This Weekend in Sun Belt Baseball
We're only into week four in Sun Belt Conference play and, while the (so-far) haves have separated themselves from the (so-far) have-nots, there's still so much baseball left that no one should start to make any judgments on the teams in the league just yet.
And, as always, there will be some interesting games on tap this weekend.
SOUTH ALABAMA (6-3) at FLORIDA ATLANTIC (8-1)--The Jaguars got off to a surprisingly good start in league play, but got cooled off a little this past weekend at home when Middle Tennessee put up 29 runs in the final two games of their series in Mobile. Now they must travel to FAU, who is ranked #30 in the Collegiate Baseball Poll this week. FAU has done it on the strength of their pitching staff and their defense, which has been outstanding in league play. The Jaguars have to hope their bats can solve FAU's pitching....but it won't matter if the Jags don't pitch better themselves.
ULM (2-7) at ARKANSAS STATE (7-2)--The Red Wolves showed they can win away from Jonesboro, winning two out of three at Louisiana and Troy on consecutive weeks. Now they're back home to face a ULM squad that got one game in Miami last weekend, when they moved Randy Zeigler to Saturday. The Warhawks were competitive last weekend, but how much they can score on ASU's pitching staff remains to be seen. The Red Wolves have hit the ball better than most folks thought they would.
UALR (3-6) at MIDDLE TENNESSEE (5-4)--If you like pitching matchups, you're going to love the Friday night game in Murfreesboro when Chance Cleveland faces Hunter Adkins. Cleveland has struck out 24 over his last two outings, and Adkins was almost unhittable until South Alabama got to him last weekend. Both of these teams have some pop, which should make Saturday and Sunday really interesting at hitter-friendly Reese Smith, Jr. Field. But Friday belongs to two of the batter arms in the league. And, now that I've said that, watch the score be 10-9.
TROY (3-6) at FIU (4-5)--These are the two teams that were picked to finish at the top of the league this year. Troy just hasn't been able to get it together in all phases. When they hit, they don't pitch well. When they pitch, they don't score. Tyler Ray is proving to be mortal with a couple of league losses, and the weekend pitching behind him has been really inconsistent. FIU isn't scoring as much as most people thought they would, and their defense is just atrocious. It's not too late to count either one out of the league race, but they both need to start playing better.
We'll break down WKU and Louisiana tomorrow.