D1 Digest: Friday, May 19Roundup
It’s crunch time in college baseball, the final weekend of the regular season in most conferences. Here’s a look at how Friday’s big action affected the postseason picture.
Florida State: Surely you didn’t think the Seminoles would go down without a fight? FSU needed to make a strong impression at Louisville this weekend, and has certainly done that, clinching a series win over the Cardinals with an 8-2 victory on Friday. FSU starting pitcher Tyler Holton struck out 11, walked three and allowed a run and just a hit in eight innings, while Taylor Walls had a pair of hits to lead the offense. It was the first time since joining the ACC back in 2015 that UL has lost a home series. Pretty remarkable. As for FSU’s bubble situation, the Seminoles are now off the bubble, sitting with a 14-14 ACC record and an RPI of No. 14 — an insane 14-spot jump from two days ago.
NC State: We said on the NerdCast earlier this week that the Wolfpack could pretty much punch their ticket to the postseason with a series win over Clemson. Well, the Pack did just what they needed to do, beating the Tigers 12-10 despite a wild top of the ninth to clinch a series victory. NC State’s Will Wilson hit a grand slam and finished the game with two hits, while Brian Brown led the way on the mound, striking out six, walking one and allowing just an earned run in six innings. With the win, NC State is now 16-13 in the league with an RPI in the Top 30. In other words, NC State is a regional lock and is making a strong move at a 2-seed.
South Carolina: We said earlier this week the Gamecocks needed to win the Georgia series — maybe even sweep it — to keep their at-large hopes alive. Well, the Gamecocks made a valiant run in the ninth inning Friday against the Bulldogs, but still dropped a 5-4 decision. With the loss, the Gamecocks have now lost eight straight SEC series, while also having a 12-17 league record. Barring some sort of magical run in the SEC tournament, look for the Gamecocks to miss the postseason, further clouding the situation surrounding head coach Chad Holbrook.
Sun Belt Trio: On Thursday, Coastal Carolina and UL Lafayette took care of business against Appalachian State and UL Monroe, respectively, while South Alabama lost the series opener to Troy. The Jaguars responded with a 10-6 home victory over the Trojans, while Coastal and ULL also took care of business. Should the Jags win tomorrow, it would set the stage for an outstanding Sun Belt tournament. Heading into the final day of the regular season, Coastal (21-7-1) holds a half-game lead over South Alabama (21-8) in the standings; whichever team captures the regular-season title would get a boost to its at-large hopes.
Ole Miss: The Rebels took a step forward last weekend against Texas A&M, but have taken two steps back this weekend against Auburn, losing big, 9-1, on Friday to drop the series. With the loss, the Rebels are 13-16 in the SEC and down to No. 35 in the RPI, with just a 10-19 record against the top 50. Ole Miss desperately needs to win the series finale and then make a little noise in the SEC tournament. Lose tomorrow? That would mean Ole Miss would have to make a statement next week to make the field. As for Auburn, we already said earlier this week we had no concerns about those guys, but with the win, AU is 16-13 in the SEC, and at worst, 16-14, after tomorrow. Make your plans, AU fans.
Florida Atlantic: The Owls needed just three outs to clinch a massive series win over Old Dominion at home. However, the Monarchs scored four runs in the ninth to inch past John McCormack’s Owls. ODU’s Zach Rutherford finished the night with two hits and two RBIs. FAU needs to take the series finale and do some damage in the Conference USA tournament.
Maryland: We didn’t have the Terrapins on the bubble earlier this week, but you can officially put them on there after losing to High Point for the second straight day, this time 7-6. With the loss, the Terps have lost four-straight series and contests, respectively. The Terps are trending the wrong direction heading into the Big Ten tournament, but still have a respectable 38 RPI. John Sfecz’s club will need to make some noise next week to be assured a spot in the field, because momentum is not on their side.
Kansas: We said earlier this week on the NerdCast that KU could get on the good side of the bubble, potentially, with a strong showing and series win at Texas Tech. However, the Jayhawks dropped the series with an ugly 16-4 loss on Friday. Tech’s Josh Jung had a massive night at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a home run and four RBIs, while Cody Farhat chipped in a four-hit performance. KU’s RPI sits around 60 entering the series finale in Lubbock.
Miami: Just like their rivals up in Tallahassee, the Hurricanes are doing all they can to make a late run to the NCAA postseason. The ‘Canes clinched a series win over Virginia Tech with a 3-1 victory on Friday night. Miami starting pitcher Gregory Veliz was outstanding against the Hokies, striking out 13, not walking anyone and allowing a run on four hits in eight innings. Veliz sat in the low-to-mid 90s with his fastball. With the win, the Hurricanes are up to 51 in the RPI with a 15-13 league record. Win again tomorrow and the ‘Canes would have an interesting case entering the conference tournament with a 16-13 league mark. But they’d still have work to do in the conference tournament, because ACC and SEC teams with RPIs around No. 50 or lower have a bad track record of getting at-large bids, and Miami is still just 6-15 against the top 50.
UCLA: In an important series between a pair of teams looking to make the NCAA postseason, the Bruins took the series opener against Utah, 7-3, behind ace righty Griffin Canning. Canning struck out 10, walked two and allowed three runs on six hits in a complete game performance, while Utah’s Jayson Rose allowed six runs on nine hits in 4.1 innings. With the win, the Bruins are 26-23 overall but still need to improve RPI-wise at 61.
Washington: The Huskies really need to get a road series win over Stanford this weekend, but started the series on a negative note in an 8-4 loss to the Cardinal. UW starting pitcher Noah Bremer allowed eight runs (seven earned) in 6.2 innings, while Matt Winaker smacked a home run for the Cardinal. UW has an RPI in the 60s, a 26-23 overall record and a 12-13 mark in the Pac-12. Stanford (No. 11 in the RPI) continues its strong national seed push. Speaking of which…
Host/National Seed Watch
Florida: The fifth-ranked Gators bounced back from Thursday’s loss with a 14-3 blowout win Friday against No. 6 Kentucky, leveling the series. Florida and LSU head into the final day of the SEC season tied for first place at 20-9, one game ahead of Kentucky (19-10). So the Wildcats, who already won a head-to-head series against LSU, are still alive in the race for the SEC’s regular-season title, but they need to win Saturday and they need the Tigers to lose. Florida, meanwhile, got big production from the bottom half of its lineup, which produced 10 of its 16 hits and 10 of its 13 RBIs on Friday in support of Brady Singer (7 IP, 3 ER). The Wildcats will remain right in the national seed mix even if they lose Saturday, because they’re near the top of the SEC and remain seventh in the RPI and 19-11 against the top 50. But a win Saturday should sew up a national seed. The Gators should be safe either way.
LSU: The afore-mentioned Tigers clinched a huge showdown series on the road at Mississippi State with an 11-5 win Friday. Kramer Robertson had three hits and three runs out of the leadoff spot, and the Tigers got two or more RBIs apiece from Antoine Duplantis, Greg Deichmann, Nick Coomes and Michael Papierski. At No. 9 in the RPI, 20-13 against the top 50 and with an SEC West title under their belts, the Tigers now look like a very, very strong bet for a national seed. Mississippi State, meanwhile, is down to No. 28 in the RPI and now must make some noise in Hoover in order to get back into hosting position. This final series at home against LSU was really crucial for MSU’s hosting hopes, given its RPI issues.
Southern Miss: The Golden Eagles are simply on fire. They scored 30 runs in a doubleheader sweep at UTSA on Friday, winning 15-1 and 15-9. Leadoff man Dylan Burdeaux led the way, going 8-for-10 with five runs and five RBIs in the two games. Burdeaux and fellow stars Taylor Braley and Matt Wallner each homered in both games of the twin bill. Southern Miss already clinched the Conference USA regular-season title last week, but now it has stretched its winning streak to 14 games and climbed to No. 10 in the RPI. A 9-6 record against the top 50 is still a little light compared with some other national seed contenders, but Southern Miss might make up for it with momentum — a 14-game winning streak at this stage in the season is loud. And a 22-10 record against the top 100 is solid. If the Eagles keep it rolling into next week and make a deep run in the C-USA tournament, don’t be surprised if they elbow their way into national seed position.
Missouri State: The Bears finally lost their first Missouri Valley Conference game of the season in their second-to-last conference game of the year. And it was a very costly loss. Missouri State’s 8-4 defeat at Illinois State (which entered the game with an 11-38 overall record) dropped it nine spots to No. 23 in the RPI, dealing its hosting hopes a significant blow. At 0-2 against the top 50, Missouri State really needed a robust RPI to prop up its hosting credentials. We already had the Bears just outside hosting position heading into the week, but after Friday’s loss, they’re likely going to need to make a deep run in the Valley tournament in order to have a real shot to host.
Clemson: As mentioned above, Clemson lost to NC State again Friday to lose the series in Raleigh. Amazingly, the Tigers have fallen from strong national seed position to the hosting bubble (and perhaps the wrong side of it) in the span of a month. They have now lost nine straight ACC games and dropped to 16-13 in the league, making Saturday’s series finale crucial. Clemson’s RPI is still propped up at No. 8, but it is just 8-13 against the top 50, and momentum is working against it. The Tigers probably need to do some damage in the ACC tourney to solidify their hosting hopes, even with their inflated RPI.
Arkansas: The Hogs dropped the second game of their series at Texas A&M, 5-2, leveling the series at 1-1. Even so, Arkansas actually climbed one spot in the RPI to No. 17. A win on Saturday would be a huge boost to the Hogs’ hosting chances — in fact, it would essentially wrap up a host spot, because it would get the Hogs to 18-11 in the SEC with a top-20 RPI. A loss would not not destroy their hosting chances, but a win would solidify them.