The Ouch List: Week 9Analysis
I’ve got to admit to you StitchHeads out there, this week’s version of the Ouch List isn’t as epic as recent editions. Even though only three top 20 teams in this weeks D1baseball rankings went unbeaten (Louisville, Michigan and Arkansas), there wasn’t a lot of major carnage to teams in the rankings. Nobody really faceplanted badly. I know… P’SHAW!
There are a few teams who saw their RPI ranking affected a good deal by their poor weekend performance, but nothing that these teams couldn’t rebound from.
Oh, before I get to the Ouch List, I remember now where the phrase “Here comes the Pain Train”, which I have been using when I tweet this column, came from. Back in the early 2000s Reebok had one of the best sports-related advertising campaigns in history with “Terrible Terry Tate: Office Linebacker.” The premise being there was a pro football-looking man working at this office who uses an on-field, in-game persona to correct those fellow office workers who aren’t doing the right things.
Here is a quick look at this epic campaign…
Now, here we go with The Ouch List for this week…
What Happened: A reader last week took offense to a mistake (or two) I made in my column
Why It Hurts: It doesn’t really. But it’s a dose of my own medicine.
This reader was pretty aggro about it and suggested that I put myself on the top of this list this week. So here I am.
And I kinda like the view. I should suck at writing more often.
– South Carolina
What Happened: Three losses on the week, including two to Mississippi State at home.
Why It Hurts: Dropping out of the top 16.
If the Gamecocks want to play at home in June, they can’t have weeks like this again because it does not appear as if just winning the East Division of the SEC will be enough this time around. They began the week with an RPI ranking at No. 15. But three straight losses to North Carolina and Mississippi State dropped them down to No. 22. The loss to the Tar Heels was particularly bad. Yes I know, it was only a mid-week game, but a 20-5 loss in front of a crowd of 10,000-plus? Yuck.
What Happened: Three straight losses at Michigan
Why It Hurts: Mostly because it might deter teams from mid-April matchups like this more often.
Believe me, there is no big shame over losing three road games against a team like Michigan. But Gah! Just when the Sooners reach the rankings, they fail in six of their last seven games. The three losses in Ann Arbor weren’t exceedingly close and other Power Five programs can point at this as a reason for not scheduling tough out-of-conference series any more. Damn. That’ll bum me out if that happens.
What Happened: Lost two of three at West Virginia
Why It Hurts: Two losses, two bottom of the ninth rallies.
It’s obviously not a huge “ouch” here for TCU either. Except for the fact that the Frogs lost both games on Friday and Sunday by identical 5-4 scores AND lost both of them in jog-off fashion in the bottom of the ninth. Also, on a lesser scale, with the two losses in three games here the Horned Frogs find their record in true road games fall to a tepid 8-5. Then again, aren’t these mostly the same group of guys who won a Super Regional at Texas A&M last year? Yep, never mind. They’re fine.
What Happened: Lost two of three to Iowa at home
Why It Hurts: Like me above, the Big Red got a dose of their own medicine.
After sending Indiana and Maryland to the Ouch List the last two weeks, it seems only fair that the baseball gods would even things out with the Big Red. And here they are. I have been saying since I saw them in Vikings Stadium back in the first weekend of March that the Hawkeyes are a good team that could make a lot of noise come late May and maybe even early June. Right now, with this series win in Lincoln, I think they are proving it. Today, the Cornhuskers had to score three runs in their final at-bat to avoid the sweep thanks to freshman Mojo Hagge, who ripped a two-run triple to provide the game-winning runs. And yes, his name really is Mojo.
What Happened: Outside of Kyle Wright? Nothing good.
Why It Hurts: That pitching staff is bruised.
A lot was made about the Friday night performance of the Commodores’ Kyle Wright, and with good reason. In the 2-0 win over Florida, the big righty threw a complete-game three hitter with 13 Ks. But in the two other games against the Gators, Vanderbilt pitching relented 30 runs on 37 hits and issued 18 walks. Believe me, I’m just as shocked that none of those totals are typos. Add to that misery the 5-2 loss to Tennessee Tech in the midweek and it’s easy to see why there might be some panic buttons pushed in Anchor Down town by some of their fans.
– Missouri State
What Happened: Lost three of four games this week.
Why It Hurts: Post season will probably be on the road now.
The Bears avoided the Ouch List last week after I saw them beat Dallas Baptist at Hammons Field. But this week, the List pullllllls them back in. Entering the week with an RPI of No. 24, the Bears knew this would be a big week with post-season ramifications, taking on Arkansas and New Mexico, who both had good RPI rankings themselves. But the Hogs pounded the Bears 12-4 and the Lobos continued the punishment 17-8 and 9-5. MSU finally won game three at UNM, 8-0. But there won’t be prime opportunities like this to improve the RPI the rest of the way out, so look for the Bears to wander in June.
What Happened: Swept in three at Tulane
Why It Hurts: Because Tulane had been really average up until now.
Speaking of plunging RPIs, the Huskies entered the week with a ranking of No. 30, which is very respectable for a Northeast team playing nearly every game on the road. But the bottom dropped out near Bourbon Street (believe me, I know the feeling guys). The Green Wave, who entered the series 15-18 and off everyone’s radar, came from behind in each game, including scoring the game-winning run in the 12th frame of game three. UConn now sees its RPI freefall to No. 51. Yikes. C’mon guys, you don’t want to HAVE to win the AAC tournament to get in the Big Dance, do you?
What Happened: Lost two of three to UCLA
Why It Hurts: This puts the Trees in NCAA tournament bubble-land
Just like UConn above, this was just bad timing. These guys caught a steadily-improving UCLA team at the wrong time and pulled off a surprising series win on The Farm. But the thing about losing three games to the Bruins is that their RPI dropped from No. 25 down to No. 41. Another weekend like this and Mark Marquess’ final season could be spent like the last three: at home organizing their golf bag.
Now a quick look at a game I went to today.
WHAT I SAW AT DICK HOWSER STADIUM
Clemson – 100 011 000 – 3 8 1
FloridaSt – 403 000 00x – 7 9 0
While on my Mid-South Revivalitst Tour this week I decided to take in today’s second game of the Clemson-Florida State series from a very warm Tallahassee, Florida. After Saturday’s 12-10 slugfest between these two went Clemson’s way I felt that this was as close as it gets to a “must-win” situation for the Seminoles, who had fallen out of the Top 25 and seen their RPI dip into the 40s. Well… as much of a “must-win” can mean in the month of April, I suppose. But I digress.
Anyway, to put this FSU season into perspective, when Athlon’s asked me to put together their preseason Top 25 back in December, the three teams that I was juggling to be my team for the No. 1 slot were TCU, LSU and, yes, the Florida State Seminoles. Well, just past the halfway point of the 2017 season, none of those teams are in the No. 1 slot but only FSU finds itself outside looking in, coming into today’s game with an uninspiring 21-15 record.
FSU was hitting a paltry .261 entering the weekend, but you couldn’t have been able to tell after the first two games of this series since the Seminoles have gathered together 17 runs and 24 hits off the CU pitching staff the last two days.
Head coach Mike Martin sounded undeterred about his struggling offense that has seemed to find its swings so far this weekend, “This game was very important to us. With our lineup, we have the ability to do what transpired today and that’s two, three-run home runs. It seemed like they (Clemson) put up five runs in the first inning but on the scoreboard it was only one. And I’m thankful we’ve got the offense we do because we were able to flip the game really quick. It was a good win. But when you play a three games series, you can’t afford to get too happy because tomorrow night’s game is the rubber game. We need to play well tomorrow night.”
Today, there were three big storylines to their 7-3 win, which evened the series at a game apiece heading into Monday night’s rubber match…
1- The Holton Hold-em.
Starting pitcher Tyler Holton, a Golden Spikes Award finalist, threw 8.0 solid innings, giving up seven hits, three runs, three walks and posting nine strikeouts. Holton had a long first inning that ended up going 30 pitches, giving up a run and leaving the bases loaded, but he cruised with just a few bumps after that, improving his record to 5-1. He threw 123 pitches on the day, 76 of which went for strikes.
2- Walls to the ball.
For the second time in three games, Taylor Walls led off the first inning with a home run in the first at-bat of the game for the Seminoles. But he wasn’t the only one to go yard, as Quincy Nieporte and Dylan Busby added yard calls as well.
3- Seth Beer stayed red hot.
After leading the Tigers 15-hit parade on Saturday night with a 3-for-5, 4RBI performance, Mr. Beer kept his hot stick going with a 2-for-2 performance today, which featured a single to lead off the fourth inning and a solo home run to lead off the sixth inning. Other than those two hits, the Brewmeister also had a pair of walks. Other than him, the rest of the Tigers went just 6-for-32.
More images from today’s second game between Clemson and Florida State.