Arkansas-Little Rock junior shortstop/leadoff batter Greg Garcia (Pflugerville, Texas) and Georgia Southern sophomore ace pitcher Chris Beck (Jefferson, Ga.) rose to the challenge during their respective conference tournaments, ultimately leading their teams to NCAA automatic bids in thrilling fashion to earn top billing on the CB360 week-15 Primetime Performers Honor Roll (for May 23-29, 2011), as selected by CollegeBaseball360.com. front-page photo courtesy of Arkansas-Little Rock
Garcia is the CB360 Primetime Player of the Week and Beck the Primetime Pitcher, with nine other players (listed below) joining them on the week-15 Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll.
GARCIA set the table throughout the Sun Belt Tournament, as 8th-seeded UALR (which won only 20 games in the regular season) swept its three pool-play games – 4-2 vs. cb360 #27 Troy, 9-5 vs. Western Kentucky and 5-3 vs. #48 Florida Atlantic – before holding off #24 Florida International in the 7-6 title game.
Over the course of the four tournament games, Garcia reached base 10 times (7-for-15, 2 BB, HBP) and scored a team-best seven runs, adding three RBI, a key home run, a sacrifice bunt and a pair of stolen bases. The shortstop also played error-free in the field, converting all 16 of his chances.
In the opening win over top-seeded Troy, the 6-foot-1/190-pound Garcia had an early solo home run before playing a lead role in UALR’s 10th-inning rally, with a 2-out RBI single to right field and ensuing run scored as the Trojans emerged with the 4-2 win. He returned the next day to bat 3-for-5 and factor into three of his team’s runs (RBI-2R), as the Trojans clinched a spot in the Sun Belt title game following the win over WKU.
Despite not having to win the third game, Little Rock handed NCAA hopeful FAU a costly loss, with Garcia contributing a single and run scored. In the title matchup vs. #2 seed FIU – one of the hottest teams in the nation – Garcia reached base four times (1-for-2, 2 BB, HB), stole a base and scored twice in the historic victory that sent UALR to the NCAAs for the first time in the program’s history.
BECK won both of his starts – 4-2 vs. College of Charleston and 1-0 vs. #3 seed Samford – while allowing only one run and striking out 22 batters in 17 total innings (8H-2BB-HB), as the 4th-seeded Eagles soared to the Southern Conference Tournament title. The 6-3, 200-pound righthander faced only 63 batters spanning the 17 innings (3.7 batters per innings), with an impressively low 5.3 WHIP (walks+hits per 9 IP) while limiting opposing hitters to a .131 batting average during the tournament.
Georgia Southern drew the final game of the opening day of the SoCon Tournament … but game-4 actually was played on a different day than the first three, as the game-3 marathon (#8 seed Western Carolina ipset #1 Elon) ended up being a 20-inning marathon that pushed the GS-vs.-Charleston start time to 12:30 a.m. (the game ended at 3:01 in the morning).
Despite the late (or “early”) start, Beck struck out the side three times en route to a career-high 13 Ks, allowing one earned run and one unearned run on five hits, a pair of walks and a hit batter in eight full innings versus the Cougars.
Four days later, Beck returned to the mound knowing that his team’s only route to the NCAAs was the title-game win and corresponding automatic bid. His teammates scored only one run – courtesy of a 3rd-inning wild pitch – but that’s all they would need, as Beck sparkled in a 3-hit/9-K shutout (his 22 total Ks set a SoCon Tournament record).
Beck faced only 31 Samford batters (four above the minimum) in the title showdown, with only one Bulldogs runner reaching second base – after a pair of 1-out errors. Samford’s first hit earlier had come on a Kevin Putkonen single with 2-outs in the 2nd inning, but Beck popped up Brandon Powell for the third out. One inning later, a dropped fly and fielding error put two runners aboard for the Bulldogs – but Brad Moss lined out to first base for a stunning double play.
Moss was the next Samford batter to reach, on a 2-out single in the 6th, but Saxon Butler fouled out to the catcher as the Eagles were nine outs from the NCAAs. Beck then retired eight straight before Butler singled into the right-center gap – only to see Beck blow strike three past Brandon Miller, ending the game and the tournament.
Primetime Performer Award Criteria (not based solely on raw stats, but rather …)
• Must have been playing for or against a CB360 top-50 team (in the Composite National Rankings) or performed a high level in games that could be key to a team’s conference/NCAA postseason qualification; made significant contribution to team’s postseason positioning (single-game wins, “quality” wins, series wins, road wins, etc.).
• Involved in clutch performances, such as late game-winning hits, noteworthy comebacks, game-changing plays, team leadership, key defensive efforts, etc.
• Performed at a top level against a team rated highly nationally (or within its conference), with bonus consideration given for key performances away from home field and vs. traditional rivals.
• Overcame adversity or extreme circumstances (for the team or individual).
• Any accomplishment that is rare, historic, record-setting, etc., on a national level.
Note – headshots of all honorees to be added to this release later, time permitting
CB360 PRIMETIME PERFORMERS WEEKLY HONOR ROLL #15
(week of May 23-29, 2011 … presented by CollegeBaseball360.com)
“It’s not so much what you do, as it is when you do it.”
*Chris Beck (Georgia Southern … RHP … So. … Jefferson, GA … 6-3/220 … #25)
… Won both of his starts – 4-2 vs. College of Charleston and 1-0 vs. #3 seed Samford – while allowing only one earned run (plus one unearned) and striking out 22 batters in 17 total innings (8H-2BB), as 4th-seeded Eagles soared to SoCon Tournament title (3-hit shutout in tight title game vs. Bullogs, w/ 9 Ks)
Luke Campbell (New Mexico … LF … Jr. … Arvada, CO … 6-0/195 … cleanup … Bats: R … #18)
Zach Cone (Georgia … LF … Jr. … Stone Mountain, GA … 6-2/200 … cleanup … Bats: R … #12)
… Hit 5-for-12 and factored into 7 of team’s 11 runs, in key 3-game stretch (3-2 vs. #44 Auburn/4-2 vs. #2 South Carolina/4-2 vs. #3 Florida) as UGa rallied to become NCAA tournament-eligible and ultimately earn bid; had key 2-out, RBI triple to spark win over Gators
Joe DiRocco (Seton Hall … RHP … Sr. … 6-1/200 … East Hanover, NJ … #18)
… Pirates ace who won 10-4 BIG EAST Tournament opener vs. #4 seed West Virginia (7IP-3R-9H-2BB-3K) and returned as starter four days later to beat #2 seed St. John’s in 4-2 title game (6IP-R-6H-2BB-4K), as 5th-seeded SHU won all four of its tourney games en route to earning NCAA berth
*Greg Garcia (Ark.-Little Rock … SS … Jr. … Pflugerville, TX … 6-1/190 … leadoff … Bats: R … #19)
… Set the table with 10 times on base (7-for-15; 2BB-HBP) and seven runs scored, as #8 seed UALR won all four of its Sun Belt Tournament games – vs. #27 Troy (4-2), Western Kentucky (9-5), #48 Florida Atlantic (5-3) & #24 FIU (7-6) – to reach the NCAAs with only 24 total wins; played error-free (16 chances), adding three RBI, a home run, two stolen bases and a sacrifice bunt
… Reached base nine times (6-for-16; 3BB) and factored into 10 of team’s runs (5RBI-7R-2HR), as 6th-seeded Bruins rattled off wins over #26 Stetson (15-13), Kennesaw St. (4-1) & Mercer (6-4/9-7) to reach NCAAs; his strong all-around A-Sun Tournament included 13 total bases (2B), a pair of SBs (26 for season) and sac.-fly; could finish season with 10+ HR (11) & 30+ SBs
… Hit 7-for-13 (BB, SAC) and factored into 7 of team’s runs (4RBI-4R-HR), during key week that included 3-1 win over NCAA hopeful CS Bakersfield and series triumph in WCC showdown at Gonzaga (3-1/5-7/4-2)
Anthony Meo (Coastal Carolina … RHP … Jr. … Cranston, RI … 6-2/195 … #13)
… Retired first 16 batters he faced en route to tossing first no-hitter in Big South Tournament history (5-0 vs. Radford; BB-9K-30BF) – as Chants went on to win tourney & clinch NCAA berth
… Helped lift #8-seeded Tigers to within one strike of winning Big 12 Tournament, highlighted by pair of wins over cb360 #6 Texas (6-4/2-1) and 6-5 game vs. #35 Oklahoma State; reached base 10 times (6H-3BB-HBP), factored into 11 runs (8RBI-3R) and doubled four times during tournament run
… Handed league rival Long Beach State the first no-hit loss in its program history, with that 2-0 series-opening win helping Irvine solidify its NCAA Tournament spot; faced only 28 batter in 105-pitch outing (BB-HB; DP)
* Garcia is the CB360 Primetime Player of the Week and Beck the Primetime Pitcher … all rankings listed above refer to the CB360 Composite National Rankings.
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