Monday, March 18, 2013

HarbourCanucks corner - March 18th edition

Nick Pivetta
It appears that the media blackout on information about the New Mexico Junior College Thunderbirds baseball team has mercifully ended. This means that we can finally give you an update on what Nick Pivetta has done on the mound in the last couple of weeks -- and the news is good.

On March 9th, Pivetta held Midland College to only four hits and two earned runs in six innings pitched. He struck out four and walked two. On Friday, Pivetta got the win against Cochise College by giving up no earned runs in seven dominant innings on the hill. He only gave up five hits while striking out six and walking one. Pivetta now has a 4-2 record on the year with a 3.06 ERA and an impressive 1.16 WHIP. The Thunderbirds, who are now 20-6 on season, are the 20th-ranked junior college baseball team in the country in the most recent poll. However, they have gone 5-1 since those rankings were released. The next action for the Thunderbirds is a four-game series against Howard College this weekend.

Connor Russell had his best start of the year on Sunday, leading the VIBI Mariners to a 3-1 victory over the Okanagan College Coyotes. Russell only gave up three hits and one earned run in six innings, striking out seven and only walking one batter. The win moved his record to 2-1 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.68. Look for that earned run average to keep dropping, as his WHIP is a stellar 1.09. The Mariners play their first four home games of the season on Saturday and Sunday when they take on the Prairie Baseball Academy from Lethbridge, Alberta.

After posting a six-game hit streak, Austin Russell of the Southern Polytechnic Hornets has fallen abruptly into a hitting funk. Russell was held hitless in seven at-bats in the last week and his average has fallen to  .333. While that batting average may sound impressive, keep in mind that the Hornets' team batting average is .335. Not to worry -- we're confident that Russell will get right back into the hitting groove very soon. The Hornets have now won seven in a row to improve their record to 19-6 on the season. Next up is Tennessee Temple University on Tuesday and then a three-game series against Lee University on Friday and Saturday.

  • Matt "Coop" Cooper earned a couple of recent starts for the University of Hawaii after his outstanding relief appearance on February 22nd that saw him pitch 6 1/3 shutout innings. His first start against UNLV on March 4th didn't go so well, but last Tuesday's outing against Gonzaga was spectacular. Cooper threw a complete-game three-hit shutout, and he didn't walk a single batter. The win was the first of his NCAA career and he lowered his ERA to a team-leading 1.95.
  • Andrew Nelson has been wildly inconsistent in his six starts for Cuesta College this season. However, his most recent start on March 12th against LA Pierce College was outstanding. Nelson (3-3, 4.29 ERA) threw a complete game, allowing one earned run on eight hits.
  • Alex Real helped the University of New Mexico Lobos take two out of three from UNLV on the weekend, dropping the Rebels out of the Top 25 rankings. Real went 5-for-10 with a pair of RBI, raising his average to .328 and his on-base percentage to a sparkling .451.
  • Brett Urabe
  • David Schuknecht hit his third homer in his last five games on Saturday for Riverside City College. He now leads the team with a monster .569 slugging percentage. Schuknecht has also played the last four games in left field, which is a good sign for his surgically repaired labrum.
  • Brett Urabe got the first RBI of his college career on Saturday by successfully executing a squeeze bunt in the seventh inning of a 5-0 win by the UCLA Bruins over the Washington Huskies. Urabe only has two official at-bats this season and he is still looking for his first career hit.
  • The West Coast League appears to be getting closer to expanding to Northern California, as Redding and Chico may be granted expansion teams for the 2014 season. As an interesting sidebar, a former Blue Jay is spearheading the effort in both cities: Rick Bosetti in Redding and Pat Gillick in Chico.

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