The Ouch List: May 14Analysis
Not to sound like Montgomery Burns here or anything, but it’s all going according to plan. And yes, I’m tapping my fingertips and raising a single evil eyebrow as I type this.
This is May and the Ouch List gets more and more painful as we go. Losses sting more. Coaches chew fingernails waiting for the RPI rankings to refresh. Fans get more aggro. That’s the nature of this final full month of the season. And the Ouch List just becomes a feeding frenzy.
As for this week’s Ouch List. I’ve got one prediction… paaaaaaain.
Here are this week’s lucky few who get a little more publicity they did not ask for…
What Happened: Swept in three games at LSU
Why It Hurts: Tigers could be circling the drain.
We should have noted last weekend as a small indicator; the War Eagle boys aren’t what they used to be. This is their second straight appearance on the Pain Train after getting swept by Alabama… at home, no less. Well this weekend they made LSU look like the ’27 Yankees as the Plainsmen managed just two earned runs in 27 innings and were outscored 18-4 by the Bayou Bashers in the three games. Now riding a seven-game losing streak, AU has plummeted to No. 45 in the RPI. And historically, SEC teams in the 40s don’t get the benefit of the doubt from the selection committee. Makes you wonder, is next week’s series with Ole Miss (13-14 in SEC play) a de facto series to see who makes the NCAAs?
What Happened: Lost two of three at Washington State.
Why It Hurts: Lost momentum
Exactly one month ago, the Bruins were at No. 92 in the RPI and completely off the radar. On Friday morning they found themselves at a very manageable No. 52. Couple that with a Pac 12 record of 13-8 which had them in second place and Jackie Robinson U. was sitting pretty. Then came the trip to the Palouse. Crud. Not an easy place to get to. Not an easy place to win. Especially with the Cougars steadily improving under Marty Lees. But the Bruins dropped 7-1 and 7-3 decisions on Friday and Saturday. Couple that with their mid-week loss to Cal State Fullerton and that’s why the Bruins found themselves down at No. 64 on Sunday morning. A Sunday afternoon 12-2 win helped a little, getting them back up to No. 58. But have the Bruins fallen too far?
What Happened: Swept at home by Louisville.
Why It Hurts: Will this kill their National Seeding hopes?
It was billed as a showdown of Top 10 teams with the winner cementing its Top 8 status for the post-season. But instead, it turned into a showcase for Louisville to flex its muscles and tell the college baseball world they aren’t kidding around this time. All three games were close, all being decided by two runs, but this was the chance for the Tigers to take the center stage and make amends for that sweep at North Carolina two weeks ago. But it didn’t happen. Louisville tried to help, committing five errors in Sunday’s getaway game, but they still had more moxie than the Tigers, gutting out a 6-4 win. Now the question, which Clemson team shows up for the post-season? These guys could go either way.
What Happened: Lost two of three at home to Northwestern
Why It Hurts: Third straight losing weekend for the Terrapins
C’mon turtles! You are the highest ranked Big 10 team in the RPI. (Well, ‘till now that is). You can’t go out and faceplant against a lower-level team like Northwestern (Sorry, coach Allen, I know you guys are building here… and this is a good jumping off point. But I digress). And UMd lost twice to the Wildcats AT HOME too. Tsk tsk. Saturday the Wildcats were looped-up on catnip and toyed with the Terps, beating them 11-3. Sunday’s getaway game saw Alex Erro blast a solo shot over the wall in left-center in the 11th inning to secure the series win.
– NEW MEXICO
What Happened: Lost all three games at Fresno State
Why It Hurts: It just doesn’t look sexy anymore
Just like when your girlfriend asks you, “Do I look fat in this?” No answer is going to be a good one. Getting swept out in the Raisin Valley at the hands of the Bulldogs didn’t hurt the Lobos too much in the Mountain West standings, as they still lead San Diego State by one game with three to play. But the overall record is now a bruised and battered 28-22-1. It just doesn’t look sexy anymore. Yeah, the RPI is still within striking distance at No. 46 and their top-ranked non-conference strength of schedule hasn’t been compromised, but man the MWC just doesn’t get the love out there like it should and they’ve gone 4-7 in their last 11 games.
What Happened: Ousted from the Patriot League Playoffs in two games
Why It Hurts: Because they were the best team.
Last year, the Naval Academy won 43 games. This year, they won 37 games. That’s 80 wins in two seasons… for a Patriot League team? That’s unheard of. And for the second year in a row the Midshipmen dominated the PL regular season, winning the title easily by four games over the nearest competition. But when the best-of-three vs. four-seed Bucknell kicked off, something wasn’t right. The Middies’ bats became wet noodles as the Bison disposed of them in two straight games, 4-1 and 5-0. BU’s Connor Van Hoose and Mick Castellani both threw complete-game three-hitters on back-to-back days to eliminate the anchor aweighs from the post-season in stunning fashion.
– BINGHAMTON and RHODE ISLAND
What Happened: Both lost twice to teams they shouldn’t have lost to
Why It Hurts: Both will probably have to win their respective conference tournaments.
The Bearcats and Rams entered the week at No. 45 and No. 47 in the RPI, which for teams in the mid-major Northeast is pretty astounding. But UGH. These guys both had one of those weekends that mid-major teams just hate to befall at this time of year, losing twice to Stony Brook and George Mason respectively. The Seawolves and Patriots both had RPIs in the 200s at the beginning of the week, so this is no beuno for the Cats and Rams. Do teams from the Northeast with RPIs at 49 and 54 get at-large bids if they don’t win their conference tournaments? Doubtful, but we may see.
What Happened: Won three straight over Portland
Why It Hurts: Because evidently winning baseball games is bad too.
This is the facet of our sport that I really hate, having to deal with the flaming turd called the RPI. The Cougars lead the West Coast Conference with a stellar 20-4 mark yet saw their ranking plunge eight spots to No. 67 this weekend despite winning all their games this week. Gah! Too bad a freak snow storm or torrential rain didn’t hit the BYU campus and cancel these three games vs. the No. 277-ranked team in the country. By the way, LMU is ranked at No. 52 in the RPI and now sit three games behind the league-leading Cougars in the WCC standings.
– SOUTH CAROLINA
What Happened: Lost two of three at Missouri
Why It Hurts: A winning record in SEC play is no longer attainable.
On Friday I went on a Columbia, South Carolina radio station and was asked about the Gamecocks chances of getting an at-large berth to the NCAAs. I said straight out that if it was up to me, every team needs to have a winning conference record to get consideration (I’m just harsh like that). I also said going at least 2-and-1 against both Missouri and Georgia was paramount for SoCar. Well, the Gamecocks won Friday’s game 4-3, but then blew leads on both Saturday and Sunday to lose the series. Even more painful was the fact that the Tigers scored the winning run on a wild pitch as part of a three-run rally in the bottom of the eighth inning. The Cocks are now 12-15 in SEC play and with the way Georgia is playing lately, beating the Dogs three straight next weekend will be a tough chore. Man, those fans are up in arms now.