Happy Friday! MLB Spring Training games have finally begun and Opening Day will be on April 7th. But college baseball is in full swing as the SEC joins the ACC and Pac-12 in conference play this weekend, while the Big 12 takes one more weekend before their grueling conference schedules start. Below I’ve highlighted some big match-ups occurring this weekend and how you can watch them if you are so inclined.
The Top 25 rankings I’m using are from my HSHH rankings, and most other references are from Baseball America, including the Top 50 College Prospects list for the 2022 MLB Draft. Even though MLB is back, I’ll continue to highlight the top match-ups every weekend throughout the college baseball season. There will be plenty of focus on top MLB prospects, so when the draft comes in the summer, you’ll already know many of the names that get called. Many of these players are featured in my first Mock Draft, which came out this past Wednesday.
Match-ups to Watch
South Carolina 10-6 at #6 Tennessee 15-1
Friday, 6:30 (SECN+):
RHP Noah Hall, Jr. (5 G, 0-2, 9.42) vs RHP Chase Burns, Fr (4 G, 3-0, 0.45)
Saturday, 12:00 (SEC Network):
RHP Will Sanders, So. (4 G, 3-0, 2.52) vs RHP Chase Dollander, So. (4 G, 2-0, 3.79)
Sunday, 1:00 (SECN+):
RHP Matthew Becker, Fr. (5 G, 1-0, 2.25) vs RHP Drew Beam, Fr. (4 G, 3-0, 1.59)
South Carolina was seemingly reeling after being swept by Clemson and losing to Xavier mid-week two weeks ago, but then they went and took two of three from #1 Texas last weekend, and they did that without getting a winning performance from ace Will Sanders. Tennessee, on the other hand, at 15-1 with that lone loss being to formerly #1 Texas.
It looks like South Carolina is going to shuffle their rotation around a bit this weekend, as their normal Friday night starter, Will Sanders, is currently slated to face Chase Dollander on Saturday. Talented freshman Matthew Becker, who struck out 11 Longhorns in his last start, will pitch against fellow Freshman Drew Beam in the finale on Sunday. That means Noah Hall and his 9.42 ERA will face the new ace of the Volunteers in Chase Burns, who has been outstanding in all four of his starts this season. The Volunteers’ pitching staff is 5th in the nation in K’s per 9 innings so expect a lot of strikeouts.
The big South Carolina hitter is going to be Michael Braswell, who currently sits 4th in the SEC with a .429 batting average while walking (15) more than he’s struck out (14). The hot hitter for the Gamecocks is Brandt Belk, who’s hitting .588 with 5 extra base hits in his last five games. On the other side, we know how lethal that Tennessee lineup is. The Vols lead the country in home runs, with 46 in their 16 games played so far. They’re hoping to get outfielder Drew Gilbert back this weekend from a hamstring injury. Before his injury he was hitting .500 with 6 walks versus just one strikeout. Infielder Trey Lipscomb continues to lead Tennessee with a .413 batting average and 8 home runs. The big outfield draft prospect, Jordan Beck, is hitting .324 with 4 homers and 13 RBIs.
Another massive test for South Carolina, this time on the road, and I don’t think they’ll win even a game. They certainly won’t win the series, as Tennessee’s lineup is just too prolific for that Gamecock pitching staff.
OF Jordan Beck, Tennessee #36
RHP Will Sanders, South Carolina #92
RHP Chase Burns, Tennessee #94
RHP Chase Dollander, Tennessee #144
#13 Stanford 9-5 (1-2) at #14 Arizona 13-4 (2-1)
RHP Alex Williams, Sr. (4 G, 2-1, 3.50) vs RHP TJ Nichols, So. (4 G, 2-0, 2.45)
LHP Quinn Mathews, Jr. (5 G, 2-1, 3.80) vs LHP Garrett Irvin, R-Sr. (0-0, 5.02)
LHP Drew Dowd, So. (4 G, 3-0, 2.37) vs RHP Dawson Netz, R-So. (4 G, 2-0. 3.93)
A match-up of two top-15 teams, the #13-ranked Stanford Cardinal head to Tucson this weekend to take on Chip Hale’s #14-ranked Arizona Wildcats. Stanford lost their Pac-12 opening series to a talented Oregon team, while Arizona took care of business on the road at Cal. Stanford has been up and down this season, while the Wildcats have dropped games to Grand Canyon and Texas State after beating teams like Auburn and Texas Tech to open the season. This is the first time the two teams have met since last year’s College World Series in Omaha, where Stanford eliminated Arizona, 14-5. I imagine revenge will be on the mind of the Wildcats, especially with the Cardinal’s recent struggles.
Let’s briefly talk about the pitching matchups. Arizona’s ace, TJ Nichols, is the big current pitching prospects between the two teams. Nichols season numbers are pretty good, but he got roughed up by Cal last time out, giving up 4 earned runs in 5.1 innings last Friday. The strength of the Stanford pitching staff seems to rely on Joey Dixon and Tommy O’Rourke coming out of the bullpen, as they’ve pitched outstanding and accounted for a combined 34.1 innings pitched in relief this season.
To get going offensively, Stanford needs to get more out of their best players, which includes Brock Jones and Tommy Troy. Jones is projected to be a Top-10 pick in this year’s MLB draft, but he’s gotten off to a slow start this year, hitting just .250 with 0 home runs and 17 strikeouts. Tommy Troy likewise hasn’t had a great start, hitting .244 with no home runs and 13 strikeouts. If Stanford wants to get back to the College World Series, they’re going to need to get those two guys going.
On the other side, Arizona catcher Daniel Susac looks to be the first catcher taken in this year’s draft, and he’s been outstanding while leading the nation in base hits (as of Wednesday’s games). The younger brother of Major Leaguer Andrew Susac is hitting .407 with 11 doubles, a triple, and 3 home runs for the Wildcats. Teammate Tanner O’Tremba is right behind him, hitting .464 with 8 doubles, 2 triples, and 2 home runs while walking 10 times. Chase Davis leads Arizona in home runs with 5, while Noah Turley has 4.
The games will supposedly be available to view on Pac-12 Networks or Arizona’s Live Stream, but I don’t know if that’s free or not. I think Stanford gets back on track this weekend and takes two of three on the road from the Wildcats.
Top Prospects (According to Baseball America’s Top 150 College Prospects)
OF Brock Jones, Stanford #5
C Daniel Susac, Arizona #7
3B Drew Bowser, Stanford #57
RHP TJ Nichols, Arizona #91
2B Tommy Troy, Stanford #120
#25 Wake Forest 10-3 (1-2) at #8 Georgia Tech 14-3 (3-0)
Friday, 6:00 (ACCNX):
RHP Rhett Lowder, So. (4 G, 4-0, 1.93) vs RHP Chance Huff, R-Jr. (4 G, 2-0, 3.38)
Saturday, 4:00 (ACCNX):
LHP Josh Hartle, Fr. (4 G, 3-1, 2.31) vs RHP Zach Maxwell, R-So. (4 G, 1-0, 4.50)
Sunday, 1:00 (ACCNX):
RHP Seth Keener, So. (4 G, 2-1, 4.76) vs RHP Marquis Grissom Jr., So. (6 G, 1-2, 5.14)
Both of these teams are getting highlighted in my main match-ups for the second time this season. Wake Forest is coming off a disappointing series loss to Florida State at home last weekend, while Georgia Tech swept the Virginia Tech Hokies to start ACC play. I expect to see a lot of offense in this series.
The Demon Deacons are ranked 4th in the nation in on-base percentage to start the season and are fifth in home runs. Through 17 games, their 8 primary hitters all have at least one home run, and 7 have three homers or more. Jake Reinisch and Pierce Bennett are hitting over .400, while Brandon Tinsman is hitting .370. But the big bat in the lineup to look out for is third baseman Brock Wilken, who is hitting .286 with 6 doubles and 3 home runs. He does strike out a lot, having accumulated 23 on the young season so far. He is one of the top prospects for next year’s draft.
Funny enough, Georgia Tech is also ranked 5th in the nation in home runs and are also 5th in the nation in hits. The Jackets have six starters hitting over .300 and they’re led by top catching prospect Kevin Parada, who is hitting .437 with 8 home runs while walking 13 times versus just 6 strikeouts. Chandler Simpson leads the team with a .468 batting average, but Drew Compton and Tres Gonzalez have been stellar as well, hitting .348 and .339 respectively. Compton also has 6 home runs to put him second on the team.
Georgia Tech’s pitching hasn’t been great, however, as Zach Maxwell and Marques Grissom Jr. have had disappointing starts to the year, leaving Chance Huff being the only starter with an ERA under 4.00. On the flip side, Wake Forest pitching has been pretty good. Last time out against Florida State, Rhett Lowder went 6 strong innings and only gave up 2 earned runs. Josh Hartle and Seth Keener weren’t quite as good, giving up 4 and 3 earned runs respectively, which is where the Demon Deacons took their losses as those pitchers were outdueled by Bryce Hubbart and Ross Dunn.
Georgia Tech will take two of three here, and there will be a lot of runs scored.
Top Prospects (According to Baseball America’s Top 150 College Prospects)
C Kevin Parada, GT #15
3B Brock Wilken, WF #35
RHP Eric Adley, WF #67
OF Tres Gonzalez, GT #101
RHP Zach Maxwell, GT #105
3B Drew Compton, GT #135
Other Top 25 Matchups
#1 Ole Miss 14-3 (1-0) at Auburn 13-5 (0-1)
This series started on Thursday night with a 13-6 Ole Miss win. The series will continue on Friday and conclude on Saturday. Both of the final two games will be on SECN+.
SS Jacob Gonzalez, Ole Miss #14
1B Tim Elko, Ole Miss #25
C Hayden Dunhurst, Ole Miss #43
OF Kevin Graham, Ole Miss #80
OF TJ McCants, Ole Miss #143
Missouri 12-2 at #2 Vanderbilt 14-2
Vanderbilt has won 13 in a row and look to keep that streak going ay home against Mizzou. All three games will be on SECN+.
OF Enrique Bradfield, Jr., Vanderbilt #17
RHP Nick Maldonado, Vanderbilt #31
SS Carter Young, Vanderbilt #41
RHP Patrick Reilly, Vanderbilt #47
C Dominic Keegan, Vanderbilt #60
2B Davis Diaz, Vanderbilt #88
LHP Carter Holton, Vanderbilt #96
OF Spencer Jones, Vanderbilt #103
RHP Christian Little, Vanderbilt #116
3B Parker Noland, Vanderbilt #121
Incarnate Ward 9-5 at #3 Texas 14-5
Since Tanner Witt was scratched from his start against UCLA at the Shriner’s Children College Classic and subsequently announced that he was out for the season needing Tommy John surgery, Texas is 3-5 after a 11-0 start. They’ll look to get back on track at home against Incarnate Ward before they open conference play against Texas Tech next weekend. All three games will be available on the Longhorn Network.
LHP Pete Hanson, Texas #34
RHP Tristan Stevens, Texas #49
1B Ivan Melendez, Texas #53
RHP Aaron Nixon, Texas #68
SS Trey Faltine, Texas #90
2B Mitchell Daly, Texas #115
OF Douglas Hodo III, Texas #136
Kentucky 14-4 at #4 Arkansas 13-3
In one of the bigger SEC match-ups of the weekend, Kentucky travels to Arkansas where they’ll hope to upset the Razorbacks to open conference play. All three games will be on SECN+.
2B Robert Moore, Arkansas #16
3B Cayden Wallace, Arkansas #42
OF Jace Bohrofen, Arkansas #46
1B Peyton Stovall, Arkansas #63
RHP Jaxon Wiggins, Arkansas #69
SS Ryan Ritter, Kentucky #89
SS Jalen Battles, Arkansas #110
RHP Ryan Hagenow, Kentucky #122
Arizona State 8-10 (0-0) at #5 Oregon State 12-3 (2-1)
Arizona State has had a disappointing start to its 2022 campaign and it won’t get any easier as they head to Corvallis to take on the Beavers. All three games are available online through Oregon State Live Stream, though I am not sure if it’s free or not.
LHP Cooper Hjerpe, OSU #30
2B Sean McLain, Arizona State #33
3B Ethan Long, Arizona State #37
2B Travis Bazzana, OSU #65
RHP Will Frisch, OSU #93
OF Jacob Melton, OSU #128
#7 Notre Dame 12-1 (2-0) at Louisville 13-4 (0-0)
Some publications might have Notre Dame ranked #1, but for me they still have a lot to prove as they haven’t played anyone of real substance outside a reeling NC State team. Louisville isn’t ranked, but going on the road could prove a decent challenge for the Irish in ACC play here. All three games are available on ACCNX.
LHP John Michael Bertrand, Notre Dame #56
3B/RHP Jack Brannigan, Notre Dame #95
SS Christian Knapczyk, Louisville #118
Texas A&M 10-6 at #9 Louisiana State 14-3
After a disappointing showing at the Shriner’s Children College Classic, LSU has won 5 straight and open SEC play against Texas A&M at home. The first two games will be on SECN+ while the finale on Sunday will be on SEC Network.
3B/OF Jacob Berry, LSU #2
OF Dylan Crews, LSU #4
IF Cade Doughty, LSU #18
1B Tre’ Morgan, LSU #28
OF Gavin Dugas, LSU #50
RHP Ty Floyd, LSU #107
1B/OF Jack Moss, Texas A&M #125
SS Jordan Thompson, LSU #126
#10 Florida 13-4 at Alabama 12-6
Florida heads on the road to take on Alabama as both teams open conference play. All three games will be on SECN+.
LHP Hunter Barco, Florida #9
OF Jud Fabian, Florida #24
OF Sterlin Thompson, Florida #83
SS Josh Rivera, Florida #117
OF Michael Robertson, Florida #129
OF Camden Hayslip, Alabama #137
#11 Liberty 12-3 at North Florida 6-11
After being stunned by VCU mid-week, Liberty takes their show on the road to North Florida as they start conference play in the ASUN. All three games will be on ESPN+.
Boston College 7-8 (1-2) at #12 Virginia 16-1 (2-1)
UVA hosts a pesky Boston College team, who managed to take a game from the Miami Hurricanes last weekend. . All three games will be available on ACCNX.
C/OF Kyle Teel, UVA #44
LHP Nate Savino, UVA #74
OF Chris Newell, UVA #76
2B Luke Gold, Boston College #87
NC State 10-6 (0-2) at #15 Florida State 11-5 (2-1)
NC State is 2-6 since starting 8-0, and they’ve had a grueling start to their conference schedule which started with them being swept in 2 games by Notre Dame last weekend. This weekend, they get to travel to Tallahassee to take on Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart, two of the best starting pitchers in the country. All three games will be available on ACCNX.
LHP Parker Messick, FSU #12
LHP Bryce Hubbart, FSU #19
RHP Sam Highfill, NC State #66
LHP Chris Villaman, NC State #82
RHP Carson Montgomery, FSU #98
OF Logan Lacey, FSU #127
#16 Texas Tech 16-3 at Iowa 8-7
Texas Tech warms up before Big-12 play with a visit to Iowa for two games which will be available on BIG10+.
2B Jace Jung, Texas Tech #3
1B Cole Stilwell, Texas Tech #147
Seton Hall 1-13 at #17 Oklahoma State 11-6
Oklahoma State warms up for conference play next weekend with a four game series against hapless Seton Hall this week. The series started on Thursday with a 10-3 Cowboys win. Friday and Sunday’s games will be available to stream on ESPN+.
RHP/1B Justin Campbell, Oklahoma State #58
RHP Victor Mederos, Oklahoma State #64
3B Nolan McLean, Oklahoma State #78
1B Griffin Doersching, Oklahoma State #113
#18 North Carolina 15-2 (3-0) at Duke 10-7 (1-2)
It’s a rivalry match-up between the Tar Heels and the Blue Devils. Last Weekend, UNC swept Pitt baseball with ease while Duke dropped a home series to Virginia. Friday and Sunday games will be on ACCNX while Saturday’s game gets premium ACC Network coverage at 6:00 PM.
OF RJ Schreck, Duke #52
SS Alex Mooney, Duke #104
RHP Marcus Johnson, Duke #140
Mississippi State 11-7 at #19 Georgia 14-3
The defending National Champions have struggled with injuries early this season but none have been bigger than losing their ace Landon Sims. They’ll head on the road to take on a Georgia team that we’re not 100% sure of. Friday and Sunday games will get premium coverage on the SEC Network while Saturday’s game will be on SECN+.
C Logan Tanner, Mississippi State #26
RHP Jonathan Cannon, UGA #40
C Corey Collins, UGA #132
Miami 11-5 (2-1) at #20 Clemson 14-2 (0-0)
This is another intriguing series as Clemson faces their first big test by hosting a pretty good Miami Hurricanes team. All three games will be on ACCNX.
LHP Carson Palmquist, Miami #21
1B/LHP Caden Grice, Clemson #32
RHP Alejandro Rosario, Miami #75
3B Yohandy Morales, Miami #114
RHP Alex McFarlane, Miami #119
Siena 2-11 at #21 Maryland 13-3
Maryland hosts a bad Siena team this weekend, starting with a doubleheader on Saturday and concluding with a final game on Sunday. All three games will be available on Big10+.
California 8-8 (1-2) at #22 Southern Cal 11-4 (2-1)
California has given us a mixed bag of results this season, but unlike USC, they’ve had a difficult schedule. The Trojans are coming off a 7-1 home thumping to UConn, so they’ll be looking to reset with a series win over Cal. All three games will be available on USC Live Stream, though I don’t know whether that’s free or not.
OF Dylan Beavers, Cal #22
RHP Josh White, Cal #39
#23 Gonzaga 11-4 at Pacific 7-8
Gonzaga starts conference play on the road at Pacific. Gabriel Hughes and Trystan Vrieling make the Bulldogs the easy favorites to win the WCC.
RHP Gabriel Hughes, Gonzaga
#24 Texas State 15-3 at Arkansas State 4-10
Like Gonzaga, Texas State opens conference play on the road. They’ll head to Arkansas State full of confidence after some impressive wins over the likes of Arizona and Texas under their belt.