Baseball Games of the Week (3/1 - 3/3)

Florida College Baseball Mike Zunino

Baseball Games of the Week (3/1 - 3/3)

One matchup, #18 Florida vs. Miami, is between two schools that have normally been powers in the college baseball world. Both started the season highly ranked, but Florida has stumbled out of the gate, starting the season 3-5, including four consecutive losses and a weekend sweep to Florida Gulf Coast.  They'll have a tough matchup with a Miami squad that is ranked in the top 20 in many polls. The Gators face North Florida before the series with the Hurricanes.

For Florida, hitting has not been the team's problem, as witnessed by Zack Powers, who leads the team in multiple categories. He has a .417 average, three home runs and 10 RBI, all team-highs. Three of Justin Shafer's nine hits are doubles.  What has hurt Florida thus far has been its pitching, most notably by the starters. Of the three pitchers who have each started two games, the lowest ERA is a 4.00. And in their eight starts, none of the Gators' starters have registered a win.

Miami, on the other hand, has won its first seven games and has two games this week before its series with the Gators. Through seven games, Miami has six players that have a .348 average or higher, including Brad Fieger, who comes into Tuesday's game with a .480 average. The junior infielder has 12 hits in his 25 at-bats while his classmate, shortstop Alex Hernandez is hitting .400. They are two of four hitters that have two doubles apiece. The big bopper in the lineup is first baseman/outfielder David Thompson who is hitting .348.  Of the freshman's eight hits, six are doubles and one is a home run and he leads the team with 13 RBI.  The Hurricane pitching has been phenomenal to this point.  Javi Salas has started two games and has a 0.00 ERA, giving up one unearned run in 11.2 innings pitched. Another starter, Chris Diaz, has a 0.75 ERA in his two starts. Diaz has given up one earned run in his 12 innings pitched.


Astros Foundation College Classic (Houston)

One of the biggest, if not the biggest, tournaments of the early season is this week's Astros Foundation College Classic, which is being played at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. The field includes many of the top teams in the country (Rice, North Carolina, Baylor, Texas A&M and Cal). Houston, a solid mid-major, is also in the field.

Three of the games will be featured this week because they are the best of the games. Top games include North Carolina vs. Rice, Rice vs. Texas A&M, and North Carolina vs. Texas A&M. Since the three teams previewed are the same, I'll take a look at those teams overall instead of the individual matchups.


#1 North Carolina: North Carolina comes into the Classic on a seven-game winning streak, with a mid-week game against St. John's yet to be played. Through six games, UNC has outscored their opponents 52-14 and has done so without the use of the long ball. The Tar Heels hit one homer through their first six games of the season. Skye Bolt is the team's leading hitter, knocking out 12 hits in his 22 at-bats. Five of his 12 hits are doubles, a team-high, and he also is tied for a team-high seven RBI. Four other hitters have seven hits apiece.  As impressive as the hitters have been, UNC's pitchers have been even better. Kent Emanuel and Benton Moss have both started two games, won both and each has lower than a 1.00 ERA. Emanuel leads the starters with a 0.56 ERA, while Moss has a 0.73 ERA. Moss leads the team with 14 strikeouts, while Emanuel has 13.


#23 Texas A&M: The Aggies come into the Classic with a 6-3 record (pending a Wednesday game with Northwestern State). Like many of the other teams playing in Houston this weekend, the Aggies haven't hit for a lot of power, at least not yet. Through nine games, A&M has yet to hit a home run, while hitting a combined 13 extra base hits in 281 at-bats. Mikey Reynolds leads the team with a .441 average and a team-high eight RBI. He is also tied for most runs (five) and stolen bases (six).  Three of the Aggie starters have an ERA of under 2.00. While Daniel Mengden has a team-high two wins, Kyle Martin also has some outstanding stats. Even though his record stands at 0-1, he has struck out 16 in 13.2 innings and has yet to walk a batter. Jason Jester has gotten saves in two of the four contests he has appeared in.


#17 Rice: After dropping a midweek game to Dallas Baptist, the Owls recovered nicely, sweeping Hawaii in four games, including a 2-0, 17-inning marathon. Shane Hoelscher leads the regulars with a .353 average and a team-high 12 hits and three doubles. Michael Aquino, who has started four of the games he has appeared in, leads the team with three home runs and six RBI. In fact, he has all three of the team's homers.  If John Simma and Austin Kubitza aren't considered two of the best pitchers of the young season, people haven't been paying attention. Both have started two games and Simms leads the team with three wins, as he made a relief appearance as well. Neither pitcher has given up a run, earned or unearned thus far. Kubitza has also struck out an impressive 25 batters in his 13 innings pitched. Zech Lemond has three saves in four appearances.