Baseball America weekend preview
Like his team, Brooks Brown struggled in the middle of the year. But Brown and Georgia have worked out the kinks and are poised to make a run at the postseason.
Lehigh and Princeton already have earned two of 30 automatic bids to the NCAA Tournament (and scheduled a home-and-home series against each other next weekend as a tune-up), and that number will double this weekend after the MEAC and SWAC conferences play in Norfolk, Va., and Pearl, Miss., respectively. North Carolina A&T won the MEAC regular season and tournament a year ago to end a six-year run by Bethune-Cookman. BCC (27-25, 15-0) restored order this season and faces sixth-seeded NC A&T (20-34, 6-12) in the opening round.
Southern (24-18, 16-8) won the SWAC a year ago and opens against Alcorn State as it tries to win the event for the sixth time since 1999. Both of those clubs are No. 2 seeds from their divisions as Prairie View A&M (17-7, 29-20) and Mississippi Valley State (23-30, 20-4) earned the top seeds from the Western and Eastern divisions. Don't read too much into MVSU's dominant conference record; it never faced Prairie View or Southern during split-division conference play.
Jackson State would have finished second in the West, but the SWAC reversed its decision on granting a medical hardship waiver for one Tigers player, and the team had to forfeit the four conference games in which he played (two wins against Mississippi Valley State and two against Alabama State).
|There are multiple reasons for picking Tennessee (31-15, 11-15) to beat No. 10 Alabama. The Volunteers need the series win much more than Alabama (36-17, 17-10), which is battling more for postseason positioning at this point. Tennessee and Mississippi State both sit in fifth place in their respective divisions in the SEC, a league that invites eight teams to its conference tournament. UT lost the season series to MSU, and it would lose the tiebreaker. So it needs a series win to keep its NCAA Tournament hopes alive a season after reaching the College World Series. Tennessee also has played well of late, winning four of its last five SEC series after dropping its first four of the year. The last three of those wins have come against teams more known for their pitching than explosive offenses -- at Georgia, against Vanderbilt and at South Carolina -- and Alabama also fits that billing.|
• Pepperdine senior second baseman David Uribes injured his knee in practice Monday and missed Tuesday's 2-1 win against USC. That ended his streak of consecutive games played at 241. Uribes, who leads the West Coast Conference with 85 hits, 53 runs and 22 steals, hopes to be ready for the WCC championship series against San Francisco next weekend.
• A week after Georgia and Georgia Tech drew 19,000 fans to Atlanta's Turner Field, Nebraska beat Creighton 4-1 in front of 21,158 at Rosenblatt Stadium. That marked the best-attended college game of the year and the ninth-largest regular-season crowd in college baseball history. The game outdrew seven of the 15 major league games Tuesday.
• South Alabama beat Florida State 7-2 in 10 innings Tuesday, making the Seminoles 5-10 since a 32-4 start. They have won only one of their last six ACC series. "We need a win," FSU coach Mike Martin said. "We need a win. We need to regain our confidence. We are trying so hard. The young men are putting forth every ounce of energy they have. There is not anybody going through the motions. We are just struggling to get that elusive win. These young men deserve better. But that is the way this game is. It doesn't owe you anything."
• Florida State faces North Carolina State this weekend, and the Wolfpack will be without ace right-hander Andrew Brackman (1-3, 6.35) for the rest of the season because of a stress fracture in his left hip.
• The 2006 Division I Independent Invitational fittingly takes place this weekend in South Dakota's Sioux Falls Stadium, home to the minor league Sioux Falls Canaries of the independent American Association. The first two editions of this event took place at Northern Colorado's Jackson Field. The event, in its third year, expanded from four teams to six this year and features Indiana-Purdue Fort Wayne, New York Tech (the 2004 champ), North Dakota State, Northern Colorado (the 2005 champ), South Dakota State and Utah Valley State. The nation's best independent college team, Dallas Baptist (31-21), plays a three-game series against UT Arlington.
• The 2009 ACC tournament will take place in Boston's Fenway Park. Boston College, which began play in the ACC this season, will serve as host of the northernmost tournament in the league's history. "We are thrilled that the ACC baseball tournament will be coming to Fenway Park," BC athletic director Gene DeFilippo said. "Not only will this be a treat for baseball fans in New England, it will be a chance of a lifetime for the student-athletes to play in one of the most storied ballparks in baseball."
• The SEC tournament will remain in Hoover, Ala., just outside of Birmingham, through 2011 after the league and the city this week extended their working agreement by five years.