COLLEGE BASEBALL '10: Top teams to watch

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COLLEGE BASEBALL '10: Top teams to watch

By DENNIS WASZAK Jr.
AP Sports Writer

A capsule look at some of the top college baseball teams to
watch this season (coaches’ records at current schools entering
season):

CAL STATE FULLERTON=

Coach: Dave Serrano (88-38, third season).

Last Season: 47-16, College World Series appearance.

Key Players: OF Gary Brown (.340, 3 HRs, 40 RBIs, 23 SBs), SS
Christian Colon (.357, 8, 40, 15), RHP-OF Tyler Pill (11-3,
4.06; .269, 0, 6), 1B-LHP Nick Ramirez (.287, 10, 31; 3-1, 2.61,
7 saves), RHP Noe Ramirez (9-2, 3.33), RHP Daniel Renken (11-3,
2.69).

Extra Bases: Titans have sights set on fifth national title
after winless trips to Omaha last year and in 2007. … Entire
weekend pitching rotation (Renken, Noe Ramirez and Pill), closer
(Nick Ramirez) and handful of core hitters return from last
season to complement one of top recruiting classes in country.
… Titans had nation’s fourth-beat ERA last season, and
pitching expected to be strength again. … Noe Ramirez was Big
West co-freshman pitcher of year, while Pill set school freshman
record for victories. … Nick Ramirez will serve as team’s
closer and starting first baseman, while Pill will play RF when
not pitching. … Colon, one of top defensive infielders in
country, has fully recovered from broken leg in summer with Team
USA. Led Big West in hits last season. … The speedy Brown, who
was third in Big West in SBs, will start in CF after playing all
three OF spots a year ago. … Freshman OF Anthony Hutting is
former Titans batboy and cousin of big leaguer Aaron Rowand.

FLORIDA=

Coach: Kevin O’Sullivan (76-46, third season).

Last Season: 42-22, regionals appearance.

Key Players: 2B Josh Adams (.342, 8, 52), OF Matt den Dekker
(.296, 5, 37, 17 SBs), LHP Alex Panteliodis (6-5, 4.38), OF
Jonathan Pigott (.357, 6, 32), RHP Tommy Toledo (4-4, 4.40 in
2008), 1B Preston Tucker (.364, 15, 85).

Extra Bases: Gators advanced to super regionals last year for
first time in four seasons, and have lots of pitching depth
back. … Baseball America and Collegiate Baseball newspaper
rated Gators’ incoming recruiting class the best in nation. …
Toledo, a redshirt sophomore, is back after missing last year
due to shoulder injury. … Panteliodis teams with RHP Anthony
DeSclafani and LHP Nick Maronde as trio of sophomores who got
lots of starting experience a year ago. … Adams was first
Gators player since Brad Wilkerson in 1998 to earn All-SEC
honors in consecutive seasons. … Tucker had exceptional
freshman season, leading Gators in almost every major offensive
category while setting school record for RBIs. Was named
National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association’s freshman
hitter of year and was SEC co-freshman of year. … 3B Bryson
Smith was JUCO player of year last season at Young Harris
College (Ga.), where he set school record with .467 average and
ranked second nationally with 90 RBIs and third with 21 HRs. …
den Dekker recognized as one of country’s top defensive players.
… Freshman SS Cody Dent is son of former big league All-Star
and manager Bucky Dent.

FLORIDA STATE=

Coach: Mike Martin (1,583-538-4, 31st season).

Last Season: 45-18, super regionals appearance.

Key Players: LHP Brian Busch (6-2, 3.97), SS Stephen Cardullo
(.376, 10, 51, 20 SBs), LHP Sean Gilmartin (12-3, 3.49), CF
Tyler Holt (.401, 5, 28, 34 SBs), OF-RHP Mike McGee (.379, 19,
78, 13 SBs; 6-2, 4.04), 3B Stuart Tapley (.316, 13, 60).

Extra Bases: Seminoles looking to return to Omaha and deliver
program’s first College World Series title after surprising run
to super regionals. … Martin, who has led Seminoles to NCAA
tournament in each of his seasons, is 17 victories from becoming
third Division I coach to reach 1,600 victories. … Seminoles
have most wins of any Division I program since 2000 with 504 and
looking for 33rd consecutive regional appearance, the
second-longest active streak in nation. … Florida State has
all three weekend starters (Gilmartin, Busch, McGee) and seven
position-player starters back from a year ago. … RHP Andrew
Durden, transfer from Indian River State College, could get
first shot at closer’s role. Hard-throwing LHP John Gast might
also get the call to save games. … Seminoles’ top three
hitters from last season (Holt, McGee and Cardullo) are back
from offense ranked second in nation in doubles (163) and first
in sacrifice flies with 46. … Holt won national Gold Glove
award for outstanding play in CF, committing one error in 142
opportunities.

GEORGIA TECH=

Coach: Danny Hall (690-313-1, 17th season).

Last Season: 38-19-1, regionals appearance.

Key Players: OF Chase Burnette (.351, 8, 29), SS Derek Dietrich
(.311, 10, 54), RHP Deck McGuire (11-2, 3.50), 1B Tony Plagman
(.354, 16, 73), OF Jeff Rowland (.340, 8, 39, 21 SBs), 3B Matt
Skole (.302, 17, 58).

Extra Bases: Yellow Jackets boast solid offense with two of
nation’s top power hitters in Plagman and Skole, and one of
country’s best starters in McGuire. … Speedy Roland is
outstanding leadoff man with some pop. … McGuire, who could be
first college pitcher selected in draft in June, was ACC pitcher
of year last season. Has good command of four-pitch repertoire
that make him dominant. … RHP Mark Pope had eight saves as a
freshman, but could move into weekend rotation. …
Hard-throwing RHP Kevin Jacob (5-3, 4.69) could step in as
closer after offseason in which he was named top prospect in
Alaska League. … Yellow Jackets running back Roddy Jones, who
rushed for 345 yards and three TDs last season, is joining
baseball team as outfielder.

LSU=

Coach: Paul Mainieri (134-62-2, fourth season).

Last Season: 56-17, College World Series champions.

Key Players: 1B Blake Dean (.328, 17, 71), C Micah Gibbs (.294,
6, 42), 2B Tyler Hanover (.321, 5, 47), OF Leon Landry (.300,
12, 41), RHP Matty Ott (4-2, 2.68, 16 saves), RHP Anthony
Ranaudo (12-3, 3.04).

Extra Bases: Defending College World Series champions look to
repeat for second time in school history, joining 1996-97
Tigers. … Mainieri, who came to LSU from Notre Dame four years
ago, hoping to lead LSU to third straight trip to Omaha. …
Ranaudo, Collegiate Baseball newspaper’s preseason player of
year, finished third in nation last season with 159 strikeouts
and was winning pitcher in deciding game of CWS. … RHPs Austin
Ross (6-8, 5.18), Daniel Bradshaw (4-0, 3.04) and Joey Bourgeois
(transfer from Louisiana State-Eunice) top candidates to join
Ranaudo in weekend rotation. … Ott was Southeastern Conference
co-freshman of year after setting school’s single-season record
for saves. … Dean moves from OF-DH to 1B after deciding to
return for final season after being 10th-round pick of Minnesota
last June. … Hanover shifts from 3B to 2B, while redshirt
freshman Wet Delatte moves in at 3B. … Sophomore Austin Nola
is back at SS after earning job late last season with
outstanding defense, despite hitting just .240. … Landry and
Mikie Mahtook, MVP of SEC tournament, give Tigers outstanding
athleticism in outfield. … Gibbs considered one of best
defensive catchers in country.

TEXAS=

Coach: Augie Garrido (567-269-2, 14th season).

Last Season: 50-16-1, College World Series runner up.

Key Players: RHP Cole Green (5-3, 3.34), RHP Taylor Jungmann
(11-3, 2.00), 1B Kevin Keyes (.305, 9, 46), OF Connor Rowe
(.277, 8, 40), RHP Chance Ruffin (10-2, 3.32, 2 saves), C
Cameron Rupp (.292, 11, 46).

Extra Bases: Longhorns are ranked No. 1 in every major national
preseason poll after being runner-up to LSU at CWS. … Lofty
ranking based largely on what many consider the best and deepest
pitching staff in country that was second in nation with 2.95
ERA. … Jungmann, Green, Ruffin and RHP Brandon Workman could
be No. 1 starter on most staffs, but Ruffin, son of former big
leaguer Bruce Ruffin, will move to closer’s role because of
depth. … Workman threw no-hitter in second weekend last season
before being limited rest of the year because of an injury. …
RHP Austin Dicharry also has outstanding stuff, but will make
mostly midweek starts. … Pitching is expected to make up for
losses of three of team’s top four hitters from offense that hit
only .288 last season. … Rowe, Rupp and Keyes give Longhorns
three powerful bats in lineup that has decent speed and ability
to play station-to-station baseball. … Texas led country with
104 sacrifice bunts, with SS Brandon Loy tied for No. 1 with 25.
… Garrido, 71, is Division I career leader in victories, and
has already won five national titles – two with Texas and three
with Cal State Fullerton. Looking to win a CWS championship for
the fifth straight decade.

UC IRVINE=

Coach: Mike Gillespie (87-33, third season).

Last Season: 45-15, regionals appearance.

Key Players: RHP Christian Bergman (9-3, 3.50), LHP Daniel
Bibona (12-1, 2.63), 1B Jeff Cusick (.293, 6, 40), C Francis
Larson (.310, 9, 43), RHP Eric Pettis (5-2, 3.86, 17 saves), 2B
Casey Stevenson (.346, 3, 41).

Extra Bases: Anteaters made it to NCAA tournament, hosting their
first regional, after going 22-2 in Big West play and becoming
first team to go undefeated at home in conference play at 12-0.
… Bibona was Big West pitcher of year and Golden Spikes
semifinalist, and returns as Anteaters’ Friday night starter,
while Bergman and junior RHP Crosby Slaught (8-0) are also back.
… Pettis could serve in dual roles for Anteaters: as a Sunday
starter and as a dominant closer. He’s scheduled to make first
start since 2007 College World Series in season-opening series
vs. Loyola Marymount. … RHP Kyle Necke (1-4, 4.50) missed five
weeks due to a broken hand to start last season, but could serve
as team’s closer if Pettis settles into rotation. … Stevenson
has been a key part of Anteaters’ postseason success over last
few years, hitting .529 in 10 postseason games with 18 hits,
including six doubles and four RBIs. … Might be tough for UC
Irvine to replace SS Ben Orloff, who was generally considered
the nation’s top defensive player at his position. Sophomore
D.J. Crumlich might get nod after starting at 3B last season,
but was hampered for three weeks by appendicitis.

VIRGINIA=

Coach: Brian O’Connor (265-104-1, seventh season).

Last Season: 49-15-1, College World Series appearance.

Key Players: RHP Kevin Arico (2-3, 2.70, 11 saves), SS Tyler
Cannon (.351, 1, 38, 17 SBs), 2B Phil Gosselin (.310, 6, 64,
24), OF Dan Grovatt (.356, 8, 51, 14), LHP-DH Danny Hultzen
(9-1, 2.17; .327, 3, 37), OF Jarrett Parker (.355, 16, 65, 20).

Extra Bases: Cavaliers coming off first College World Series
appearance in school history after setting mark for
single-season victories. … Virginia has been to NCAA
tournament in each of O’Connor’s first six seasons after coming
from Notre Dame as assistant under current LSU coach Paul
Mainieri. … Team’s entire starting lineup is back from last
season, and all but C Franco Valdes (.292) hit .298 or better.
… Parker set school single-season records in runs (75), hits
(94) and total bases (176) and tied mark for triples with seven.
… Despite loss of solid RHP Andrew Carraway, weekend rotation
is tough to handle with Hultzen, RHP Robert Morey, who beat
national player of the Year Steven Strasburg of San Diego State
in regionals, and RHP Tyler Wilson. … Hultzen is one of top
two-way players in country after seeing time on mound, 1B, LF
and DH while being named Virginia’s first ACC freshman of year.
His 107 Ks set school freshman record, and 16 starts tied
Cavaliers single-season mark. … Arico is one of nation’s top
closers, allowing opponents to hit just .218 vs. him. He was
also on mound to close out Cavaliers’ ACC tournament, regional
and super regional victories.

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