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Arkansas couldn't have started the weekend in better fashion.
The Razorbacks took a step back the past two weekends with series losses to Auburn and Florida. However, they responded in impressive fashion on Friday with an 11-4 road win over red-hot Mississippi.
Arkansas left-handed pitcher Drew Smyly gave his team a solid start and Zack Cox and Brett Eibner took care of business to earn the victory. In case you're wondering, Ole Miss left-handed pitcher Drew Pomeranz allowed four runs in 6 2/3 innings of work.
The Hogs weren't the only ones to earn a huge series-opening win.
Kansas State snapped Texas' amazing 21-game winning streak, freshman Matt Purke helped TCU edge New Mexico on the road and College of Charleston cruised past outstanding pitcher Asher Wojciechowski and The Citadel.
There were plenty of teams that finished Friday on the good side of the ledger. There also are those that finished on the bad side, too.
• Kansas State
Strangely, the Wildcats are the one club that you would expect to end Texas' 21-game winning streak. The Wildcats took two of three on the road from the Longhorns last season. They also ended their lengthy winning streak on Friday with a 2-1 victory behind a fantastic performance from starting pitcher Kyle Hunter.
This is the Horned Frogs' most important conference series of the season. They passed their first test in impressive fashion. The Frogs received a solid starting performance from freshman hurler Matt Purke, who struck out six batters and allowed just two runs and five hits in 7 1/3 innings of work in a 3-2 victory over New Mexico.
Nothing says you're back in the mix like going on the road and winning a series opener over Mississippi, which had a 10-game winning streak entering the weekend. The Hogs touched up Ole Miss starting pitcher Drew Pomeranz for four runs on nine hits in 6 2/3 innings. It shouldn't be a surprise that third baseman Zack Cox had another strong night.
The Bruins were shocked last weekend when they failed to win a game against Arizona State. They sure responded in impressive fashion on Friday, though, with a nice 7-2 road win over Washington. UCLA sophomore pitcher Gerrit Cole struck out nine batters and allowed just two runs on three hits in eight innings of work.
• Oregon State
The Beavers leaned on ace pitcher Greg Peavey to finally get them back on track against rival Oregon. Peavey only struck out four Ducks, but allowed just a run on five hits in 7 1/3 innings of work as the Beavers defeated the Ducks 2-1. Even with tonight's win, the Beavers still desperately need to win one or two more games against UO this weekend.
• Southern Mississippi
Think the Golden Eagles want to make an NCAA postseason appearance? The Eagles extended their impressive winning streak to nine games on Friday with a dominating 14-4 win over East Carolina. Joey Archer did the damage at the plate while pitchers Scott Copeland and Collin Cargill rose to the occasion. USM is in business.
• College of Charleston
The Cougars can take the lead in the Southern Conference regular season title race with a series win over The Citadel this weekend. Charleston started the series against the Bulldogs on the right foot with a 13-9 triumph on Friday. Jose Rodriguez, who went a perfect 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the contest, led the Cougars at the plate.
• Florida Atlantic
The Owls can take control of the Sun Belt regular season title race with a series win at South Alabama this weekend. FAU started the weekend well on Friday with a 7-2 triumph over the Jaguars. Starting pitcher Ryan Garton allowed just two runs in seven innings of work to pace the Owls. FAU now leads USA by 1 1/2 games in the standings.
• San Diego pitcher Kyle Blair
Blair knew the Toreros would be in a dogfight throughout the weekend against Portland. He sure didn't have an issue rising to the occasion against the Pilots. The talented junior right-handed pitcher put together his most dominant performance of the season against the Pilots, striking out 15 batters and allowing just a hit in a complete game performance. USD won the contest 2-0.
The Gators are playing an outstanding brand of baseball at the right time. UF starting pitcher Hudson Randall threw seven shutout innings in a 9-3 road win over Alabama. With the victory, the Gators extended their impressive winning streak to six games. UF is not a team you want to play right now.
• Florida State
The Seminoles will have a tough time staying in the mix for a national seed if they lose their series with Boston College this weekend. FSU must rebound the next two days, though, as the Eagles pounded FSU pitching en route to a 10-7 victory. FSU starting pitcher Sean Gilmartin allowed six runs on seven hits in just 3 1/3 innings of work.
It's safe to say the Wildcats are in a rut. They dropped a road series to USC last weekend and were crushed by rival Arizona State in midweek action. Things got worse on Friday, though, as the Wildcats dropped a 7-2 decision to Cal State Bakersfield, which entered the series opener with an RPI of 176. Not the way you want to start a series.
The Scarlet Knights are pretty much out of the mix for an NCAA postseason appearance. The Knights lost their seventh-straight Big East contest on Friday in a 7-3 setback against Villanova. Rutgers' collapse the past couple of weeks is surprising to say the least. It wasn't too long ago RU did a clean sweep of South Florida.
The Green Wave is done for a postseason appearance unless it finds a way to win the Conference USA tournament. The Green Wave dropped to 6-10 in C-USA action with a 9-7 loss to Houston on Friday. Tulane's inability to establish any sort of consistency has absolutely killed them throughout the spring.
• Vanderbilt and LSU pitching staffs
Normally we would call an extra-inning one-run game a fantastic contest. But that wasn't the case with Friday's contest between Vanderbilt and LSU, as both pitching staffs were horrendous in a game that LSU eventually won 16-15 in the tenth inning. Vandy starting pitcher Sonny Gray allowed seven runs in just three innings. LSU's Anthony Ranaudo, meanwhile, had another poor start, allowing six runs in 2 2/3 innings.
• New Mexico State
The Aggies left much to be desired on the mound in their series opener against Fresno State on Friday. NMSU starting pitcher Justin Cooper allowed eight runs on nine hits in just 2 1/3 innings of work, as the Aggies dropped a 21-11 decision to the Bulldogs. State's relievers didn't fare too well either with two of three relievers giving up more than five runs in their outings.
• East Carolina
The Pirates' disappointing campaign continued on Friday with a 14-4 loss to Southern Mississippi. In addition to the offense not exactly taking care of business against the Golden Eagles, starting pitcher Zach Woods allowed five runs on six hits in just 5 1/3 innings. Brad Mincey, meanwhile, had a horrible relief performance. The Pirates might as well already start looking forward to the C-USA tournament.
• Ohio State
Apparently the Buckeyes didn't get the memo about getting a win for the gipper. Just a few days after coach Bob Todd announced he would resign at the end of the season, the Bucks dropped to 8-8 in the Big Ten with a tough 6-3 loss to Illinois. To make matters worse, ace pitcher Alex Wimmers once again didn't start in his usual role. OSU really needs Wimmers at some point this weekend.
• Oklahoma State
The Cowboys' season to forget continued Friday night with a tough 7-6 loss to in-state rival Oklahoma. With the loss to the Sooners, the Cowboys now are 7-12 in the Big 12 and still in a tie for eighth place with Baylor. OSU would have to win the Big 12 tournament to make an NCAA postseason appearance.
• Mississippi State
Can we just go ahead and push the stop button on the Bulldogs' season? The Bulldogs suffered another loss, this time a 9-6 setback to Auburn. With the loss, State now has an overall record of 20-26, including a 5-17 mark in the SEC. The Bulldogs also are four games out of making the SEC tournament. It's safe to say State is pretty much done.
We talked earlier this week about how Oklahoma could be a surprise NCAA regional host at the end of the season. That possibility likely will become more of a reality this weekend. After beating rival Oklahoma State on Friday, the Sooners climbed to 18 in the latest RPI. The Sooners still only have a 8-8 record against RPI Top 50 teams. However, OU has a solid RPI and an overall record of 34-12 on its side.
Speaking of potential regional hosts, keep an eye on Rice throughout the weekend. The Owls absolutely crushed Marshall in their series opener on Friday. As a result, the Owls come in at No. 23 in the latest RPI. The Owls certainly have RPI on their side when it comes to a potential host, but that is where their resume stops, for now at least. The Owls still having a losing record against RPI Top 50 teams.
The Ducks already have had a special season with a postseason appearance expected at this point. But the Ducks probably need to finish the weekend with a pair of wins over rival Oregon State to stay hot in the mix for a regional host. The Ducks dropped their series opener with the Beavers and fell to 30 in the latest RPI. The Ducks are 9-8 against RPI Top 50 teams and will face East Tennessee State in non-conference action next weekend before finishing up with Washington and California.
• Boston College
The Eagles were big winners in more ways than won on Friday. The Eagles used a plethora of offense to beat Florida State 10-7. But the Eagles also gained back some ground in the RPI department. The Eagles climbed to 46 in the latest RPI with a 27-20 overall record. More importantly, the Eagles are now 13-12 in conference play. The committee would have a tough time leaving BC out of the mix for a postseason berth if it earns a series win over the Seminoles.
• Southern Mississippi
Unless the Golden Eagles decide to resort to their old ways the final couple weekends of the season, it looks like they will make an NCAA postseason appearance to give Conference USA two bids. With a dominant win over East Carolina on Friday, the Eagles climbed to 58 in the latest RPI. USM now has an overall record of 27-17, but only has a 2-4 mark against RPI Top 50 teams. Don't be surprised if USM is second place in the C-USA before the weekend comes to an end.
- The Eagles