Everyone enjoys seeing David vs. Goliath matchups, rooting for the underdog, and a cinderella sporting the slipper in March. Well this weekend's match-up in Tallahassee is far from those three scenarios as the #1 Seminoles host the #2 Hurricanes. Dick Howser Stadium will be overflowing as the two go "mano y mano" to decide who is king of college baseball, well at least for the moment. Who will emerge from the weekend atop the standings - ACC and NCAA? We will take a look, break it down, and make the prediction in this week's rendition of the College Baseball Weekend Preview.
SERIES OF THE WEEKEND
#2 Miami, FL (31-3 Overall, 15-1 ACC) at #1 Florida State (33-3 Overall, 17-1 ACC)
Both teams are coming into the Sunshine Showdown riding winning streaks. Mike Martin's Seminoles have won 11 straight while Jim Morris' Hurricanes have won 4 in a row. Florida State went to Boston College last weekend and came away with the sweep. Miami swept Georgia Tech in Atlanta last weekend; however, I think the Jackets had other things on their mind than baseball with the unexpected death of fellow player, Michael Hutts. The Hurricanes made up for last weeks upset to Florida Atlantic by defeating them 12-10 on Wednesday, but had to get a two-out walk off HR in the 9th to do it. The Seminoles took two in the mid-week; one from Florida, 4-2, and one from North Florida, 10-2.
Junior All-American Candidate Buster Posey continues to lead the Seminoles in hitting. He is hitting .482, with 16 doubles, 3 triples, 10 HRs, and 42 RBIs. Senior Jack Rye (.382, 3 HR, 28 RBI) and junior transfer Tony Delmonico (.370, 12 doubles, 42 RBI) help the Seminoles to keep the team batting average above .350 for the season. This is still remarkable this late into the season. The team has scored 348 runs in 36 games (9.67 RPG) and has 451 hits (160 for extra bases). The Seminoles have also stolen 39 bases, with Tyler Holt leading the way with 10.
The Hurricanes can also knock the cover off the ball. They have 413 hits (151 for extra bases) and scored 325 runs in 34 games (9.56 RPG). Junior Jemile Weeks leads the team in hitting with a .403 average and junior Blake Tekotte leads the team with 17 stolen bases. The Hurricanes have swept 69 bases on the season (Weeks has 12). As a team, Miami has hit 55 Hrs but no player has more than 9; therefore, everyone in the lineup has the potential to take it deep.
Both pitching staffs have to be shaking in their boots after seeing some of the gaudy numbers being put up by both lineups. Florida State has a 3.53 team ERA but have only given up 84 extra base hits in 321 innings pitched. Sophomore Matt Fairel is 8-0 with a 2.38 ERA. He has 45 strikeouts in 53 innings, but only fanned three last weekend in Boston while giving up six runs in six innings of work. Freshman Geoff Parker (3-1, 2.64 ERA, 30 Ks) and Elih Villanueva (4-0, 3.33, 55) should round out the rotation for the Seminoles. Parker only allowed three runs in eight innings with six strikeouts and one walk last Saturday. Villanueva went six, struck out eight, and did not allow a run last Sunday. They will not be going up against the Eagles this weekend; so look for Buster Posey to get some work to improve on his four saves on the season.
Hurricane pitching has averaged virtually a strikeout per inning (308 Ks in 307 IP). Freshman Chris Hernandez (5-0, 2.77, 55) heads up the staff that has a team ERA of 3.78 while only allowing 72 extra base hits. Hernandez went six, struck out six, allowing only three runs on eight hits last Saturday against the Yellow Jackets. Senior Enrique Garcia has an inflated ERA of 5.56 with 30 Ks but picked up his second win without a loss last Saturday. He gave up three runs on eight hits in seven innings of work. Sophomore David Gutierrez (2-0, 2.96, 23) tossed six innings allowing three runs on five hits and struck out four last Sunday. There will not be many easy outs in the Seminole lineup but look for junior reliever Carlos Gutierrez (2-1, 2.16, 8 saves) to come in and shut the door in a close game.
Regional selections are only a month and a half away; therefore, this series will go a long way to possibly determine the overall #1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Without question, the stands will be overflowing and tickets will be hard to come by. Dick Howser is a hitter's park and look for the hits to be on display. Going to be a dandy of a series, with the Seminoles sticking their flag atop the ACC and NCAA standings with a 2-1 series victory.
REMAINING TOP FIVE SERIES TO WATCH
#16 Mississippi (24-13, 9-6 SEC West) at #12 South Carolina (27-10, 9-6 SEC East)
The Rebels took two of three from LSU last weekend in Oxford to increase their division lead to three games, but dropped the Governor's Cup game 6-5 to rival Mississippi State on Tuesday. South carolina went to the plains in Auburn and came out with a sweep (guess they read last week's preview, saw my upset pick of the week, and proved me wrong). They then took two games this week, including a 6-0 white-washing of rival Clemson, to extend their winning streak to 7. Gamecocks 2-1.
Oregon State (16-12, 4-5 Pac 10) at #3 Arizona State (30-4, 6-3 Pac 10)
Both teams had some time to think about this series. The Beavers lost two of three to Stanford, while the Sun Devils took two of three from Washington State. The two-time defending champions need to start getting hot, but not this weekend as Arizona State takes the series 2-1.
#32 East Carolina (27-10, 8-4 CUSA) at #9 Rice (28-10, 10-2 CUSA)
Here is a chance for the Pirates to make a statement in the CUSA race. The Owls have a 8 game win streak, including their 11-2 win over #8 Texas A&M on Tuesday in College Station. East Carolina spilt a pair of games during the mid-week after sweeping Marshall last weekend. With the series being in Houston, I will take the Owls 2-1.
Baylor (23-14, 8-7 Big XII) at #8 Texas A&M (30-7, 12-3 Big XII)
As previously mentioned, the Aggies took it on the chin to #9 Rice Tuesday. All this did was reenergize them heading into the series this weekend. The Bears split two with Dallas Baptist and certainly could use a series win this week. They will not get it done as the Aggies sweep to keep their lead in the Big XII.
FIVE OTHER SERIES WORTH KEEPING AN EYE ON
Southern Mississippi (25-11, 5-4 CUSA) at Tulane (25-11, 4-4 CUSA)
A crucial series in CUSA besides the one previously mentioned. The Eagles need to keep pace in the conference and will do so with a our mild upset pick of the week, 2-1.
#22 Oklahoma State (23-11, 8-7 Big XII) at #17 Texas (23-13, 8-7 Big XII)
The topsy-turvey Big XII will come down to the wire. This series has huge implications on regional hosting and seeding in the conference tournament. Longhorns are too tough at home, 2-1.
Notre Dame (21-9, 10-2 Big East) at West Virginia (26-9, 7-5 Big East)
Notre Dame is about as hot as the Seminoles. The Irish have a 10 game winning streak. West Virginia is only three games back and playing good ball as well; however, they will be six back after getting swept in Morgantown.
Elon (28-11, 12-3 SoCon) at #29 College of Charleston (25-12, 8-4 SoCon)
The Phoenix lead the Southern COnference; however, they have dropped three straight overall coming into this series. The Cougars picked up two wins in the midweek and will pick up two more this weekend.
#25 Tennessee (22-14, 9-6 SEC East) at Arkansas (20-16, 6-9 SEC West)
The Vols take the long road trip to the Ozarks this weekend trying to keep pace with SEC leading Georgia. The Hogs are looking to get back into one of the spots for the SEC Tournament after a slow start. Our upset of the week has the Vols dropping two in Fayetteville.
Other Series of Note
Purdue at Ohio State