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College Baseball Weekend Primer: Commodores and Bulldogs Clash In Top-Five Match-Up

College Baseball Jack Leiter

In this week’s BSP College Baseball Power Rankings, (1) Arkansas, (2) Vanderbilt, and (3) Texas held on to their top three spots. However, now all three face tough tests this weekend. The Hogs, who’s hitting has carrried them lately, will hit the road and travel to Columbia, South Carolina to face the Gamecocks. As for the the Commodores, well they will receive a visit from (4) Mississippi State. Kumar Rocker and Jared Leiter have been sensational this year, but if there’s a program that can bump the Dores down a notch, it’s South Carolina. Finally, the Longhorns, winners of 14-straight, travel to Big-12 rival Oklahoma State this weekend. With three huge series’ on our hands, let’s dive right into the weekend preview!

(4) Mississippi State at (2) Vanderbilt

Game One (4/23)

Projected Pitching Match-Up: (VAN) Kumar Rocker (8-1, 1.64 ERA) vs (MSU) Christian MacLeod (3-2, 2.83)

First Pitch: 8:00 PM ET

Watch: SEC Network

Game Two (4/24)

Projected Pitching Match-Up: (VAN) Jared Leiter (7-0, 0.98) vs (MSU) Will Bednar (2-1, 3.55)

First Pitch: 8:00 PM ET

Watch: ESPNU

Game Three (4/25)

Projected Pitching Match-Up: Manager’s Discretion

First Pitch: 2:00 PM ET

Stream: WatchESPN

Vanderbilt is in the middle of one of the toughest stretches in college baseball. They took two of three from in-state rival (6) Tennessee last weekend. On Friday night, Kumar Rocker, half of the most intimidating pitching duo in college baseball, picked up the win. He pitched seven score-less innings, striking out nine. Jared Leiter, who took the mound last Saturday, had a bit more trouble than Rocker. The fabulous freshman pitched six innings, giving up three earned runs. However, he did show why teams are falling in love with him, as he did strike out ten Volunteers. In game three, the top of the batting order did the work for the Commodores. DH Jack Bulger and shortstop Carter Young raked in five combined RBI.

As for the Bulldogs, they took two out of three from arch-rival Ole Miss in Starkville. Macleod pitched five innings giving up two earned runs. Luckily for the Bulldogs, third-baseman Kamren James had a hell of a night, driving in four runs. Preston Johnson came on in relief and pitched two score-less innings, to get the win. On Saturday, the Bulldogs bat’s went cold, and Bednar had his worst outing of the year, pitching three innings, giving up six earned runs. Then on Sunday, reliever Houston Harding picked up the win, but it was the bullpen as a whole who won the game. Right-Fielder Tanner Allen, drove in three runs, and is one of the hottest hitters in college baseball.

Prediction: Vanderbilt has the best 1-2 pitching punch in recent memory. I can’t see any team taking two of three from them right now. The Commodores will take games one and two. The Bulldogs win a tight one on Sunday.

(1) Arkansas at South Carolina

Game One (4/22)

Score: (1) Arkansas 6, South Carolina 1 (Winning Pitcher: Caden Monke, ARK, 5-0) (LP: Thomas Farr, USC, 2-4)

Stats: HR (Robert Moore, ARK) 2B (Colin Burges, USC) (Matt Goodheart, Brady Slavens ARK)

Game Two (4/23)

Projected Pitching Match-Up: ARK (Peyton Pallette, 1-2, 4.06) vs USC (Brannon Jordan, 4-2, 3.15)

First Pitch: 2:00 PM ET

Watch: WatchESPN

Game Three (4/23)

Projected Pitching Match-Up: ARK (TBA) vs USC (Will Sanders, 6-1, 2.11)

First Pitch: 7:00 PM ET

Watch: WatchESPN

Just like other college athletics this year, teams have run into problems involving the Pandemic and COVID-19. The three game series between the Gamecocks and Razorbacks, will feature a Friday double-header in Columbia, South Carolina. The Hogs took game one on Thursday night behind the bat of second-baseman Robert Moore, who hit a home-run and drove in three RBI. In the first game of the double-header today, the Gamecocks bats should be able to give Jordan some run support. Peyton Pallette has been up and down this spring. He shows flashes of brilliance, yet sometimes he seems lost. Give me the Gamecocks in game two

Finally, in the night-cap, and final game of the series, the Gamecocks hottest pitcher WIll Sanders, will take the mound at Fournder’s Park this evening. As for Arkansas, they will probably use a mixture of bullpen arms to get through the game. If South Carolina can get two of three from the red-hot Razorbacks, it would bode very well for their post-season plans.

Prediction: After the bats went cold on the Gamecocks last night, they can only go up from there right? South Carolina is one of the most storied programs in college baseball. However, right now the Hogs are just better. I think the Hogs take all three from the Gamecocks, putting a tighter hold on the top spot.

(3) Texas at Oklahoma State

Game One (4/23)

Projected Pitching Match-Up: UT (Ty Madden, 5-1, 1.54) vs OSU (TBA)

First Pitch: 8:00 PM ET

Watch: ESPNU

Game Two (4/24)

Projected Pitching Match-Up: UT (Tristan Stevens, 6-1, 2.77) vs OSU (TBA)

First Pitch: 7:00 PM ET

Watch: WatchESPN

Game Three (4/25)

Projected Pitching Match-Up: UT (Kolby Kubichek, 5-2, 2.54) vs OSU (TBA)

First Pitch: 2:00 PM ET

Watch: ESPN+/ESPNU/WatchESPN

The Longhorns travel to Stillwater having won 14-straight. So, just for a minute, let’s talk about how good Texas has been lately. During the win-streak, Texas has outscored their opponents 130-29. They have scored over one hundred runs more than their opponents. That is down-right crazy. Pitcher Ty Madden, who is scheduled to start on Friday night, is sky-rocketing up draft boards. Most of the college pitching talk has been about Rocker and Leiter, and they deserve it, but Madden deserves more love. In his last start, against a lowly Abilene-Christian, the ace put in five scoreless innings. He struck out eight, and walked only three. Look for him to keep rising up big-boards if the Longhorns keep winning.

In the other dugout, Oklahoma State has a couple upsets in mind. The 24th ranked Cowboys were swept last weekend by a streaking TCU team. However, they’ve won two straight after mid-week wins over Arkansas-Pine Bluff. The offense put up 40 combined runs in two games. Now, Arkansas-Pine Bluff aren’t really the top tier of competition, it’s still good for morale going forward.

Prediction: Texas hasn’t been this good in quite some time. Outside of the SEC, Texas is clearly the best team, and if they can pick up all three wins on the road this weekend, it would be hard to ignore the Longhorns for much longer. Madden, Stevens, and Kubichek should all get great run support, so I like Texas taking all three this weekend.

One To Watch: Matt Mikulski, LHP, Fordham Rams

Fordham is a program that is on the rise. I spoke to Rams Assistant Coach Pat Porter, he’s a close buddy from high-school, and he told me to check out Mikulski. I was a bit skeptical, but after watching the big man on the mound, more people need to hear about Mikulski. The southpaw stands an intimidating six-foot-four on the mound. He has a slender frame, weighing only 205 lbs, but his body should be able to pack on some muscle. In seven starts this year, Mikulski has gone 5-0, with an absurd 0.86 ERA. Scouts will knock him because of the level of competition, but as we’ve seen in the past, if a guy can pitch, he can pitch anywhere.

Mikulski has a deceptive delivery, making it tough for hitters to pick up the ball. This year he has struck-out 76 batters in 41 innings pitched. The College Baseball Foundation released their 2021 National Pitcher of the Year Watch-List and Mikulski was right up there with some of the best to be nominated. On top of that, just last week, he made the mid-season Golden Spikes Award Watch List.Overall, Mikulski is a power-pitcher that could eventually be moved to the bullpen, but the jury is still out on that. Deciding to come back to school this year was a great choice for the lefty. He’s seen his stock rise more and more after every start. The Rams have a big weekend series with St. Joseph’s. Mikulski will take the mound in the first game of a double-header tomorrow afternoon. Mikulski has great potential as a possible starter, or bullpen lefty. Keep an eye on him this spring. Verdict: Stock Up

Other Notable Series

(20) Old Dominion at (19) Charlotte: The two best teams in Conference USA clash in North Carolina this weekend. If ODU can win two of three, it would give them a nice cushion at first place in the conference.

LSU at (12) Ole Miss: After getting dominated by their rival Mississippi State last weekend, the Rebels will be out for blood. Plus they really need a series win heading towards the post-season. LSU, historically a great program, has been inconsistent this year, but still has the talent to give opponents trouble.

Follow Me on Twitter: @BrownlojCLE

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