Baseball America weekend preview
Emmanuel Burriss is one of the hardest working players in college baseball. And he's probably having the most fun, too, writes Will Kimmey.
This weekend's Patriot League tournament champion will earn the second automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament. (Princeton earned the first bid of the year by defeating Harvard in last weekend's Ivy League championship series.) Lehigh (25-25) tied Bucknell (23-22) at 13-7 in conference, but earned the top seed by winning three of the four games between the two teams. That provides a huge advantage in this event, as Bucknell and third-seeded Lafayette (27-23) play Saturday, with the winner advancing to a best-of-three series against a rested Lehigh club. The first game of the final series comes after the play-in game, with the next two scheduled for Sunday.
• Arizona State coach Pat Murphy reinstated sophomore outfielder J.J. Sferra for this weekend's series against Oregon State. His father, 11-year ASU assistant Jay Sferra, will not return to the team. Both Sferras missed the last four Sun Devils games, Murphy said, because of the difficulties of the merging of the player-coach and father-son dynamics. "J.J. just wasn't having any fun," Murphy said. "Hopefully this will work out best for both of them. I'm very close to that family and there are no hard feelings. Jay's a great guy and a great recruiter. He's just going to come to the games and be a dad the rest of the year and I'm sure he'll get a great job next year."
• How much did North Carolina and Winthrop want to win their Wednesday matchup? Both teams used weekend starters in relief in a game Winthrop eventually won 12-8 in 11 innings. UNC called on right-hander Daniel Bard to protect a 7-6 lead in the seventh inning, but he allowed a pair of runs in the frame and stood to be the losing pitcher before his team tied things in the ninth inning with an unearned run against Winthrop right-hander Heath Rollins. Rollins, a two-way player, pitched the next three innings to earn the win and also drove in the go-ahead run in the 11th.
There's good, there's great and there's outstanding. Washington junior right-hander Tim Lincecum has put himself in that final category for most of 2006. He leads the nation with 11 wins, 169 strikeouts and 14.86 strikeouts per nine innings. He's added a 1.93 ERA and has recorded three saves in four relief appearances.
Q: What's different for you this year?
It gives me a better opportunity of making outs [and] it gives the batter more things to think about. I can throw more of these pitches for strikes and keep my walks down. It lets me pitch off my fastball and curveball. It makes it a lot easier to set up hitters.
Q: How do you feel about possibly becoming the No. 1 overall pick?
Q: How important is your improved command?
Q: Did not being drafted until the 41st round last year bother you?
Q: How would you approach hitting against yourself?