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What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (3/16)

What To Watch For This Weekend In College Baseball (3/16)

Last weekend brought the start of conference play in both the ACC and Pac-12, and with it came some exciting series and intriguing results. No. 18 Boston College took down then-No. 11 Virginia Tech on the road, No. 9 Virginia continued its excellent start to 2022 by taking two of three from-then No. 19 North Carolina and unranked USC won its series against then-No. 3 Stanford. No. 17 Miami also won its series against a previously undefeated North Carolina State team, and No. 22 Oregon State lost at the hands of the scorching hot Cougars from Washington State.

In what seems to be the case each week, there were several upsets in this week’s midweek slate as well with No. 6 Mississippi, No. 13 TCU, No. 14 East Carolina, No. 22 Oregon State and No. 24 North Carolina State all dropping their Tuesday contests. With this weekend comes another milestone in the college baseball season: the start of SEC and Big 12 play. There are a host of heavyweight matchups across the country.

No. 6 Mississippi (14-3) at No. 8 Vanderbilt (13-5)

In what might be the biggest blockbuster series of the weekend, No. 6 Ole Miss makes the trip north to take on No. 8 Vanderbilt. This will be a series that pits each team’s biggest strength against each other. Vanderbilt’s pitching staff has the 22nd-best ERA in the country at 3.36, while Ole Miss has the ninth-best team batting average at .337. Vanderbilt’s starting rotation of Carter Holton (1-0, 2.21 ERA), Hunter Owen (1-0, 3.20 ERA) and Devin Futrell (3-1, 2.87 ERA) has been very impressive for the Commodores in the early going and makes up for the lack of firepower on offense. All three are holding opposing hitters to a batting average under .230 with Futrell’s .154 OBA being the most impressive of the three.

While other teams such as Tennessee and Florida have no problem getting into shootouts on offense, the Commodores are perfectly comfortable in settling for a low-scoring, chess match-type of game. Tim Corbin is also armed with two of the best relief pitchers in the country in Nick Maldonado (1-0, 0.00 ERA) and Bryce Cunningham (0-0, 0.00 ERA). The two have combined to throw 23 innings and have yet to allow an earned run. What makes both of them especially useful is that they can be stretched out to throw three or four innings at a time. In 9.2 innings pitched, Maldonado has a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 15-to-2 and has allowed just two hits, while Cunningham boasts an 18-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio through 13.1…

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