A Look At Some Movement From Opening Weekend Action
It’s only one weekend, but there were plenty of statements made over the course of the season’s first three days. Granted, the trends are a little skewed right now, since everything is based on mostly head-to-head match-ups, but we’ll do this every week throughout the season. Here are three teams whose stock is up and three whose stock is down after opening weekend:
New Mexico: Ray Birmingham’s Lobos did the nearly unthinkable when they went to Disch-Falk Stadium in Austin and took two of three games from top-ranked Texas. Both teams stranded a lot of runners, but the Lobos out-pitched the team with last year’s second best ERA (2.95) by compiling a 1.73 ERA compared to 2.67 for the Longhorns. The biggest difference was the late innings where New Mexico outscored Texas 6-1 in the series from the 6th-9th innings. The Lobos now find themselves in the national polls the earliest in program history. Last year’s #21 Baseball America ranking on March 23 was the previous earliest national ranking.
Oregon: Did the stars align for George Horton’s Ducks, or are they that good? Horton returned to the place where he won the 2004 National Championship and six College World Series berths and beat his former team, Cal State Fullerton, 7-3 on opening night. They’re off to a 3-1 start after wins over Long Beach State and Loyola Marymount along with an 11-7 loss to Pepperdine. Not bad for a team that won just 14 games in its first season of DI baseball since 1981 last year. The opening night win also snapped a 13-game losing streak that ended the 2009 campaign. Before anyone gets too excited though remember this: Oregon won its season opener and then took 2 of 3 games from defending National Champion Fresno State last year. They were 8-8 in their first 16 games only to win just 6 more times after March 15th. Their stock is up now, but wait and see might be the better approach for now where the Ducks are concerned.
Stanford: Stanford missed the NCAA Tournament in 2009, but made a big splash to start the 2010 campaign with a 3-game sweep of #5 Rice at Sunken Diamond. The biggest question for the Cardinal coming into the season appeared to be offense, but that question was answered at least for a week. Eleven different batters had at least one RBI over the weekend as Stanford outhit the Owls .327 to .233. Mark Marquess will find out a lot more about his team this weekend when they go to Austin for a 3-game set with Texas.
Texas: After a National Runner-Up finish last year Augie Garrido’s Longhorns were the consensus number one team entering the season. Texas opened 2009 with 11 straight wins and didn’t lose a home game until March 14. In fact, the Longhorns only suffered six setbacks at Disch-Falk Stadium all of last year. However, they dropped 2 of 3 games at home to New Mexico last weekend to unanimously fall from the top spot in each of this week’s rankings. Stat of the weekend: 19 combined runners left on base in their 6-5 & 3-1 losses. All the key parts are there, it’s just a matter of getting them in-synch. Texas hosts a hot Stanford team this weekend.
Rice: Credit Wayne Graham for going to California to start the season for a second straight year, but he and his Owls took 3 on the chin while being swept at Stanford. Rice hit just .233 as a team, but the 9.49 staff ERA along with 19 walks and 23 strikeouts in 24 2/3 IP have to be the most concerning stats from the weekend.. The longest outing by a Rice starter was 3 1/3 innings pitched by Jared Rogers in Saturday’s 14-5 loss (Stanford exploded for 11 runs in the 7th inning). To make matters worse, the Owls lost their home opener to Lamar 13-7 Wednesday night to fall to 0-4. Rice can point to the fact that his team bounced-back nicely after losing 2 of 3 games at Cal Poly to open last season. The Owls host Elon, Nebraska and Texas A&M Corpus Christi this weekend.
Cal State Fullerton: Dave Serrano’s Titans followed their season opening 7-3 loss to Oregon with a 6-0 setback to Pepperdine before beating Long Beach State 8-1 for their first win of the season. Fullerton hit just .240 in their three games, with the trio of Gary Brown, Billy Marcoe and Christian Colon combining for 12 of the team’s 23 hits. Meanwhile, starting pitchers Daniel Renken and Noe Ramirez yielded 7 earned runs in 11 2/3 combined IP. A 3-game home series with 2009 Super Regional team TCU is one of this weekend’s more intriguing match-ups.