College Baseball 360 Fall Notebook #13

December 6, 2010

By Editor Sean Stires

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It’s starting to look more and more like winter in most parts of the country, but since the calender still officially says it’s fall we’ll continue with our latest Fall Notebook…

UCSD head coach Dan O'Brien (jacket) and his Tritons could be headed to the Big West.

A Big West Boom?

We started last week’s Notebook with the news that TCU was headed to the Big East Conference. This week we start with news that Hawaii, Cal State Bakersfield and UC San Diego have each applied for membership in the Big West Conference. Hawaii plans to join the Mountain West Conference for football, but the rest of its sports would join the Big West if membership goes through. The Big West would make travel much easier for Hawaii’s non-revenue sports since all nine current Big West teams are located in California.

Keep in mind, it’s UC San Diego – as in the Tritons -  not the University of San Diego – as in the Toreros – that wants to join the Big West. Dan O’Brien’s Tritons were the Division II national runner-ups this past season after advancing to the D II national semifinals in 2009. This year’s team won a school record 54 games with a record low eight losses. They would obviously have to make the move to Division One though to join the Big West.

CS Bakersfield, coached by Bill Kernen, just began playing college baseball in 2009 as part of the school’s transition to Division One. The Roadrunners won 13 games in 2009 and doubled that to 26 victories last season.

The Big West had put a moratorium on conference expansion back in 2005, but it just ended that ban last month.

The Call Of The Hall…

1988 NCAA Player of the Year John Olerud (courtesy Washington State)

He’s a long shot for induction, but former Washington State star John Olerud is on the Baseball Writers’ Association of America Hall of Fame ballot for the first time. The 17-year MLB vet was the 1988 college baseball Player of the Year. He was 15-0 with a 2.49 ERA on the mound that year, while also batting .464 with 23 home runs and 81 RBIs. Olerud was an integral member of the Toronto Blue Jays‘ World Series winning teams in 1992 and ’93, but his 2,239 career hits and 255 home runs are far from HOF benchmark numbers.

Other former college players in this year’s Hall of Fame ballot are: Mark McGwire (USC), Bret Boone (USC), Barry Larkin (Michigan), Bobby Higginson (Temple), Rafael Palmeiro (Mississippi State), Charles Johnson (Miami), Tino Martinez (Tampa), Kirk Rueter (Murray State), John Franco (St. John’s), and B.J. Surhoff (North Carolina). Franco tossed a pair of no-hitters during his freshman year at St. John’s. Surhoff was the National Player of the Year in 1985. He was inducted into the College Baseball Hall of Fame earlier this year.

The results of HOF voting will be announced on January 11, 2011. The induction ceremony is July 24 in Cooperstown, NY.

Tigers Get Their Rings…

The Clemson baseball team recently received its 2010 College World Series rings. Jack Leggett’s squad received its hardware before last week’s Clemson-Michigan basketball game at Littlejohn Coliseum. Clemson finished 2010 with a 45-25 record after making its 12th trip to Omaha. CLICK HERE to see the video.

The Scouts Like Nino…

Nino Girratano

The Northern California Scouts Association has named University of San Francisco head coach Nino Giarratano its four-year college baseball Coach of the Year. The NCSA is comprised of at least 70 scouts who work for the 30 MLB clubs. Of Giarratano, Florida Marlins scout John Hughes said “He does such a great job at USF and his coaching staff does a great job overall. They do more than coach baseball at USF — they develop kids into great people. Nino is cooperative and communicates well with Major League Baseball scouts so that he can do what’s best for his players.” Giarratano was the USA Baseball Collegiate National Team head coach this past summer.

Two-Sport Playoff Push…

If you saw our latest Two-Sport Report last week, you know that several college baseball players who also play football were involved in the FCS (formerly I-AA) playoffs last week. In a head to head match-up, Landon Bennett (punter) and Wofford knocked Jacksonville State and freshman QB Coty Blanchard out of the playoffs with a 17-14 win. Wofford now takes on Georgia Southern.

Defending FCS national champion Villanova beat Stephen F. Austin 54-24 to advance to the FCS quarterfinals and the Wildcats have three baseball/football players. Matt Szczur (signed with the Chicago Cubs last summer) scored a touchdown, while Marlon Calbi threw a TD pass. Villanova next faces Appalachian State.

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