This weekend, the premier college baseball tournament of the season will take place at Minute Maid Park in Houston, Texas. This article previews the Shriner’s Children College Classic and all 6 teams. If you’re looking for my normal weekend preview, which features the weekend’s major series and the match-ups for all my Top 25 teams, will be released in a few hours.
All nine games over the weekend will be available on MLB Network and I highly recommend everyone tune in and watch. Below, I’ve highlighted each match-up and you can see each team’s top prospects at the end of the article with selected stats included.
12:00 PM- UCLA (6-3) vs Baylor (4-4)
RHP Jake Brooks, So. (2 G, 2-0, 0.00) vs LHP Tyler Thomas, Sr. (2 G, 1-1, 1.50)
Don’t sleep on this match-up. Both teams have had their struggles to start the year, but this is an intriguing match-up. UCLA ace Jake Brooks has been stellar to start the year, and he’ll get a chance to face a scuffling Baylor Bears lineup. Baylor was swept by Maryland at home to start the year, but was able to get back on track by going 4-1 since. Baylor needs to get OF Jared McKenzie going after a slow start (.207 in 29 ABs). I like UCLA to squeeze out a 4-3 victory here to kick-off the Shriner’s Children College Classic.
4:00 PM- Oklahoma (5-2) vs #3 LSU (8-1)
LHP Jake Bennett, R-So. (2 G, 0-0, 0.00) vs RHP Blake Money, So. (2 G, 2-0, 0.00)
This is not an easy game for LSU ahead of their match-up with Texas on Saturday. Oklahoma has had a challenging schedule, with wins over Michigan, Auburn, and Wichita State under their belts. And Jake Bennett has been fantastic in his two starts this year. He’s got 13 strikeouts in just 11.1 innings pitched with an .083 batting average against. He’ll face LSU’s ace Blake Money who is 2-0 with 17 strikeouts over 14 innings against Maine and Towson. He’s pitching 7 innings in both games, and he’ll be looking to do the same against the Sooners. This is a potential trap for the Tigers ahead of Saturday’s game against #1 Texas, but I think Blake Money gets the job done for the Tigers and they squeak out a win after a slow start.
8:00 PM- #8 Tennessee (8-0) vs #1 Texas (9-0)
RHP Chase Burns, Fr. (2 G, 2-0, 0.00) vs LHP Pete Hansen, 3-So. (2 G, 1-0, 0.00)
This is the premier match-up of Friday, as #8 Tennessee takes on #1 Texas. Tennessee as outscored Iona and UNC-Ashville 84-4 in their last four games, and come in with a lethal lineup. On the flip side, Texas swept Alabama last weekend with dominant pitching. In fact, their weekend starters as a hole have only given up 2 runs in 34 innings with 37 strikeouts. Texas ace Pete Hansen will take the ball on Friday and attempt to slow this Tennessee lineup, led by SS Trey Lipscomb, who hit for the cycle against Iona and almost did it again the day after. He’s currently hitting .533 with 5 home runs. I believe Texas to have the best rotation in the country, and they’ll have a chance to prove it this weekend against two of the best lineups in the country in Tennessee and LSU.
Freshman Chase Burns will take the bump for the Vols, after top pitching prospect and Friday night ace Blake Tidwell suffered a major injury just before the season. Burns has been fantastic so far, but has not gone beyond 5 innings in his first two starts as his arm gets stretched out. And don’t forget that the Vols have Ben Joyce in the bullpen, who can regularly hit over 100 MPH on the radar. While the Tennessee staff might not be quite on par with Texas in the long run, the early stats show they might be as they lead the nation in WHIP (0.74) and are 2nd in ERA (0.90). I’ve got Texas in this one as Tennessee faces an elite pitcher for the first time this season.
12:00 PM- Oklahoma (5-2) vs UCLA (6-3)
RHP David Sandlin, R-So. (2 G, 1-1, 6.10) vs RHP Max Rajcic, So. (2 G, 1-1, 1.80)
This is probably the most underrated match-up of the weekend. Both of these teams are on the cusp of the Top 25 for me and could end up as sleepers for the postseason. I didn’t talk about him for the match-up against LSU, but 3B Peyton Graham is a potential first round draft pick for the Sooners. The redshirt sophomore is hitting .310 with 2 homers in 29 AB’s. He’ll get a chance to put one in the Crawford Boxes this weekend, but UCLA starter Max Rajcic might be the best pitcher he faces this weekend. That’ll be the fun pitcher/hitter match-up to watch in this game. Oklahoma will find a way to win and get to 1-1 on the weekend.
4:00 PM- Baylor (4-4) vs #8 Tennessee (8-0)
RHP Jake Jackson, Sr. (2 G, 1-1, 2.25) vs RHP Chase Dollander, So. (2 G, 1-0, 2.70)
We already talked about Tennessee SS Trey Lipscomb, but he’s not the only stud in Tennessee’s offense. Outfielder Jordan Beck (.345, with 6 XBH in 29 ABs) is the #36 ranked college player and Drew Gilbert (.458 in 24 ABs with 7 XBH) is scorching hot. They’re going to be all over Baylor in this one and Baylor’s bats won’t be able to handle Chase Dollander. This one could be a blow out if Tennessee is out for blood.
8:00 PM- #1 Texas (9-0) vs #3 LSU (8-1)
RHP Tristan Stevens, R-Sr. (2 G, 2-0, 0.00) vs RHP Ma’Khail Hilliard, R-Sr. (1 G, 0-0, 6.75)
Tristan Stevens will take the mound for the Longhorns and try to stifle one of my favorite lineups in the nation. Tre’ Morgan, Dylan Crews, Jacob Berry, Cade Doughty, Brayden Jobert, and Jacob Thompson might be the best 1-6 hitters around. All six are hitting well over .300 and can send the ball out of the park. Tristan Stevens hasn’t given up a run in either of his first two starts, but this isn’t Rice or Alabama he’s facing. That being said, I think Texas pulls off another big win here, as whomever LSU’s starter will likely struggle against the Longhorn bats, particularly 1B Ivan Melendez, aka the Hispanic Titanic, and OF Douglas Hodo III. LSU has not announced their starters beyond Blake Money against Oklahoma on Friday, so having Ma’Khail Hilliard on the bump is a best guess for me.
12:00 PM- #8 Tennessee (8-0) vs Oklahoma (5-2)
RHP Drew Beam, Fr. (2 G, 1-0, 0.00) vs LHP Chazz Martinez, R-So. (2 G, 1-0, 0.00)
I think Tennessee drops a second game of the weekend here when they face reigning National Pitcher of the Week Chazz Martinez, who struck out 14 over 7 shutout innings last weekend over Northwestern State. In 2 starts, he’s got 19 K’s and just 1 walk over 11.1 innings pitched. I think the Sooners will hit freshman Drew Beam well, and Tennessee will finish the weekend 1-2 after losses to #1 Texas and Oklahoma. Tennessee is an elite team and deserving of the Top 10 ranking I’ve given them, but my gut is just telling me they’ll have some trouble this weekend in Houston.
4:00 PM- UCLA (6-3) vs #1 Texas (9-0)
RHP Kelly Austin, R-So. (2 G, 0-0, 0.00 ERA) vs RHP Tanner Witt, So. (2 G, 2-0, 1.64)
Texas will finish off their challenging weekend with UCLA, who many polls still have in the Top 25. This is the most likely match-up to be a pitching duel for Texas, as UCLA’s strength lies with its pitching. Kelly Austin has yet to give up any runs for the Bruins, and he’ll be eager to prove himself against the #1 team in the country. Texas SS Trey Faltine is one of the best defensive shortstops in the country, and he’s hitting very well to start the year too, hitting .303 (10/33). If the Longhorns can get his double play partner, Mitchell Daly (.200 in 30 ABs), going, then the lineup becomes that much deeper and dangerous. Something to keep an eye on for UCLA is how they handle freshman Thatcher Hurd over the weekend. He’s been the weekday against both Omaha and Long Beach State, and has 25 strikeouts and just 2 walks in 12 innings pitched. He did throw 80 pitches on Tuesday, but will UCLA be tempted to bring him on in relief if they have a chance to upset #1 Texas? I got Texas winning this game as well to complete their sweep of the Classic.
8:00 PM- #3 LSU (8-1) vs Baylor (4-4)
RHP Ty Floyd, So. (2 G, 2-0, 1.80) vs RHP Will Rigney, So. (2 G, 0-0, 3.00)
Ty Floyd might be LSU’s best pitching prospect, but he’ll get the easiest task of the weekend if he ends up pitching Sunday and not Saturday against Texas. We’ve talked about Baylor’s offensive struggles, and they’ll be facing that lethal lineup I mentioned earlier. If you’re a fan of MLB, you’ll want to keep an eye on Jacob Berry, who will likely be a Top 10 pick, despite defensive struggles. He’s been seeing time in RF with Tre’ Morgan at 1B, Doughty at 2B, and Jack Merrifield at 3B, but don’t be surprised to see him move around a bit. LSU will take the win and finish the weekend with a 2-1 record while Baylor will drop all 3 of their games.
Top Prospects (According to Baseball America’s Top 150 College Prospects)
RHP Tanner Witt, Texas #20 2 G, 11 IP, 2-0, 1.64 ERA, 14K, 3BB, .220 Opp BA)
LHP Pete Hanson, Texas #34 (2 G, 11 IP, 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 16K, 2BB, .175 Opp BA)
RHP Tristan Stevens, Texas #49 (2 G, 12 IP, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 7K, 2BB, .186 Opp BA)
1B Ivan Melendez, Texas #53 (.250, 8/32, 3 2b, 2 HR, 12 RBI, .442 OBP, 0 SB)
RHP Aaron Nixon, Texas #68 (4 G, 4.2 IP, 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 6K, 3BB, .176 Opp BA)
SS Trey Faltine, Texas #90 (.303, 10/33, 3 2b, 1 3b. 1 HR, 9 RBI. .395 OBP, 0 SB)
2B Mitchell Daly, Texas #115 (.200, 6/30, 2 2b, 0 HR, 6 RBI, .400 OBP, 1 SB)
OF Douglas Hodo III, Texas #136 (.350, 14/40, 4 2b, 0 HR, 3 RBI, .435 OBP, 3 SB)
3B/OF Jacob Berry, LSU #2 (.342, 13/38, 2 2b, 4 HR, 12 RBI, .422 OBP, 0 SB)
OF Dylan Crews, LSU #4 (.485, 16/33, 1 2b, 3 3b, 2 HR, 14 RBI. .614 OBP, 0 SB)
IF Cade Doughty, LSU #18 (.389, 14/36, 5 2b. 3 HR, 16 RBI, .465 OBP, 2 SB)
1B Tre’ Morgan, LSU #28 (.412, 14/34, 2 2b, 1 3b, 0 HR, 10 RBI, .533 OBP, 0 SB)
OF Gavin Dugas, LSU #50 (.286, 6/21, 2 2b, 0 HR, 7 RBI, .531 OBP, 1 SB)
RHP Ty Floyd, LSU, #107 (2 G, 10 IP, 2-0, 1.80 ERA, 13K, 5BB, .094 Opp BA)
SS Jordan Thompson, LSU #126 (.357, 10/28, 3 2b, 0 HR, 2 RBI, .514 OBP, 1 SB)
OF Jordan Beck, Tennessee #36 (.345, 10/29, 3 2b, 3 HR, 11 RBI, .394 OBP, 1 SB)
RHP Chase Burns, Tennessee #94 (2 G, 10 IP, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 9K, 2BB, .171 Opp BA)
RHP Chase Dollander, Tennessee #144 (2 G, 10 IP, 1-0, 2.70 ERA, 21K, 1BB, .167 Opp BA)
RHP Max Rajcic, UCLA #73 (2 G, 10 IP, 1-1, 1.80 ERA, 8 K, 3 BB, .171 Opp BA)
OF Jared McKenzie, Baylor #38 (.207, 6/29, 1 2b, 3 RBI, .361 OBP, 2 SB, 11K)
3B Peyton Graham, OU #23 (.310, 9/29, 1 2b, 2 HR, 3 RBI, .394 OBP, 3 SB)