away with the CWS Championship? Will Vanderbilt repeat as champions?, or will it be a team like LSU, Houston, Virginia, or Texas Tech? I will be doing the NCAA Baseball: Road to Omaha series bi-monthly, so with that being said, here is edition #1.
Top 25 Rankings:
5. Texas Tech
9. Oklahoma State
13. South Carolina
14. Mississippi State
17. UNC-Chapel Hill
18. Arizona State
19. Kennesaw State
21. Florida State
22. Central Florida
23. Florida International
24. UC Santa Barbara
Teams that dropped out: Cal State Fullerton, Clemson
Weekend’s Top 10 Takeaways
1. College Baseball is back, and Omaha is only 117 days away. – Vanderbilt was the 2014 NCAA CWS Champions, and University of Virginia were the runner-ups. Can Vanderbilt repeat as NCAA CWS Champions in 2015?
2. The SEC is really strong this year, having nine teams go undefeated in the first weekend. – Missouri (4-0), Florida (3-0), Georgia (3-0), Kentucky (2-0), Mississippi State (4-0),Alabama (3-0), Arkansas (3-0), LSU (3-0), and Texas A&M (3-0).
3. UVA looks like the team to beat this year after an impressive weekend. – UVA went (3-0) in their season opener series against East Carolina. The Cavaliers were impressive in three ways: 1) outscored the Pirates by a margin of 16-5 in runs, 2) their pitching was fantastic only allowing the Pirates offense to have a team batting average of .181, while their offense hit .276, and 3) Senior Kenny Towns looks like he will lead the Cavaliers once again on both offense and defense.
4. UGA Baseball seems to be back on the right track for a great season after a solid weekend. – The Bulldogs swept the Panthers of Eastern Illinois in all three games; outscoring the Panthers 39-6 in those games. The Bulldogs are looking to have a bounce back season after they finished last season with a record of (26-29).
5. Carson Fulmer is continuing to be the dominant pitcher in all of college baseball. – In his first start of the season, Fulmer’s stats were: 5 IP, 2 Hits, 3 walks, 7 strikeouts, 0 runs allowed, and his opponents only hit .125 off of him. Fulmer should easily be a Top 10 draft pick in the 2016 MLB Draft.
6. San Diego State retires Tony Gwynn’s #19 jersey on Friday night. – Tony Gwynn was great player for San Diego State, and all his years in the MLB with the San Diego Padres, and was the coach at San Diego State for many years before his passing from cancer. Gwynn who played for San Diego State from 1979 to 1981, had his #3 playing jersey retired a few years ago, had another number retired on Friday, when is head coaching jersey #19 was retired, and the crowd was chanting “Tony!, Tony!, Tony!”. Tony Gwynn was the head coach at San Diego State for 12 seasons, went 363-363 in his years with the Aztecs, it also included 3 Mountain West Championships, and 3 NCAA Tournament Appearances.
7. Louisville has a strong pitching rotation this year and will give ACC opponents trouble. – All Pitching this weekend: 3.67 ERA (2-1) 17 Hits 40 K’s 1 HR given up .177 opposing BA
8. Junior LF Harrison Bader is making an impact for Florida, leading them to a (3-0) record. – Stats: .583 BA 7 Hits 3 HR 11 RBIs 1.500 Slugging% .643 On-Base% 2 Doubles
9. Alabama pitchers shutout Maryland-Eastern Shore in all three games. – Pitchers’ Stats: 0 ER 10 Hits 8 BB 28 Strikeouts
10. Houston looks like the team to beat in the American Athletic Conference. – Batting: .260 BA 4 Doubles 4 HR 19 RBIs .448 Slugging% .387 On-Base% – Pitching: (3-0) 1.33 ERA 21 Hits allowed 4 ER 5 BB 17 K’s .219 opposing BA
Weekend’s Top 5 Questions:
1. Will Carson Fulmer’s pitching lead Vanderbilt back to Omaha for a chance to repeat as CWS Champions?
2. How will the impact of losing Starting Pitcher/CF Reid Love and 1B Bryce Harman to injuries affect the East Carolina Pirates moving forward?
3. Will the SEC be the conference to beat this year, and be the top conference in college baseball again?
4. Will Rider Senior 3B Nick Richter once again lead the nation in stolen bases?
5. Can UVA’s pitching lead them back to Omaha after allowing the ECU Pirates to score 5 runs in 3 games?
Teams of the Weekend:
– NC State Wolfpack (2-0)
The Wolfpack played Villanova in their season opener on Friday night, and won by the score of 14-5. The Wolfpack on Friday were led defensively by sophomore Cory Wilder, who pitched by 5 shut-out innings, allowing only 2 hits, 3 walks, and 5 strikeouts. Offensively, they were led by Senior infielder Jake Armstrong, who went .500 with 3 RBIs. On Saturday, the Wolfpack hosted Davidson College, and won by the score of 8-3, improving their out-scoring opponents to 22-8 this weekend. The Wolfpack were led by sophomore Preston Palmeiro, who went 5 for 5 with a RBI, and improved his hot hitting on the weekend to .875 BA 1 HR 5 RBIs .889 On-Base%. The Wolfpack had another solid outing from their pitchers, this time led by freshman RHP Evan Mendoza, who pitched 5 solid innings. In those 5 innings, he only allowed 4 hits 1 walk, 1 earned run, and 4 strikeouts. The Wolfpack were supposed to play Appalachian State today but it was cancelled, so the Wolfpack finished the weekend with a (2-0) record, which was very impressive.
– University of Georgia (3-0)
The Bulldogs played Eastern Illinois in their season opener Friday, and they didn’t disappoint, beating the Panthers by the score of 18-3. The Bulldogs pitching was led by right-handed sophomore Robert Tyler, who pitched 5 innings, allowed 2 earned runs, 2 walks, and had 5 strikeouts. The Bulldogs offense was led by series of players: Sophomore C/OF- Skyler Weber (2 RBIs), Freshman OF- Keegan McGovern (4 RBIs), Sophomore 2B/SS- Mike Bell (5 RBIs). The Bulldogs went on two win the next two games by a scoring margin. I have a feeling the UGA Baseball program is back the way it was when they had of the likes of Gordon Beckham,
– UNC-Chapel Hill (3-0)
The Tarheels took on Seton Hill over the weekend, and outscored the Pirates by a margin of 26-10 in those three games. Head Coach Mike Fox has done a great job with the Tarheels since becoming their Head Coach in 1999, returning to his alma matter where he played from 1976-1978 as a Second Baseman. In the past five years, he has taken them to the NCAA Baseball Tournament every year, and trips to the College World Series in 2011 and 2013.
Players of the Weekend:
American East Conference: Maine INF Brett Chappell
Stat Line: .482 BA 4 RBIs .462 Slugging % .438 On-Base %
American Athletic Conference: Cincinnati Starting Pitcher Andrew Zellner
Stat Line: (1-0) 5 IP 4 Hits 5 BB 4 K’s .222 Opposing BA
Atlantic Coast Conference: UVA Starting Pitcher Nathan Kirby
Stat Line: (1-0) 7 IP 3 Hits 2 BB 5 K’s 66.7% Strikes Thrown
Atlantic 10 Conference: George Mason OF Luke Willis
Stat Line: .417 BA 2 Doubles 2 RBIs .385 On-Base% .750 Slugging%
Atlantic Sun Conference: Lipscomb OF Jonathan Allison
Stat Line: .700 BA 5 RBIs 2 Doubles 1 Triple 1.100 Slugging% .786 On-Base%
Big 10 Conference: Nebraska Starting Pitcher Chance Sinclair
Stat Line: (1-0) 5 2/3 IP 0 BB 7 K’s .333 opposing BA
Big 12 Conference: Texas Tech LF Tyler Neslony
Stat Line: .294 BA 4 RBIs .412 Slugging% .381 On-Base%
Big East Conference: Xavier INF Andre Jernigan
Stat Line: .500 BA 5 RBIs 3 Doubles .813 Slugging% .556 On-Base%
Big South Conference: Campbell C/INF Seth LaRue
Stat Line: .700 BA 4 RBIs 1 Stolen-Base
Big West Conference: Cal State Fullerton Catcher Chris Hudgins
Stat Line: .375 BA 2 RBIs .500 Slugging% .500 On-Base%
Colonial Conference: UNCW OF Casey Golden
Stat Line: .286 BA 1 HR 3 RBIs .714 Slugging% .375 On-Base%
Conference USA: Florida Atlantic 2B Stephen Kerr
Stat Line: .333 BA 3 RBIs .333 Slugging% .429 On-Base%
Horizon League: Wright State Ryan Fucci
Stat Line: .500 BA 2 HRs 7 RBIs 1.250 Slugging% .500 On-Base%
Metro Atlantic: Canisius 3B/1B Connor Panas
Stat Line: .375 BA 1 HR 3 RBIs .875 Slugging% .500 On-Base%
Mid-American: Central Michigan OF Logan Regnier
Stat Line: .294 BA 3 Triples 6 RBIs .706 Slugging% .278 On-Base%
Mid-Eastern: NC Central Catcher James Dey
Stat Line: .500 BA 2 Doubles 1 RBI .833 Slugging% .625 On-Base%
Missouri Valley: Bradley IF Spencer Gaa
Stat Line: .625 BA 1 HR 5 RBIs .714 Slugging% .400 On-Base%
Mountain West: BYU OF Brennon Lund
Stat Line: .417 BA 5 Hits No Strikeouts .417 Slugging% .462 On-Base%
Northeast Conference Player to Watch: Bryant INF Matt Zanotta
Ohio Valley Conference: Eastern Illinois OF Demetre Taylor
Stat Line: .375 BA 3 Hits .625 Slugging% .375 On-Base%
Pac-12: University of Arizona 2B Scott Kingery
Stat Line: .538 BA 1 HR 5 RBIs 1.077 Slugging% .538 On-Base%
Patriot Conference: Navy Academy SP Luke Gillingham
Stat Line: 7 IP 1 Hit 0 ER 0 BB 16 K’s
Southeast Conference: University of Georgia RF Keegan McGovern
Stat Line: .375 BA 1 HR 5 RBIs .875 Slugging% .573 On-Base%
Southern: Davidson College RHP Matt Saeta
Stat Line: 4 IP 0 ER 1 BB 5 K’s .077 Opposing BA
Southland: Lamar CF C.J. Moore
Stat Line: .250 BA 1 HR 4 RBIs .563 Slugging% .333 On-Base%
Mid-Continent Conference: Oral Roberts Pitcher Kyler Stout
Stat Line: 2 Appearances 2 2/3 IP 3 strikeouts No-Hits allowed
Sun Belt Conference: Georgia State Starting Pitcher Nathan Bates
Stat Line: (1-0) 0.00 ERA 0.286 WHIP 1 BB allowed 1 Hit 8 Strikeouts .048 Opposing BA
West Coast Conference: Gonzaga INF Mitchell Gunsolus
Stat Line: .588 BA 10 Hits 2 Doubles 1 Triple .824 Slugging% .611 On-Base%
Western Atlantic Conference: Grand Canyon INF Chad De La Guerra
Stat Line: .538 BA 3 HR 12 RBIs 1.308 Slugging% .563 On-Base%
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