Baseball Weekend Preview
A pair of top-25 conference matchups highlight the schedule
No. 23 Clemson at No. 6 North Carolina
The Tigers are looking to rebound from a road series loss at NC State, and improve a 4-5 Atlantic Coast Conference mark, as they head to Chapel Hill this weekend. The Tar Heels have won nine of their last 10 games and six consecutive ACC contests, and boast a 15-1 home record heading into the Clemson series. The Tigers (.318) and Tar Heels (.308) are two of the top hitting teams in the ACC. UNC senior right-hander Patrick Johnson (5-0, 2.58 ERA) will take the mound on Friday against Clemson junior RHP Scott Weismann (2-3, 6.52 ERA). Clemson holds a 96-78-1 advantage in the all-time series that dates back to 1901.
- Schedule: April 1 at 7 p.m. ET; April 2 at 2 p.m. ET; April 3 at 1 p.m. ET.
No. 13 Arkansas at No. 25 Alabama
The Razorbacks will head to Tuscaloosa looking for their first Southeastern Conference series victory after losing the first two weekends against Auburn and Vanderbilt. Alabama has won eight of its last nine games, and lead the SEC West with a 5-1 mark. Freshman Dominic Ficociello is the Razorbacks’ top hitter with a .348 average and 25 RBI, while Brock Bennett tops the Tide with a .386 average and 12 RBI. Arkansas sophomore left-hander Cade Lynch (2-0, 2.40 ERA) will face Alabama right-hander Nathan Kilcrease (3-1, 1.79 ERA) in Friday’s contest. The Tide leads the all-time series 38-24, although the Razorbacks swept Alabama in three games last year.
- Schedule: April 1 at 6:35 p.m. CT; April 2 at 2:05 p.m. CT; April 3 at 1:05 p.m. CT (CSS).
Oregon at No. 9 Arizona State
The Ducks travel to Tempe for their first Pac-10 series of the season following a series loss to Wichita State last weekend. ASU took two of three games from archrival Arizona to open Pac-10 action last week. Oregon has won eight of its last 11 games, while the Sun Devils have won seven of their last 10. The Ducks’ 2.86 ERA ranks fourth in the league and 29th in the country, while they pace the conference with 234 strikeouts, led by Preseason All-America LHP Tyler Anderson (4-0, 1.02 ERA). The Sun Devils will pose a challenge for the Ducks’ pitching staff with the second-best batting average in the Pac-10 (.322), led by catcher Austin Barnes’ 426 average and 10 doubles. RHP Brady Rodgers (3-1, 2.33) will face Anderson in Friday night’s match-up. ASU holds an 8-2 advantage in the all-time series, including winning two of three games in Eugene last season.
- Schedule: April 1 at 6:30 p.m. PT; April 2 at 6:30 p.m. PT, April 3 at 12 p.m. PT.
Texas Tech at No. 11 Oklahoma
The Red Raiders are off to their best start in Big 12 action (4-2) since 1999 after taking two of three games from Nebraska last weekend. Tech has won eight of its last 10 games. OU has lost three of its first five league games, but lead the league in batting (.332) and 21 home runs. Third baseman Garrett Buechele paces the Sooners with a .429 average and 32 RBI. Two unbeaten right-handers will face off on Friday night as Tech’s David Paiz (3-0, 4.15 ERA) tangles with OU’s Michael Rocha (6-0, 0.96 ERA). Oklahoma leads the series 32-26-1, and Tech has not won a series in Norman since 1999.
- Schedule: April 1 at 6:30 p.m. CT; April 2 at 7p.m. CT (ESPNU); April 3 at 1 p.m. CT.
No. 22 Southern Miss at UCF
The Golden Eagles have won 11 of their last 13 games, including a 10-inning victory over Mississippi on March 30. Southern Miss opened Conference USA play with a series win over Tulane, and cracked each of the five major baseball polls on Monday. UCF opened league action with the Knights’ first-ever series win over Rice, and has won 10 of its last 13 contests. UCF and Southern Miss are the C-USA’s top two hitting teams, batting .315 and .312, respectively. UCF ranks second in the league with a 2.77 ERA, while Southern Miss is fourth with a 3.36 ERA.
- Schedule: April 1 at 6:30 p.m. ET; April 2 at 4 p.m. ET; April 3 at 12 p.m. ET.
No. 1 Mount Olive at No. 21 Belmont Abbey
This Conference Carolinas battle will showcase the top two leagues in the league as Mount Olive owns a one-and-a-half game lead over the Crusaders. The Trojans (.357) and Crusaders (.312) are the top two hitting teams in the league, while Mount Olive leads the conference with a 2.52 ERA, which ranks 11th in the nation. Mount Olive left-hander Carter Capps (6-0, 1.66 ERA) and Belmont Abbey’s Steven Thiele (6-0, 2.24 ERA) will be featured in the first game of the series. They rank second and third in ERA in the conference, respectively.
- Schedule: April 2 at 12 p.m. ET (DH); April 3 at 1 p.m. ET.
No. 12 UNC Pembroke at No. 8 Armstrong Atlantic State
UNCP is the top hitting team in the Peach Belt Conference (.319), while the Pirates and Braves are tied for second in the league with a 2.57 ERA. The Pirates’ 8-1 record in PBC play is their best start since 1992. At 8-6 in PBC action, the Braves will look to gain ground from their third-place position in the league’s East Division.
- Schedule: April 2 at 12 p.m. ET (DH); April 3 at 1 p.m. ET.
No. 28 Barry at No. 14 Florida Southern
The Buccaneers are off to their best start in school history at 22-8 and 9-0 in Sunshine State Conference action. Barry has won 16 of its last 17 games, and is led by Corey Whitkowski, who boasts a 6-1 record and 1.61 ERA. The Bucs pace the SSC in both home runs (33) and stolen bases (64). Dean Green boasts a team-leading .335 average with 42 RBI. Florida Southern also enters the series with a perfect SSC record at 6-0, and is riding a 13-game winning streak. The Moccasins top three starting pitchers – Gus Scholosser, Stephen Batman and Eddie Sipple – have combined for a 12-4 record and 2.63 ERA this season. Tyler Benzel tops the Mocs with a .359 batting average and 23 RBI.
No. 1 Shenandoah at No. 2 Christopher Newport
The top two teams in the nation will get together for a USA South Conference clash this weekend. The Hornets enter the game with a 20-1 mark and perfect 8-0 mark in league play, winning the first 19 games of the season. The Captains have won 28 of their first 30 games, which included a 26-game winning streak that ended against Averett on March 26. CNU senior Sean Chitsaz (6-2, 1.76 ERA) and Shenandoah senior Greg Van Sickler (7-0, 1.17 ERA) will likely be matched up in the series opener on Saturday. The Hornets can clinch their first-ever regular season league title with two wins.
- Schedule: April 2 at 1 p.m. ET; April 3 at 1 p.m. ET.
No. 5 TCNJ at No. 20 Kean
New Jersey Athletic Conference action starts off with a bang as the Lions travel to visit the Cougars. TCNJ has won nine of its last 10 games, while Kean is riding a five-game winning streak entering the series. The Cougars lead the league and are ranked seventh in the nation with a 2.16 ERA, led by Mike Russo, who is 4-0 with a 0.95 ERA. Connor Henderson (4-0, 0.47 ERA) is the Lions’ top starter. TCNJ (.320) has a slight advantage offensively over Kean (.311), and KU’s Ken Gregory (.403, 20 RBI) paces both teams at the plate.
- Schedule: April 2 at 11:30 a.m. ET.
Puget Sound at No. 7 Linfield
The top two teams in the Northwest Conference standings will battle for first place this weekend as the Loggers (8-1) visit the Wildcats (10-2). Linfield leads the league with a .312 batting average and ranks second in the NWC with a 2.54 ERA. Matt Cox paces the Loggers with a .456 batting average and 15 RBI, while Matt Robinson (4-1, 1.77 ERA) is Puget Sound’s top pitcher. Linfield’s Robert Vaughn (0.60 ERA) and Ryan Larson (1.34 ERA) have combined for an 11-1 record in 14 starts.
- Schedule: April 2 at 12 p.m. PT (DH); April 3 at 12 p.m. PT.