Oregon, Stanford impress in Pac-12
Three things we learned over the weekend
1. The season's biggest shock might be that beating Florida isn't the season's biggest shock anymore.
2. New Mexico State was not ready for its close-up.
3. We head into May with no clear-cut favorites for the title chase.
Team of the weekend: Oregon
The weekend sweep against Cal did a couple of things for the Ducks. First, it re-established their dominance on the mound, as they gave up just four runs in 27 innings. Secondly, it built their confidence, as they did not commit an error all weekend. Finally, it shifted the Ducks into first place in the Pac-12 by a half-game over Arizona. Big. Big. Big.
Off-radar team of the weekend: Coastal Carolina
In a showdown of Big South leaders, the Chanticleers went into Lynchburg, Va., and swept all three games from surprising Liberty to re-establish themselves as the top dogs again. Senior Daniel Bowman hit .611 for the Chants, including a 6-for-9 showing with runners on base to lead the offense.
Biggest disappointment: New Mexico State
The Aggies went into their two-game series at Baylor looking for some affirmation, but went kerplunk instead. A 5-0 loss Friday was followed by an eight inning 15-5 run-ruled loss Saturday. Things don't get much easier, as an arduous trip to Hawaii awaits this weekend.
Best series: Loyola Marymount at Gonzaga
Talk about some white-knucklers; all three games were decided in final at-bats. In Friday's 5-4 win, Gonzaga stranded 15 baserunners and LMU scored the winning run in the top of the ninth. Saturday's game saw Gonzaga ace Marco Gonzales gather 15 K's in his 11 innings of work before the Zags scored in the 12th inning. On Sunday, the Lions scored three runs in the top of the ninth to stun GU 4-3 for the get-away win.
Heating up: Arkansas pitching
Not only did the Razorbacks wing it with aplomb in a series win at Florida this weekend, they gave up more than four runs just two times the entire month of April. They still lead the SEC with a team ERA of 2.68 and have given up just a single run in each of their last three wins. South Carolina comes calling this coming weekend.
Cooling down: Gonzaga
For a mid-major, late in the season is a bad time to get on a cold streak. Or an unlucky one. The Bulldogs, who were swept at San Francisco last weekend and then lost two of three at home to LMU this weekend, have seen four of those five losses come by one run. That 12-inning 1-0 classic Saturday night has been the Zags' only win since Tax Day.
Raised an eyebrow: Florida's suddenly weak bats
In 28 innings versus Arkansas, the Gators only scored runs in three of them. Their pitching has been a little hither and yon, sure, but you can't blame them this time because the Gators hit just .200 in the three-game set. In addition to the Gators' woes, Monday's news revealed that relief ace Austin Maddox is dealing with tendinitis and is day-to-day.
Without further ado, here are this week's Power Rankings
1. Baylor (38-8)
Of note: Everyone thought the Bears would get a major challenge from a hungry New Mexico State team, but they breezed to a pair of wins, including a 15-5 run-rule win.
2. Stanford (28-11)
Of note: The Cardinal picked up a solid weekend win at UCLA. The best news is that the offense has reheated again. In the last six wins, the Trees averaged 9.7 runs and 12 hits a game.
3. Florida State (36-7)
Of note: Seminoles took down the Atlantic 10-leading Rhode Island Rams in three straight. But Sunday's 6-5 white-knuckler required an escape in the form of three runs in the bottom of the ninth.
4. Rice (30-12)
Of note: The Owls took the week off for exams and have a manageable schedule for the month of May before they head to UCF for the season-ending weekend to decide C-USA.
5. Purdue (34-7)
Of note: The Boilers take a commanding lead in the Big Ten after the series win versus Michigan State. Second baseman Eric Charles was 8-for-13 to earn the conference player of the week.
6. South Carolina (33-11)
Of note: While the hype of Kentucky and Florida swirls around college baseball, the Gamecocks have quietly returned to the top of the SEC East at 14-7, tied with the Wildcats, after narrowly sweeping Alabama.
7. Arizona (29-13)
Of note: After 65 hits and 51 runs over the weekend versus East Tennessee State, the Wildcats need five days to rest their swings before hosting Oregon to decide the leadership in the Pac-12.
8. LSU (35-10)
Of note: The clutch-hitting Tigers weren't an offensive juggernaut but came from behind in all three wins last week, and their bullpen gave up just four hits in 13 innings of work.
9. Florida (33-12)
Of note: While the arms corps has been through injuries and underachieved at times, it was the offense that scored in just three of the 28 innings in the weekend loss to Arkansas. Hmmm.
10. Kentucky (36-9)
Of note: If Louisville gets placed in the Lexington Regional, don't look for Wildcats fans to be among the excited. UK has now been outscored 22-2 in its two losses to the Cards.
11. Oregon (30-13)
Of note: The Ducks disposed of Cal in constricting fashion to take the Pac-12 lead. But the big question is how will that exemplary pitching and defense do on the road at Arizona this weekend?
12. UCLA (28-12)
Of note: The bad news: The Bruins dropped two of three at home to Stanford this weekend. The good news: The strength-of-schedule points earned bump them up to No. 4 in the RPI.
13. North Carolina (30-13)
Of note: The Tar Heels took the weekend off after splitting two midweek games. Their remaining ACC weekends are manageable, with Boston College, Duke and Virginia Tech on the slate.
14. UCF (35-10)
Of note: On the heels of an 11-1 spree the last three weeks, it was curious to see the Knights drop two of three to Memphis at home. It was the Tigers' first series win over a top-10 team since 1972.
15. Cal State Fullerton (26-14)
Of note: The idle Titans fell a half-game behind Long Beach State in the Big West and will play nine of their last 12 conference games on the road. Warrior mentality needed again.
16. Texas A&M (31-13)
Of note: The Aggies can leave for the SEC beaming after winning their final conference weekend over rival Texas. A new star rises in catcher Troy Stein, who was 6-for-9 with four RBIs versus the Longhorns.
17. Louisville (31-13)
Of note: The Cardinals nearly had a perfect week, routing Kentucky and taking the first two games from UConn. But a bullpen implosion allowed four ninth-inning runs in a 7-4 loss Sunday.
18. Arkansas (31-13)
Of note: The SEC's best pitching staff secures a big series win at Florida. When you hold guys like Zunino, Tucker, Fontana, Johnson, etc., to five runs in 28 innings, that's huge.
19. Sam Houston State (31-12)
Of note: The Bearkats weren't on top of their game this week, losing 5-2 on Friday and then getting the final run on a ninth-inning balk in Saturday's 8-7 win over Texas A&M-Corpus Christi.
20. San Diego (33-11)
Of note: Like Sam Houston, the Toreros are hanging on the cliff's edge by their fingers after a 1-2 trip to Portland, where the WCC's best offense went punchless at just .219 on the weekend.
Dropped out: Oregon State, Ole Miss
Bubble wrap: Virginia, North Carolina State, Appalachian State, Stony Brook, New Mexico State