After what had been a lackluster start to the year, Division I had an excellent showing this past weekend. With five teams taking on schools ranked in at least one poll, there were plenty of chances to make noise, and they took them. UConn and Rhody were the biggest winners, and a lot of others put in good shifts. In Division II, weather killed most of the scheduled action, but Franklin Pierce got another win down at Mercy. And in Division III, Mass Maritime picked up a pair of wins on their Florida trip.
UConn and Rhode Island get the most props, and rightly so, but this was a really strong weekend across Division I. Wins over top-25 and power-conference competition, and a ton of close games. The 13 teams to see action combined for 40 games. 21 of those were within three runs, and 11 were one-run games. (UConn and Boston College were the only schools not to have a one-run game, and they each took two of three on the weekend.) Lots for players and coaches to be happy with.
Let’s start off with my Team of the Week, UConn. They started the week off with a 14-1 thrashing of Siena in a Monday series finale, then had Kennesaw State to look forward to. The Owls lost some pieces from last year’s super regional team, including former NECBLer, Cape League MVP, and first-round pick Max Pentecost, but they were ranked #21 by Baseball America entering the weekend. The Huskies started off the weekend with a 5-3 Friday night win behind 5 2/3 and 11 strikeouts from Carson Cross, who’s looked good coming back from Tommy John. Saturday afternoon, Anthony Kay was even better, tossing eight innings of two-hit, shutout ball with eight strikeouts. At the plate, cleanup man Blake Davey added a three-run homer (already his third of the season) and the Huskies won 7-0. Kennesaw salvaged a game on Sunday, but UConn heads back to Storrs with a top-25 road series win under their belts. The AAC’s deep, but if they position themselves well, that’ll really help an NCAA Tournament resume come May.
If UConn had the best week, Rhode Island had the best win. Playing #11 North Carolina down at D2 Francis Marion’s field (Boshamer Stadium wasn’t up for games due to the weather), they lost two close games in a Saturday doubleheader, 4-3 and 5-3, and went into Sunday looking to avoid a sweep. Often, these series finales are the toughest to win against deep power-conference pitching staffs like the Tar Heels’, but URI took care of business. The Rams took an early 2-0 lead and an excellent start from Lou Distasio helped hold the ACC team scoreless until the 8th, when a Brian Miller RBI single pegged back a run. Rhody’s offense erupted in the 9th, though, tagging CWS veteran Chris McCue for three and eventually taking a 6-1 lead. Tyler Barss gave up two in the ninth, but got Miller to ground out to win the game 6-3. It was the first win of the season for the Rams and the first career win for head coach Raphael Cerrato.
One of the stories in all college baseball this weekend was the Ivy League. Columbia got the biggest plaudits, splitting a four-gamer with #6 Houston, but New England’s Rolfe Division held its own too. On Friday night, Dartmouth led #14 Texas A&M 3-0 after 7 before the Aggies came back to win 4-3. Harvard split a four-gamer down at Wofford, sweeping a Saturday doubleheader. Brown played South Alabama close in the first two games of its series, losing one 13-12 in ten innings. Two other teams won multiple games on the weekend. Boston College took two of its first three down at the Snowbird Classic, including a 6-4 win over Kansas that saw Blake Butera drive in three. Quinnipiac split a four-game series at James Madison, sweeping the Saturday doubleheader. Thomas Jankins threw a seven-inning complete game in the front end, and Matt Batten went 3-4 with 2 RBI in game two.
The weather turned Franklin Pierce’s three-game road trip into a one-gamer, but they took care of business in a 3-0 win over Mercy (box). Credit the winless Mavericks, who held the game scoreless until the 7th behind freshman Bryan Greig. In that inning, though, Matt O’Herron got the Ravens on the board with a sac fly that scored John Razzino. The big junior padded the lead in the top of the 9th, driving in and scoring Pierce’s second and third runs. Brendan O’Rourke and Mike Lundin combined for nine shutout innings and 14 strikeouts. (That’s 66 through 6 games for the staff. In ten innings of work, Lundin’s got a ridiculous 16.2 K/9 rate.) The competition hasn’t been stiff so far for Franklin Pierce, but they’ve gotten the job down without a problem. Four with regionally ranked Dowling await next weekend.
Elsewhere in D2, Post and Assumption dropped single games. The Eagles played #26 Lynn close, but fell 3-1. Starter Don Crook gave up the three runs, but struck out five in six innings of work. Dylan Pastor had two hits. The Greyhounds, taking on the Rollins Tars (and you thought your school’s nickname was weird), fell 8-2. It was 2-1 Rollins through four and a half, but the Tars got to Zack Larosa in the fifth and didn’t look back. Greg O’Donnell and Tom Paine had Assumption’s two RBI. The game was played at Rollins’s Alfond Stadium, which happens to be named for the same guy as Maine’s hockey and football venues, and Saint Joseph’s basketball arena.
Not a ton of action to report in D3; a lot more teams will be heading south next weekend. Mass Maritime, who finished their Florida trip at a respectable 2-3, was the only team to log multiple wins, 2-1 over SUNY Maritime and 5-2 over Lebanon Valley. Leadoff-hitting shortstop Bobby Rosano went 3-5 and scored four runs between those two games. Saint Joseph’s ended up playing just three of a scheduled four in North Carolina. They picked up their first win of the year against Pitt-Greensburg. The Monks’ Alex Valenti went six, struck out seven, and gave up just a run to earn the win. Anna Maria split its opening-day doubleheader against Trine, recovering from a one-hit performance in game one to take game two 6-3. The AMCATS’ Corey Andrade and Corey McNair each drove in two. #20 Eastern Connecticut lost 3-1 to #10 Kean in the weekend’s only ranked matchup. Kyle Hart drove in the Warriors’ only run. Links From a few weeks back, the New Hampshire Union Leader‘s Joe Duball wrote a piece on Granite Stater Carson Cross’s return from shoulder surgery. The ProJo‘s Bill Koch recapped URI’s big win over the weekend. And from out in New York, Ithaca.com‘s Steve Lawrence wrote a neat piece on Cornell and the challenges facing Ivy League baseball.