Cold and rainy= baseball cancelled across the country
A winter storm and an all-around rainy weekend around the South and Southeast made for a weekend set up for upsets and missed games. In Central and South Texas, the Texas Longhorns cut their weekend short by two games and Texas A&M Corpus Christi only got to play one of their three scheduled against UT Arlington. On the East Coast, USA Baseball announced that due to weather, their tournament was cancelled. But there were some games played and some very good series were still to be had.
With that said, this was a slow weekend of college baseball (not a lot of match-ups between Top 25 teams). In fact, there were only two series’ that pitted Top 25’s against each other. No. 20 Oregon took on No. 21 UC Santa Barbara (Oregon 2-1) and No. 18 Ole Miss took on No. 23 Central Florida (UCF 2-1).
Scott’s Series of the week
Stanford at Rice University (2-2)
I’ve been keeping my eyes on both of these teams all season long and I have to say, the Rice Owls baffle me. They looked outstanding against the Longhorns on opening weekend through much of the series even though their errors numbers were a little too far on the high-side for comfort. They split with Texas. Last weekend at Arizona, they were able to win the series, but lost a game due to having four errors in the final inning. They lost the game on a walk-off steal of home plate.
Stanford has been every bit the Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde that the Owls have been though. The Cardinals dropped two out of three to Indiana to start the season (all within two runs) and dropped a midweek match-up against California. They started out the season at 1-3. Then, the Cardinal traveled to Fullerton to take on the CSU Fullerton Titans and looked great, winning two out of three against a Top 25 ranked team. They won a close one in their midweek game against Nevada, 6-5, before traveling to Houston to take on the owls.
Then there is the series from this Friday to Sunday that took place with the Stanford Cardinal. On Friday night, the Owls dropped a 5-3 decision. The problem is, Stanford only earned two runs in the game. The Owls actually earned more runs than the victors did. Owls shortstop Leon Byrd had three errors (all of which led to runs) that really hurt the team and ultimately cost them the game.
Cardinal starter Cal Quantrill went seven innings on the mound for Stanford, allowing three runs on six hits and recording seven strikeouts. Leading the charge at the plate were Mikey Diekroeger who went 3-5 with three RBI and the Woodlands, TX native Alex Dunlap, who went 1-4 with two runs scored and an RBI. For the Rice Owls, Kevin McCanna took a hard luck loss to fall to 1-1 with five innings and allowed five runs (only two were earned) on 10 hits with five strikeouts.
The two sides split a double-header on Saturday with Rice’s bats coming alive in the first game to the tune of 11 runs on 14 hits. In the second game of the series, each team struggled on defense with six errors recorded between the two. Blake Fox got the start on the mound for the Owls but still didn’t look quite like himself for the third straight week. He went 5.2 IP with six runs allowed (zero earned) and four strikeouts. His velocity is a little down from where we would normally see it to start the year and he’s given up a lot of runs even if many of them are unearned. Josh Pettitte, son of New York Yankees pitcher Andy Pettitte, got the win on the mound for Rice, going 2.1 innings and striking out three Cardinal hitters. Quinn Brodey got his second loss of the season out of the bullpen for Stanford, pitching 2.1 innings and allowing four runs (three earned). When the dust settled, Rice had an 11-6 victory for their first of the weekend.
Rice’s game three starter, Ricardo Salinas, only lasted 1/3 of an inning as he was pulled due to sickness. He did allow each of the first three Stanford hitters to reach base and is credited with allowing two runs in getting the loss on Saturday night. Glen Otto, Jordan Stephens, and Matt Ditman each pitched well out of the bullpen though as they combined to give up one run on three hits throughout the rest of the game. Brett Hanewich got his first win of the season on the mound for the Stanford Cardinal going seven innings and allowing only three hits and one run (it was unearned) with three walks and one strikeout. Logan James got the two inning save on the mound for Stanford, striking out five hitters of the six that he faced.
Sunday was all Rice in the finale of the four game set at Reckling Park. The Owls started hot with three runs in the first inning off of Chris Viall and continued the hitting all afternoon. The Owls would score one in the third, two in the fifth, and six runs in the sixth to win the game 12-1. Wayne Graham told me before the finale that he would need Austin Orewiler to at least give him six innings on Sunday and John Williamson would need to go three to save the bullpen. Orewiler did that and more, going 7.2 innings and allowing one run on three hits. Williamson closed out the final four outs all via strikeout.
I don’t know that I have any better idea of what Rice is now that I’ve seen them six times this season. The Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde act they’ve been doing all season makes it hard to put a finger on them right now. Hopefully, by the time conference rolls around in a couple of weeks, we will have a little better picture of what Wayne Graham has in downtown Houston this season. One thing that Graham has said to me, and I absolutely agree with this sentiment, is that his team has the talent to play with anybody. If you put them on a field with Florida, Vanderbilt, UCLA, TCU, or any of the top teams from around the country, and let them play a three game set, there isn’t a single team that I don’t think they can beat. They might not win the series, but they’ll split the first two and the final game will be a toss up.
Stanford leaves Houston with an overall record of 6-6 and has to take on a Longhorns side that can really swing it at home in Palo Alto next weekend. If you look at who they’ve played, it is hard to argue that this team will be ready for conference play this season. A sentiment expressed by Cardinal head coach Mark Marquess to me on Sunday after the game. He told me that’s why they play these games. Teams like Rice, CSU Fullerton, and Texas are the types of teams that they will see in the gauntlet of a PAC-12 schedule that they face. All of the teams they’ve played to begin the season can really hit, pitch, and play defense. I like what I saw from this team over the weekend and while I don’t think I’d punch their ticket to Omaha just yet, they are a team that very well could find themselves playing in a Super Regional come June.
-Columbia gave Houston all they could handle over the weekend, including nine hours of baseball on Saturday between their two games. Columbia was able to push game one of the Saturday double-header to 13 innings before ultimately winning it. They were also able to take a 12-7 final in the finale on Sunday.
-Texas A&M is 12-0!!! They’ve also played the gauntlet of Holy Cross, Penn State, and Dartmouth on the weekend slate and Stephen F. Austin, Houston Baptist, and Incarnate Word (all out of the Southland Conference) in the midweek slate. Their RPI going into the weekend was in the 200’s. If they don’t win 40 games, it will be tough to give them an at-large bid due to their OOC scheduling.
-San Diego swept Texas in a rain shortened series in Austin. The first two days were rained out so they settled for two games on Sunday.
-As someone who graduated from a Sun Belt Conference school, UT Arlington, I’d be remiss if I didn’t congratulate Tony Robichaux of the Louisiana Ragin Cajuns on his 1,000 win. What an accomplishment for him and his team in Lafayette. I’m slotting them for that SBC bid this season.
-The Oregon Ducks look GOOD. I can’t emphasize that enough.
-I can’t wait to see who will take the battle for South Carolina between Clemson and the Gamecocks on Monday. The series is tied at one apiece and had to be moved back a day due to rain.
-UCF took two out of three from No. 18 Ole Miss. That is a good UCF side that could really push U of H for the American title this year.
-Army’s Alex Robinett struck out 10 in a no-no against Longwood on Sunday.
If I had a Vote
My Top 25
- South Carolina
- Texas Tech
- Florida State
- Arizona State
- Texas A&M
- Ole Miss
- Southern California
- Mississippi State
Week 4 Series’ to Watch
- Texas at Stanford
- Miami (FL) at Louisville
- Duke at UNC
- Texas Tech at CSU Fullerton
- Houston College Classic (Baylor, Hawaii, Houston, Louisiana State, Nebraska, Texas A&M)
- Dodgertown Classic (Texas Christian, Vanderbilt, UCLA, USC)