The Michigan Wolverines are ranked No. 1 in the nation for the first time in 40 years, since Baseball America began ranking college baseball teams. Wins over defending national champion (and previous No. 1) Vanderbilt, and No. 3 ranked Arizona State highlighted an impressive 3-1 record on the opening weekend of play in Arizona, launching Michigan to the top spot.
Not only is the top ranking the first in school history, but it is the first time that any Big Ten team has claimed the top spot. The Wolverines became only the second Big Ten team to advance to the College World Series finals in 35 years last June, making it all the way to the final series against Vanderbilt. Michigan won the national championship in 1962 and advanced to the finals in 1984.
Michigan began the season ranked eighth overall, despite losing several key players, including their top two starting pitchers in Tommy Henry and Karl Kauffman, and six members of their starting lineup from the team that finished the 2019 season.
The Florida Gators moved up to the the No. 2 spot in the rankings, followed by Miami and Texas Tech. Vanderbilt dropped to No. 5. There are no other Big Ten teams ranked this week. The ACC and SEC each landed eight teams in the top 25 rankings.
The Wolverines opened the season in Scottsdale, Arizona, playing in the MLB4 tournament. In addition to victories over two of the top three ranked teams in the nation, Michigan also defeated Cal Poly before losing to Connecticut on Sunday.
Notable performances from the weekend:
Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson went 3-for-9 with two home runs and eight walks in four games. Both of his home runs were solo shots.
#TORKBOMB #NCAABaseball | @ASU_Baseball pic.twitter.com/dd4GJJJ4DA— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) February 15, 2020
New Mexico State’s Nick Gonzales went 8-for-14 with four home runs and 17 RBI (yes, really) in a four-game sweep of Texas Southern. The Aggies scored 49 runs on the weekend.
Georgia righthander Emerson Hancock struggled in his first start of the year, allowing six runs on nine hits in four innings against Richmond.
Top lefthanders Asa Lacy and Reid Detmers missed plenty of bats, striking out eight and nine hitters, respectively, in their outings.
UCLA outfielder Garrett Mitchell, Baseball America’s No. 8 draft prospect, went 3-for-7 with four runs scored and a pair of stolen bases hitting at the top of the Bruins’ lineup in a weekend sweep over UC Riverside.
Michigan’s Jeff Criswell and Vanderbilt’s Mason Hickman, both draft eligible in 2020, went toe-to-toe in the season opener. Criswell struck out five while allowing three runs in 6 1⁄3 innings. Hickman gave up just a single unearned run in five innings of work.
Arkansas rolled over Eastern Illinois to move to 3-0 on the season. Potential first rounders Heston Kjerstad and Casey Martin had big weekends for the Razorbacks. Kjerstad was particularly impressive with four home runs and 10 RBI. Martin added a pair of doubles and three walks, along with his usual strong defense.
Vanderbilt’s Austin Martin shook off an 0-for-7 performance on Friday and Saturday to hit a pair of doubles in Vandy’s 9-8 loss to Cal Poly on Sunday.