College Baseball Rankings: South Carolina Emerges As New No. 1

The College World Series is only a few weeks away.

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College Baseball Rankings: TCU Moves To No. 7 Following Sweep Of Texas Tech

The latest college baseball rankings from Baseball America are out and the TCU Horned Frogs moved up one spot to No. 7 this week. They swept a three-game series from the Texas Tech Red Raiders. The TCU offense finally showed up, exploding for 23 runs in three games. Outfielder Jason Coats had a huge 4-for-5, three-run, three-RBI, one home run night in the first game and then had three more hits and three more RBI over the final two games.

The pitching was outstanding with Kyle Winkler throwing eight shutout innings and striking out nine batters in the first contest. Matt Purke returned to the mound on Sunday when he threw six shutout innings, allowed only one hit and struck out six.

The top four teams remained the same with Florida, Vanderbilt, Oklahoma and South Carolina taking those spots. UCAL dropped from No. 5 to No. 13 after dropping two of three against Nebraska. UCLA's Gerrit Cole struck out eight batters in nine innings and allowed only two hits, but the game took 11 innings for UCLA to pull out the win. The other two games went into extra innings as well.

Despite an 11-2 record, UNLV is not in any top 25 poll. TCU, though, is No. 9 in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper's Top 25 and No. 11 in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll. UNLV and BYU received two votes each in the Coaches Poll.

Here is the complete BA Top 25:

Rk.  Team  Prev.
1 Florida  1
2 Vanderbilt  2
3 Oklahoma  3
4 South Carolina  4
5 Texas  6
6 Cal State Fullerton 7
7 TCU 8
8 Florida State 11
9 Arizona State  10
10 Clemson 12
11 Virginia  13
12 Stanford  9
13 UCLA  5
14 Arizona  17
15 North Carolina 23
16 Louisiana State 19
17 Baylor 16
18 Rice  21
19 Connecticut  22
20 California 14
21 College of Charleston 18
22 Texas A&M 20
23 Fresno State 24
24 Tulane  NR
25 Georgia Tech NR
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Mountain West Conference Baseball: UNLV Enters Weekend With Conference's Best Record

The college baseball season is only two weeks old, but the team most would have expected to be atop the Mountain West standings is off to a slow start. The No. 8 TCU Horned Frogs are 4-4 while the UNLV Runnin' Rebels are 8-2.

Team (Rk.)  Record
UNLV  8-2
BYU  5-3
TCU (8)  4-4
Air Force  4-4
San Diego State  1-7
Utah  0-5
New Mexico  0-8

 

Air Force Falcons
The Falcons are playing in the Coca-Cola Classic this weekend in Surprise, Ariz., at the Kansas City Royals' spring training facility. The tournament started on Thursday, and the Falcons won a 10-8 game against Northern Illinois. Freshman outfielder Patrick Lobo hit the first home run of his career, and Evan Abrecht picked up his third win in as many games.

The Falcons will face UC Riverside, Cal State Bakersfield and Kansas over the next three days.

BYU Cougars
The Cougars started their weekend series against Washington on Thursday with a 3-2 victory. Senior outfielder Stephen Wells is on a five-game hitting streak and scored twice. Ryan Bernal drove in two of the Cougars' runs, including the game-winning one. Chris Capper struck out 10 in seven innings.

New Mexico Lobos
New Mexico is still looking for their first win of the season when they take on Texas-San Antonio in a four-game series. The Roadrunners are coming off a victory over the Houston Cougars on Tuesday. The Lobos will need another big weekend out of Mitchell Garver, who was named MWC Player of the Week last week, if they hope to win a game.

San Diego State Aztecs
The Aztecs will face stiff tests this weekend as they participate in the annual USD Tournament. Oklahoma (No. 3), Cal (No. 14) and Connecticut (No. 22) are all ranked in Baseball America's Top 25 poll. The tournament started on Thursday with 4-0 loss to Oklahoma.

TCU Horned Frogs
TCU's pitching has been outstanding, even with Matt Purke out with an injury. Kyle Winkler, Andrew Mitchell and Steven Maxwell are all doing their parts in keeping TCU in games, but the bats haven't been as effective early on. As a team they are hitting .260 with three homers, low-lighted by outfielder Jason Coats' .125/.243/.156 line in eight games.

They dropped two of three games against Cal State Fullerton last weekend and saw Dallas Baptist battle back in a 4-3 loss on Tuesday. They face Texas Tech this weekend, and Matt Purke is scheduled to start on Sunday.

UNLV Runnin' Rebels
The Rebels went 1-1 in a midweek series against TCU's opponent this weekend, the Texas Tech Red Raiders. They will look to improve their conference-best 8-2 record with a three-game road trip against the Nevada Wolf Pack. The Pack is 0-6 and had their Tuesday game postponed due to poor field conditions.

The Rebels' Rance Roundy is 16-for-36 with four doubles, four home runs, four stolen bases and 10 RBI.

Utah Utes
The Utes are the other winless team in the MWC and have played the fewest games. They dropped two games to Cal to start the season and then were swept in a three-game set by Arkansas last week. Things don't get any easier this week in the Houston College Classic. They will face the Texas A&M Aggies on Friday, the Baylor Bears on Saturday and the Kentucky Wildcats on Sunday.

The Friday game will have future high draft selection John Stilson duel Utah's Rick Anton. The Utes will miss Kentucky RHP Alex Meyer, who pitches on Saturday. At 6-foot-9, Meyer is armed with a mid-90s fastball.

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Mountain West College Baseball: TCU Vs. Cal State Fullerton Highlight Schedule

The 2011 college baseball season continues with more noon-conference games for the next several weeks. TCU's series against Cal State Fullerton is one of the top series this weekend.

BYU vs. Texas Tech, Northern Illinois (Brooks Wallace Memorial Classic)
Brooks Wallace was a former Texas Tech shortstop and coach. The Brooks Wallace Award, originally given to the top college player of the year, is now an award exclusively for shortstops.

The classic started on Thursday, with BYU dropping its opening game against Texas Tech, 4-7. Center fielder Stephen Wells and left fielder Ryan Bernal each had three hits and an RBI. BYU struck out 10 times. They will regroup for a double-header on Friday.

TCU (No. 4) vs. Cal State Fullerton (No. 12)
The Fullerton Titans went 2-2 in the first weekend of play, losing to North Carolina and then taking two of three from Long Beach State. First baseman Nick Ramirez went 7-for-17 while Joe Terry had two triples and four RBI.

TCU, meanwhile, went 2-1 against Kansas last weekend and gained a solid victory over No. 16 Baylor on Tuesday. Matt Purke was on a pitch count in his first game and will likely be on one for a few more starts. With a blister on his left index finger, Purke is scheduled to start on Sunday

Utah at Arkansas
The Utes head into SEC territory with a weekend series against the Razorbacks. C.J. Cron leads the team with three hits in eight at-bats, a solo home run and a stolen base. Rick Anton will start Friday's game and Zach Adams will likely follow on Saturday. Adams struck out nine Cal Bears in five innings last weekend.

The Razorbacks swept a three-game series against the Delaware State Hornets last weekend. Outfielder Kyle Robinson has a team-best seven hits and six RBI while fellow outfielder Jarrod McKinney follows up with five hits. D.J. Baxendale (RHP) threw five shutout innings and struck out seven in his first start of the season. Six-foot-six lefty Cade Lynch picked up a save and seven strikeouts in four innings. Freshman Brandon Moore threw six shutout innings in his collegiate debut last Sunday.

San Diego State vs. San Diego
These close rivals play a three-game series with the Toreros hosting the middle game of the series against the Aztecs. San Diego State will have a webcast of the two home games, which can be found at goaztecs.com under the "Events" label.

Air Force vs. Navy
This year's Freedom Classic between these two service academies takes place at Grainger Stadium in Kinston, N.C. The Air Force holds a 13-12 all-time series lead over Navy. Senior outfielder Nathan Carter has six hits, a home runs and six RBI.

New Mexico vs. Creighton
The Lobos were swept in a three-game series against the Arizona St. Sun Devils last week and will want to make up for that against the Creighton Bluejays. Creighton is 3-1 with wins over Toledo, Canisius and Kansas. Lobos pitchers will need to watch out for Michael Mutcheson (.500 BA, .733 OBP) and Alex Staehely (two doubles, one triple)

UNLV vs. Central Michigan
UNLV's Rance Roudy was the MWC Player of the Week for his .412 batting average with four home runs and nine RBI against Maine. Can he help the Rebels stay undefeated against the Chippewas?

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Mountain West Baseball Results: Air Force Splits Four Games, TCU Takes Two-Of-Three From Kansas

The 2011 Mountain West baseball season began this past weekend with all seven teams in action. Only TCU, UNLV and Air Force were to avoid a losing record the first weekend.

Air Force (2-2)

The Falcons took part in a tournament hosted by Texas State University where the Falcons split their four games. Air Force ended up beating the Missouri State Tigers (7-2) and the Washington Huskies (16-10), but ended up losing to host Texas State Bobcats (9-4) as well as the Nebraska Cornhuskers (8-1). 

Outfielder Nathan Carter lead the Falcon offense over the weekend, hitting 6-for-18 with four runs scored, six RBI and a home run. Air Force next takes on Navy with a three-game series starting Friday, February 25th in Kingston, N.C.

TCU (2-1)

The Horned Frogs took on Kansas in a three-game series against Kansas and the Horned Frogs went 2-1. In the first game TCU had a record crowd of 6,099 in an 8-2 win in their season opener. Star pitcher Matt Purke ended up pitching four innings while giving up only one hit, no runs, three strike outs and a walk.  Here is how Purke described his first outing on the season:

*It was good. I was able to work on some things. We had some long innings where I had to sit a little bit, but I got used to that and we did a good job on both sides. I was just trying to get as many guys out as quickly as possible."

The second game was also a TCU blowout as they beat Kansas 7-1, but the final game went to extra innings where TCU's comeback fell short in 14 innings as the Horned Frogs fell 4-3.

New Mexico Lobos (0-3)

The Lobos took on the No. 11 ranked Arizona State Sun Devils and as expected were swept by the Sun Devils only the second game even being competitive as they lost 7-5.  The first and third game ended up 8-2 and 8-1 with the fourth game being canceled due to weather in Tempe, Ariz. 

UNLV (4-0)

The UNLV Rebels could be the surprise team of the Mountain West this season. They swept the Maine Black Bears with an impressive offensive showing from the four-game series. The Rebels were projected to finish fifth in the Mountain West, and sweeping Maine looks to be a good start since Maine is predicted to finish second in the American East.

As for the rest of the Mountain West, BYU went 1-2 against Northwestern State, Utah went 0-2 against Cal and San Diego State went 1-2 by splitting with Winthrop and losing to No. 4 ranked Vanderbilt.

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Mountain West Baseball: Matt Purke, TCU Face Kansas; Air Force Plays In Texas State Tournament

The 2011 college baseball season kicks off Friday afternoon with plenty of good weekend matchups. In the Mountain West Conference, the Air Force Falcons, the New Mexico Lobos, the TCU Horned Frogs and the Utah Utes highlight the weekend's schedule.

Air Force Falcons (2011 record: 13-42)

The Falcons will participate in the Texas State Tournament from Feb. 18-20 in San Marcos, Texas. They face the Missouri State Tigers on Friday at 12:00 p.m., the Nebraska Cornhuskers on Saturday at 12:00 p.m. and the Washington Huskies and the Texas State Bobcats in a double-header on Sunday.

Senior outfielder Nathan Carter, brother of major leaguer Chris, was recently named the Falcons' captain for the 2011 season. He is a career .290/.408/.554 with 26 triples, 20 home runs and 47 stolen bases. Evan Abrecht, moving full-time into the rotation, and Sean Carley will be the top pitchers this season.

Maj. Mike Kazlausky, a graduate of the academy, will make his coaching debut for the Falcons.

New Mexico Lobos (38-22)

The Lobos play a four-game series against the Arizona State Sun Devils in Tempe. Arizona State has one of the best offenses in the nation, but they have been banned from postseason play for violations under former head coach Pat Murphy. This will be a good test for New Mexico to start the season.

The Lobos will feature a very young team this season as most of their upperclassmen departed after the 2010 season. On media day, head coach Ray Birmingham recently called sophomore catcher Mitchell Garver a player who could make the big leagues. A part-time player in 2010, Garver will assume a much larger role this season.

TCU Horned Frogs (54-14)

The Horned Frogs host the Kansas Jayhawks, whom the Big 12 coaches voted to finish ninth in the league. Being ranked No. 3 by Baseball America, No. 2 in the Coaches poll and first in two other polls, TCU is head and shoulders above the rest of the Mountain West and the majority of the college baseball world.

Lefty ace Matt Purke will receive the most attention, but fellow starters Kyle Winkler (Jr.) and Steven Maxwell (Sr.), the MWC 2010 Pitcher of the Year, give TCU one of the top weekend rotations. Outfielder Jason Coats leads the team's offense as the top all-around talent among the position players.

All three games will be televised on The Mtn.

Utah Utes (23-28)

Reigning MWC Player of the Year C.J. Cron leads the Utes to Berkeley, Calif., to start the season. Cron belted 20 home runs in 2010 and should be good for at least 20 more this season. He will likely start at catcher, but he also is expected to play first base as well. Rick Anton will take over as the Friday starter.

Cal is ranked No. 17 by Baseball America, but this will be the program's last season. Cal announced previously that the school would cut the baseball program with a number of other programs, and while several programs were saved, baseball was not one of them.

Right-handed pitchers Erik Johnson and Dixon Anderson and left-handed pitcher Justin Jones will be a tough challenge for Cron and the Utes.

Rest of the MWC

Maine at UNLV
Winthrop at San Diego State
BYU at Northwestern State

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TCU, BYU Projected To Make NCAA Baseball Field Of 64

Though we are only days away from the start of the 2011 college baseball season, it is never too early to project who will make the NCAA baseball tournament. Baseball America's Aaron Fitt projects his field of 64, and it's good news for the TCU Horned Frogs. Under this scenario, TCU wins the Mountain West's automatic qualifier and is the No. 3 overall seed. They would host a regional in Forth Worth, Tx. The other teams in the regional are Arizona, Texas State and Monmouth. That would be an easy regional for the Horned Frogs to win.

The BYU Cougars are the only other team from the Mountain West who are likely to make the tournament, which, Fitt points outs, will be helped by their non-conference schedule. In this projection, the Cougars would make it as the No. 4 seed in the Eugene, Ore. regional hosted by the Oregon Ducks. The Miami Hurricanes and the Hawaii Warriors also make this a tough regional for BYU to advance any farther.

Let's see how this all shakes out over the next few months.

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TCU's Matt Purke Leads Three Mountain West Conference Preseason All-American

Baseball America released its 2011 preseason All-America teams, which are voted on by MLB scouting directors. Three players represent the Mountain West across the first-, second- and third-teams.

Appearing on the first team is TCU Horned Frogs left-handed pitcher Matt Purke, who went 16-0 with a 3.02 ERA and 142 strikeouts as a freshman in 2010. Purke is joined by UCLA right-handed pitcher Gerrit Cole on the first team. Both are regarded as the top two college pitchers in the country and top-five selections in the coming June draft.

Making the second team is TCU outfielder Jason Coats. He hit .361/.403./.617 with 13 homers and 69 RBI last season. He will be counted on to be the top offensive performer for the Horned Frogs this season.

Utah Utes catcher C.J. Cron was voted to the third team. In 2010, Cron hit .431/.487/.817 with 20 home runs and 81 RBI, all team highs.

The only freshman to appear on any of the teams is the Stanford Cardinal's Austin Wilson, a 6-foot-4, 235-pound outfielder. The St. Louis Cardinals took a flyer on him in the 12th round last June just in case something happened, but Wilson's commitment to Stanford was that strong.

The college baseball season kicks off in two weeks on Friday, Feb. 18.

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