How many of you expected to be 5-0 going into this weekend? It's a great feeling to know that we've done the best we possibly can up until this point in the season. The verdict is still out on just how good this team is, but, let's be honest, the verdict is still out on every team at this point in the season. Let's hope that we continue to have good starting pitching and clutch play, but we also develop strong middle relief and more power.
This weekend, the Diamond Rebels travel to southern Texas to take on the University of Houston Cougars. The Cougars are off to their best start since 1993 and are sitting at 4-0. They are led by first-year head coach Todd Whitting. You may know Whitting from his days as an assistant at TCU, a very successful program. This will be his first chance to make a statement against a power-program as a head coach.
The Cougars are off to a great start under new head coach Todd Whitting. This past weekend, they swept University of Texas-Arlington by scoring a total of 30 runs and only allowing 9. On Tuesday, they scored another 10 runs to beat Stephen F. Austin. Obviously, they average 10 runs per game, and their defense allows 3 runs per game.
Offensively, they bat .353 a team. They have three players batting over .500. The catcher John Cannon has had 6 hits in 11 at bats (.545). Third baseman Austin Gracey is hitting .529 with two homers. With 10 hits in 20 plate appearances, Chase Jensen has an even .500 average. As a team, they've gone yard 5 times. Of their 40 runs they have plated this season, 20 of them have been in the first two innings. I hope our strong starting pitching can stave off their initial offensive outbursts.
Defensively, they are fielding at a .981 clip. The staff's ERA is 2.25 and opponents batting average is .252. On paper, this is a good looking baseball team.
Our Rebels come into the weekend 5-0. The last time we began the season 5-0 was in 2008 when we were pre-season #4. We have swept pre-season Horizon favorite Wright State and snuck by Memphis and Arkansas State. All of those teams are quality ball clubs, which I cannot say about Houston's foes thus far.
Offensively, the Black Bears bat .341 and have hit 4 homers. Matt Snyder leads the way for the Rebels with a .471 average and a double. Snyder was 0-for-4 the first game, but has gone 8-of-13 since then. With 7, the RBI leader on the team is freshman phenom Preston Overbey. His is also batting .368. Much ado has been made about the new bats, but we are second in the SEC with 4 home runs this season. We are showing plate discipline and lead the SEC in walks with 27. We have been aggressive on the base paths and are second in the conference with 10 stolen bases (Vandy is first with 17).
Defensively, our staff ERA is 2.93 and our fielding percentage is .966, which is very low for a Bianco team. I expect it to be in the .975 to .980 range by the end of the season. Interestingly, we lead the conference in runners picked off (3) and are second in batters walked (7).
Friday- Junior RHP Codey Morehouse will make the start. He pitched 7 innings last week allowing 1 run on 4 hits. He will start opposite of Junior LHP Matt Crouse. Crouse was hindered last week by errors in the outfield, but he kept cool and only allowed one earned run with three strikeouts over six innings pitched.
Saturday- Junior LHP Jordan Lewis comes in off of a victory. Last week, he pitched seven scoreless with two strikeouts and a walk. Redshirt Junior flame-thrower David Goforth will make his second start of the year. Last week, he brought the heat and pitched 7 scoreless while striking out 5 and walking 1.
Sunday- Junior Right-hander TBA/TBD is taking the mound for the Cougars on Sunday. I'm hoping this is the same guy that pitched almost every Sunday for us last season. Junior LHP Austin Wright will toe the rubber for the Rebels. He allowed 1 earned run in 5 innings pitched last Sunday. He also struck out 5 while only walking 2.
My thoughts...I have no idea what to expect yet. In a season so young, there are many unknowns. Our defensive infield has been excellent, but how will they respond to being on the road? I am glad we are getting this test early so that we have some time to get things adjusted at home before Alabama comes to town for SEC play.
Predictions: Bianco bursts the new coach's bubble.... Rebels take it 2-1.