April 8, 2009

By Amy Farnum Novin

NEW AT THE TOP: Arizona State took over the top spot in the latest Baseball America Top 25 after knocking off previously No. 1-ranked Cal State Fullerton in a midweek series, and then sweeping Washington in a Pac-10 Conference series last weekend.

Junior left-hander Josh Spence struck out two batters in two scoreless innings of work against the Titans to pick up a save in the 3-1 victory.  The native of Victoria, Australia, went on improve his season record to 6-0 in a win versus the Huskies on April 4.  Spence fanned a career-high 14 batters in eight innings without surrendering an earned run. 

Spence, who paces the Pac-10 with a 1.17 ERA and 72 strikeouts, was named Pac-10 Pitcher of the Week for his contributions.
The Sun Devils fell to Arkansas, ranked No. 1 in the Collegiate Baseball national poll, 7-3, on April 7, and finish up the midweek series in Fayetteville on April 8 in the battle between the two No. 1 teams.

BEST OUT WEST:  UC Irvine continued its success in Big West play as the Anteaters notched a series victory, sparked by Danial Bibona’s eight scoreless innings in the their opening win against the Titans.

The native of Lake Forest, Calif., held the Titans hitless until the fourth inning, and struck out five batters in the career-long eight-inning outing. The left-hander improved his season record to 5-1, while extending his shutout streak to 14 innings.

Bibona, who leads the league with 52 strikeouts and tops the Anteaters with a 2.30 ERA, was named Big West Pitcher of the Week for his outstanding performance.

PATRIOT POWER:  George Mason turned in a flawless 5-0 record last week as the Patriots stretched their nation’s longest active home winning streak to 20 games, which is also a school record.  The Patriots swept UNC Wilmington for the first time in 10 years, propelling them to first place in the Colonial Athletic Association standings with a 7-2 mark.

Senior left-hander Mike Modica played a key role in the Patriots’ success against UNCW, limiting them to one run on five hits in seven innings pitched while striking out six in the outing.  The native of Sewell, N.J., who tied a school record with his 40th career start against UNCW, was named CAA Pitcher of the Week for his efforts.

George Mason earned its first-ever national ranking as the Patriots climbed into the No. 25 spot of the Collegiate Baseball poll.  The Patriots then proved deserving of their new ranking with a 17-5 defeat of George Washington on April 7.  They improved to 25-5 on the year – the best record in school history.

PANTHERS POUNCE:  The Ohio Valley Conference named Eastern Illinois senior outfielder Brett Nommensen as the league’s Player of the Week for the fourth straight week after reaching base safely in 14 of 17 plate appearances for the Panthers.

Nommensen also contributed three home runs, two doubles, nine RBI and seven runs scored, and went 4-for-4 with runners in scoring position during wins against Saint Louis and Murray State.  The native of Fox River Grove, Ill., leads the OVC with a .516 batting average, 11 home runs, and a 1.022 slugging percentage. During the Panthers’ 11-game winning, Nommensen is hitting .606 with 13 RBI and 17 runs scored.

The Panthers are ranked No. 27 in the latest Collegiate Baseball national poll – the program’s first national ranking since becoming a Division I school in 1982.  EIU is perfect in league play with a 7-0 record and has won 15 of its last 16 games.