What a great few weeks for UWF Baseball!! On the heels of a 17 game win streak, the UWF baseball has been named the NUMBER 1 team in the nation according to College Baseball Lineup, and College Baseball Newspaper. This is a first for the UWF baseball program, and we are all soaking it in! There is a BIG difference from previously in the season when we swept Florida Southern, and were voted #2. When the polls came out we were all excited about being ranked that high, but didn’t play the same type of game that we played in order to be ranked #2. Now that we are #1, we have the understanding of what it brings, and that rankings don’t win games! It is great to be recognized nationally as the best team, but we still have 13 games left, including 12 games in conference. We know that everyone that we play is going to be playing their best game to try and beat the #1 team, just how we have in the past when we’ve played a #1 team. We have a bigger bulls eye on our back now!
Don’t get me wrong, we are ALL extremely excited about being #1, but we aren’t going to let it get to our heads. We’re ranked #1 for a reason, and we’re not expecting to give it up any time soon! We have a good test with conference rival West Alabama this weekend in Pensacola. They are a good team that is fighting to get into the conference tournament, and I know they’ll be playing like they have nothing to lose.
Since the last time I blogged we swept a series from North Alabama. They were a good team, 2nd in the conference, and 15th nationally at the time. We knew it was a huge series, that could ultimately decide the #1 seed in the East Division. We took care of business, and were on our way home. Unfortunately around the Birmingham area our bus broke down. Some type of hose broke, and another bus was sent to pick us up. Well…… that took about 2 hours, and we were finally back on the road. The bus ride seemed to be going well, until we had about an hour left. At that point, the alternator started to fail, so all the power had to be turned off to ensure the engine would stay on. So for the last hour, at 1:00am we sat in darkness with no movies or A/C. It was definitely a trip from you know where!!!
After a good week of practice we had Lambuth University next on the list. We beat up on them pretty bad, but I will give them a lot of credit, they never stopped playing hard the entire weekend. It is so easy to have the attitude of, “we don’t care anymore” and that definitely wasn’t the case. They were down by 15 runs and still laying out for balls, and running out every ball like it was to win the game.
The weekend was full of great performances, Tino Award Watch List Players Dustin Lawley and Jason Postill both performed well. Lawley went 5-12 with 2 HR’s, 3 doubles, and 4rbi’s. Postill pitched well again, going 5 innings, giving up 2 runs, while striking out 5. Ben Hawkins is on my Tino Watch List also, as he had another dominant start, going 4 innings, while striking out 9. Hawkins has lowered his ERA to .99! Both Postill and Hawkins are 8-0, and all the starters are really feeding off each others success. I’d compare it to the Phillies rotation!
My roommate, Justin Bennett, also had a great weekend! He played the second game and went 4-5 with 2 doubles. He also went 1-2 in the 3rd game. He’s been seeing the ball well lately, and has risen his average to .423! Senior Zac Taylor has started to swing the bat, he went 5-6 with 10 RBI! In game 2, he blasted his first 2 bombs of the year, including a no doubt Grand Slam, and 8 RBI!
NOW FOR THE PITCHING UPDATE!
What a thrill to get my FIRST appearance at home! It was awesome! It seemed like the whole stadium as behind me, either they were really excited to see me pitch, or they really wanted the game to get over with and go home! I came in to finish out the game, and started with the clean up hitter. After the first pitch went to the back stop I settled in and threw a lot of strikes. The first batter was a battle, the guy fouled off 10 straight pitches, and eventually hit a double on the 13th pitch. Obviously I wanted to get him out, but I was thrilled with throwing 10 straight strikes, and not giving in! Things got a little interesting, but I eventually struck out 2 hitters, and gave up one run! During the inning I threw 37 pitches, and threw 28 strikes, 75%! I think ANY pitcher would take that percentage. Obviously no pitcher wants to throw 37 pitches in one inning, but how often do you have 13 pitch at-bats?? In my opinion it was a great improvement from my appearance at Columbus State. I thought more about the location of each pitch, what I wanted to do with each pitch, and went right at each hitter! One thing that I can live with is giving up runs from the team getting hits! In the fall I wasn’t hit hard, but killed myself with walks and hit batters. It felt great being able to compete in front of all of my friends, and the Argonaut faithful that stuck it out all day at Jim Spooner Field!
It has been a GREAT week for UWF, and baseball in general! FINALLY the MLB is back! Here is my quick preview of what I think the season will be…
My WILD CARD preview for the American League:
4 playoff teams will be:
Red Sox/White Sox/Rangers/A’s
A’s make it to the World Series on the back of great young pitching (similar to the Giants of last year)
4 playoff teams will be:
-Phillies make it to the World Series and beat the A’s to win the World Series!
Now my REALISTIC choices:
Yankees/Red Sox/White Sox/Rangers
Red Sox/White Sox play in the ALCS with Red Sox going to the WS.
Phillies/Giants rematch in the NLCS with Phillies winning.
And the World Series Champion of 2011 is The Boston Red Sox! (Not my favorite team, but the pitching and offense may be too much for the Phillies rotation!
I really hope for a good season from the Chicago Cubs, for the sake of my Uncle Mike! He’s a loyal fan, and a winning season would be great, then maybe picking up Albert Pujols in the free agent market! Shhh you didn’t hear that from me!
Also, hoping for a great season from the Reds! My Uncle Scott, from Ohio is a scout for them and they have a great squad this year!
*Special Thanks to Kim Hastings for taking such great pictures of me while I was pitching!
Philip Ebert #36