Omaha 8 College Baseball Power Rankings
Hogs, Vols & Gators Combine For Impressive 13-0 Week
The second week of the college baseball season provided us with an opportunity to see a lot of good-on-good competition, only in Round Rock, but across the country — namely, as Florida and Miami went toe-to-toe in a three-game set.
The second week of the college baseball season provided us with an opportunity to see a lot of good-on-good competition, not only in Round Rock, but across the country — namely, as Florida and Miami went toe-to-toe in a three-game set.
This week will be more of the same, particularly with the Frisco and Shriners College Classics on deck.
That’s great news for those of us looking to adjust our brains from what we thought we’d see from the nation’s top programs to what we’re actually seeing — and what we’re actually seeing is that the SEC is, once again, ridiculously stacked, while programs like Texas Tech and UCLA have, in fact, re-loaded plenty well enough to have their targets locked on Omaha.
With about 14 percent of the season now in the books, here’s where we’d put our fun money if the NCAA Tournament started today.
Last Week: 4-0
Arkansas has been the most complete team in the country through two weeks — albeit against Eastern Illinois last week. A four-game sweep over anyone is impressive, but doing that to West Coast Conference favorite Gonzaga is legit.
Patrick Wicklander continues to look like a viable option behind Connor Noland after allowing a single hit over six innings of shutout baseball on Saturday. The Hogs hosted a hit parade on Sunday, starring Matt Goodheart, Casey Martin and Christian Franklin.
With the Shriners College Classic in Houston coming up this weekend, the Hogs will encounter their most challenging three-game run of the non-conference portion of the calendar, with Oklahoma, Texas and Baylor coming up.
2. Texas Tech
Last Week: 2-1
Texas Tech went 2-1 at the Round Rock Classic, bookending its lone setback to scorching hot Tennessee with a pair of impressive victories over Stanford and Houston — and did so with Brian Klein scuffling uncharacteristically.
Klein got right in a big way on Sunday night, walking us off with a clutch RBI single that plated Dru Baker after the Cougars elected to intentionally walk Braxton Fulford to get to him in the bottom of the 10th.
The Red Raiders’ arms looked, for the most part, as we’d expect. In particular, the Bryce Bonnin-to-Micah Dallas one-two punch was filthy in a 7-2 victory over Stanford.
Tech continues to test itself this week with a trip to Tallahassee for a pair of games against Florida State after stops at Southern and Florida Atlantic.
Last Week: 5-0
Florida sky-rocketed up every poll that makes any sense after an uber impressive road sweep of last week’s Composite No. 1 Miami.
It’s safe to say that sophomore Tommy Mace has made the jump many expected after spinning seven innings of two-hit baseball while striking out eight at Miami on Friday. After posting a 5.32 ERA in 16 starts last season, Mace has allowed just three earned runs and struck out 14 batters against just three walks over 13 innings of work this month.
The Gators should be getting a bit of a breather this week, with Florida A&M and Stetson during the week, ahead of a visit from Troy this weekend.
Last Week: 5-0
After some turbulence at MLB4 to begin the season, Vanderbilt enjoyed a dominant second week, blanking South Alabama twice and cruising to a three-game sweep of Illinois-Chicago over the weekend.
Mason Hickman, Kumar Rocker and Jake Eder combined for 35 strikeouts over 18.2 innings of work against the Flames. Cooper Davis is off to hot start at the plate for the Commodores, hitting .344 (11-for-32) with two doubles and two triples.
The Vandy Boys will have a chance to pad the win column this week, with Evansville, Saint Louis and Hawaii headed to Nashville.
5. Mississippi State
Last Week: 2-1
Mississippi State went into Sunday with a shot at a series sweep of Oregon State but fell short as the bullpen let down Eric Cerantola, who allowed just one earned run and pitched around five walks over five innings of work in his second start of the season.
Still, taking two-of-three from the Beavers is an excellent showing and will undoubtedly serve as an asset when resumes are being compared in a couple of months.
The trio of Jordan Westburg, Rowdey Jordan and Justin Foscue have been outstanding for the Bulldogs early on, combining for 20 hits, six doubles and 15 RBI — 10 of which belong to Foscue, alone.
The Dawgs will be tested again this weekend when they hit the road for a three-game series at Long Beach State.
Last Week: 4-0
A few of our college baseball brethren are slow to move UCLA up the polls thus far, but I don’t know what more the Bruins could’ve done through the first two weeks.
The quality of UCLA’s opponents is about the only negative that exists, as four victories over Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s are still just victories over Loyola Marymount and Saint Mary’s.
Fine. But the Bruins are pitching at an extremely high level and the bats have been ringing more often than not.
Zach Pettway fanned a baker’s dozen on Friday against Saint Mary’s — two day’s before Jesse Begin turned in a dominant 5.1 innings of his own on Sunday. Meanwhile, JT Schwartz and Matt McLain are a combined 24-for-55 at the plate, which seems pretty good.
The whole level of competition argument against UCLA definitely won’t apply should the Bruins get through Frisco — where they’ll meet Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Illinois — unscathed.
Last Week: 1-3
Last week’s Composite top-ranked team will fall across the board this week after being swept at home by Florida, but if you thought the ‘Canes would drop out of the Omaha 8, you weren’t paying attention.
The takeaway from the goings-on in Coral Gables is not that Miami isn’t very, very good — it’s that Florida is among the best teams in college baseball. And even then, the difference between these two teams in games 1 and 2 was razor thin.
Miami will bounce back against South Florida and Towson this week — and, in the meantime, you’ll have to forgive me as I refrain from overreacting.
Last Week: 4-0
With only one loss, Georgia makes a ton of sense for the eighth and final spot this week — but the Dawgs still haven't really played anyone. And, while a win is a win is a win, UGA had to claw its way to a sweep of Richmond and really only looked like itself once during a three-game set with Santa Clara.
Meanwhile, Tennessee, who entered the weekend having yet to be tested, exited the weekend as the most impressive team in Round Rock, going 3-0 against Texas Tech, Houston and Stanford by an aggregate of 21-8. It wasn't just three wins against high-level competition, it was three resounding wins.
Five players made the Round Rock Classic All-Tournament Team, including Zach Daniels, who picked up the MVP award, as well.
We expected this Tennessee team to pitch — and it has, with guys like Jackson Leath and Sean Hunley leading the way. On the other hand, no one was really sure what to expect from them offensively. And if the Vols were going to have success with the bats, we expected Alerick Soularie to carry the heavy weight. Thus far, the Vols have been doing it without their Golden Spikes Award candidate, who has struggled to the point of being a non-factor at the plate.
That makes this team's February run all the more impressive.
The Wright State series looks a bit more daunting than it did back in January, but Tennessee has a legitimate shot at heading into the South Carolina series on March 13 at 17-0.