College Baseball


USC Aiken sixth in preseason ranking

The USC Aiken baseball team was tabbed sixth in the Collegiate Baseball Newspaper NCAA Division II preseason poll.

The defending Peach Belt Conference champions are the highest ranked PBC school in the poll. In total, five schools from the conference are ranked: Francis Marion (12th), North Georgia (24th), Georgia College & State (27th) and UNC Pembroke (40th) also picked among the top 40. Columbus State and Armstrong Atlantic State both received votes. Augusta State was left out of the poll.

The Pacers reached as high as No. 2 nationally last season en route to their second Peach Belt Conference regular season championship. The regular season title was the first for the Pacers since 1994.

Emporia State is the poll's top-ranked team.

- The Southeastern Conference is trying to speed up its baseball tournament.

Spokesman Chuck Dunlap said Friday the league's athletic directors approved changes including a 20-second clock between pitches when the bases are empty and a 90-second limit between half innings.

The changes are in effect only for the tournament in May.

The tournament games will start a half-hour earlier on the first two days and there will be 30 minutes between games, 15-20 fewer than the old rule.


Spainard leads South African Open

In Paarl, Spaniard Pablo Martin endured mixed fortunes in the third round of the South African Open Championships at Pearl Valley Golf Estates, but the 23-year-old somehow scrambled his way to an even-par 72 and with a closing birdie returned to 11-under-par and a one stroke lead over Italian Edoardo Molinari .

Molinari shot 69 despite having a double bogey on the seventh, and needs only a top nine finish to move into the world's top 50 for the first time.

It would enable him to join his brother Francesco -- they won the Omega Mission Hills World Cup together in November -- in the 2010 Masters Tournament, but the title would also make him fourth on Europe's Ryder Cup table.


Barcelona claims Club World Cup title

In Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, Barcelona won the Club World Cup on Saturday, beating Estudiantes 2-1 on Lionel Messi 's goal in extra time.

Barcelona, the European champions, defeated the South American champions to capture its sixth trophy of 2009.

Messi chested Daniel Alves ' cross into the goal in the 110th minute. Estudiantes had gone ahead in the 37th minute on Mauro Boselli's header. The Spanish champions tied the score when Pedro Rodriguez headed home a goal with a minute to play.

Barcelona's bench burst in celebration after the comeback victory before a crowd of 43,050 fans at Zayed Sports City Stadium. The Estudiantes players looked on in disbelief or slumped to the ground.

Earlier, Asian champion Pohang Steelers of South Korea beat Atlante of Mexico on penalty kicks to finish in third place.

Auto Racing

CJM Racing ceases operations for 2010

CJM Racing, which had 12 top-10 finishes in the Nationwide Series last season, has suspended operations.

Team owners Tony and Bryan Mullet say they will not race in 2010, saying it is "really hard for us to see this great group of people move in other directions."

Denny Hamlin and Scott Lagasse Jr. drove the No. 11 Toyota for CJM last season. They combined for five top-five finishes and two second-place showings.

CJM formed in 2006 and raced the Sprint Cup series. After running a limited Cup schedule, the team dropped to Nationwide in mid-2007. CJM ran a full Nationwide schedule in 2008 and finished 17th in owner points. The team switched to Toyotas in 2009, formed a technical alliance with Joe Gibbs Racing and finished 15th in points.



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