Monday, March 16, 2015

Defending Champs Swept Over the Weekend, Mesa Pushes Winning Streak to 15

Could it be that Tampa is showing themselves to be human? The Spartans wore a rare two-game losing streak last week, but should still be the team to beat in the country, although there are quite a few squads with gaudy records who are continuing to roll. The defending champs appear to be on the ropes after a four-game conference sweep, as well. A lot to cover in this week's recap!

#1 Tampa (19-5) had a rare two-game losing streak last week, dropping a game to West Chester and the series opener to Florida Southern. The Spartans rebounded to take the last two games of the series, however, and should remain comfortably at the top of the rankings. They have a three-game set this weekend with Palm Beach Atlantic.

#2 Seton Hill (13-4) took three of four from California (Pa.) in their PSAC-opening series. They should rack up some more wins this week with a doubleheader against Davis & Elkins and a four-game PSAC series against Pittsburgh-Johnstown.

#3 Mount Olive (18-6) had a rough go last week, falling to Armstrong State and then dropping two of three to Barton in conference action, their first two conference losses of the year. This week, they will face undefeated Franklin Pierce in a pair of games before facing King in a three-game conference set. Those games against FPU should be one of the biggest match-ups of this week in the D-II world.

#4 Southern Indiana (3-7) took it on the chin last week. After losing to Oakland City last Monday, they beat Notre Dame College in a pair of games, but then suffered a four-game sweep at the hands of GLVC-foe Truman State. They'll be trying to get back on track this weekend with a four-game series against Missouri-St. Louis.

#5 Colorado Mesa (20-2) pushed their winning streak to 15 with a four-game sweep of Colorado Mines and are now 12-0 in the RMAC. That success should continue this weekend with a four-game series against New Mexico Highlands. Mesa should continue upping their gaudy record until their first series of April against CSU Pueblo.

#6 Alabama-Huntsville (14-2-1) took two of three at West Florida, both wins being 2-0 shutouts. This week, they'll take on Tuskegee and Trevecca Nazarene before a three-game GSC series with Delta State.

#7 Emporia State (12-5), somewhat predictably, split a four-game series with previously-undefeated Washburn in a match-up of what could be the top two teams in the MIAA. They'll take on Northeastern State in a four-game RMAC set this weekend.

#8 Franklin Pierce (15-0) continued rolling with four wins at the USA National Training Complex in Cary, three of which were shutouts. Out of their 15 wins this year, eight have come by way of a shutout, giving them a team ERA of 1.35 on the season so far with 152 strikeouts in 133 innings. However, those numbers come with a caveat, as their schedule up to this point in the season has left a lot to be desired. Their best opponent so far may have been Findlay, who they faced once, and will be a bottom-third team in the GLIAC come the end of the season. FPU will have an opportunity to prove their worth this week, though, when they take on Mount Olive twice, once Tuesday in the tail-end of a doubleheader, and once Wednesday at UMO. They will then face New Haven and Southern Connecticut State in a pair of doubleheaders this weekend.

#9 Nova Southeastern (20-4) beat American International and then took two of three from Adelphi before beating Bridgeport earlier today. They will face a stiffer test this weekend with a three-game SSC set against Florida Southern at home.

#10 Minnesota State (9-1) finished their Florida trip with four straight wins over Alderson Broaddus, Saint Joseph's and a pair over Wayne State (Mich.). Their only loss on the trip was a surprising 3-2 setback to Northwood (Mich.), although they also had two come-from-behind wins over Grand Valley State to start the trip. They will face Mary in a four-game set to open NSIC play this weekend, but the highlight of their season will come in two weeks time when they take on St. Cloud State.

#11 St. Mary's (18-4) is continuing their roll, upping their winning streak to 14 with an impressive three-game sweep of Lubbock Christian. They will have a good opportunity to push that streak closer to 20 with a game against Eastern New Mexico and a three-game series against Oklahoma Panhandle State this weekend.

#12 Cal Poly Pomona (16-6) split a four-game series with Sonoma State in CCAA play, and will have a tough test this weekend with a four-game set against Chico State.

#13 Angelo State (18-4) split a four-game series with West Texas A&M at home. They still boast an impressive record, and will try to improve on it with a four-game LSC set at Texas A&M-Kingsville this weekend.

#14 Columbus State (15-9) is trying to hang on in the rankings, but dropping two of three to Georgia College will not help their cause. They did beat Tuskegee (28-0!) and Stillman in non-conference games last week, but they were hoping for more against Georgia College as they head in to a three-game set at Lander this weekend. In that 28-0 thrashing of Tuskegee, eight different players had multi-RBI performances.

#15 UC San Diego (17-7) had the week off and will be back in action this weekend with three games against Cal State San Bernardino.

#16 Florida Tech (20-3) had a tough go of it at Saint Leo, dropping two of three to the Lions, and have now gone 3-3 in their last six since starting the season 17-0. This week, they will face Caldwell before a three-game set against Rollins as they try and get back on track.

#17 Saint Leo (21-5) on the other hand, rebounded well from their sweep at the hands of Nova SE by shelling Slippery Rock (24-2) and Ohio Valley (10-1) before taking two of three from Florida Tech. Their two victories over the Panthers also included double digit runs, while they got shutout in the middle game. They will face Eckerd in a three-game SSC series this weekend.

#18 Flagler (19-4), surprisingly, dropped two of three to Young Harris, but still remain one of the top teams in the Peach Belt. They have a light schedule this week, taking on Eckerd in a mid-week game and facing Mount Vernon Nazarene in a doubleheader this weekend.

#19 Grand Valley State (8-5) went 2-1, but is continuing to struggle on the mound. They had a game against Trevecca Nazarene cancelled due to weather, then split with Alderson Broaddus, with the loss coming via another blown save. They picked up a game on Monday against NAIA Aquinas and won, but even that game came with some upset stomachs, as the pitching staff gave up four late-inning runs after it appeared they had the game in hand. They will have to find a reliable arm out of the bullpen if they want to keep their regional tournament appearance streak in tact. On the season, the pitching staff as a whole has given up 76 walks + HBP and have only 66 strikeouts. Not a good recipe. They will kick off GLIAC play this weekend with a four-game set at Ohio Dominican.

#20 USC Aiken (18-7) took two of two from Chowan in a mid-week series, then took two of three from a solid Francis Marion squad. They will face Newberry in a mid-week game and then face North Georgia in a three-game series this weekend.

#21 Saint Cloud State (16-0) continued rolling, going undefeated on their trip to Arizona. The schedule certainly wasn't a tough one, but the Huskies did what they should have done and dominated weak competition. They will begin NSIC play with a four-game series at Upper Iowa this weekend.

#22 Erskine (21-2) dropped a close game to Georgia Regents, but rebounded with a win against Brevard and a three-game sweep of Southern Wesleyan in conference play. They will have a very good non-conference match-up with UNC Pembroke on Tuesday before taking on Emmanuel in a three-game series this weekend.

#23 Mercyhurst (8-0) had two of their four games against Slippery Rock postponed due to weather, but beat SRU in the other two games to stay undefeated. They will face Malone in a doubleheader this week and then continue PSAC play with a four-game series against Clarion this weekend.

#24 Catawba (19-4) is continuing to improve, having now won 17 of their last 18, with the only loss in that stretch being a 1-0 loss to Newberry. They beat Shippensburg in a mid-week game last week, then swept Lincoln Memorial in a three-game series. They should keep things rolling this week with a game at Barton and then a three-game conference series against Anderson.

#25 Southern Arkansas (17-9) had a solid mid-week win over Delta State last week and then took two of three from Ouachita Baptist in conference action. They will face OBU again in a mid-week game this week in a non-conference contest before welcoming Henderson State in to town for a three-game GAC series.

UNC Pembroke (17-6) had a 3-1 week, rebounding nicely from a sweep at Flagler. They defeated Coker in a mid-week game and took two of three from North Georgia. They will have a big non-conference game against Erskine this week and a three-game set at Georgia Southwestern.

Armstrong State (18-5) had a huge mid-week win over Mount Olive last week, but followed that up with losing two of three to Tusculum. They should get back on track this week with a game against Claflin and a three-game series at Georgia Regents.

Colorado State-Pueblo (17-3) so far is looking like the only real challenger to Colorado Mesa in the RMAC, sitting at 9-1 in the conference. They are riding a seven-game winning streak after sweeping Adams State in a four-game series this past weekend, and should keep rolling with four more against Metro State this weekend.

Ashland (10-4) is the South division favorite in the GLIAC and are off to a decent start to the year. Their 10-4 record is even more impressive given that all four losses have been one-run games, including two to GVSU and one to Minnesota State, a pair of top 25 teams. They swept a doubleheader against Cedarville this past weekend and will take on Charleston (W.Va.) this week before beginning conference play with a four-game series against Northwood (Mich.) this weekend.

East Stroudsburg (12-2) appears like they will be another PSAC contender, putting up some huge offensive numbers through their first 14 games. They took three of four from Kutztown this past weekend and will face Philadelphia in a mid-week game this week before continuing conference play with four games against Millersville.

We also need to mention Truman State (11-2), the squad which swept the defending champs in four games this past weekend. Their record is more impressive when you consider one of those losses to came to D-I Missouri. If their early season success is any indication, the Bulldogs should continue to roll this weekend with four games against McKendree.

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