On the show this week I talked all about mid-major conference baseball instead of the all of the major teams that I’ve been talking about, so I decided to make the write-up all about those majors that I didn’t talk about on the show.
Aggies fall to the Tide. Suffer first loss of the season.
The last D1 unbeaten fell on Saturday in the back end of a double header at Alabama. I’ve gone on record saying that I thought Alabama would be the team that would finally put a (1) in the loss column for the Aggies since before AJ Minter went down for the season. I saw the Crimson Tide first hand against Houston and there is one thing that is for sure in regards to Alabama. THEY CAN HIT! Grayson Long set them down with relative ease on Friday, a lot like what Andrew Lantrip did for the Cougars. But you will not keep that team down for three games. Maybe LSU, TCU, or Florida can, but with the injuries piling up for the Aggies, I just had a gut feeling that the Alabama weekend would give A&M their first loss.
Big Series in the American!
The American Athletic Conference starts their conference slate this weekend and to open up the conference slate, the American’s best two teams are facing off in Orlando. The Houston Cougars will take on the UCF Knights in what promises to be one of the best series’ of the weekend. UH has suffered their fair share of injury losses this season but will look to Andrew Lantrip (5-1) 1.73 ERA to have a huge start on Friday to set them up for a big weekend. I also think that we might see Seth Romero possibly make his first weekend start on the mound for the Coogs.
For the Knights, they boast one of the best offensive teams in the country. UCF is number one in runs scored (228), hits (301), and home runs (38). The team is third in the country in batting average (.330). Individually, Dylan Moore ranks second in the country with runs scored (33) and is fourth in total bases (73), and RBI (34). They are led on the mound by Cre Finfrock (5-0) and Zach Rodgers (3-0) who have a 2.62 and 3.68 ERA respectively.
This opening weekend series, barring injuries for the teams going forward, could very well give us a glimpse into how the American Conference turn out this season. I give the edge to UCF this time because we often see that home field advantage is worth two runs, but also because of the injuries that UH has sustained thus far.
A lot can happen between now and the end of the season, but these are easily the best two teams in the conference.
Where in the World is Scott?
This weekend I will be covering a series at my alma mater UT Arlington. This will be one of the only, if not the only, looks that I will get at the Sun Belt Conference this season and UTA (4-2) and Georgia State (3-2) are neck and neck in the conference standings through three weeks of conference play. UTA comes into the weekend just one game over .500 on the season, but does boast wins against Texas, Michigan State, and UC Santa Barbara on the year. While the Mavericks are a young team overall (17 newcomers to the program), they have veteran leadership all around the infield with seniors Eric Tate, Travis Sibley, and Levi Scott, and junior Darien McLemore (son of former major leaguer Mark McLemore). On the mound UTA will look to Chad Nack (2-1 4.25 ERA) to lead the pitching staff.
For Georgia State, if you know nothing else about this team, know that they can flat out rake. In a quick conversation with UTA head coach Darin Thomas, that was the first thing he told me about the Panthers. The team has flashed quite a bit of power up and down the lineup with 22 home runs (8 from Matt Rose and 5 from Joey Roach). The pitching staff comes into the weekend with a team ERA of 4.29 which is a little high, but their opponents have averaged a 4.85 ERA. If this one becomes a shootout, I would find it hard to not pick Georgia State.
Who else’s bracket is absolutely toast? I know this is a baseball blog but thought March Madness was worth mentioning. I haven’t even looked at my bracket since the tournament started, and I haven’t really felt the need to. My bracket was toast from day one. Anyone whose bracket is still semi-intact, congrats to you. I think you got lucky.
Keep looking at Baseball Essential all weekend for the most up-to-date stats and stories from across the nation.