The college baseball regular season is nearing its close. Conference tournaments are right around a month away, so this is the proverbial home stretch for those teams trying to make a late push for a better seed.
Let’s look at the lineup on CSS this weekend.
No. 19 Georgia Tech at Clemson
April 26, 7 p.m.
Clemson lost its last two games to Miami and dropped out of the top 25 rankings, while Georgia Tech just suffered a 17-0 beat down from Georgia Tuesday night at Turner Field. Which team is more excited about the weekend series?
The Tigers batted .160 in three games against the Hurricanes, hitting 2-for-35 with runners on base and 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. How’d the pitching staff fare? A 2.16 ERA with only three extra-base hits allowed seems like a solid stat line. Can Clemson bring its bats back to life?
Buck Farmer should be able to redeem Tech’s pitching debacle. He’s 7-2 with a 2.22 ERA in 10 starts so far. With 79 strikeouts in 69 innings pitched, this isn’t the guy Clemson wants to face while in the midst of a collective slump at the plate.
No. 12 Mississippi State at No. 4 Vanderbilt
April 27, 1 p.m.
All Mississippi State does is win weekly honors around the SEC. Senior catcher Nick Ammirati was named SEC Player of the Week after going 6-for-11 with three runs and three RBI last weekend against Auburn. Vanderbilt is still cruising with a 36-6 overall record, but a sporadic two-game losing streak a week ago proved the squad is mortal.
The Commodores just defeated Louisville to win the Battle of the Barrel for the second consecutive season. With 14 hits on the night, Vanderbilt has now recorded double-digit hits in 10 of the last 11 games. Freshman Xavier Turner is riding a 14-game hitting streak. Tony Kemp is batting .387. All is well in Nashville.
For the Bulldogs, Hunter Renfroe just blasted his conference-leading 14th home run Tuesday against Memphis. He’s batting .410 on the year with 45 RBI and eight stolen bases. Ross Mitchell is 8-0 with a 0.97 ERA in 18 relief appearances. Jonathan Holder has 52 strikeouts in 28 innings pitched. Do you need any more reasons to watch these two teams face off?
South Alabama at Louisiana-Monroe (ULM)
April 27, 4 p.m.
After taking two of three games against Western Kentucky, South Alabama moved ahead into sole possession of first place in the Sun Belt Conference. ULM doesn’t’ look like much of a threat in this matchup on paper, but it has outscored opponents 12-1 in the last two games. Progress?
Kyle Bartsch became the all-time leader in saves for the Jaguars after recording his 19th career save last Saturday. The senior has been dominant in his final campaign, recording a 1.35 ERA and .149 opponent’s batting average in 16 appearances. If South Alabama holds the lead heading into the ninth, there won’t be much hope for a comeback from ULM.
The Warhawks are the second-best team in the conference in fielding percentage. They can’t afford to forget that fact here. ULM bats .228 overall and holds a 4.75 collective ERA this season. Playing a clean game in the field and finding the occasional power surge (three homers against Mississippi Valley State sealed the win Tuesday) look like two keys to pulling off an upset.
No. 15 Arkansas at Georgia
April 28, 2 p.m.
April hasn’t been kind to Arkansas. The Razorbacks are 6-7 this month after only one series with a ranked opponent. On the other hand, 2013 hasn’t been kind to Georgia, so you can’t be too worried if you’re living in Fayetteville.
The Dawgs did just annihilate their in-state rival at Major League ballpark, though. Perhaps playing in the same stadium as the best team in the MLB (right now) brought the best of UGA. Curt Powell is still locked in as a reliable leadoff man hitting .365 on the season. He went 4-for-5 against Georgia Tech on Tuesday. He needs continue setting the tone for the rest of the lineup.
Arkansas head coach Dave Van Horn was just named manager for the 2014 USA Baseball Collegiate National Team. He’s now 1,017-478 in 25 years with the Razorbacks. Despite the recent woes, his team batted .323 in its last series with Texas A&M. Arkansas’ game against Oklahoma was cancelled due to cold weather and inclement forecast conditions, giving it a week to prepare for a series in Athens.