College baseball is hot! And, the 2012 edition of NC State Wolfpack are adding fuel to the fire. With a home stand this weekend against Cal Bakersfield at the Doak, we thought we’d focus a little on baseball.
College baseball is hot. Hot again, actually.
For the third straight season, game attendance is up. The turnstile totals arenâ€™t close to football and basketballâ€™s, of course. But for a sport that only a few years ago amounted to a special-interest endeavor for friends and family at the vast majority of schools, baseball seems to be gaining more momentum each season.
With more prospects opting for college competition over low minor-league assignments out of high school and with much more emphasis on college coaching quality, the on-field product is solid.
But itâ€™s not just the competition, according to some college administrators. Baseball seems to benefiting from its status as a bargain activity. Ticket prices vary from school. But generally, baseball admission prices are a fraction of the $50-and-up that many colleges charge for football and basketball tickets.
According to the ACC, attendance has increased from last season at six of the leagueâ€™s 12 schools and likely will be up at eight of the 12 by next weekendâ€™s end of the regular season.
A part of the increased interest could be stoked by the more than 70 ACC games that will have been broadcast regionally and nationally â€“ including webcasts â€“ by the end of the ACC championship, ACC sports information spokesman Steve Phillips said.
â€œThat is way more than we have had in the past and includes six national Monday Night telecasts on ESPNU,â€ Phillips said.
Even Boston College, which has an unimpressive overall record of 20-26 and which gets very little media attention, set a home attendance record on April 28, when 2,286 fans showed up for a game against Wake Forest.
N.C. State associate AD Sherard Clinkscales, a former collegiate standout pitcher at Purdue and a former first-round draft pick of the Kansas City Royals, is in his first season on the Wolfpack staff. He said he has been impressed by the community interest in coach Elliott Aventâ€™s program.
â€œHeâ€™s done a terrific job putting this team together. The fan support weâ€™re getting is just tremendous,â€ Clinkscales said. â€œBaseball in this area and in the ACC is in terrific shape.â€
Along with top-ranked Florida State (37-7, 19-2), the Wolfpack (30-12 16-8), Tar Heels (31-13, 13-8), Miami (27-17, 12-12), UVa (31-14-1, 14-10) and Clemson (26-19, 14-10) are likely to land NCAA Tournament bids.
Nobody is hotter than NC State freshman, Trea Turner as he pursues the ACC’s single season record for stolen bases. This is just a quick link to a post on a Palm Beach blog.
This link does a super job of setting the table of the national college baseball landscape and who currently fits where as we head towards NCAA Tournament time.
SECURE TEAMS: Florida State, Baylor, Kentucky
ON THE BUBBLE (IN): Louisiana State, Florida, Stanford, Rice, North Carolina
ON THE BUBBLE (OUT): South Carolina, Purdue, Oregon, UCLA, Cal State Fullerton, Arizona, North Carolina State
One change from last week: Stanford replaces UCLA as a national seed after winning a road series against the Bruins. UCLA (No. 4) is still four spots ahead of Stanford in the official NCAA RPI report, but the Cardinal has lost two fewer weekend series and has a better record against the top 50 (16-8) than the Bruins (14-11).
The SEC still seems like a very strong bet to land three national seeds, but it has four worthy candidates jostling for those three spots (the committee would almost certainly balk at the prospect of four national seeds from one conference). Because Kentucky has still lost just one series and owns a sweep over South Carolina and a series win over LSU, we’re keeping the Wildcats in the secure category even though they dropped seven spots to No. 10 in the RPI this week. LSU and South Carolina are tied with UK for the best conference record in the SEC, but the Gamecocks have feasted against the bottom third of the league in recent weeks; they are still just 2-5 against the top 25, compared with Florida’s 14-8, LSU’s 7-5 and North Carolina’s 6-4. For now, that’s the reason the Gamecocks get squeezed out of a national seed, but they’ll have ample opportunity to rack up quality wins over the next three weekends, with road series against Arkansas and Georgia followed by a home set against LSU. South Carolina controls its own destiny in the national seed debate: finish strong over the last three weekends and it will surely force its way into a national seed.
Purdue has climbed all the way up to No. 5 in the RPIâ€”an incredibly difficult task for a Northern team. The flaw in Purdue’s national seed case that it has played only one game against a team currently in the top 25 (a win against East Carolina) and just four other games against 26-50 teams (going 3-1). The Boilermakers are a lock to host (although where they would host has not yet been made public), and they have an opportunity to really solidify their national seed case with a series win at UCLA this weekend. Conversely, the Bruins can bolster into their national seed chances with a series win against Purdue. As strong as UCLA is in the RPI (and it needs just a 9-7 finish to stay inside the top eight, per the Needs Report), the Bruins stand a strong chance to earn a national seed if they can win three of their last four series (and none of their final Pac-12 series are against teams with winning conference records, though two of those series are on the road).
SECURE TEAMS: The eight national seeds listed above; South Carolina, Purdue, Oregon, North Carolina State, UCLA
ON THE BUBBLE (IN): Cal State Fullerton, Arizona, Arkansas
ON THE BUBBLE (OUT): Texas A&M, Central Florida, Mississippi, Virginia
One change from last week: Arkansas replaces Ole Miss as a host.
The race for the final hosting spot or two is very competitive and fluid. The Razorbacks get a huge jolt after winning a series in Gainesville, while the Rebels took a step back with a road series loss at Mississippi State. But Ole Miss can help its case with a series win this weekend against LSUâ€”while Arkansas can further strengthen its own position with a home series win against South Carolina this weekend. The top four teams in the SEC seem locked in as hosts barring meltdowns, and six hosts from one conference is very unlikely, so Ole Miss and Arkansas are likely battling for one spot.
They also have to fend off Texas A&M and Central Florida, which also could beat out Arizona for a host spot. For now, those teams remain on the outside thanks to a lack of marquee wins. A&M helped itself with a series win against Texas, but it is still just 1-6 against the top 25 and 7-7 against the top 50, while UCF is 3-5 against the top 25 and hasn’t played any teams in the 26-50 range. Arizona, meanwhile, is 5-6 against the top 25 and 11-9 against the top 50, and it remains tied for first place in a much stronger conference.