East Carolina had a tough go of it in TinselTown this weekend and the body language said it all.

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The Ouch List: Who Takes A Ride On The Pain Train

Analysis

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This is not a good time of the season to have a bad weekend. Especially if you’re a mid-major in our sport.

This past week was a perfect example of why I hate the basketball-based RPI so much. It’s an old story that comes up time and time again, the RPI is such a harsh tormentor to the mid-majors out there and a good friend to the Power Five Conferences. 

Take this week’s cases of Evansville and Alabama as an example. The Aces had a bad weekend, losing a series to Indiana and dropped from No. 33 down to No. 48. In other words, they went from a solid at-large team to a bubble team, with the likely result being one of the “first five out” of the NCAA Tournament if it started this week. 

Meanwhile, the Tide got beat in a noncompetitive way by Mississippi State in three straight games, yet their RPI actually rose 14 slots up to No. 46. And that’s just one example. I have always thought the mid-majors get the shaft for having one bad weekend and the big money conferences get oddly rewarded for a bad weekend. Ack! 

With that scenario in mind, here is this week’s tickets for a ride on the Pain Train.

The Ouch List… 

– NORTH CAROLINA STATE
What Happened: Swept at home by Louisville
Why It Hurts: This extends their totally inexplicable losing streak.
This is a Major League “Ouch!” Or, in more proper terms indicative of their week, this was a football-sized “Ouch!” Every one of their losses this week sort of resembled a football score, losing 7-6 to Coastal Carolina in the mid-week, then getting sugar-blasted 14-10 and 14-2 in a Saturday doubleheader to Louisville, before losing a field-goal laden 6-3 game on Sunday. The Cardinals pock-marked the Wolfpack arms for an insane 47 hits in the three games. The Pack has now lost five straight after starting the season 29-3.

– EAST CAROLINA
What Happened: Lost three games at UCLA
Why It Hurts: The top eight hopes take a hit
As you might expect, losing three games at UCLA is not a big shame. Coach Cliff Godwin told me after Saturday’s game three that the Bruins were easily the best team they had faced this year. But ECU could’ve used at least one win to help boost their RPI. And the painful part is that all three games were pretty close, especially game two which the Bruins won on a jog-off home run by Michael Toglia. The first two games saw them lose late leads. The good news? Their RPI actually improved three spots this week, to No. 13. Wait… is East Carolina considered a “mid-major”? 

– CLEMSON
What Happened: Swept in three straight at Florida State
Why It Hurts: Another shot to the ego in a wild and strange season.
Prior to this weekend everybody in college baseball was talking about the dire situation the Seminoles were in, considering their near triple-digit RPI and tough schedule remaining. Now, everybody is talking about “What in hot Hades happened to the Tigers?” In Tallahassee the Tigers were outscored 28-8 in a three game sweep. Although they only dropped five spots in the RPI – down to No. 24 – this had to be a confidence killer to the Fighting Iptay’s. This has already been a wild up-and-down season for Clemson, who has some good wins and dubious losses. 

– UC IRVINE
What Happened: Went 0-4 this week.
Why It Hurts: Lost their Big West lead and maybe their ranking.
The Anteaters entered this week at 21-5, 5-1 in Big West play and ranked No. 18 by D1Baseball. They lost a 9-3 midweek game vs. No. 1 UCLA, then dropped all three games at UC Santa Barbara this weekend, 4-1, 10-1 and 3-2. In Sunday’s getaway game the ‘Eaters had the bases loaded in the ninth inning only to see the final two outs of the game come via strike out looking. Eye-yaye-yaye. But like East Carolina above, their RPI increased seven spots to No. 57 by losing to No. 1 and No. 4. 

UC Irvine had a tough go of it in three losses at UC Santa Barbara.

– EVANSVILLE
What Happened: Lost five games this week.
Why It Hurts: Losing their grip on At-Largeland hopes. 
The Aces had an RPI of No. 33 this week to go along with a 17-10 record. But five losses later, one to Austin Peay and four to Indiana, and they now slump down to No. 48. Considering they’ve got some bad-RPI’d opponents ahead in Missouri Valley Conference play, weeks like this aren’t going to cotton to their ranking too well. They were outscored 37-11 this week to put an exclamation point on things. But EU does have a three gamer vs. No. 53 Indiana State next weekend, so things could improve soon.

– SAN DIEGO
What Happened: Went 1-3 this week
Why It Hurts: Made the mortal mistake of losing to Long Beach State
Yes, the Toreros saw their RPI drop 11 spots this week in large part due to losing to Long Beach State on Tuesday and then dropping two of three at LMU. But it’s that loss to the Dirtbags that really kills because of their No. 223 ranking. The Toreros salvaged the Sunday game vs. LMU, winning 11-8 despite nearly blowing an 8-1 lead. The other bad part is that USD is now 7-8 in WCC play, which is not great for a conference who has only four teams in its post-season tournament.

– LSU
What Happened: Lost three of four this week
Why It Hurts: The rollercoaster season takes another dip
This Tiger team is tough to figure out. Coming into this week the Tigers had just won two of three at Mississippi State and vs. Texas A&M, an incredibly impressive two-week stretch. This week, the Tigers were somehow beaten by Southern 7-2 and then nearly got swept at Missouri (winning the Friday lidlifter in 10 innings). The alarming part is the batting order suffered 38 strikeouts in the four games. This comes after K’ing 31 times vs. A&M last week.

– ST. JOHN’S
What Happened: Won some bad games. Yes, they won “bad.”
Why It Hurts: Nobody lost more this week.
The Red Storm have the ignominious title of “Biggest Loser” this week despite having a winning record on the week. Yes, they went 3-2 and the two losses came against No. 75 Xavier, so that’s not too bad. The problem was that they beat No. 239 Albany and No. 232 Long Island. Because of having to play mid-week games like that, they’ve seen their RPI drop from No. 41 to No. 74. And this despite having a winning record this week. 

– TEXAS
What Happened: Lost two of three vs. Kansas State
Why It Hurts: The big RPI dip.
The Longhorns plummeted 11 spots from No. 20 to No. 31. For just the second time in the David Pierce era the Longhorns lost a home series in Big 12 play. Yes, hard to believe. K-State won games one and three on the weekend and never trailed in either contest. KSU freshman Jordan Wicks held the Horns to five hits and zero runs in the Sunday getaway game, a 2-0 loss. The Longhorns are now 5-6 in Big 12 play and will go on the road at Oklahoma State next week. 

– ALABAMA
What Happened: Swept badly at Mississippi State
Why It Hurts: They’re chances for a fairy tale season might be ending.
I respect what Brad Bohannon has done as the lead maestro for the Crimson Tide the last two seasons, especially after racing out to a 16-2 start this season. But things have gone south since then, as the Fighting Bear Bryant’s have gone 7-12 since then. This weekend they went to Starkville and lost 6-0, 9-1 and 13-3 in a very non-competitive three-game series. Their RPI is still at No. 46 but a 4-11 start to SEC play isn’t very encouraging.  

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