2021 College Baseball Thread

Discussion in 'The Mainboard' started by Beagle, Dec 20, 2019.

  1. Saul Shabazz

    Saul Shabazz armed with 7 rounds of space doo doo pistols
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    wish college coaches had a little more minor league skipper in em

    Van Horn(en:rockin:) going out there and spending 15 minutes abusing the base paths and telling the ump how deep he was in his wife Friday night would be great pub for the sport
     
  2. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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  3. droc

    droc #1 Assassin
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    Most predictably garbage situational hitting FSU team I can recall watching. Fuckin 13 straight scoreless against Troy and counting
     
  4. JGator1

    JGator1 I'm the Michael Jordan of the industry
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    UF-Vandy delayed, no start time set
     
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  5. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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  6. Taques

    Taques please dont put in the newspaper that i got mad
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    The Real Movement

  7. JGator1

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  8. War Grundle

    War Grundle Nole Mercy
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  9. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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  10. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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  11. bertwing

    bertwing check out the nametag grandma
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    OSullivan tryna get tossed in the first
     
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  12. bertwing

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    Fairfield finally lost a game. Hate to see it
     
  13. JGator1

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    Gators up 5-3 through 5 1/2

    Feels like we're gonna need more runs, Vandy has been getting a lot of good swings. We've also done a shitty job of running into outs and not cashing in opportunities.
     
  14. cheddarisbetter

    cheddarisbetter Well-Known Member
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    Leftwich dealing, let him go the rest
     
  15. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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    UF leading 5-3 in B8. Haven't watched any but looks like we're walking batters and our batters aren't drawing walks
     
  16. JGator1

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    The camera work and broadcast quality have been what you expect from a local channel high school game of the week, sucks Kyle Peterson has to deal with this shit.

    We did some damage early and Barco pitched really well. I'm still very worried about the 9th.
     
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  17. JGator1

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  18. cheddarisbetter

    cheddarisbetter Well-Known Member
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    Hell yeah, those Sunday whites are phenomenal
     
  19. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    irish set an acc program record with 19 runs today against unc. swept the series and get set to host FSU next weekend for the final series of the year.
     
  20. Cornelius Suttree

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    Carter Young is so smooth defensively

     
  21. bertwing

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    Some good series next week

    TCU/Texas
    Miss St/South Carolina
    Vandy/Louisville on Tuesday
    Arizona/Stanford

    oh no, Husks got ranked for first time in forever and got swept by Rutgers :/
     
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  22. War Grundle

    War Grundle Nole Mercy
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    You guys are playing great. Hope we can steal Link in two years.
     
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  23. laxjoe

    laxjoe Well-Known Member
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    [​IMG]
     
  24. Saul Shabazz

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  25. laxjoe

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  26. War Grundle

    War Grundle Nole Mercy
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    We should have hired Link. I knew we wouldn’t but it’s depressing.
     
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  27. NP13

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    he's really good
     
  28. huskerrolly

    huskerrolly Well-Known Member
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    that’s typical for our men’s sports. Can’t handle an ounce of success and recognition. Have a feeling it’s going to be a long rest of the season as the competition gets harder.
     
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  29. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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    ND @ CMU was canceled over the weekend. Not COVID related. Was looking forward to seeing the Irish tomorrow

    DI top 25

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]


    BA top 25

    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

     
    #3929 Cornelius Suttree, May 3, 2021
    Last edited: May 3, 2021
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  30. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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    Off The Bat: These Were The Most Significant Upsets Of The Weekend

    Upsets Defined The Weekend, But Which Were Most Significant?

    On paper, Week 11 didn’t look like a weekend that would shake up college baseball. After several top-10 showdowns over the last few weeks, including intense rivalries like Mississippi vs. Mississippi State, there were this weekend just three series that featured matchups of Top 25 teams.

    The weekend’s slate might not have stood out on paper, but fans of the unpredictability of college baseball got a banner weekend. In all three Top 25 matchups, the lower-ranked team won the series. In all, nine Top 25 teams lost series and two others split four-game sets. The upsets included Florida taking down Vanderbilt—just the second series loss of the season for the Commodores, and Clemson sweeping Louisville—becoming the first team to sweep the Cardinals since 2011.

    On a topsy-turvy weekend, which of the upsets was most significant? Which were just noise, and which have the most implications on conference standings and the postseason race? Here are the five most important.

    1. Clemson sweeps Louisville

    The Tigers put together as impressive a weekend as anyone in the country. They outscored the Cardinals, 31-12, over three games and it might not have even been that close. They wasted no time in any of the three games, scoring 15 runs in the first three innings, and trailed at the start of just one inning all weekend. Slugger Caden Grice hit four home runs, including a three-homer game Friday, to lead the Tigers.

    Clemson (21-18, 15-12) has won six straight games, sweeping Louisville and Wake Forest, to put itself firmly back in the NCAA Tournament picture. Its closing slate is challenging—at Georgia Tech, at Florida State, vs. Duke on the weekend, as well as midweek home games against South Carolina-Upstate and South Carolina—but barring a collapse, it should have secured an NCAA Tournament bid.

    Louisville (23-14, 14-9), meanwhile, has fallen four games behind Notre Dame in the ACC standings and with just three weeks left, that deficit will be difficult to erase. The sweep also was a big blow to Louisville’s hosting resume. It ranks No. 55 in RPI, well outside the range typically needed to host, and this weekend was a missed opportunity to improve its standing in the metric. The selection committee also typically values a strong record away from home and the Cardinals are just 8-9 away from Jim Patterson Stadium. At this point, very little of Louisville’s resume looks like a typical regional host and it is running out of time to bolster it.

    2. Texas Tech’s win at Texas

    Texas Tech last weekend was dealt an upset series loss at home by Baylor—its first home series loss since 2018. It didn’t stay down long, however, as it went to Austin and won the first two games of its series against Texas. It was the Longhorns’ first losing weekend since Opening Weekend.

    After its loss to Baylor, Texas Tech (30-11, 10-8) had fallen to the wrong side of the hosting bubble. The series win against Texas likely puts it back on the right side, though it will need to finish strong against Oklahoma and Kansas.

    For Texas (35-11, 13-5), the series loss was a brutal one. The Longhorns had started the weekend tied with Texas Christian for first place in the Big 12, with a series at Fort Worth next weekend on tap. Now, TCU leads Texas by two games and has a chance to win the conference title this weekend. The Longhorns are still in fine shape as a host and probably as a top-eight seed as well. But they can’t take anything for granted now.

    3. Virginia’s win at Virginia Tech

    Virginia took a big step toward the NCAA Tournament field with a road series win against its in-state rival. The Cavaliers blew out the Hokies, 18-1, in the opener, but lost, 6-3, in Game 2. On Sunday, Virginia clinched the series with a 6-1 victory.

    The Cavaliers (22-20, 13-17) have now won four of their last five series after a slow start to the season. After a finals break this week, they’ll finish the season with series against Wake Forest and at Boston College, which currently have the two worst records in the conference. It’s been a long road back for Virginia after losing its first five ACC series, but this weekend was another big step.

    Virginia Tech (23-17, 16-14) is going the opposite direction. It's lost three straight series and is 4-8 overall during that stretch. That skid has dropped the Hokies out of first place in the Coastal Division (though they’re only a game behind Pittsburgh) and has put a real damper on the possibility of hosting a regional. Virginia Tech is now out of the Top 25 for the first time in two months.

    4. Florida’s win against Vanderbilt

    After losing Friday’s game, 11-7, Florida bounced back to win its next two games against Vanderbilt. It on Saturday won, 11-8, and on Sunday jumped out to an early lead that turned into a 5-3 victory. Florida joined Georgia as the only teams this season to win a series against Vanderbilt.

    Florida (30-13, 13-8) needed the series win to stay in the race for both the SEC East and the chance to host regionals. The Gators’ work isn’t done, but they got what they needed out of this weekend. A tricky road series this weekend at Kentucky offers Florida another opportunity to boost its RPI before the selection committee narrows the field of potential regional hosts to 20 teams.

    Vanderbilt (32-9, 14-7) didn’t have as much on the line this weekend. It missed an opportunity to all but put the SEC East title away, slipped a game behind Arkansas in the race for the No. 1 seed in the SEC Tournament and saw its RPI slip to No. 4. Losing a series to the rival Gators isn’t going to feel good, but the Commodores are largely in the same position today as they were this time a week ago.

    5. Old Dominion’s win against Charlotte

    After losing a four-game series at Charlotte a week ago, ODU returned home and flipped the result. The Monarchs and 49ers split the first two games before the Monarchs pulled away in the second half of the series. They outscored the 49ers, 24-2, in those games, including a 10-0, run-rule shortened game Sunday.

    After eight games against each other over the last two weekends, ODU (31-11, 17-7) and Charlotte (31-14, 18-6) are largely back to where they were two weeks ago. Charlotte holds a one-game lead on ODU in the Conference USA East standings and both are clearly in the hosting mix having boosted their RPIs by playing against each other.

    This weekend, however, was important for ODU. It needed the series win to keep its conference title and hosting hopes alive. For Charlotte, the series loss likely doesn’t change its position much. Its RPI has risen to No. 11 and it’s still in first place.


    Big Ten Race Shake Up

    College baseball’s wild weekend included a shake up in the Big Ten race. It started at the top, as Rutgers went on the road to sweep Nebraska, which came into the weekend in first place. Second-place Michigan split a four-game series against Illinois, while Indiana moved to the top of the standings with a series win against Iowa.

    As it stands, the Hoosiers (20-9) hold a slim, half-game lead on the Wolverines (21-11) and Cornhuskers (20-10). Iowa (19-13), Maryland (19-13), Rutgers (17-13) and Ohio State (17-14) stand further off the pace but are still very much in the postseason hunt.

    With four weeks to go in the Big Ten season, here are a few thoughts on where things in the conference stand.

    Indiana is rounding into form. The Hoosiers are just getting into the teeth of their schedule. The series against Iowa was the start of a challenging five-week stretch to end the season, during which Indiana will only play teams currently in the top half of the conference standings. If it repeats as Big Ten champions, it will have earned it.

    While it won’t be easy for the Hoosiers, they showed both their potential and their toughness this weekend against the Hawkeyes. For just the third time in nine weeks, Indiana lost the first game of the weekend, dropping Friday’s opener, 6-5, against Iowa. But the Hoosiers came right back, winning Saturday’s game, 12-6, to even the series and claiming the rubber game, 12-8.

    Indiana’s response against Iowa was a big change from its last series-opening loss, which came a month ago at Ohio State. The Buckeyes went on to sweep that four-game series in Columbus. Coach Jeff Mercer said the Hoosiers learned from that experience.

    “When you have a moment where you lose, you have to pick yourself up off the mat,” he said. “Either you roll over and die or you get up and go back to work. When you have those moments, you learn you can do it.

    “Whatever happens the rest of the season, we are beginning to find our identity to a degree with some toughness and resilience.”

    Indiana is also finding consistency in its lineup after trying out several different combinations in the early going. That its stars have found their footing has certainly helped. Cole Barr went 6-for-10 with six runs, a triple and two home runs on the weekend. Grant Richardson added six hits and four runs of his own. The Hoosiers lead the conference with a 2.83 ERA, nearly a run better than second-place Michigan (3.79), and their .976 fielding percentage ranks second.

    The next four weeks will be difficult, but Indiana proved this weekend against a battle-tested Iowa team that it is ready for the challenge.

    Rutgers is for real. In each of the last two weeks, Rutgers has gone on the road to take on the team leading the Big Ten standings. A week ago, it was a trip to Michigan. This week, it was a series at Nebraska.

    Rutgers went 5-1 in those games, handing both Michigan and Nebraska their first series losses of the season. This weekend, the Scarlet Knights swept the Huskers—marking the first sweep for Rutgers since it joined the Big Ten—to extend their winning streak to five games.

    As May begins, Rutgers is 17-13 and 3.5 games behind first-place Indiana. The Scarlet Knights haven’t been to the NCAA Tournament since 2007, but the postseason is within their reach in coach Steve Owens’ second season.

    “Our program hasn’t been in meaningful spots for a long time,” Owens said. “I’m happy for our players who have worked hard to experience some success and the confidence that goes along with it.”

    Whereas Indiana has the toughest part of its schedule left, Rutgers is looking at a more manageable final month of the regular season. The Scarlet Knights do face Indiana and Nebraska this weekend in a four-game pod at home, but their final three weekends are against teams currently under .500 and their only remaining road trip is to Penn State for a four-game pod with the Nittany Lions and Minnesota. After some difficult travel—to Michigan and Nebraska in back-to-back weeks, Opening Weekend at Minnesota and long trips to Northwestern and Purdue—Rutgers is looking forward to some home cooking.

    That said, the Scarlet Knights have been successful road warriors. They’re 13-7 away from home this season, including a 6-2 mark against the top three teams in the conference—Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska.

    Rutgers' strength has been on the mound and its done a good job the last two weeks, holding Michigan and Nebraska to 15 runs over six games. A rotation of Harry Rutkowski (2-2, 4.04), Ben Wereski (5-2, 3.29) and Brent Teller (2-2, 4.00) has been solid, but the bullpen has come on strong and showed its depth at Nebraska. The bullpen held the Huskers to one run over 10.1 innings, playing a critical role in the sweep.

    Offensively, Rutgers has pieced its lineup together, often moving players around to exploit matchups or take advantage of a hot hand. It’s a system that’s worked, in no small part because of the efforts of Mike Nyisztor, a fourth-year junior and New Jersey native. He’s hitting .346/.469/.436 and this weekend went 5-for-11 and scored six runs.

    “I’m trying not to do too much, just do my part,” he said. “I don’t like to look at stats. But everyone in the lineup has been doing their job. All the guys are helping me do my part.”

    Can Rutgers break its NCAA Tournament drought? It has the big wins few other teams in the conference do and it has a manageable final month of the season. But with the standings as bunched as they are, it’s hard to know how things will shake out over the next four weeks.

    No matter what, however, Rutgers has clearly taken a significant step forward to be in this position. Since joining the Big Ten for the 2015 season, the Scarlet Knights have not made the Big Ten Tournament. That won’t change this year because the conference isn’t holding the event in 2021, but they might be able to get a taste of postseason baseball any way.

    “I’m happy for our guys, for our program to be able to show that we’re improving,” Owens said. “It’s exciting. It’s good to see the smile on their faces. We’re just enjoying this and not trying to put pressure on ourselves.”

    So how many teams is the Big Ten getting in regionals? For much of the season, I have been of the belief that the Big Ten, with a conference-only schedule, would likely get three teams, maybe four, in the NCAA Tournament. While some believe the conference doesn’t even deserve that many after opting not to play non-conference games, it seems more likely that the selection committee will fall back on the recent history of the Big Ten producing 3-5 NCAA Tournament teams and allot a couple at-large bids for the conference, so long as the regional advisory committee ranks the teams well.

    Now, however, I’m beginning to think the Big Ten will push to the upper end of its recent history and produce 4-5 bids. Indiana, Michigan and Nebraska already have created some separation at the top of the standings. Iowa and Rutgers have played the toughest part of their schedules. Maryland and Ohio State are hanging around in contention and have the talent to rip off a strong final month.

    That’s seven teams. At least two of them are getting left at home (I can’t imagine the Big Ten would break its record for regional bids in a year it didn’t play non-conference games).

    Some of this will work itself out over the next four weeks, but right now cutting down the Big Ten contenders is only getting harder.

    Eight for Omaha
    Arizona, Arkansas, Mississippi State, Notre Dame, Tennessee, Texas, Texas Christian, Vanderbilt

    For the first time in four weeks, I’ve made a change to the field. Louisville is out and TCU is in. The Horned Frogs are a perhaps belated addition to the field. They’re closing in on a Big 12 title and rank No. 2 in RPI. They’re nearly a shoo-in as a top-eight seed, which would give them home-field advantage until the College World Series. TCU is 26-5 all-time in the NCAA Tournament at Lupton Stadium and has lost a regional or super regional just once (2011 Fort Worth Regional).

    As for Louisville, after getting swept at Clemson, the Cardinals have now fallen four games behind Notre Dame in the ACC standings. Between that gap and its confoundingly poor RPI (No. 55), Louisville is slipping as a potential host. At the moment, it’s also just hard to trust the Cardinals to win five games over two weekends against strong competition. They may well round into form over the next month, especially if they can get back to full strength, but for now they’re out.

    I’m hanging on to Texas here even after the Longhorns were upset by Texas Tech. But I say that with less conviction today than I have for the last few weeks. Florida seems to be rounding into form and Mississippi is in the mix again. But teams from outside the major conferences, like the Conference USA quartet of Charlotte, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion and Southern Mississippi, can’t be excluded. In the unique season of 2021, veteran mid-major teams are likely to make their presence felt in the NCAA Tournament.

    Weekend standouts

    Tyler Burnham, LHP, Seton Hall: Burnham on Sunday threw a no-hitter in a 2-0 victory against Georgetown. The fourth-year junior struck out 14 batters and walked four, while leading the Pirates (19-15, 12-3) to a sweep. Burnham improved to 3-3, 2.97 with 40 strikeouts in 39.1 innings.

    Kennesaw State: The Owls won a series against Georgia Tech, winning the opener, 5-1, on Friday and Sunday’s finale, 10-5. It is the first time Kennesaw State (26-13) has beaten Georgia Tech twice in one season.

    Northeastern: Trivia time! With Fairfield taking its first loss of the season this weekend against Siena, what team holds the nation’s longest active winning streak? That’s right, it’s the Northeastern Huskies. They swept a four-game series against Towson to improve to 23-6 and are now 11-0 in the Colonial Athletic Association. Northeastern last lost April 6 against Boston College.

    Jordan Patty, RHP, Central Michigan: Patty on Friday threw a perfect game against Miami (Ohio) in a 14-0 victory that was shortened to seven innings due to run rule. He went to a three-ball count on just one batter all game and he matched his career high with 11 strikeouts. Patty this season is 6-1, 1.73 with 61 strikeouts and 17 walks in 62.1 innings. He has now thrown 38 straight scoreless innings, a streak that dates to March 26 against Ohio.

    Carlos Tavera, RHP, Texas-Arlington: Tavera threw nine hitless innings Saturday against Arkansas-Little Rock and combined with Tanner King for an 11-inning no-hitter in a 1-0 victory. Tavera struck out 11 batters and walked three, and this season is 1-4, 2.97 with 89 strikeouts and 25 walks in 57.2 innings. The victory was the start of a sweep for the Mavericks (22-22, 10-5) that pushed them into first place in the Sun Belt Conference’s West Division.

    Looking ahead

    No. 5 Texas Christian hosts No. 9 Texas with a chance to clinch the Big 12 title. The Horned Frogs (33-10, 15-3) hold a two-game lead on the Longhorns (35-11, 13-5) in the standings. With the Longhorns in town for a crucial weekend, the Horned Frogs have a chance to clinch their third Big 12 title and first since 2017. A series win would get it done for TCU.

    No. 7 Arizona and No. 19 Stanford, the top two teams in the Pac-12 standings, meet for showdown. The Wildcats (30-11, 15-6) hold a slight edge on the Cardinal (24-9, 10-5) in the conference standings and are set to travel to Sunken Diamond for a pivotal weekend. Arizona has won nine straight and a series win at Stanford would firmly put it in the driver’s set for its first conference title since 2012.

    No. 24 UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara meet with Big West lead on the line. The Gauchos (29-13, 20-8) and the Anteaters (26-14, 18-6) are locked in a tie atop the Big West standings, five games ahead of their challengers. The winner of this weekend’s series at UCSB will have the inside track to the conference title—and the automatic NCAA Tournament bid that comes with it. The Gauchos are aiming for their second straight Big West championship, while the Anteaters are seeking their first since 2009 (and second ever).

     
  31. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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    Northeastern is 11-0 in CAA play and 23-6 overall. Winners of 13 straight

    as a team, NU has a 2.97 ERA :ballin:

    Cam Schlittler, Kyle Murphy and Sebastian Keane are the type of rotation that you do not want in your Regional, folks

     
  32. Cornelius Suttree

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    Louisville leading VU 7-2 in B8

    Little gave up 6 ER in 5 IP
     
  33. steamengine

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    Anyone have the latest regional projections?
     
  34. Daddy Rabbit

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    D1's

     
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  35. JGator1

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  36. Taques

    Taques please dont put in the newspaper that i got mad
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    illinois-chicago had to cancel their series with us due to them having COVID

    as an aside, they have a great view at their stadium

    upload_2021-5-5_13-20-29.jpeg
     
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  37. Boo MFer!

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  38. devine

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  39. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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    UIC gets a lot of support from Curtis Granderson, he's such a good dude :ohgosh:

    VU has lost three straight following losses last Saturday/Sunday and then to Louisville the other day. The three-game losing streak is the first for the Dores since a six-game stretch from April 29-May 8 of 2018

    Nashville is basically doing away with all covid restrictions on May 14 so VU will be allowing full capacity for the last four games of the season

    UF @ UK on SECN at 7 ET and LSU @ Auburn on ESPNU at 7:30 ET

     
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  40. Boo MFer!

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  41. Nole0515

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    Brother
     
  42. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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    not too many high profile series in the SEC this weekend

    Texas/TCU
    Tulane/ECU
    FSU/ND
    Miss St/So Car
    Zona/Stanford
    Irvine/UCSB
    Ball St/CMU
    Clemson/GT
    IU/Rutgers


    Seven Storylines To Follow In Regular Season's Final Month

    The college baseball season is reaching its stretch run. There are four weeks until the start of the NCAA Tournament, meaning there’s a lot to play for.

    Whether you’re just getting into the season as the postseason approaches or have been following along since Opening Day, here are seven questions to be answered down the stretch.

    1. Is Arkansas the national championship favorite?

    Arkansas on March 1 rose to No. 1 in the Top 25 and hasn’t been knocked from the spot since. That’s 10 straight weeks the Razorbacks have been No. 1, the longest run atop the Top 25 since Oregon State did so in 2017.

    Arkansas has handled all challengers this season. It is 12-3 against teams currently ranked in the Top 25 and all 15 of those games came away from Baum-Walker Stadium.

    The Razorbacks aren’t built like a traditional college baseball power—they don’t have a dominant starting rotation, although in recent weeks lefthander Patrick Wicklander has grown into a strong front-of-the-rotation pitcher, and they don’t have a top-10 draft prospect leading their offense. What they do have, however, is perhaps the deepest roster in the country, a lineup where 1-9 can drive the ball out of the park, a pitching staff that can attack teams in a variety of ways, maybe the best reliever in the country in righthander Kevin Kopps and an elite defense.

    Put it all together, and it makes for an impressive all-around team. Arkansas doesn’t have to be perfect to win and has already shown a knack for winning close games. It’s not unbeatable, but it has to be considered the favorite to win its first national championship.


    2. Who is the Player of the Year favorite?

    As May begins, this race is wide open with no shortage of contenders. At this point, it’s the most open the race has been in five years.

    Florida State catcher Mat Nelson (.341/.445/.867) leads the nation with 20 home runs. Louisville catcher Henry Davis (.403/.520/.683, 10 HR) combines impressive offensive numbers with strong defense. Arizona slugger Jacob Berry (.400/.492/.760, 11 HR), Texas Tech second baseman Jace Jung (.362/.477/.717, 15 HR), Notre Dame first baseman Niko Kavadas (.308/.483/.794, 15 HR), East Carolina second baseman Connor Norby (.420/.469/.673, 10 HR) and Eastern Illinois shortstop Trey Sweeny (.399/.523/.736, 12 HR) are all scorching the ball.

    On the pitching side, Vanderbilt’s co-aces Kumar Rocker (10-1, 1.70, 97 K) and Jack Leiter (7-2, 2.10, 106 K) are in the mix. Texas ace Ty Madden (6-2, 2.21, 84 K) belongs in the mix, as does the Mississippi duo of Gunnar Hoglund (4-2, 2.47, 96 K) and Doug Nikhazy (5-2, 2.09, 75 K). Indiana State’s Geremy Guerrero (7-1, 1.56), Louisiana State’s Landon Marceaux (4-4, 2.15, 80 K), South Carolina-Upstate’s Jordan Marks (8-1, 1.54, 83 K), Fordham’s Matt Mikulski (7-0, 1.33, 102 K) and East Carolina’s Gavin Williams (6-0, 1.03, 70 K) have all been excellent as well.

    Then there’s Arkansas relief ace Kevin Kopps (6-0, 0.85, 6 SV, 75 K). It would be unprecedented for a reliever to be named Player of the Year, but he’s thrown enough innings to qualify for the ERA title and currently leads the nation in ERA, so he’s already in uncharted territory.

    In short, there’s no one frontrunner. But, at this stage, the top tier is probably Davis, Leiter, Nelson and Rocker.

    3. How far can ACC darlings Notre Dame and Pittsburgh go?

    There’s a new look to the ACC standings this year, as Notre Dame and Pittsburgh lead the two divisions. Since joining the conference in 2014, both teams have usually finished near the bottom of their divisions—though Notre Dame did finish second in 2015.

    Now, they are in a much different position as the stretch run begins. Notre Dame leads the overall standings by four games and is eyeing its first conference title since 2006, when it was a member of the Big East. The Fighting Irish are also likely to host regionals for the first time since 2001. Pitt is on track to reach the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1995 and could host a regional for the first time ever.

    No matter what happens in the NCAA Tournament, Notre Dame and Pitt will have had successful seasons. But how deep into June can they play?

    Before the season began, I tabbed Notre Dame as my Omaha sleeper. After what it has accomplished so far, there should be no doubt the #OmaIrish can live up to the name. Notre Dame has a Player of the Year candidate in Kavadas anchoring the lineup, an impressively deep, versatile pitching staff and an elite defense (its .985 fielding percentage is second in the nation). The Fighting Irish might be light on postseason experience, but they have everything else you would look for in a College World Series contender.

    Pitt is more difficult to judge because it has missed the last two weeks due to Covid-19 issues. What effect will that have on the Panthers as they return to action this week? They’re on the hosting bubble now and will need to hit the ground running to secure a home regional. At its best, Pitt has proved it can play with any team in the country. It has a veteran lineup led by Nico Popa (.351/.427/.573, 8 HR, 12 SB), a good bullpen and a quality 1-2 punch in its rotation with Mitch Myers (3-4, 3.14) and Matt Gilbertson (5-3, 3.53). Minimally, Pitt is going to be a tough out in the NCAA Tournament. I don’t think it has the depth to fall into the losers’ bracket of a regional and win, or the star power to go on the road to win a super regional, but if it plays its game, it can be competitive in the NCAA Tournament.

    4. Will the Conference USA renaissance continue in the NCAA Tournament?

    Over the last decade, Conference USA has slipped on the diamond, due largely to conference realignment that saw teams like Central Florida and East Carolina leave for the American Athletic Conference. CUSA is this year on track for four NCAA Tournament bids, its most since 2016, and at least one school from the conference figures to host a regional, which last happened in 2017.

    CUSA has come storming back, with Charlotte, Louisiana Tech, Old Dominion and Southern Mississippi all ranked in the Top 25. The challenge now will be carrying that over into the NCAA Tournament.

    Any of the four teams from the conference in position to make the tournament could win a regional, something no CUSA team has done since Rice in 2013. Louisiana Tech would seem to be the most likely to do so—it this season owns wins against Arkansas and Mississippi and its ace Jonathan Fincher makes for a difficult matchup—but none of the other teams should be counted out. Charlotte has impact talent, ODU ranks second in the nation in home runs (74) and slugging percentage (.540) and Southern Miss leads the conference in ERA (3.54).

    At least one CUSA team is expected to be among the 16 regional hosts and any team that doesn’t host will be a dangerous two-seed. With that as an entry point, it’s reasonable to expect to see a CUSA team or two in super regionals.

    5. Can Kumar Rocker and Jack Leiter lead Vanderbilt to a second straight national championship?

    Vanderbilt is still the reigning national champion after the 2020 season was canceled and the Commodores again have a national title contender. They’re led by Rocker and Leiter, the best 1-2 punch in the nation and a pair of likely top-five draft picks in July. A young lineup has developed into a strong offense and the Commodores have a solid defense.

    It feels too simplistic to boil down Vanderbilt’s national championship chances to Rocker and Leiter, but they are the ship’s engine. The Commodores are 18-4 when Rocker and Leiter pitch and 14-6 when they don’t. In SEC play alone, they are 10-4 with their aces on the mound and 4-3 without.

    When Rocker and Leiter are at their best, Vanderbilt is very difficult to beat in college baseball’s typical weekend format. But the Commodores have lost one of their starts in each of the last four series (Georgia, at Tennessee, Mississippi State, at Florida). Twice, Vanderbilt won the rubber game to take the series. Twice, it lost.

    Vanderbilt still has a month to iron out its third-starter situation and its bullpen, as well as further develop its offense, all of which would help make it less dependent on its co-aces. Even right now, however, the Commodores are no-doubt national title contenders. But more so than Arkansas and maybe Mississippi State and Notre Dame, they need to stick to their script against elite competition.

    6. Who is the best of the West?

    The SEC has dominated the sport over the last decade-plus, producing six of the last 11 national champions and half of the teams that have played for the national title since 2008. But typically, if it’s not an SEC team dogpiling in Omaha, it’s been a team from the West Coast. So, who will emerge as the best of the West?

    Evaluating the West Coast teams this season has been a challenge. With very few exceptions, teams west of the Rockies stayed west of the Rockies in non-conference play. The result is something close to a closed system, where teams from the Pac-12, Big West, West Coast Conference, Mountain West and Western Athletic Conference largely only played each other. So, it has taken a longer time than in other parts of the country for the cream to rise to the top.

    As we enter the season’s final month, that’s finally happening. Arizona (31-11, 15-6) has the best offense in the nation and has opened a two-game lead in the Pac-12 standings. It plays a critical series this weekend at second-place Stanford (24-9, 10-5). If the Wildcats can win the series, they would be on track for their first conference title since 2012.

    Beyond Arizona, other Omaha contenders are Stanford, Oregon and UCLA. UC Irvine and UC Santa Barbara, the top two teams in the Big West, cannot be counted out. Gonzaga leads the WCC and has a series win at Texas Christian to its credit but is in the midst of a two-week pause due to Covid-19 issues. How the layoff affects the Zags is something to watch.

    7. Who are the potential Cinderellas?

    One of the joys of college baseball is watching teams from smaller conferences hang with—and beat—power-conference competition during the NCAA Tournament. This year again figures to have plenty of candidates for the glass slipper. That’s especially true because so many teams are more veteran-heavy this year—often a common denominator for Cinderellas—as a result of the shortened draft and eligibility relief granted due to last year’s canceled season.

    The Conference USA teams already mentioned are too good to be labeled Cinderellas, but it should be noted that with the exception of Southern Miss, none of them have much NCAA Tournament history and advancing past regionals would be significant for them. The same can be said of Pitt.

    Beyond those teams, however, Fairfield (28-1) stands out. The Stags are playing a conference-only schedule in the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference and started the season with 26 straight wins before Siena snapped that streak last weekend. It’s hard to get a read on exactly how good they are because they have played no non-conference games, but they’re by far the best team in the conference and are a story to watch down the stretch.

    South Carolina-Upstate (30-9) has a strong pitching staff and has picked up some impressive wins already. Liberty (30-11) is battle-tested, having played a very difficult non-conference schedule, and has a veteran roster that will be a tough out. Ball State (28-12) and Central Michigan (28-11) are duking it out for the Mid-American Conference title and both have veteran rosters with strong pitching staffs. Both could be capable of big upsets.
     
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  43. Boo MFer!

    Boo MFer! Better than Burrow last year good.
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    Figured as much. Talented family.
     
  44. TC

    TC It’s a lawless nation for the flamingo
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    This is the Junger
     
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  45. Owsley

    Owsley My friends call me Bear
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    I’m going to be salty as fuck if we get left out, assuming we don’t go 0fer in conference to end the season.
     
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  46. Daddy Rabbit

    Daddy Rabbit But the second mouse gets the cheese
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  47. Boo MFer!

    Boo MFer! Better than Burrow last year good.
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    2D93736F-3E8B-4233-BA04-AF219FBDD720.gif
     
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  48. FadeMe

    FadeMe Well-Known Member
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    Yeah, it's really weird to see them punishing the SEC because there are 5-6 dominant teams in the league this year. IMO if you took the teams 8-12 in the SEC right now and put them in any other conference, they'd perform pretty well. After the SECT, I think the number of SEC teams in will increase to nine. I just don't see 10 or 11 getting in this year. I think UGA and Bama ultimately get in, but Bama, UGA, and UK all have really tough closing schedules in these last three series. One of those teams will solidify themselves in a regional, one will be on the fence going into the SECT, and one will play its way out. It will also be interesting to see if LSU can make a mad dash late to get in. With a 23 RPI and series with Auburn, Bama, and aTm left, if they go 6-3 in that stretch and win their first SECT game, I think they have a good chance of getting in. There's a really, really narrow path for Auburn because they get a pretty favorable schedule down the stretch (LSU, aTm, at Mizzou) and because they're sitting on an extra SEC win from Round Rock, but it would probably require winning at least 7 of the last 9 and winning a couple games in the SECT. I just don't think we have the pitching for that kind of run. Don't see much of a path at all for aTm or Mizzou with the schedule they have remaining and their current RPI.
     
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  49. Cornelius Suttree

    Cornelius Suttree I am a landmine
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  50. JGator1

    JGator1 I'm the Michael Jordan of the industry
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    Kentucky up 4-0 through 5

    This team is so frustrating and having a midweek game when you start an SEC series on a Thursday is fucking stupid.
     
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