Things I’m looking forward to this weekend:
1. Rice winning a game. I can’t remember the last time Rice looked so bad as a team, its almost unnatural. The pitching staff has amassed an ERA of 9.89 without Mike Ojala, and was absolutely overpowered by Lamar at Reckling Field on Wednesday. Rick Hague’s strikeout average (.421) is higher than his OBPS (3.58), and the team is only hitting .262 so far in four games. If they don’t sweep Elon, Nebraska and Texas A&M-Corpus Christi this weekend, then they might as well start looking ahead to 2011.
2. #9 TCU visiting #11 Cal State-Fullerton. I’ll be in Austin this weekend, but if I could pick any series to attend, it would definitely be this matchup. TCU did a nice job against a good Sam Houston State team while Fullerton dropped their contests against Oregon and Pepperdine, but that doesn’t matter when they both face off this weekend. The best part, in my opinion, is the pitching matchups. Friday is Steven Maxwell against Daniel Renken, Saturday has Matthew Purke and Noe Ramirez, while Sunday goes down to Kyle Winkler and Tyler Pill. Saturday’s matchup should be the best, with former first rounder Purke going up against Freshman All-American Ramirez and Team USA star Christian Colon.
3. #17 Stanford against #8 Texas. We are lucky to get this matchup every year, but it has been a while since Stanford has been ranked for the series. Sam Fuld has finally graduated (seriously, he played for the Cardinal for what seemed like 10 years) but Stanford still wears those sweet uniforms from 1983. Texas needs to win the series to get back on track after the New Mexico stumble, and Stanford needs to win to stay on track after sweeping Rice on opening weekend. The pitching matchups for this series are all very good, especially Friday afternoon’s Taylor Jungmann vs. Jordan Pries battle.
4. Sonny Gray vs. Gerrit Cole As much as I want to see Purke vs. Ramirez, this matchup on Friday night will be the one everybody is talking about. The future first round picks and Team USA teammates will duel it out in Jackie Robinson Stadium in the Dodgertown Classic.
5. QTI Baylor Classic Baylor is hosting the event for the fifth season, and it features the best lineup of teams yet, with four teams from last year’s NCAA Tournament. Along with Baylor, defending Southland regular season champion Texas State, fellow Big 12 program #28 Texas A&M, and 2009 Sun Belt Conference champions Western Kentucky University.
It seems that the main theme for this week was pitching. There are a lot of great matchups that I mentioned, and even more that I didn’t. This column is the first in what I hope will be a weekly thing during the season, and will be ever-evolving, so leave some comments or feedback.