Major college programs are entering their final week of play before post-season tournaments and the road to the College World Series. Other schools have already begun that hopeful march to a championship. In this pressure cooker, some players prove to be the cream of the crop… and many of them will be Bombers this summer.
Ryan Miller kicked off Blinn’s postseason with a model pitching performance Saturday morning against Paris. Miller took a shutout into the ninth inning and finished with just one run allowed in 8 1/3 innings pitched. The lefthander gave up just 5 hits and 3 walks, striking out 10 in Blinn’s 3-1 victory. The Buccaneers won again on Sunday to advance to a Monday showdown against conference powerhouse San Jacinto.
Jess Buenger’s Rice squad is ranked fourth by Baseball America, and neither the future Bomber nor the team as a whole hurt that position with their performance this week. The Owls went 4-0, including a home sweep of conference foe Tulane. Buenger was a key contributor over the weekend, going 5-for-12 on the strength of two multiple-hit games. He added a pair of doubles, three RBI and three runs scored. His performance for the week (.357 average, .471 on-base percentage) drove his season average up to .312.
The Temple Owls have struggled all season long, but it seems that the further the team’s fortunes sink, the high Ryan Weber’s stock rises. Weber hit safely in all four Temple contests this week, three of them multi-hit games. On Saturday he went 4-for-6 with 2 runs and 3 RBI, pacing a Temple attack that scored 17 runs against Duquesne. In going 2-for-5 on Friday night, Weber cracked a two-run homer, his third of the season. As if he’s racing to the Bombers’ season opener, Weber’s average rose again to .374 – an improvement of more than 30 points from four weeks ago and nearly 100 points from four weeks before then.
Proving that the Bombers will boast arms as well as bats, a pair of relievers contributed over the weekend as well. Will Currier demonstrated that a relief appearance need not be a one or two inning affair on Sunday. With Duke’s Saturday game against Virginia Tech suspended in the fourth inning, the Blue Devils had to send a new pitcher to the hill on Sunday to complete contest. Enter Currier, who provided five innings of shutout ball to earn the unconventional relief win, his fourth of the season. Currier gave up just two hits and one walk while striking out four.
Missouri’s Scooter Hicks, on the other hand, continued a season marked by short, efficient outings. The lefthander closed out Sunday’s series finale against Oklahoma by shutting down the Sooner offense, which had rallied for three runs in the ninth. Hicks dispensed with Oklahoma to earn his third save of the season – to go along with a 4-0 record – and give Mizzou the series victory.
Coach Kevin Moulder and his Central Missouri Mules raced to another MIAA regular season conference title this year, then set out to capture their seventh straight tournament title this past weekend. The juggernaut marched to the finals on Sunday before dropping a pair unexpectedly to Emporia State, ending their impressive streak. The Mules, who were ranked seventh in the country entering the weekend, will resume their pursuit of a Division II national title when the Central Regional seeds are announced this week.