A big early April weekend of college baseball is in the books, so consider this your look back at some great action. The April 8-10 weekend saw some great baseball played around the country.
Going back to April 7, it was also the debut of Thursday Night college baseball on ESPNU. Not only was there South Carolina vs. Tennessee baseball on The U Thursday night, but there was also Arkansas vs. LSU Saturday night (drama) and Cal State Fullerton vs. UC Irvine on Sunday (not as much drama, but still good baseball).
The weekend’s action included 39 series that featured College Baseball 360 Top-50 teams, with 12 of those series being won by the lower-ranked/unranked teams. Sunday’s games alone had 41 total games involving top-50 teams, with the higher-ranked teams winning 61% of those games (25-16). In fact, less than one-third of the weekend’s series involving CB360 top-50 teams (12 of 39) resulted in sweeps.
Here’s a look back at some of the Top 50 highlights:
Big, Bad Beavers…
#19 Oregon State made history by sweeping #5 Arizona State in Corvallis over the weekend. It’s OSU’s first sweep of the Sun Devils at home and also marks its first sweep of ASU since 1966. Arizona State (22-9, 5-4) had not been swept in Pac-10 play since 1999.
Oregon State’s Ryan Dunn batted in the 8-hole for the Beavers (24-7, 5-1) all weekend. The shortstop batted 6-for-11 with three doubles, a home run and six RBIs. He helped OSU’s 6-9 batters go 22-for-42 (.523) over the three games, with 12 RBIs and 15 runs. Oregon State’s 24-7 start is the program’s best since its 2007 national championship season. 7,751 fans saw the three games at OSU’s Goss Stadium.
Cavs Cooled…A Little…
Virginia had its 12-game winning streak snapped when it lost 10-8 at Georgia Tech Sunday, but the Cavs still took two of three games from the Yellow Jackets in the big ACC series. Saturday’s 12-9 UVA win to clinch the series extended Virginia’s school record road winning streak to 11 games.
No surprise, Cavalier ace Danny Hultzen (7-0, 1.33 ERA) fanned 12 with just one walk in 8.0 IP in Friday’s 6-2 Virginia win. Hultzen is second in the nation with 90 strikeouts in 54 1/3 IP this season.
Virginia (31-3, 13-2) roughed-up Georgia Tech starters Mark Pope and Jed Bradley in the first two games. The duo combined to give-up 11 runs on 15 hits in 12 1/3 IP on Friday and Saturday. Virginia has won all five of its ACC series this season, including three on the road. It’s only other ACC loss also came on Sunday against Florida State.
Jake Davies was 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs to lead the Yellow Jackets to Sunday’s win. Georgia Tech (24-9, 12-3) suffered its first ACC series loss of the season. Buck Farmer earned his sixth straight win for GT, despite giving-up seven runs (four earned) in 7.0 innings on Sunday.
Woo Pig Sooie…
Arkansas swept LSU in their 3-game SEC series in Fayetteville and if you were lucky enough to see any of the action you saw some great baseball. The Razorbacks won each of the last two games of the series in walk-off fashion. Saturday night’s game on ESPNU ended on James McCann’s 3-run home run that gave the Razorbacks a 4-3 win in front of a record 11,103 delirious fans. LSU, after going scoreless over the first 17 innings of the series, had scored three runs in the top of the 9th before McCann’s shot in the bottom of the inning.
Sunday’s game ended on Kyle Robinson’s sac fly to centerfield to score Bo Bigham for a 5-4 win and the series sweep. It’s just the third time Arkansas (23-8, 6-6) has swept LSU since joining the SEC in 1992. The Razorbacks are now a game behind Alabama in the SEC West. LSU (21-11, 3-9) has won just one of its four SEC series this season. Austin Nola’s 6th inning grand slam gave the Tigers their four runs. 28,657 fans packed Baum Stadium for the 3-game set.
Sooner Pain, Cowboys Gain…
Oklahoma State continues to make some noise in the Big 12 after a 3-game sweep of Missouri. The Cowboys’ 7-3 win over the Tigers on Sunday gives the program its first conference series sweep since April 27, 2008.
OSU (24-8, 8-4) are in third place in the Big 12 standings, behind Texas and Texas A&M. The Cowboys finished last season with a 29-26 overall record, including just 8-19 in conference play.
Meanwhile, Oklahoma (24-8, 6-5) dropped two of three games at Kansas State. The series loss is the second for the Sooners in Big 12 play this season, to equal their total from all of last year’s College World Series team. It’s a big series win for K-State (18-12, 4-8), which takes a series from OU for the first time in 10 years and earns its first conference series win of 2011.
Three California schools, Cal, Stanford and Fresno State, all suffered series upsets over the weekend. Maybe #18 Cal was breathing a sigh of relief after finding out the program had been spared the ax prior to its series at Arizona, but the Golden Bears lost two of three in Tucson to the Wildcats. Cal’s Justin Jones was tagged for 7 ER in 4 1/3 IP in Sunday’s 10-8 loss. Golden Bear Erik Johnson and Wildcat Kurt Heyer each fanned 11 in the series-opener, but neither earned a decision as Arizona scored three in the bottom of the 9th to win 5-4. Arizona pounded-out 40 hits in the series.
#10 Fresno State didn’t lose its series, but that’s due in part to the fact that the WAC plays 4-game conference series. The Bulldogs (22-5, 2-2) dropped two of its first three games at #50 San Jose State (21-11, 2-2) and then pulled-out a 5-3 win in Sunday’s finale to settle for the tie. Last year’s DI home run leader, Jordan Ribera, hit a three-run homer to break out of a season-long swoon, while closer Charlie Robertson earned his 10th save of ’11. Ribera is still batting just .223 with 2 HR and 11 RBIs after belting 27 HR with 69 RBIs last year.
#14 Stanford dropped two of three in its series at USC as well. The Cardinal (15-9, 3-3) has played five of its first six weekend series on the road against the likes of Vanderbilt, Rice, and Texas. They host the aforementioned red hot Oregon State Beavers next weekend. The series win was the first for the Trojans (13-19, 4-5) in their last five series vs. Stanford. Logan Odom tossed 7.0 scoreless innings in Sunday’s 6-2 series clincher. All three of his wins this year have come over ranked teams.
Tallahassee Tar Heels…
#8 North Carolina (29-5, 12-3) did something this weekend that it hadn’t done in 16 years-win a series against #7 Florida State (23-9. 9-6) in Tallahassee. The Tar Heels won 7-6 in Sunday’s series finale to end the Seminoles’ streak of 25 straight Sunday wins. UNC reliever Michael Morin earned saves Saturday and Sunday after relief stints of 1.0 and 3.0 innings, respectively.
Michigan State made history after sweeping reigning Big Ten champion Minnesota for the first time ever. The MSU-Minnesota series dates all the back to 1925, and it also marks the first time the Spartans (20-7, 5-1) took back-to-back series against the Golden Gophers (10-12, 2-4) after taking two of three at Minnesota last year. Brandon Eckerle leads a Spartan offense that’s batting .316 with a .439 average. First baseman Jeff Holm is the top run-producer with a .398 average, 4 HR, 29 RBIs, 13 stolen bases, and an 1.102 OPS. The Michigan State pitching staff sports a 2.70 ERA. Starters Kurt Wunderlich and Tony Bucciferro are each 6-1.
(Front page photo courtesy Arkansas.)