March 3, 2009
As Paul mentioned yesterday, the Diamond Dawgs swept up the Arizona Wildcats this weekend in Tuscon. The team didn't just win. They destroyed Arizona by wide margins (the average score was 11-5).
The stats continue to impress. Alex McRee has yet to give up a run, earned or unearned, in 10 and 2/3. Neither has Dean Weaver, Michael Palazzone, or Will Harvil. The pitching has been real good, but the hitters are overshadowing them.
Matt Cerione returned to center field Saturday, but it was at the plate where he really shined. Matt went 7-for-10 with two doubles and seven RBIs. Johnathan Taylor, who moved from center to left in order to accommodate Cerione's return, continues to play like he's Ricky Henderson. Taylor scored seven runs this weekend to up his season total to 13. His OBP is .706 (second on the team to Cerione's .727) and is hitting over .500 still. Taylor's so good that we forget about freshmen Levi Hyams and Chase Davidson who are also off to good starts. Everybody in the lineup can hit, so far.
I guess the only reason to be wary is the level of competition. Youngstown and Presbyterian weren't very good. Arizona is probably down and shouldn't finish higher than fifth in the Pac-10. The Dawgs won't get a meaningful test until they open SEC play at Tuscaloosa. (That's not to say they won't lose. It's baseball after all.) But, there are some legitimate bright spots. Arizona's ace, Preston Guilmet, is a good college pitcher and we tagged him for five earned in less than five innings Friday. Plus, a cross country road series in a hostile environment is always a challenge, even if the opponent isn't up to their historical best.
The point: Don't book a flight to Omaha, just yet but there is reason to believe this team can compete for another SEC crown.
The team had a long ordeal to get back from Tucson given the weather in Athens. They reportedly got back yesterday afternoon. We'll see if they can slough off the road weariness and keep up their great play against Wofford tomorrow night.