Florida sophomore shortstop/leadoff batter Nolan Fontana (Winter Garden, Fla.) and Texas A&M junior righthander Ross Stripling (Southlake, Texas) headline the CB360 week-5 Primetime Performers for Division I baseball (March 14-20). front-page photo courtesy of Florida
Fontana is the the Primetime Player of the Week and Stripling the Primetime Pitcher for the week of March 14-20, as selected by CollegeBaseball360.com. Seven other players round out the week-5 Primetime Performers Weekly Honor Roll (listed below).
Fontana was a consistent but somewhat subtle factor behind top-ranked Florida’s impressive week that included a 5-4, 10-inning win over cb360 #3 Florida State (avenging a loss two weeks earlier) and then a sweep at #7 LSU (5-4, 1-0, 7-3; Gators’ first-ever sweep of the Tigers). Over the course of those four games, the Gators leadoff reached base on half of his plate appearances (10-of-20; hit 5-for-15 with 5 walks), factored into five of his team’s runs (3 RBI, 2 R) and played error-free (12 fielding chances) during the tension-packed week.
In addition to the quantity of his effective plate appearance during the week, the 5-11, 190-pound lefthander hitter also had several clutch plays that helped deliver narrow victories (it’s not often you see a player hit two triples in the same week … but that’s another highlight of Fontana’s six-day stretch).
In the showdown with in-state rival Florida State (the teams entered that Tuesday game with a 29-3 combined record), Fontana reached base three times (3B, 2 BB) and scored the winning run. With one out in the bottom of the 10th, the game suddenly was on the brink of ending when Fontana sent a 1-2 pitch from RHP Mike McGee down the rightfield line. Daniel Pigott followed with a single into center field, ending the game for the excited McKethan Stadium faithful.
Three days later, a raucous Alex Box Stadium crowd of 12,000-plus was sensing victory, with LSU leading 3-2 entering the 9th. Mike Zunino’s 1-out home run tied the game, but it was Fontana who had the eventual winning hit (vs. closer Matty Ott), pulling a bases-loaded, full-count pitch through the right side of the infield for a 2-run single that scored Kamm Washington and Josh Adams. It was only the third time in 11 visits to Baton Rouge that Florida has won the first game of the series.
More drama was awaiting in the game-2 pitchers duel. Fontana (who struck out only twice all week) opened the game with a full-count walk vs. RHP Kevin Gausman and motored around to score on Pigott’s double – accounting for the only scoring in that thriller. It marked the first time that the Tigers have been shut out at the new Alex Box Stadium and is only the second time that the Gators have held LSU scoreless..
Fontana then went 2-for-4 with another base-on-balls in the series finale (he also had a walk in the opener). The speedster capped Florida’s 5-run 4th with a 2-out, RBI triple into the right-center gap – breaking a 3-3 tie and sending the Gators onto the historic sweep (the win also gave Florida a lofty 18-2 record on the 20-game mark).
Stripling posted two wins versus nationally-ranked opponents during the past week, helping lift A&M to #8 in the CB360 Composite National Rankings. The 6-3, 190-pound righthander totaled 12 strikeouts in his 13 combined innings during the week, allowing only two runs (1.38 ERA) on 10 hits and two walks.
The impressive week began with a Tuesday showdown against Cal State Fullerton (cb360 #11), as Stripling put together seven shutout innings that included five Ks, three hits allowed and a pair of walks in a tense 2-0 victory. Five days later, Stripling returned to the mound and delivered the series-clinching win at #4 Oklahoma (one of the nation’s top offensive squads). The Sooners managed to scratch across a pair of runs, but Stripling picked up the huge win with six solid innings (7 H, no walks, 7 Ks).
Striping has fashioned a 0.96 ERA and 4-1 record this season, adding a team-best three saves among his 10 appearances.
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 and/or individual). • Any accomplishment that is rare, historic, record-setting, etc., on a national level.
Note – CB360 is planning to post additional information and photos to this release (check back later for full Primetime tribute page).
CB360 PRIMETIME PERFORMERS WEEKLY HONOR ROLL #5
(week of March 14-20, 2011 … presented by CollegeBaseball360.com)
“It’s not so much what you do, as it is when you do it.”
Greg Annarummo (Rhode Island … LF … Sr./Jr. … Lincoln, RI … 6-0/200 … Bats: R … 6-hole/cleanup… #23)
*Nolan Fontana (Florida … SS … So. … Winter Garden, FL … 5-11/190 … Bats: L … leadoff … #4)
Aaron Gates (Pepperdine … LHP … Jr … Villa Park, CA … 6-1/205 … Bats: L … #2)
John Hicks (Virginia … C/RF … Jr. … Sandy Hook, VA … 6-2/205 … Bats: R … 3-hole … #8)
John McCambridge (Xaver … CF … Sr. … Columbus, OH … 6-2/210 … Bats: R .. leadoff … #4)
Casey McElroy (Auburn … SS … Jr. … Orlando. FL … 6-8/180 … Bats: L … 3-hole … #23)
Jared Stafford (Dallas Baptist … RHP … Sr. … Keller, TX … 5-11/190 … #18)
*Ross Stripling (Texas A&M … RHP … Jr. … Southlake, TX … 6-3/190 … #36)
Andre Wheeler (Texas Tech … LF … Fr. … Austin, TX … 6-0/175 … Bats: L … 8-hole … #36)
* Fontana is the CB360 Primetime Player of the Week and Stripling the Primetime Pitcher of the Week