College Baseball 360 Fall Notebook #12

November 30, 2010

By Editor Sean Stires

Go East Horned Frogs…

Jim Schlossnagle

The news of the week is, obviously, TCU’s announcement that the school plans to join the Big East Conference. The move won’t take place until the 2012-2013 academic year, so Jim Schlossnagle’s baseball team still has two more seasons left to play in the Mountain West Conference. Football is the driving factor in the decision, but from a baseball standpoint the Horned Frogs immediately join Louisville as a power in their new conference. The biggest immediate impact the move will have on TCU is more travel in conference play. Not only is TCU located geographically farther from most of the current Big East baseball playing schools, but there are also more conference opponents to play. The MWC currently has seven baseball schools, while the Big East has 12. I’ll go out on a limb and say Schlossnagle won’t love the trade-off of the trip to San Diego State for Connecticut or New Jersey. We will have a more detailed look at the impact conference shuffling will have on college baseball conferences in the very near future.

College Baseball Goes Primetime…

If not for the TCU announcement, the biggest college baseball news of the last week would likely be the announcement that ESPNU will televise an SEC Baseball Thursday night “national game of the week” during the 2011 season. Defending national champion South Carolina kicks-off the broadcast schedule on April 7 when it travels to Tennessee. This probably won’t make people on the west coast or in other big conferences overly happy, but it’s a big step for college baseball. Like it or not, SEC baseball puts butts in the seats, so it makes sense to start a national broadcast venture with the conference that generates the most revenue. Thursday night broadcasts should also give college baseball optimal exposure. Thursdays are typically Major League Baseball “getaway days”, meaning there are more afternoon games being played at MLB ballparks on those days. That also means the college games on ESPNU will have less competition when trying to draw-in the casual college baseball fan for the 7:30 pm ET broadcasts. Hopefully, bigger ratings numbers now for the SEC games will lead to more opportunities for ACC, Big 12 and Pac 10 teams to get more regular season exposure in the future.

How About A Side Of Garrido…

Augie Garrido

Preseason dinners have become a fundraising tradition for college baseball teams around the country. Many teams have been able to sell tickets to a dinner that features a prominent alum or notable MLB player or manager to help their under funded programs, but here’s one I haven’t seen before. Sacramento State won’t have a Big League manager like Bruce Bochy or a current player like Dallas Braden. Instead, Reggie Christianson’ s Hornet Baseball Diamond Dinner fill feature arguably the biggest name in college baseball-Augie Garrido. The Texas head coach will be the keynote speaker for the January 7, 2011 event. Only 500 tickets to the dinner will be sold. December 29 in the deadline to RSVP.

Three ‘Lopes To Lobos…

Last week we had a note about three high school teammates from Lake Wales, FL who had all signed Division One letters of intent to play baseball in the SEC. Now how about three junior college teammates who have all signed to play at the same Division One school. Lamar (Colorado) Community College pitchers Brandon Ward-Hersee, Shane Zaruba and Arturo Maltos-Garcia have all signed to play for Ray Birmingham at New Mexico next year. The trio combined to go 18-4 for Scott Crampton’s Runnin’ ‘Lopes last year, while Ward-Hersee set a new NJCAA record with 25 saves. LCC is the same school that sent Willy Kesler to New Mexico after the 2007 season. Kesler led the Lobos with six wins and three complete games last year to help UNM end a 48-year NCAA Tournament drought.

Keep Cleaning House…

We found a couple more college baseball renovation projects to report this week. Duke has installed Astro Turf GameDay Grass at the nearly 80-year old Jack Coombs Field. New lighting and fencing was installed at the park as well. The team practiced on the new surface for the first time just before Thanksgiving. Duke will continue to use Jack Coombs for midweek games in 2011 and play weekend games at the Durham Bulls Athletic Park. Meanwhile, Eastern Kentucky has made nearly $100,000 in renovations to Turkey Hughes Field. The outfield was graded and sodded, while a brick wall was extended to fully enclose the outfield. Synthetic turf was installed on the infield of the facility last year.

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