March 23, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

RAZOR SHARP:  Arkansas is off to its best Southeastern Conference start in school history after posting a three-game sweep at Auburn to move to 6-0 in league play.

The Razorbacks opened league action with a sweep of Florida, and with their three wins over Auburn last weekend, have notched consecutive sweeps against SEC opponents for the first time since 1999.  

The strong start in conference play has propelled the Razorbacks up the Baseball America Top 25 to No. 14, and vaulted the squad 14 spots to No. 9 in the latest Collegiate Baseball national poll.

BLUE STREAK: Duke won its first series against North Carolina since 2001 last weekend, sparked by the stellar pitching of senior right-hander Andrew Wolcott.
The native of Grayslake, Ill., earned his second straight win against a top 10 opponent as the Blue Devils edged No. 1, 5-4, on March 21.  Wolcott stifled the Tar Heels, holding them scoreless in the first six innings before surrendering two unearned runs in the bottom of the seventh inning.  At one point, Wolcott retired 10 straight UNC batters between the fourth and sixth innings.

Wolcott, who garnered Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher of the Week honors, defeated Miami two weeks ago while the Hurricanes sat in the top 10.  The Blue Devils are 5-0 this season when Wolcott starts, including 3-0 in ACC action.  He has compiled a 0.56 ERA over his last 16 innings pitched.

ROLLER DERBY:  East Carolina opened Conference USA play with a sweep of UCF last weekend thanks to an offensive explosion by the Pirates led by junior designated hitter Kyle Roller.

The native of Rockingham, N.C., batted .591 with four home runs and 15 RBI during a 5-0 week for the Pirates, earning C-USA Hitter of the Week honors.
Roller tallied four multi-hit and multi-RBI games while helping the Pirates set school and conference marks for runs scored in consecutive games (52, with 26 each against Norfolk and UCF).  ECU’s 90 runs and 98 hits over the five games last week were also school records.

The Pirates broke into the latest Baseball America Top 25 at No. 22 after putting on the offensive show.

IN CONTROL:  Ohio State’s Alex Wimmers was named Big Ten Pitcher of the Week for the second straight week after tossing a complete-game shutout victory over Indiana in non-conference play on March 20.  

The sophomore right-hander from Cincinnati, Ohio, fanned 14 batters without a walk while allowing just five singles as he moved to 4-0 on the year.  Wimmers lowered his ERA to 1.85 after the outing, and currently leads the league with 47 strikeouts.  

The Buckeyes are 16-2 this season, and open Big Ten action at Penn State this weekend.

NOTABLE:  UC Santa Barbara is off to its best start since 1991 after topping then-No. 25 UC Riverside in a non-conference match-up on March 22 … New Mexico climbed into the BA Top 25 at No. 21 after putting together a 6-0 record last week, including victories over Texas A&M and Northwestern.  The Lobos have won nine straight games and at 22-3 have matched their best start since 1973.  The national ranking is New Mexico’s first since the 1985 season.