May 25, 2024

College baseball in review: Charlie Condon continues to dominate, Georgia strengthens its resume

Charlie Condon steals the headlines — and deservedly so — but Georgia is far from a one-man show.

The Bulldogs swept Vanderbilt over the weekend in Athens to improve to 35-12 overall and 13-11 in the SEC. And with an RPI that has climbed to No. 5, Georgia is in position to host a Regional for the first time since 2019 and possibly be one of the eight national seeds.

Condon, of course, is an enormous part of the success. The junior, who is enjoying one of the finest offensive seasons in college baseball history, went 5-for-10 with three home runs and six RBIs against Vanderbilt. He has hit a home run in seven consecutive games and leads the nation in batting average (.459) and homers (33).

Vanderbilt, meanwhile, is 11-13 in the league and has lost five consecutive SEC games for only the fourth time in Tim Corbin’s 21 years as the head coach. The Commodores’ streak of 17 consecutive Regional appearances — the longest in the nation — could be in jeopardy. Vanderbilt closes the season with a home series against Tennessee followed by a trip to Kentucky.

Around the horn

Tennessee continues to put pressure on Kentucky in the SEC East race. The Vols remained one game behind the Wildcats — who won a critical series at home over Arkansas — by taking two of three from Florida in Gainesville. The teams split a doubleheader on Friday, with Tennessee winning the opener 6-2 and Florida bouncing back for a 4-3 win in the nightcap. On Saturday, the Vols broke open a close game by scoring 11 runs in the sixth and three in the seventh to run-rule the Gators 16-3.

Florida’s two-way star Jac Caglianone suffered his first loss of the season on the mound, giving up six hits and four earned runs in five innings in Game 3. The Gators have now lost five straight SEC series for the first time since 2006, when they lost eight straight en route to a 10-20 league record.

Tennessee, meanwhile, has won seven consecutive series since opening up SEC play by losing two of three at Alabama. The Vols are 17-7 in the league.

NC State split a pair with Florida State in Tallahassee and is now 26-18 overall and 13-10 in the ACC. The Wolfpack still have work to do to enter the hosting discussion, but with an RPI of 19 and series remaining against Virginia (road) and Wake Forest (home), they will have ample opportunity to improve their resume.

One thing is certain: NC State is very comfortable in a close game. The Pack are 8-3 in one-run games in the ACC.

Texas’ late-season surge continued with a huge series win over Oklahoma State in Austin. The Longhorns won the first two games, 7-5 on Friday and 6-3 on Saturday, thanks in large part to the play of outfielder Max Belyeu. The sophomore went a combined 5-for-7 with a home run and five RBIs in the two wins.

Oklahoma State won the third game 7-2 to create a three-way tie for second place in the Big 12. Oklahoma continues to lead the way with an 18-6 record, with Texas, West Virginia and Oklahoma State three games back at 15-9.

The Sooners close the regular season with Baylor at home (9-15 in the Big 12) and a visit to Cincinnati (13-11).

LSU took another step forward, but was it enough? The defending national champs, who were 3-12 in the league about a month ago, won their third consecutive SEC series, taking two of three from then-No. 1 Texas A&M in Baton Rouge, to improve to 31-18 overall and 9-15 in the SEC.

The Tigers’ RPI is up to No. 34 — definitely in range to earn an at-large invitation — but their league record is problematic. Nothing is guaranteed, but LSU would put itself in decent shape by going 4-2 down the stretch, with series at Alabama and at home against Ole Miss still on the schedule.

Indiana State swept Belmont in Terre Haute to improve to 34-10 overall and 17-4 in the Missouri Valley Conference. The Sycamores, with an RPI of 10, are in great position to host a Regional for the second consecutive season.

Indiana State has won 17 straight series in the MVC dating back to the end of the 2022 season.

East Carolina continues to roll in the American Athletic Conference. The Pirates took two of three from South Florida in Greenville, their sixth consecutive series win, and are now 37-9 overall and 16-5 in the AAC.

Here are some numbers to show just how dominant ECU has been relative to the rest of the league. In AAC games only:

  • They are hitting .328 as a team, 22 percentage points better than No. 2 UTSA.
  • They lead the league in slugging (.510), on-base percentage (.406) and runs scored (165).
  • Their league-leading ERA of 3.38 is more than a full run lower than the next-best team, UAB at 4.64.
  • Their batting average against is only .229, 27 percentage points lower than any other team in the league.

ECU hosts Duke on Tuesday in a huge nonconference game. The Pirates took two of three from North Carolina early in the season and are 2-0 against NC State in midweek games. Another win over an upper-echelon ACC team would add to an already strong postseason resume.

It should be a very interesting final two weeks in the Big Ten. Check out this mess:

  • Illinois, 13-5
  • Nebraska, 12-6
  • Purdue, 12-6
  • Indiana, 12-6
  • Iowa 13-8

There are two huge series next weekend: Nebraska hosts Indiana and Illinois hosts Iowa. The Cornhuskers, with an RPI of 21, are the only postseason lock in the league. Illinois, Indiana and Purdue are in the 60s.

We had some serious Sun Belt drama on Sunday afternoon. Troy won the first two games of the series against Louisiana and needed to complete the sweep to tie the Ragin’ Cajuns atop the league standings.

Didn’t happen.

The Trojans scored five runs in the bottom of the ninth inning to tie the score at 12-12 but lost 14-13 in 10 innings and are now two games behind Louisiana with two series remaining

Southern Miss, which swept Coastal Carolina in Hattiesburg, is three games back at 15-9. Coastal, which has been ranked for much of the season, is 11-13 in the Sun Belt.

Clemson has had some epic comebacks this season, most notably against Florida State in late March when it rallied from seven runs down in the bottom of the ninth inning in Game 2 of the series and from down nine in the bottom of the sixth to complete the sweep in Game 3.

Well, the Tigers were on the other end of a comeback on Saturday when Georgia Tech scored 11 runs in the last three innings en route to a 14-12 win at Clemson.

The Tigers still won the series and continue to set the pace in the ACC Atlantic Division, with a 2.5-game lead over Florida State.

And finally

• Oklahoma State left fielder Nolan Schubart went 5-for-5 with four home runs and a double in a 21-6 win over Wichita State on Tuesday. That capped a four-game stretch in which Schubart went 14-for-20 with seven home runs and 17 RBIs.

• Nebraska junior Jackson Brockett, making his first start of the season, threw a no-hitter on Wednesday as the Huskers topped Kansas State 8-0. It was the sixth individual no-hitter in program history and the first nine-inning no-hitter since 1954.

• Notre Dame center fielder TJ Williams entered the discussion for catch of the year in the Fighting Irish’s 3-1 loss to Pittsburgh on Friday

• Maryland-Eastern Shore dropped to 0-41 with a 10-9 loss at Le Moyne on Sunday. Mississippi Valley State went 0-14 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. St. Peter’s, which went 0-38 in 2017, is the last team to go winless over a full season.

• Mississippi State has all but locked up a spot in the postseason — after missing the tournament past two years — and is in great position to be one of the 16 Regional hosts. The Bulldogs took two of three from Alabama over the weekend to improve to 32-16 overall and 14-10 in the SEC.

• Travis Bazzana hit three home runs in Oregon State’s 10-5 win at Washington State on Sunday. The Beavers won two of three in Pullman.

• Arizona swept Stanford in Tucson and has a two-game lead in the Pac-12. The Wildcats are 17-7 in league play, two games up on Utah, which lost two of three at Oregon.

(Photo of Charlie Condon Courtesy of Georgia Athletics)