Another week of college baseball is in the books and the Florida Gators appear to be distinguishing themselves both on the field and in the rankings as the best team in America. A series victory over previously No. 3 ranked Oklahoma made the Texas A&M Aggies the weekend's big winner, and No. 21 Baylor's series loss to Texas Tech made it the weekend's big loser. With this week over, it appears every conference has begun conference play. Baseball America's rankings for the top five remains fairly consistent, with South Carolina entering and Florida State departing.
1. Florida – The Gators put on the season’s premiere performance last weekend, sweeping LSU in Baton Rouge. Florida scored three runs in the top of the ninth on Friday to overcome a late 3-2 deficit, and three UF pitchers combined to shut out the Tigers in Saturday’s 1-0 victory. Throw in a midweek win over Florida State and UF had about as impressive a week as possible.
2. Vanderbilt – The Commodores took two of three games from Mississippi State this weekend. Friday and Saturday starters Sonny Gray and Grayson Garvin combined to shut down MSU hitters (14.1 combined IP, 6 hits, 16 strikeouts), and only a bullpen collapse on Sunday prevented the series sweep. Vanderbilt faces tough tests the next two weeks with road series at Arkansas and Auburn.
3. Virginia – The Cavaliers won an extremely hard fought home series over ACC rival Florida State this weekend as all three games went to extra innings. Jared King hit a pinch hit walk off homer on Saturday to give UVA the series victory and FSU catcher Rafael Lopez’s tenth inning home run on Sunday gave FSU its lone win of the weekend.
4. South Carolina – USC was shut down on Friday by Georgia ace Alex Wood but managed to come back and win Saturday and Sunday’s games to take the series. Saturday’s 2-1 win was particularly impressive as the Gamecocks entered the eighth down 1-0 and managed to score single runs in both the eighth and ninth with two outs. A challenging midweek game against College of Charleston awaits before a very tough road series at Florida next weekend.
5. Texas – The Longhorns had their first perfect week of the season and avoided a loss on Saturday for the first time all year. The Horns swept Kansas State, although Saturday’s 4-3 win and Sunday’s 6-5 win took extra innings. Ace Taylor Jungmann improved to 5-0 (0.68 ERA) on Friday, and Texas relievers threw a combined 12.1 innings on Saturday and Sunday giving up just seven hits and one run.
6. Arizona State – The Sun Devils had a terrific week, sweeping Oklahoma in a mini midweek series before taking two of three games against always pesky Oral Roberts. The schedule stays tough this week as ASU travels to Cal State Fullerton for another mini midweek series before returning home to face PAC-10 foe Arizona next weekend.
7. Florida State- The Seminoles had about as difficult a week to stomach as possible. A series loss at Virginia is nothing to be ashamed of, especially considering all three games went to extra innings, but the Noles also had to handle dropping a midweek game to in-state rival Florida, also in extra innings. A 1-3 week invariably drops FSU in the polls, but this week’s matchups against Stetson and Wake Forrest should allow the Seminoles to catch their breath.
8. Texas A&M – The Aggies had a terrific week, blanking Cal State Fullerton 2-0 on Tuesday before taking two of three games against Oklahoma in Norman. Saturday starter Michael Wacha was spectacular in the 11-1 victory, throwing a complete game while giving up seven hits and striking out eight in only 112 pitches. The Aggies have four home games in the next week before going on the road for nine of ten at the end of the month.
9. Oklahoma – The Sooners played teams with a pulse for the first time this weekend and flunked that test pretty miserably. OU traveled to Arizona State for a two game midweek affair and dropped both games (6-2 and 6-4). Oklahoma ace Michael Rocha (8.2 IP, 3 H, 13 Ks) bested Texas A&M Friday starter John Stilson in Friday’s 1-0 victory, but Sooner pitching was solidly thumped in 11-1 and 5-2 losses on Saturday and Sunday. Oklahoma goes on the road at Missouri next weekend looking to rebound from dropping five of their last six after starting the year 16-0.
10. Fresno State – The Bulldogs jump up seven spots in this week's polls after a three game sweep of Washington State. Fresno pounded out 21 hits in Saturday's 16-1 wallop, an even more impressive feat considering the fact that the game was ended after six innings due to weather.
11. LSU – While losing a series to the No. 1 team in the land is nothing to be ashamed of, being swept at home is always a tough pill to take. LSU closer Matty Ott was saddled with the difficult loss on Friday, giving up four hits and three runs while recording just one out. Tiger hitters managed to plate just seven runs on the weekend against tough UF pitching.
12. Stanford – The Cardinal’s series against Michigan was rained out. If more teams were like the Tree then these recaps would be easier to write.
13. Cal State Fullerton – CSF dropped a midweek game against Texas A&M on the road before rebounding with a sweep of Washington. The record (13-7) remains unimpressive, although the schedule strength from Boyds World remains very high (13).
14. TCU – A rather forgettable 2-2 week for the Horned Frogs. TCU dropped a midweek game against UT-Arlington and managed to take two of three from UNLV. Kyle Winkler took the loss on Friday (8 IP, 8 hits, 5 runs, 11 strikeouts), but the TCU offense rallied on Saturday and Sunday for 12-2 and 8-4 victories.
15. Arizona – The Bearcats got swept in a midweek series at Wichita State then took the first two games of a Sat-Mon series against way overmatched San Francisco (14-0, 7-0). Zona will need more than a suspiciously quick five second count to beat conference foe and in-state rival Arizona State next weekend at ASU.
16. California – The Golden Bears dropped a rough midweek loss to San Francisco, blowing a four-run lead in the bottom of the 9th. A two game weekend sweep of Big Ten doormat Ohio State and Monday victory over Nevada may have righted the ship though.
17. Georgia Tech – A 5-0 week propels the Yellow Jackets from No. 23 to No. 18 in the latest poll. The week included a two game midweek sweep of Georgia Southern and a weekend sweep of ACC foe NC State. Mark Pope continued his dominance (8 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER) on Friday and Tech pounded out 44 hits and 32 runs over the weekend. A road game at Georgia and road series against always tough Miami (FL) awaits next weekend.
18. North Carolina – A midweek win over Princeton and road series sweep of Virginia Tech raised the Tar Heels record to 18-3 but failed to impress in the BA poll as UNC remained at 18. UNC threw 11 pitchers on Saturday and Sunday, holding off Virginia Tech rallies in the bottom of the last both days. Closer Cody Penny gave up a combined three earned runs over the final two days.
19. Clemson – The Tigers dropped a midweek game against the Presbyterian Blue Hose before sweeping overmatched Duke at home. Clemson pitching wasn’t particularly impressive last weekend, giving up 16 runs over the three game series, but Tigers hitters managed to assault the scoreboard to the tune of 34 runs over the three game set.
20. Tulane – The Green Wave went 5-0 this past week, although the level of competition left something to be desired. A weekend series sweep of crosstown rival UNO required a comeback from an early 6-2 deficit on Sunday and dropped the Privateers to a miserable 1-18 record. The week did raise Tulane's team batting average from an anemic .212 to a slightly healthier .253.
21. Baylor – The Bears tumble from No. 14 to No. 21 after a 2-2 week capped by a series loss to Texas Tech. Tech scored the winning run on Friday in the 9th inning, scored nine runs in a furious attempted comeback in the 9th inning of the loss on Saturday and scored a single run in the 7th, 8th and 9th before scoring four in the tenth to win on Sunday. In other words, Baylor had bullpen issues.
22. Auburn – The Tigers join the BA poll this week after a series win over Arkansas (who for some reason is unranked by BA). The only blemish to this week was an 11 inning loss on Friday, although shaky relief pitching was a problem the entire weekend.
23. Oregon State – Similar to Auburn, Oregon State joins the BA poll this week after a road series win over Long Beach State. Beavers ace Sam Gaviglio was brilliant on Friday, throwing a one hitter while striking out 14. Gaviglio did not issue a walk and threw only 99 pitches for the complete game shutout. Neither team could get much offense going in Sunday's 2-1 Long Beach victory.
24. UCLA – The Bruins didn't play a game this week so they stay at 24. As of this writing they are attempting to get a doubleheader in against Cal Poly. UCLA dropped game one 2-1 and is ahead in game two. Without an impressive weekend next weekend it's hard to see them remaining in the top 25.
25. Rice – The Owls barely stay in the top 25 again this week after a midweek loss to legitimately pesky Dallas Baptist in 11 innings and a series sweep of Louisiana Tech. Rice fell behind 1-0 in the eight inning on Friday but managed to score five runs in the bottom half to avoid the loss.