Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Tampa Swept for First Time Since 2011; Seton Hill Puts a Firm Grip on Top Ranking

There will certainly be a different look to the rankings this Wednesday from Nick Herfordt at PerfectGame, mostly thanks to Tampa being swept for the first time since 2011 at the hands of Nova Southeastern over this past weekend. Seton Hill has now rolled to 17 straight victories, while Franklin Pierce and Colorado Mesa continue putting up gaudy records.

Here is a recap of this past week's action around the world of Division II baseball.

#1 Seton Hill (28-4) pushed their winning streak to 17 and should have a stranglehold on the top spot in the rankings right now. The Griffins beat West Liberty and then dominated a four-game series against Clarion over the weekend, outscoring them 54-9 in the four games. Nick Sell is raking, as usual. They will face Slippery Rock in a split four-game series this weekend.

#2 Tampa (25-10) is probably going to take a bit of a tumble this week in the rankings. In our Marquee Match-Up of the week, the Spartans were swept by Nova Southeastern, the first time the Spartans have been swept since 2011. Tampa got walked-off on twice, and lost the final game despite smacking four home runs in the contest. The Spartans then avoided disaster by walking off against NAIA Southeastern (Fla.) earlier today after trailing 7-6 going in to their final at-bats. Things won't get any easier the next three weekends for the Spartans, either. This week, they take on Lynn in a three-game series.

#3 Colorado Mesa (30-4) more or less wrapped up the RMAC regular season title, winning three of four against Colorado State-Pueblo over the weekend to push their conference record to 22-2. They should be at #2 when the new rankings come out. The Mavericks should keep rolling with four games against Regis this weekend.

#4 Alabama-Huntsville (28-6-1) went 5-2, beating Miles in a doubleheader, dropping two of three to Valdosta State, and then walloping LeMoyne Owen in a doubleheader earlier today to the tune of a 36-2 score in the pair of games. Losing two of three to VSU may have been a bit of a letdown considering they swept North Alabama the weekend prior, but they should still hold steady when the new rankings come out, maybe falling a spot or two. This week, they face Montevallo on Wednesday before taking on Christian Brothers in a three-game GSC set this weekend. They'll face Montevallo again next Tuesday.

#5 Franklin Pierce (27-2) just keeps rolling. They have won eight straight now after beating American International, sweeping Stonehill in a three-game series and then beating Saint Michael's on Monday. As a team, the Ravens are pulling in a 1.89 ERA...with 22 pitchers having seen time in at least one game. That is somewhat absurd. Brendan O'Rourke is putting up laughable numbers. He is 7-0 with 53 strikeouts and 18 hits (!) allowed in 43.1 (!) innings with a 0.21 (!!!) ERA. This week, they will head to Southern New Hampshire for a challenging game on Wednesday before facing Saint Rose and LeMoyne in a pair of doubleheaders this weekend. They also face Saint Anselm for a single game next Tuesday.

#6 Mount Olive (28-9) has now won nine in a row, and they had an impressive showing over the weekend, sweeping a ranked Erskine squad and scoring in double digits in all three games. They face Chowan in a pair of mid-week games and take on North Greenville in a three-game conference series this weekend. They'll face a stiff challenge in a doubleheader with Wingate next Tuesday, as well.

#7 Minnesota State (17-4), somewhat surprisingly, split a four-game series with Minnesota-Duluth over the weekend. They also shelled Gustavus Adolphus to a football-like 17-3 score last week. They will face Augustana in a doubleheader on Wednesday and then face Bemidji State for four games this weekend.

#8 Cal Poly Pomona (25-9) won three of four against UC San Diego, snapping UCSD's CCAA conference-series win streak in impressive fashion. The Broncos will face Cal State East Bay for a home four-game series this weekend.

#9 Nova Southeastern (31-6) probably had the best weekend of any squad in the top 25, sweeping the vaunted Tampa Spartans in the Marquee Match-Up of the Week. It took a pair of walk-offs to do it, but they did it, handing Tampa its first sweep since 2011. They then beat Palm Beach Atlantic in a non-conference contest earlier today. The Sharks have been impressive all year and will face another stiff test this weekend when they take on Florida Tech in a three-game series. They will also face Palm Beach Atlantic again next Tuesday.

#10 St. Mary's (26-7) swept a three-game Heartland Conference series from Newman and then beat a tough Texas A&M-Kingsville team in 13 innings on Tuesday night that held up the release of this post. They will be part of a top 25 match-up this weekend with three against St. Edward's. They will also face Angelo State next Tuesday, again for a single game.

#11 St. Cloud State (28-2) got back on track, sweeping Wayne State (Neb.) in a four-game series, outscoring their opponent 34-4 in the series with two shutouts. They will have a busy week coming up, playing six games, two against Concordia-St. Paul on Wednesday and four this weekend against SW Minnesota State.

#12 Emporia State (23-9) split a four-game series with Nebraska-Kearney over the weekend, then beat Washburn in a mid-week game earlier today. They should get back on track this weekend with four games against NW Missouri State. They will face Washburn again next Tuesday, as well.

#13 Columbus State (25-11) beat Auburn-Montgomery and then took two of three against Georgia Southwestern in conference play. This week, they will face Tuskegee on Wednesday before a three-game series with Montevallo.

#14 UC San Diego (23-12) had their CCAA series win streak snapped by losing three of four to Cal Poly Pomona, a team that has solidified themselves as very solid. The Tritons will face a very good Azusa Pacific team for a non-conference contest on Tuesday night, and welcome Cal State Monterey Bay in to town this weekend for four games.

#15 Saint Leo (28-8) dropped two of three to a ranked Lynn squad. They should still be firmly in the (stacked) regional tournament race, but will want to win the series this weekend against Florida Southern considering they still have to face Tampa this year.

#16 UNC Pembroke (26-9), the week after they pop back in to the rankings, promptly lost two of three to USC Aiken, including a 24-6 drubbing in game one. The Braves are still one of the best offensive squads in the country, and they will get a chance to prove that this week with a mid-week game against Catawba and a three-game series against a good Francis Marion squad this weekend.

#17 Mercyhurst (25-1) has won 11 in a row, beating Lake Erie, sweeping four from Pittsburgh-Johnstown and then beating Notre Dame (Ohio). They will face a good challenge this weekend with a split four-game series against California (Pa.).

#18 St. Edward's (27-8) are on a nine-game winning streak after sweeping Arkansas-Fort Smith, and will lock up with a ranked St. Mary's squad for a three-game conference series this weekend that should put one team or the other in the driver's seat for the Heartland Conference.

#19 Florida Tech (31-5) swept a three-game series from Barry and then picked up a great non-conference win against Flagler earlier today. They will face their biggest test of the year so far this weekend when they head to take on Nova Southeastern in a three-game series.

#20 Catawba (31-7) beat Winston-Salem State, then took two of three from Wingate in conference action over the weekend before crushing Barton earlier today. They will face a star-studded UNC Pembroke squad for a single game on Wednesday before heading to Mars Hill for a three-game series this weekend.

#21 Colorado State-Pueblo (26-6) had a chance to move up in the rankings, but lost three of four to Colorado Mesa in a competitive series. They will look to get back on track with four home games this weekend against Colorado Mines.

#22 Lynn (27-8) should find themselves moving up the rankings after beating Saint Leo two out of three this weekend, after taking two of three from Nova Southeastern the previous weekend. Lynn will continue their murderer's row schedule this weekend with a three-game series at Tampa. If they can take two of three again (or better), then Lynn will have firmly planted themselves as a regional title contender.

#23 Dixie State (24-8) have now won 24 of their last 25 and 12 in a row after sweeping Fresno Pacific. The Red Storm might be the hottest team in the country, and they will try and improve on that even more with four games against California Baptist this weekend.

#24 Flagler (26-8) beat Valdosta State in a single game last week, then took two of three from Georgia Regents in PBC play. However, they dropped a single game earlier today against Florida Tech. They will need to regroup quickly, as they travel to Armstrong State this weekend for a three-game conference series. They will also face Florida Southern next Tuesday for a single game.

#25 Erskine (29-10) have most likely played themselves out of this week's rankings. Despite beating Anderson in a doubleheader last week, they went on to get swept by Mount Olive and then drop a single game to Georgia Regents. However, they should get a good chance to rebound this week with a single game against Brevard and three against King (Tenn.).

Angelo State (24-10) may have gotten themselves back on to the cusp of the rankings after a three-game LSC sweep of Cameron. They will face a good test in a four-game series against Tarleton State this weekend.

Armstrong State (26-9) took two of three from Montevallo and are still hanging around in the PBC. They will have a chance to break through this week with three games against Flagler this weekend.

USC Aiken (24-13) beat Paine last Wednesday and then contained the hot-hitting UNC Pembroke Braves, taking two of three over the weekend. However, they dropped a game earlier today to Newberry in non-conference action. They will face Georgia Regents for a three-game series this weekend.

Trevecca Nazarene (21-13) is still on their comeback trail from a pretty bad start to the season. They lost a pair of games to Montevallo last week, but crushed Davis & Elkins in a four-game series (66-5 on the scoreboard) over the weekend to move to 11-1 in the G-MAC, a conference they are going to continue to dominate. They then won a single game at Union (Tenn.) earlier today. They'll have this weekend off. They will most likely get the #6 seed in the Midwest region as the automatic bid out of the conference, and if so, this will be a dangerous squad in tournament play. Then again, the way the Midwest region as a whole has been playing, they might be one of the top seeds.

Azusa Pacific (24-9) fell in their only game last week, a 4-3 setback to Cal State Dominguez Hills, but they are still a very talented team that could be a dark horse in the region if they can win the PacWest. They are facing UC San Diego in a big non-conference game tonight, and will face Holy Names in four games this weekend.

Ashland (21-7) is still looking like the class of the Midwest, and definitely the GLIAC, as the Eagles have now won eight in a row after sweeping Tiffin in four games. They'll have a busy week coming up, facing Lake Erie in a doubleheader on Wednesday and traveling to Saginaw Valley State for four games this weekend.

William Jewell (23-6) is sitting atop the GLVC, and is by far the favorite considering overall record. Last week, the Cardinals split with Rockhurst and then swept Quincy in a four-game series to take the conference lead in the standings. They will face Missouri-St. Louis for four games this weekend and then face Rockhurst in another doubleheader next Tuesday.

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