A lot of casual baseball fans don’t realize that the college baseball season starts way before the Major League season. My good friend Bill told me that he wanted to come check out a baseball game with me and was shocked when I told him that opportunities of catching a game were already dwindling. Luckily for Bill, he has yours truly. Unluckily for one local club, the UNO Privateers, their opportunity at making their conference tournament is quickly fading away with the season. On the other hand, the Tulane Green Wave, who has missed the NCAA regionals the past two seasons, keep putting up W’s and watching their chances steadily rise.
With just over a month left, the NCAA regular season has officially entered the home stretch.
Tulane Green Wave (25-11)
It wasn’t supposed to be like this for Tulane, and that’s a damn good thing. In a year where the pundits picked Tulane to finish in the lower half of the American Athletic Conference, the Green Wave are sitting one game behind league-leading East Carolina. Of course, winning a regular season championship doesn’t automatically qualify a team for the NCAA regionals but the fact that you’re at the top goes a long way for a team’s chances.
Tulane took care of business over the weekend by sweeping the South Florida Bulls in the Green Wave’s first sweep of a conference opponent in over two years. The hits just keep coming for this club that, at this point, has to be causing some upcoming opposing pitchers to lose sleep.
The lineup is deadly and this weekend was no different as the club pounded out 35 runs and five homes runs. Yes, the Tulane pitching staff made it interesting once again in a 20-11 shootout but the offense never faltered. However, on a very positive note pitching-wise, the team’s long road to figuring out just who can close out these games may have been answered as Justin Campbell picked up two saves in the series. Campbell, a left-handed sophomore, struck out eight in 5.2 innings over the weekend.
Speaking of awesome, Kody Hoese’s all-world season is now humming along at a clip that sees the junior (he won’t be back) hitting .409 batting average, 19 HRs, 46 RBI, 50 runs and a .879 slugging percentage. Hoese basically has video game stats and currently leads the entire NCAA in home runs.
The road gets harder for the Green Wave as they still have to face the other top dogs in the AAC (ECU, UConn, Houston) but this team has that feeling to it where they will not be intimidated by anyone. They go on the road against Memphis this weekend in a series they should win and then next week it will be a massive showdown with the ECU Pirates, a team that was swept but gave the #1 UCLA Bruins all kinds of trouble this past weekend.
So get ready Uptown as the boys are making moves in the American. The road definitely gets bumpier but you have to love the club’s style.
UNO Privateers (17-19)
The Privateers have not missed the Southland Conference playoffs in the three years that Coach Blake Dean has been head coach. Dean has obviously brought this program that was in complete disaster mode back to respectability in a short time. Don’t forget, this team played in the Southland Conference championship last year and was one bad inning away from going to the NCAA regionals.
Unfortunately, bad innings happen to good clubs and it was Northwestern State that won the championship and berth into the NCAA regionals. Ever since then, UNO hasn’t won much in the Southland, currently sitting 12th in a 13-team league.
It seemed that the Privateers were going to contend in the conference after a pretty strong pre-conference run that saw the team go 8-3 and eventually pick up victories over #23 Southern Miss, Tulane and South Alabama. The problem with the team is that they can’t get a series win in the Southland and are now cellar dwelling at 5-13 in the conference. It’s hard to imagine a team without any series wins making a move with just over a month left in the regular season but crazy things happen in sports and this team did rally in the final weeks to sneak into the conference playoffs last year.
In a league that only accepts its top eight teams into the conference playoffs, as of today, UNO needs to make up four games on Nicholls State (18-18 overall, 9-9 in conference) and they only have 12 conference games to do it. Besides Nicholls State, they would also have to pass three other teams that sit between the two clubs. In short, it’s a tough road to the playoffs for the Privateers. Also, it wouldn’t be far fetched to think one more series loss in the conference will doom their chances of advancing.
UNO hosts Tulane on Tuesday night before going on the road for an out of conference weekend series versus Missouri State.
And like a fine wine with a steak dinner, every game should be accompanied by a beverage and song.
Beer Pairing: High Life and Jameson shot for $5 at Rendezvous Tavern
Playlist Recommendation: Jane’s Addiction – “Mountain Song”
Around the Way
Adios to the Alliance of American Football A.K.A. the AAF A.K.A. dead in the water league. Unbelievably a league that supposedly had it all figured out and would definitely make it through season two couldn’t make it to week nine of their first season.
Which is sort of a bummer because I was definitely going to watch the playoffs (maybe) as I was a pretty hardcore fan (watched 11 minutes of one game). Either way, I liked some of the uniforms and it all reminded me of the glory days of the USFL.