The Angelo State bats were obviously ready for opening weekend of the 2020 DII baseball season. The Rams exploded for 46 runs in a three-game opening series to jump five spots into the No. 1 spot in our first DII baseball Power 10 rankings of the regular season.
Let's keep in mind one thing. We're getting the ball rolling this week, but a large portion of DII baseball teams haven't even stepped foot on the baseball field yet this season, including four teams in our top 10. This week's Power 10 is probably not going to last very long, but it is as good a place to start as any.
So, how do we figure out our Power 10 rankings? I use as much of the criteria the DII baseball selection committee will use come tournament time, including — but not limited to — strength of schedule, head-to-head matchups, and record against DII opponents. Now, with only a few games under our belts to rank the top 10 this week, we'll look more closely at who had a solid opening weekend, our preseason rankings, any ranked opponents said team took down, and how commanding their wins were.
Here's a look at your first top 10 of the season.
DII baseball Power 10 rankings: Week 1 (all games through Sunday, Feb. 2)
No. 1 Angelo State | 3-0 | Preseason: 6
Just wow. I said heading into the DII baseball season the No. 6 ranking may be too low, and if the Rams play like they did this past weekend, it may be true. Angelo State won its three-game series by a score of 46-4. Ace Trent Baker was masterful in his debut, going seven strong innings of one-run ball, striking out 10 and walking none. Josh Elvir started the year 6-for-10, but on the weekend the Rams hit .406 with six home runs and 76 total bases. I repeat: wow.
No. 2 Colorado Mesa | 0-0 | Preseason: 2
The Mavericks didn't open their season just yet, so there was no reason to drop them. Colorado Mesa travels across the country this weekend for a three-game series with a nationally-ranked Nova Southeastern team that struggled on opening weekend and then head north to take on nationally-ranked Southern New Hampshire the following weekend. The Mavs are testing themselves early and could propel themselves to No. 1 with a solid showing.
No. 3 UC San Diego | 3-0 | Preseason: 3
The Tritons look to be back in midseason form, sweeping Concordia (OR) in pretty dominant fashion. Ace Brandon Weed combined with Noah Conlon on an opening day shutout, striking out nine total and walking none setting the tone for the weekend and freshman Chris Gillmartin picked up his first win to close it out. The Tritons picked up a big win against rival Point Loma on Monday as slugger Blake Baumgartner's bat stayed hot. This team is looking very strong once again.
No. 4 Central Missouri | 2-1 | Preseason: 4
The Mules were one pitch away from a perfect weekend at the Houston Winter Invitational, dropping their opener 4-2 after losing the lead to Flagler with two outs in the ninth inning. They responded with two wins against two nationally-ranked opponents in Millersville and Colorado School of Mines. Erik Webb is already proving to be a nightmare for opposing pitchers, hitting the lone Mules' home run of the weekend and scoring a team-high six runs. This team is exciting and just getting started.
No. 5 North Greenville |1-1-1 | Preseason: 5
Ah, the dreaded baseball tie, making it difficult to rank a team by record. The Crusaders came out with an offensive display against No. 16 Nova Southeastern, winning their opener 15-9 on two home runs from John Michael Faile, who added one more before the weekend was over. They were cruising to a 5-1 victory to close out the weekend against Palm Beach Atlantic when the bullpen surrendered five runs in the bottom of the ninth. Is that an anomaly or a problem? It's too early to tell, but certainly something to watch.
No. 6 Ashland | 0-0 | Preseason: 7
The Eagles start a run of three-straight Power 10 teams who have yet to face a pitch in 2020. I had Ashland so high because of the number of returners from the team that reached Cary, North Carolina last season, including ace Chance Hitchcock. The Eagles won't play until Feb. 22 but open with a very tricky Charleston (WV) team before traveling to Southern Indiana, two teams on the radar for big 2020 seasons.
No. 7 Mercyhurst | 0-0 | Preseason: 9
The Lakers also won't see any action until the final weekend of February, so we all patiently wait to see how this team responds to its second final eight run in as many seasons. My biggest concern is how the pitching will take shape after losing so much to the MLB draft, but Joe Spano seems to always field a competitive team.
No. 8 New York Tech | 0-0 | Preseason: 10
The Bears are another team who earns their lofty preseason ranking thanks in part to a cast that took them to their first DII baseball championship finals in program history. New York Tech opens Feb. 20 at the Northeast Challenge and will face some stiff competition in Franklin Pierce and Wilmington (DE) in Myrtle Beach, South Carolina before a four-game series against Southern New Hampshire in a Super Regional rematch. We'll see how much of that magic these Bears have right off the start.
No. 9 Delta State |2-1 | Preseason: 13
The Statesmen couldn't pull off the sweep against East Central on opening weekend, but their 4-3 loss in Game 2 of the series was an odd one: starter Jackson Rutledge didn't allow an earned run of the four scored in a somewhat tough-luck loss. Ace Hunter Riggins was sharp in his opening day debut, tossing five innings of shutout ball, striking out eight and walking one en route to GSC pitcher of the week honors. Delta State will have a tough matchup against Lynn this weekend.
No. 10 Georgia College | 3-0 | Preseason: NR
Here's your complete overreaction of opening weekend, but the Bobcats deserve this spot for now. Georgia College went a perfect 3-0 defeating Queens (NC) in the first game before dropping 11 runs on both No. 20 Mount Olive and former No. 1 Tampa for victories. Cal Gentry has been one of DII baseball's best hitters the past few seasons, and he's off to a hot start, going 6-for-14 with a home run over the weekend. Overall the Bobcats hit .343 while starters Brennan Crooms and Kyle King were very impressive, pitching a combined 11 innings allowing just one run, striking out nine and walking one. The Bobcats are always an under-the-radar threat, but now, they are clearly on it.
Also considered (in alphabetical order):
- Augustana (SD)
- Azusa Pacific
- Colorado School of Mines
- Minnesota State
- Mount Olive
- Southern New Hampshire