Friday, February 23, 2007

Viva Nash-Vegas: Music City Classic Preview

The Commies, one of three teams that host the Music City Classic, will open its share of the tournament today at 4pm against Pittsburgh. On Saturday, the Commies will host Ball State in a 2 pm contest at Hawkins Field and will close the weekend out against Boston College who opens their season today against Belmont. The Classic is hosted by a trifecta of three teams from middle Tennessee: Lipscomb, Belmont, and our #1 Commies. Vandy leads the teams from middle Tennessee with an 11-4 record in the Classic, now in it’s sixth year. This is Pitt’s second year in the Classic, Ball State’s first year, and Boston College second year in the Classic.

First to fall: Pittsburgh

The Panthers are 0-3 on the season after getting swept in the Inn-Vitational (no joke, that’s the name) by Coastal Carolina 12-5, Virginia Tech 7-3, and Old Dominion 10-5. Apparently, the coach was happy with the losses, "I was fairly please with this weekend...We accomplished what we needed to accomplish and for 23 of the 27 innings that we played, we played well; very solid, clean baseball.” Who’s happy with losing? We know Bobby and Seamus aren’t.

Back to Baseball: the Panthers have been anchored at the plate by Freshman third baseman, Gary Bucuren and senior first baseman, Seth Button. Bucuren’s .400 average leads the team while Button had home runs in back-to-back games for a team-leading .846 SL% and .308 average.

In 2006, as a team, Pittsburgh hit .283 in 52 games and scored 353 runs. Their pitching staff posted a 4.87 ERA and were led by Billy Muldowney and Kyle Landis, both of home have graduated. Getting the nod for this afternoon’s game will be Paul Nardozzi (0-1, 9.00 ERA)who finished last year with a 4-5 record and a 6.45 ERA.

Pittsburgh’s coach, Joe Jordano, knows what he’s up against, "Vanderbilt is one of the best teams in the country. David Price [junior, left-handed pitcher] will be, in my opinion, the first pick in the June Draft. He is as good as I have seen. I have great respect for Coach Corbin and his team."

Vanderbilt beat Pittsburgh in last year’s match-up 2-1 and will face David Price (1-0, 3.00 ERA) this afternoon.

Next in line: Ball State As previously mentioned, this is Ball State’s first year in the Music City Classic and they will play Vanderbilt Saturday, at 2 pm. These two teams do have a past, however, with Vanderbilt dominating the Cardinals 6-1 in the all-time series. The lone win: a 3-2 victory in the first game of last year’s series.

Ball State, a young team that lost 10 seniors, six regular starters, and their ace from last years NCAA regional team, is 0-4 on the season. Coach Greg Beals has the defending MAC Tournament Champions believing in themselves, even though it’s a down year, "Our expectations are just as high as ever. There may be more questions than there were last year, but we believe we can get there just the same."

As a team, the Cardinals are hitting a meager .246 this season, with only 30 hits in 4 games. Cory Dragstrem leads the team with a .462 average and 6 hits. Ryan Chenoweth is a close second with a .400 average and 4 hits. The numbers drop off significantly from there with only one other player, Kory Benbow, hitting above .300 (.333). The Cardinals have only scored 14 runs on the season.

The arms on the mound haven’t fared much better thus far in 2007 racking up an ERA of 7.76, giving up 53 hits, 42 runs, and allowing other teams to hit .371. No pitcher on the team has pitched more then 4.2 innings in an appearance. Ryan DeGeeter (0-1, 9.00 ERA) will make the start on Saturday for Ball State while Vanderbilt will counter with Nick Christiani (1-0, 3.09 ERA).

Final Mismatch: Boston College The Eagles hope to improve on last year's team that went 28-25 with seven returning starters when they open their season today against Belmont. BC hails from the ACC Conference which was the toughest in the land last year, sending four schools to the College World Series in Omaha. North Carolina was runner-up to Oregon State in last year’s championship. This will be the Eagle’s second trip to Nashville for the Music City Classic after going win less last year. The Commies hold the all-time series record, 2-1.

In 2006, the Eagles hit .280 as a team, scoring 316 runs on 532 hits. Johnny Ayers led the team with a .340 average on 73 hits and a team-leading .420 on base percentage. Shawn McGill and Jett Ruiz are also threats at the plate batting .322 and .321 respectively. While the numbers aren’t quite those of Vanderbilt, they do have the ability to score runs when they need to.

The Eagles pitchers had a team ERA of 4.56 in 2006 led by Ted Ratliff who had a team-leading 3.29 ERA compiling a 5-1 record holding opposing batters to a .207 batting average. Terry Doyle was the Eagles’ workhorse last season, going .500 on the season (5-5) with a 3.44 ERA in 89 innings pitched. Opposing batters hit only .267 against the Eagles last season.

On the hill in Sunday’s contest will be Nick Asselin (3-1, 4.81ERA in 2006). He had 40 K’s in 48 innings and only gave up 14 walks. The Commies will counter with Brett Jacobson (2-0, 0.77 ERA) who has been on the verge of unhittable so far this season.

The Commies should feast this weekend and put on a pitching and hitting clinic. You can follow the Commies this weekend by going here. If you have the time, are in Nashville, and have a dollar, go support our Commies, #1 in the land.

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