Omaha 8 College Baseball Power Rankings
How To Beat UCLA Without Scoring Runs In 0 Easy Steps
With February in the books, there are a few things we know: Namely, we know that Texas Tech, UCLA and Florida are very, very good.
With February in the books, there are a few things we know.
For starters, we know that Texas Tech, UCLA and Florida — in whichever order you prefer — are very, very good.
We know that the Big 12 is stronger than many imagined it would be.
We also know that Texas A&M fans travel remarkably well, as made evident by the 10,021 of them who passed through the turnstiles for the Aggies’ Saturday night matchup with the Bruins in Frisco, Texas.
Speaking of which, I’d be remiss if I did not take this opportunity to shout out the good folks at Peak Events for what they’ve established in short order with the #BestOutsideofOmaha in Round Rock and Frisco, respectively.
Both events were well-run, well-attended, and extremely well-played.
Eighteen days into a 132-day college baseball season, there are also myriad things we don’t know.
To begin with, what’s up with Arkansas? The Hogs faced formidable competition in Houston, and, in a vacuum, there’s no shame in losing to Oklahoma, Texas or Baylor. That said, Dave Van Horn’s squad didn’t look particularly good on Friday, spotted the Longhorns eight runs on Saturday, and the bats fell asleep on Sunday.
Along the way, Casey Martin was benched based, in very large part, on his inability to hit an off-speed pitch.
.@RazorbackBSB HC Dave Van Horn on Casey Martin after a rough performance tonight.— Kendall Rogers (@KendallRogers) March 1, 2020
“He’s had a few of those performances, and there’s really not much you can say anymore. It’s his battle and he’s got to get through it. I’m probably not going to play him tomorrow.”
We think we know that the SEC is still far and away the best league in the sport, but the Razorbacks’ weekend combined with Mississippi State’s rough week in general, and Texas A&M’s perpetual nightmare in Frisco, is — at the very least — cause for pause.
We don’t know what the Aggies have behind Asa Lacy, nor do we know what Arkansas has behind Connor Noland.
The jury is still very much out on Michigan and Georgia Tech looked like a Top 25 imposter while being outscored by Georgia 27-8 over a three-game set.
With all of the above taken into account, here’s where we’d put our hopes, dreams and discretionary income if the regular season ended today.
Last Week: 4-0
That no one in Frisco could muster more than a pair of runs against UCLA was not altogether shocking. Oklahoma State, Texas A&M and Illinois entered their respective matchups with the Bruins feeling confident at the plate, but the onslaught of arms that UCLA throws at opposing teams is second to none — and it looked the part over the weekend.
Zach Pettway tossed a gem (7 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 4 SO) in the opener against Oklahoma State. Nick Nastrini and the UCLA bullpen combined to pitch a one-hitter on Saturday night against the Aggies. Jesse Bergin cruised to the victory on Sunday, striking out six, while allowing just one earned run over five innings of work — and the bullpen didn’t allow a hit for the second straight day.
For the remainder of the Bruins’ schedule, their dominance was made even more harrowing by the fact that the batting order looks just as impossible to deal with. UCLA plated 32 runs in three games, Matt McLain was named Frisco Classic MVP and six different Bruins cracked the All-Tournament team, including the entire outfield.
2. Texas Tech
Last Week: 5-0
Only UCLA emerged from the weekend looking scarier than Texas Tech, who easily dispatched Florida Atlantic and then took a pair from Florida State in Tallahassee.
Dru Baker, who has shown a flare for late inning heroics, put the first game against the Seminoles into extras by tying the game at 5-5 with a solo shot in the ninth inning. From there, John McMillon held down the fort, overbearing FSU hitters over the final 2.1 innings of the game.
Tech has the head coach, the pitching and the intangibles to win a strong Big 12 en route to a lengthy stay in Omaha, Neb., in June.
Last Week: 3-0
Florida got all it wanted from Troy during the first two games of a three-game series, but credit to the Gators for getting it done when things got off script. Erasing a six-run deficit on Saturday was particularly impressive — even if the path to falling behind by a touchdown, at home, against Troy, well, was not.
On the bright side, the pitching on Friday and Sunday was outstanding. Hunter Barco’s nine-strikeout performance — over just five innings of work, no less, was extremely promising.
Last Week: 4-1
Saturday wasn’t an awesome day for Vanderbilt. It began with Kumar Rocker getting scratched due to arm soreness, and it ended in a 3-1 loss to Hawaii, which — with all due respect to Hawaii — shouldn’t happen to Vandy’s bats against an inferior opponent.
Escaping with the series win on Sunday wasn’t easy, either. In fact, the Commodores needed three runs (and got four) in the bottom of the 11th to get out of dodge and save face. All of the above, coupled with a bit of a weird opening weekend at MLB4 will make you tilt your head to the side, but these are still the Vandy Boys we know and love until further notice.
Last Week: 4-0
I want to be Tucker Bradley when I grow up, and I don't care who knows it.
Bradley’s three run bomb was the difference in a 6-5 Georgia victory over rival Georgia Tech on Friday. From there, the Bulldogs imposed their collective will on the Yellow Jackets, wrecking Tech by an aggregate of 21-3 on Saturday and Sunday.
Keep an eye on the big sophomore right-hander Cole Wilcox, who was nothing short of dominant on Saturday, tossing seven shutout innings and striking out a career best 11.
Last week, Georgia deserved to crack the Omaha 8, but ‘hadn’t really played anyone.’ Now they have — presumably — and the results were markedly impressive.
Last Week: 4-0
The competition wasn’t much, but Miami got the job done, both in the midweek matchup with South Florida and over a three-game weekend set with Towson.
There’s not a whole bunch to report on the ‘Canes this week. They’re supremely talented. They’re flashing the potential for reaching the College World Series for the 26th time. But going unbeaten against the Bulls and Tigers is what it is.
Save for a midweek one-off at UCF next week, that’s not going to change until late March.
Last Week: 5-0
After debuting at No. 8 last week, Tennessee handled its business just as a legitimate contender should, crushing two inferior opponents (Northern Kentucky and UNC Asheville) by a combined score of 27-1 before cruising to a weekend sweep of George Washington.
All told, the Vols outscored last week’s opponents 51-6, while several guys who got hot in Frisco stayed hot in Knoxville — including Drew Gilbert, who doubled and homered during a four-hit Saturday.
After starting the season 2-for-20, Alerick Soularie is hitting .411 (7-for-17) with two home runs and five RBI over his last five games. Round Rock MVP Zach Daniels has a hit in 10 of his last 11 games and doubled three times last week.
8. Ole Miss
Last Week: 4-0
While much of the SEC West was struggling around them, Ole Miss enjoyed a 3-0 weekend at the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C.
After edging Southern Miss in a mid-week one-off, the Rebels handled their business against High Point on Friday and Indiana on Sunday.
On Saturday, against East Carolina, Mississippi picked up another Top 25 victory thanks to early deposits courtesy of Tim Elko and Jerrion Ealy, alongside a dominant effort from starter Gunnar Hoglund.
Hoglund didn’t allow an earned run over six innings of work while striking out eight and walking just one. In his stead, Max Cioffi and Braden Forsyth combined to throw three innings of one-hit shutout baseball to secure the 2-1 win.
The Rebs should be entering the LSU series on March 13 at 16-1.