Strike One: Lefties Lift Kentucky To Another Big Series Win
LEXINGTON, Ky.—Coaches often talk about how important it is for a Friday starter to set the tone for the weekend. But when you've got a rotation made up of three Friday starters who are all seasoned veterans, losing the series opener isn't such a big deal.
Two weeks in a row, Kentucky has dropped Friday games, as shaky defense behind starter A.J. Reed led to three unearned runs in each game. But in both series—at Florida last week and home against Mississippi State this weekend—the Wildcats have bounced back to win the series, as veteran lefthanders Jerad Grundy and Corey Littrell have delivered strong starts.
"You always want to win every game, obviously, but when we lose a Friday game, it doesn't really hurt us that much," Kentucky center fielder Austin Cousino said. "We're tough. We're hard-nosed, and we're really resilient. We shake things off really well."
It's like the old adage says: momentum is only as good as the next day's starting pitcher. After Mississippi State won Friday's opener 8-4, Grundy stifled the Bulldogs in the first game of Saturday's doubleheader, allowing just two runs on six hits and no walks while striking out 10 over eight innings. And Littrell followed with seven gritty innings in the series finale, yielding three runs (one earned) on two hits over seven innings, persevering despite a career-high six walks.
Grundy started his career at Miami in 2010, then transferred back to Heartland (Ill.) Junior College for his sophomore year before landing at UK last year. He spent the entire season in the weekend rotation, going 6-3, 3.78, but he has become a much more consistent pitcher as a senior, going 5-1, 1.99 with 38 strikeouts and nine walks in 41 innings. Kentucky coach Gary Henderson said during the winter that it was very apparent to him that Grundy is "way better" than he was the previous spring. [...] Continue Reading »
It was a wild week for the College Top 25 with plenty of teams moving up and down, in or out. Aaron Fitt and John Manuel will discuss some of the surprise entries and departures in our weekly Top 25 Google+ Hangout, beginning at 12:30 p.m. ET. You can watch it here or at Baseball America's Google+ page.
A day after Oregon State's Matt Boyd became the first pitcher to one-hit No. 20 Arizona State for the first time since 1983, the Sun Devils one-upped the Beavers. ASU freshman lefthander Ryan Kellogg threw a no-hitter in a 4-0 win, Arizona State's first no-hitter since 1993 and its first ever in Pacific-12 (or Pac-10) Conference play. Kellogg did not issue a walk and carried a perfect game into the seventh, when Drew Stankiewicz made an error with one out, giving the Beavers the first of their two baserunners in the game. Kellogg recorded three strikeouts, keeping the Beavers off balance and letting his defense work behind him.
"I knew (our defenders) were behind me the whole game," Kellogg said afterward. "I only had two strikeouts and they came in the last inning, so they made all the other plays for me.
"It is definitely a huge moment in my career, as well as for ASU baseball. To come out and have a performance like this after the day we had yesterday, especially against No. 3 Oregon State, is great for the team and the program."
It is difficult to overstate the magnitude of a freshman throwing a no-hitter in Corvallis against an elite team like Oregon State, which falls to 20-2 overall and 4-1 in the Pac-12. The Beavers had not been no-hit since 1994. Kellogg's no-hitter is the ninth in ASU's storied history, but none of the others came against an opponent like Oregon State. For more on Kellogg, see the Arizona State section of Thursday's Weekend Preview.
On to the rest of the Saturday Roundup.
Top 25 Showdowns
• (21) Arkansas at (5) South Carolina: Ryne Stanek (9 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) turned in by far his best outing of the season, leading Arkansas to a series-clinching 4-2 win in Columbia. Dominic Ficociello had two hits in his second game back in the starting lineup, helping to lead the Arkansas offense against Nolan Belcher (7.1 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K), who saw his scoreless streak snapped at 31.2 innings when the Hogs got on the board in the sixth. [...] Continue Reading »
I'm on the road this weekend, so tonight's roundup will focus on Friday's Top 25 action. I was on hand for one Top 25 upset, as Taylor Gushue broke a 1-1 tie with a three-run homer in the sixth, and three Florida pitchers combined on a three-hitter in a 7-1 win at No. 2 Vanderbilt. You can check out my report from Nashville here.
Top 25 Showdowns
• (20) Arizona State at (3) Oregon State: Matt Boyd (9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 K) allowed a leadoff single to Drew Stankiewicz to open the game, but he held the Sun Devils hitless the rest of the way, leading Oregon State to a 5-0 win. Boyd retired 12 straight batters after Stankiewicz's single and finished with a career-high 11 strikeouts. Boyd became the first pitcher to one-hit Arizona State since Alabama's Alan Dunn and Tim Meacham combined to do it on June 10, 1983. Michael Conforto had three hits and Dylan Davis had two RBIs to lead the OSU offense against Trevor Williams (5 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 6 K).
• (21) Arkansas at (5) South Carolina: Arkansas blasted Evan Beal (3.2 IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 4 BB, 6 K), breaking a scoreless tie with nine runs in the fourth en route to a 15-3 blowout in Columbia. Tyler Spoon (3-for-6, 2 R, 5 RBI) led Arkansas' balanced 13-hit attack in support of Barrett Astin (5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K). The Hogs' bats are heating up after a slow start; they have recorded double-digit hits in three straight games and five times in their last six games.
• (9) Georgia Tech at (12) Florida State: The Yellow Jackets and Seminoles swapped blowouts in a doubleheader split, with Georgia Tech taking the opener 10-0 but Florida State responding with an 11-3 win in the night cap. Zane Evans (3-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI) hit his 10th home run of the season in the opener, and Buck Farmer (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K) and Josh Heddinger (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R) combined on a three-hit shutout. The Jackets chased Brandon Leibrandt (1.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER) in a four-run second. D.J. Stewart (2-for-4, 2 R, 6 RBI) broke open a 3-0 game with a fifth-inning grand slam in the second game, helping Scott Sitz (5.1 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) improve to 5-0. Kyle Wren had four hits in defeat for Georgia Tech. [...] Continue Reading »
NASHVILLE—When I booked my travel plans for this weekend a month or two ago, I expected to catch a matchup between potential first-rounders tonight in Nashville, with Florida junior righthander Jonathon Crawford taking on Vanderbilt junior lefty Kevin Ziomek. That didn't materialize, as Crawford struggled out of the gate and got moved back to the No. 2 starter role last week, but freshman righthander Jay Carmichael has given the Gators a lift over the last two Friday nights.
Carmichael didn't have his best breaking ball command Friday, but he competed hard with an 87-88 fastball and a good changeup, and he outpitched the previously red-hot Ziomek. Carmichael (5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) combined with freshman lefty Danny Young and hard-throwing righty Ryan Harris on a three-hitter, as the Gators earned a much-needed 7-1 win against Ziomek and the Commodores.
Ziomek, who had been utterly dominant through his first five starts this season, breezed through four hitless innings before his command faltered in the middle innings. He issued four walks in the fifth inning, allowing one run on Zack Powers' RBI single to left field before stranding the bases loaded. But the Gators broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the sixth on Taylor Gushue's three-run homer to left field on a fat 91 mph fastball.
"I was just tying to be aggressive," said Gushue, who busted out of a 2-for-17 slump by going 2-for-3 with a walk. "The first two pitches were changeups, and I was a little out front of both of them. Then he threw a fastball up, and I was a little worried that he was going to come back with offspeed, but I just stayed on the fastball. That's basically what the approach has to be–you have to stay on the fastball."
Ziomek struggled to miss bats, finishing with five walks and just one strikeout. His 76-78 mph breaking ball was inconsistent, but his spotty command of his 88-92 heater is what got him into trouble in the fifth and sixth innings. [...] Continue Reading »
Good luck finding a more dangerous mid-major than Austin Peay State. The Governors are loaded with experienced veterans who have already proven themselves in high-pressure situations against marquee competition. APSU has not only made back-to-back regionals, but it has played well in both regionals.
Two years ago, Austin Peay stunned host Georgia Tech in the opener of the Atlanta Regional, knocking off the Yellow Jackets 2-1. Last year, the Governors lost the Eugene Regional opener in controversial fashion against Oregon, but they bounced back to eliminate Indiana State (beating ace Sean Manaea 1-0) and Cal State Fullerton before falling in the regional final against the Ducks.
So maybe Austin Peay is still under the radar nationally because it plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, but coaches know how dangerous the Governors are, and their 17-3 start this spring is far from a surprise. APSU had won nine straight games before dropping a midweek game at Indiana State yesterday, snapping what had been the nation's longest winning streak.
"Our guys expect to win. They expected to win last year, and they did," Austin Peay coach Gary McClure said. "They've won our regular season and conference tournament two years in a row and done well in regionals. Last year, shoot, we were a call away from probably winning that thing. They've got some savvy about them. Their goals and expectations are a lot higher than a lot of kids out there because of that, I think. And they believe in themselves. So we feel like our program is kind of getting to the point where our goals have definitely changed. We're getting a lot better players, there's no doubt about that." [...] Continue Reading »
NInth-ranked Georgia Tech has college baseball's most explosive offense, but the Yellow Jackets were held to fewer than seven runs for just the second time in their last 15 games Tuesday. Reliever Matt McCall (4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) led a group of four Georgia Southern pitchers that held the Jackets in check, as the Eagles pulled off the 5-4 upset in Atlanta. T.D. Davis (2-for-4, 2 RBI) hit his sixth homer of the year to lead the GSU offense, while Zane Evans smacked his ninth long ball for Tech, which was averaging 10 runs per game during its first 19 games this season.
On to the rest of the Tuesday roundup.
Other Top 25 Upsets
• Ryan Huck (3-for-5, HR, 2 R, 4 RBI) powered Western Kentucky to a 6-3 win at No. 10 Kentucky. The Wildcats rapped out 11 hits and drew seven walks but left 15 men on base.
• No. 16 North Carolina State continued to be plagued by short starts on the mound, as Logan Jernigan (0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 0 K) failed to get through the first inning in an 8-5 loss to UNC Greensboro. The Wolfpack carried a 4-2 lead into the eighth inning, but the Spartans scored three in the top of the eighth, then won it with three more in the 11th. T.J. Spina (2-for-3, 2 R, 2 RBI) led the UNCG offense.
• No. 20 Arizona State got outstanding pitching during its 11-2 start, but the Sun Devils have suddenly gone cold on the mound. ASU allowed 25 runs during its two losses to Washington State this weekend, and the Devils allowed eight more runs Tuesday at Texas Tech, losing a back-and-forth affair 8-7. The Red Raiders scored two runs in the ninth without the benefit of a hit, as ASU freshman closer Ryan Burr walked four and hit another batter. Scott LeJeune's walk-off walk on a close 3-and-2 pitch ended it. The Red Raiders, coming off a series win at Texas, improve to 15-8. They also split a pair of midweek games at Arizona two weeks ago. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Rock-Solid Pitching Carries UCLA To Sweep
LOS ANGELES—Adam Plutko said he was just settling into a groove when heavy fog settled in at Jackie Robinson Stadium on Friday night, forcing play to be suspended in the fourth inning. That cut Plutko's outing short, and UCLA wound up having to use seven relievers over 11 more innings when that series-opening game against Washington resumed Saturday.
So the Bruins needed Nick Vander Tuig to pitch deep into Saturday's second game in order to give the bullpen a breather. Vander Tuig, a junior righthander, responded with the first complete game of his career, scattering seven hits without issuing a walk while striking out eight in a 5-0 shutout. That performance was a major key in helping the Bruins sweep their first Pacific-12-opening series.
"You talk about timing," UCLA coach John Savage said of Vander Tuig's start. "I don't want to say it was the biggest performance of his career because he's had bigger ones. But what we needed at this time was a nine-inning complete game."
UCLA's identity has shifted a couple of times over the last few years. In 2010 and 2011, the Bruins were built around overpowering pitching, led by Gerrit Cole and Trevor Bauer. Last year, the pitching was solid, but the strength of the team was the veteran lineup.
Now, the lineup is younger again and still trying to find its way, but the pitching staff is deep and accomplished. Plutko, Vander Tuig and Sunday starter Grant Watson are rock-solid, even if they lack the overpowering stuff of Cole and Bauer.
Like the other two, Vander Tuig is a model of consistency. He works in the 88-91 mph range every time out and excels by hitting his spots with his fastball and mixing in a good 80-82 changeup and an improving 83-85 slider. [...] Continue Reading »
UPDATE: Note changed time.
John Manuel and Aaron Fitt will discuss what stood out for them in this week's College Top 25 for a Google+ Video Hangout. The Hangout begins at 12:30 p.m. ET and can be watched here either live or archived for later viewing.
Kris Bryant is on some kind of a tear. Two days after he slugged three home runs (including a walk-off shot) in the series opener against Brigham Young, San Diego's first-team preseason All-American delivered another walk-off homer Saturday, a two-run blast that lifted the Toreros to a 10-9 win in 14 innings, completing the sweep. Bryant is hitting .386/.561/.986 on the season, with 12 homers and 24 RBIs.
We'll have more on Bryant's heroics in Monday's Three Strikes. On to the rest of the Saturday Roundup.
Top 25 Showdowns
• (3) Oregon State at (20) Arizona: The Beavers clinched the series in Tucson with a 4-3 win behind Andrew Moore (5.2 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER), who improved to 5-0 on the season. Dylan Davis and Jake Rodriguez had two RBIs apiece to lead the Oregon State offense. James Farris (5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) took the loss for the Wildcats.
• (6) Mississippi at (15) Arkansas: The Razorbacks evened the series with an emphatic 10-1 win. Joe Serrano had three hits and Tyler Spoon had three RBIs to lead a balanced Arkansas attack in support of Randall Fant (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K). Mike Mayers (5.1 IP, 9 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) took his first loss of the year for Ole Miss.
• (7) Louisiana State at (13) Mississippi State: Ryan Eades (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) led LSU to a series-clinching 7-3 win in Starkville. Mason Katz homered for the second straight day (giving him nine on the season), and Alex Bregman added a three-run shot in the ninth to give the Tigers a more comfortable cushion. Evan Mitchell (4 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) took his first loss of the season for MSU. The Tigers have won seven straight series against Mississippi State, and five straight in Starkville. [...] Continue Reading »
Two more unbeaten teams went down Friday, leaving 3-0 Dartmouth (which was idle Friday) as the only undefeated team left in Division I. No. 1 North Carolina was knocked off by Miami, 4-1 in Chapel Hill—the Hurricanes' 11th victory in their last 12 games against UNC. Lefthander Chris Diaz (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER) stifled the UNC offense, and the Hurricanes broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the fifth against Kent Emanuel (6.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER). The Tar Heels drop to 16-1 on the season.
And in College Park, Maryland handed No. 12 Florida State its first defeat in its second road game of the year, 5-3. Jimmy Reed (8 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER) and Kevin Mooney combined on a five-hitter, and Kyle Convissar had three RBIs to lead the Maryland offense against Brandon Leibrandt (5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER).
There were a few other upsets Friday, along with some compelling action on opening day in the Southeastern Conference. On to the roundup:
Top 25 Showdowns
• (3) Oregon State at (20) Arizona: The Beavers won their Pac-12 opener in Tucson, 6-2. Michael Conforto (3-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI) hit his fifth homer of the year in support of Matt Boyd (7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K), who improved to 4-0 for Oregon State. Konner Wade (5.2 IP, 12 H, 6 ER) was whacked around for Arizona, which was held to just four hits in the game.
• (6) Mississippi at (15) Arkansas: Preston Overbey's second-inning grand slam spotted Bobby Wahl (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 5 K) to a lead he would not relinquish, as the Rebels won the opener in Fayetteville, 7-1. Ole Miss chased Trey Killian (3 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 0 K) with three more runs in the fourth. At 19-1, the Rebels are off to the best 20-game start in program history.
• (7) Louisiana State at (13) Mississippi State: Mason Katz (3-for-4, 3 R, 4 RBI) blasted two home runs, including a game-winning two-run shot in the 10th inning, to lift LSU to a 6-4 win in Starkville. Aaron Nola (5.2 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) earned a no-decision for the Tigers, who got a combined 4.1 innings of one-hit, shutout relief from Brent Bonvillian, Joey Bourgeois and Chris Cotton. Hunter Renfroe (2-for-5, 3 RBI) homered in support of Jacob Lindgren (5.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) for MSU, which led 4-1 after five innings but let the lead slip away. [...] Continue Reading »
The ranks of the Division I unbeaten are down to three—counting 3-0 Dartmouth. Third-ranked Oregon State took its first loss of the season Tuesday against visiting San Francisco, which scored two runs in the first against Dan Child (2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB) and went on to a 5-1 win.
Sidewinding lefty Christian Cecilio started and threw four innings of one-hit, shutout ball for USF. In two outings against Pac-12 powers Oregon State and Arizona this season, Cecilio has allowed just one run and three hits in 9.2 innings, striking out eight while walking two. Zachary Turner (3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, 2B) led USF's 10-hit attack against the team that led the nation with a 1.17 ERA entering the game. OSU's ERA climbed to 1.43 after Tuesday's loss.
On to some of Tuesday's other highlights:
• The two remaining undefeated teams who have played full schedules are No. 1 North Carolina and No. 12 Florida State, both of whom stayed perfect with wins Tuesday. Trent Thornton (7.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K) lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth inning in UNC's 12-0 win against Gardner-Webb. Florida State, meanwhile, beat rival Florida in Gainesville for the first time since 2007, winning 4-1 behind Luke Weaver (6.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). Giovanny Alfonzo had two hits and two RBIs to lead the offense for FSU, which snapped a three-game losing streak against Florida.
• There was just one other Top 25 upset Tuesday—UC Santa Barbara's 7-2 win against No. 17 Notre Dame. Tyler Kuresa (3-for-5, 3B, 2 RBI) led the Gauchos' offense behind Greg Mahle (4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K), as UCSB rebounded nicely after getting swept at Texas this weekend. [...] Continue Reading »
It's easy to get lost in a daily sea of box scores during the college season, but sometimes it's nice to take a step back and look at the bigger picture. The NCAA has updated its statistics database after four weeks of play. A month into the season, here are a few things that jump out from the national leaderboards:
• A number of elite talents are performing at an elite level. The nation's co-leaders in home runs are first-team preseason All-American Kris Bryant of San Diego and second-teamer D.J. Peterson of New Mexico. Another first-teamer, Phillip Ervin of Samford, is all alone in third place with seven long balls. Peterson also leads the nation in slugging (1.138), while Bryant ranks fourth (.897), first-teamer Trea Turner is sixth (.893), and Ervin is ninth (.828).
• Troy's Danny Collins is all over the offensive leaderboards. He leads the nation in batting (.511), on-base percentage (.619) and RBIs per game (1.64), while ranking third in slugging (1.043). For more on Collins, see last week's Streakin' blog.
• Carlos Rodon has had a couple of rough outings in his first four starts for North Carolina State, but he still leads the nation with a whopping 17.01 strikeouts per nine innings. Rice's Austin Kubitza is next at 15.58, while Oklahoma lefthander Billy Waltrip ranks third (14.73). All three of them have one thing in common: They all own wipeout power sliders. Waltrip complemented his 90-92 fastball with an 81-84 slider that helped him rack up a pair of strikeouts in the ninth inning Saturday at UCLA. Waltrip started the year in Oklahoma's rotation, but he has found a home at the back of the bullpen.
"Billy's got that good slider," OU pitching coach Jack Giese said this weekend. "If we're going to put him in that role for us, we might as well just put him in the stretch and see what happens." [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Rebel Uprising
Two years ago, John Richy was an out-of-shape senior at Golden (Colo.) High School, with a brighter future as a golfer than as a baseball player. In June, UNLV coach Tim Chambers was working a camp in Colorado and he heard about Richy, so he went to see him pitch, even though the righthander had spent the season pitching in the 83-85 range.
"This kid was a golfer in high school, and he was heavy—he was 240, 250 pounds, 6-3 or 6-4ish," Chambers said. "His high school coach said, 'If you dedicate yourself to the gym a little bit, you might play college baseball and not golf.' We happened to see him in June, and he was 88-89, so we signed him up—we needed arms and we had some money to spend . . . There's a guy that had one Division I offer in June, and he just threw a two-hitter."
It wasn't just any two-hitter. Richy threw a complete-game gem on the road against a member of college baseball's royal family—Stanford. He allowed just one unearned run in UNLV's 5-1 win on Sunday, completing a stunning series sweep that knocked the Cardinal out of the Top 25, and vaulted the Rebels (13-3) into the rankings for the first time since 2003.
Richy has lost weight in his two years at UNLV (he's now listed at 220 pounds), and pitching coach Stan Stolte has helped him unlock his potential by speeding up his delivery, from about 2.4 seconds to about 1.7 seconds, according to Chambers. Now his fastball is running all over, and he is mixing in a good breaking ball, changeup and cutter.
Richy is just one of many diamonds in the rough UNLV's coaching staff has identified and developed in Chambers' three years at the helm. Sophomore left fielder Joey Swanner, who sparked the offense repeatedly this weekend from atop the order, had one one or two Division I offers out of high school, according to Chambers. Mark Shannon started his career at Northern Colorado and then transferred to Central Arizona JC. The Rebels recruited him as a pitcher, but here he is playing center field and hitting in the No. 3 hole.
The Top 25 is due for its first major shakeup of the season Monday after seven ranked teams had losing weekends. Nevada-Las Vegas and Central Arkansas both made noise Sunday (see below), and so did Indiana, which clinched a big road series win at Florida with a a 7-4 win. Kyle Schwarber (4-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR, 2B) capped a big weekend with a huge Sunday to lead IU's 14-hit barrage in support of Kyle Hart (7.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 0 ER). At 8-9, Florida isn't the big fish it has been in recent years, but this was still a statement weekend for Big Ten favorite Indiana, which improved to 8-3, with other wins coming against Louisville and Coastal Carolina.
On to the Sunday Top 25 Roundup:
Top 25 Showdowns
• (2) Vanderbilt at (15) Oregon: The Ducks avoided the sweep with a wacky come-from-behind 7-5 win. Oregon came back from a 5-2 deficit with five runs—on just one hit—in the eighth inning, capped by Scott Heineman's tie-breaking two-run single. The Ducks took advantage of three walks, two hit batsmen, a fielder's choice, an error and a wild pitch to tie the game, setting up Heineman's heroics.
• (14) Georgia Tech at (24) Virginia Tech: The Hokies avoided a sweep with a 6-2 win. Devin Burke (8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) stifled a Georgia Tech offense that had scored in double figures in each of its previous nine games (all victories), and Brendon Hayden (2-for-4, 3 RBI) homered for the second straight day for Virginia Tech, which broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the sixth.
• (17) Oklahoma vs. (22) Notre Dame: The Irish won a back-and-forth battle, 6-5 in 11 innings. Dan Slania (3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K) bounced back very strong after throwing two scoreless frames Saturday to pick up the win in relief Sunday, as the Fighting Irish forced extra innings with a run in the ninth, then won it on Kevin DeFilippis' pinch-hit, walk-off RBI single in the 11th. [...] Continue Reading »
Clemson clinched a big road series at No. 9 North Carolina State with a 7-4 win Saturday, but that was the least of the Wolfpack's troubles. Preseason All-America shortstop Trea Turner, who stepped awkwardly on first base trying to beat out an infield single in the final play of Friday's game, arrived at the ballpark Saturday wearing a protective boot. Turner is expected to miss four to six weeks with a sprained ankle—a huge blow for the Wolfpack heading into Atlantic Coast Conference play. Turner is college baseball's most dynamic player, and he was off to a blistering start, hitting .464/.522/.893 with five homers, 18 RBIs and eight steals in eight tries. Veteran Matt Bergquist started in his place at shortstop Thursday and should be an able substitute defensively, but Turner's offensive value is impossible to replace.
Meanwhile, N.C. State's pitching struggles continued in Saturday's loss, as Ethan Ogburn (1 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB) gave the Wolfpack its fourth very poor weekend start over the last two weeks. Thomas Brittle's second-inning grand slam put Clemson in control of the game for good, and the Tigers' bullpen was solid after Clate Schmidt (3.2 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER) exited in the fourth.
On to the rest of Saturday's action:
Top 25 Showdowns
• (2) Vanderbilt at (15) Oregon: Tony Kemp (3-for-4, R, RBI) led the Vandy offense in support of Tyler Beede (6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 7 K), as the Commodores clinched the big road series with a 4-2 win. Vanderbilt starting pitchers have 56 strikeouts and a 0.36 ERA in 49 innings over their last seven games. Tommy Thorpe (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) was solid in defeat for the Ducks, who have managed just seven hits over the first two games of the series.
• (14) Georgia Tech at (24) Virginia Tech: Georgia Tech's incredible offensive hot streak continues. The Yellow Jackets outslugged the Hokies 14-9, the ninth straight game the Jackets have scored in double figures. All nine Georgia Tech starters recorded hits Saturday, and seven of them posted multi-hit games, led by Brandon Thomas and Matt Gonzalez with three hits apiece. The Jackets knocked around hard-throwing Brad Markey (6 IP, 11 H, 9 R, 6 ER). [...] Continue Reading »
Lefthander Tom Windle threw the first nine-inning no-hitter in Minnesota history in a 3-0 win against Western Illinois on Friday. Windle retired the first 11 Leathernecks in order before issuing his only walk in the fourth inning. WIU had only one other baserunner in the game, on an error in the sixth inning. Windle struck out eight and needed just 94 pitches to go the distance. Minnesota's baseball history includes two seven-inning no-hitters, in 1970 and 1993. Windle's no-hitter was also coach John Anderson's 1,100th career win. For more on Windle, BA subscribers can read our recent profile of him here.
On to the rest of Friday's action:
Top 25 Showdowns
• (2) Vanderbilt at (15) Oregon: Kevin Ziomek (9 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 13 K) threw his second consecutive complete game, leading the Commodores to a 4-1 win. Ziomek retired 16 of 17 to open the game, with the only blemish coming on Ryon Healy's solo home run leading off the fourth. Ziomek has allowed just one run on three hits with 28 strikeouts over his last two starts. Tony Kemp and Jack Lupo had two RBIs apiece for the Commodores, who handed Jake Reed (7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) his third loss. Vandy has won 12 straight and has yielded three runs or fewer in 13 of its 14 games.
• (14) Georgia Tech at (24) Virginia Tech: Daniel Palka and Zane Evans each homered and drove in four behind Buck Farmer (6 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K), leading the Yellow Jackets to a 11-1 shellacking of the Hokies. Palka hit his first career grand slam in the sixth to break open a 3-0 game and chase Eddie Campbell (4 IP, 5 H, 7 ER, 5 BB, 3 K). Farmer carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning before allowing his first earned run of the season, snapping a marathon streak of 26.2 innings without allowing one.
• (22) Notre Dame at (12) UCLA: Kevin Kramer singled to lead off the 10th, and Eric Filia singled him home with two outs to propel the Bruins to a 2-1 win. Adam Plutko (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) and Sean Fitzgerald (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) went toe-to-toe in a fine pitchers' duel, but UCLA won the battle of the bullpens, as Zack Weiss and David Berg combined for three innings of two-hit relief, striking out six without issuing a walk. Nick McCarty (3.2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) pitched well in relief for Notre Dame before allowing the winning run in the 10th. [...] Continue Reading »
Towson announced Friday that it was cutting its baseball program, as well as men's soccer, while adding men's tennis in a move to cut athletic department costs and better comply with Title IX gender-equity laws.
The university, based in suburban Baltimore, originally announced its intention to cut baseball in October, spurring supporters of the program to launch efforts save it. The Baltimore Sun reported that a group of the school's most prominent graduates and supporters, along with parents from the baseball team, lobbied university president Maravene Loeschke to save the program, but their efforts were not enough. The paper reported that Towson coach Mike Gottlieb, who has been with the team since joining it as a player in 1977, was informed of Loeschke's decision in a meeting with athletic director Mike Waddell this morning.
In what will be its final baseball season, Towson is off to a 6-4 start. The Tigers won a road series at Duke last weekend, and they open Colonial Athletic Association play this weekend against Delaware.
A message for Gottlieb was not immediately returned.
Neither Southern Mississippi's quality pitching staff nor three straight days of temperatures in the 40s could slow down Troy's Danny Collins this weekend. Not even a rainout could slow him down on Tuesday. Collins, a junior right fielder, is one of college baseball's most dangerous hitters—and one of its hottest, too.
In three games against Southern Miss—whose pitching staff entered the weekend with a 1.25 staff ERA—Collins went 7-for-11 with four runs scored, a double, two home runs and five RBIs, leading the Trojans to a big series win. It was the continuation of a season-long hot streak for Collins, who is now hitting .526/.612/1.053 with four homers, four doubles, two triples and 20 RBIs through 38 at-bats. And he's a very disciplined hitter, with just three strikeouts and seven walks so far.
When Troy's game at Samford was postponed yesterday, the Trojans had an intrasquad—and Collins was as merciless against Troy's pitching as he has been against everyone else's.
"This spring he's been right on time, hitting for average and power, driving in runs, doing it all," Troy coach Bobby Pierce said. "Like I told my wife when we got home (Tuesday), 'You should have seen him today.' We played an intrasquad game because we got rained out, and he was about 5-for-6 with a couple of homers. The guy can really hit—all types of pitching, velocity, breaking balls."
Pierce said he gives Collins an A-plus grade in the areas of vision and hand-eye coordination, helping him stay back in the box and react late to pitches. That enables him to thrive in Troy's offensive system. [...] Continue Reading »
A pair of top 10 teams were knocked off Tuesday. The day's most jarring score was Elon's 24-12 win against No. 9 North Carolina State on a cold, wet night in Elon. The Wolfpack, which carried a 10-game winning streak into the game, had allowed just 26 runs total in its first 11 games. Anthony Tzamtzis (1 IP, 4 H, 7 R, 6 ER) turned in N.C. State's third very short outing in its last four games. Antonio Alvarez and Alex Swim had five RBIs apiece for the Phoenix, and Sebastian Gomez drove in a career-high six, helping Elon build an 18-3 lead by the end of the fourth. Trea Turner continued his torrid start to the season for the Wolfpack, going 4-for-5 with two homers, five RBIs and two stolen bases.
• No. 10 Cal State Fullerton dropped its second straight game, 7-3 at San Diego, which has won six straight and eight of nine since starting the season 0-3. Kris Bryant hit a pair of two-run homers to power the USD offense, which handed hard-throwing J.D. Davis (3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER) his first loss of the season.
• Tuesday's other Top 25 upset came in Arlington, where Texas-Arlington cruised to a 6-1 win against No. 17 Oklahoma. Matt Shortall had two hits and two RBIs in support of Chase Weaver (5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), and John Beck worked three scoreless innings for the save.
• Jeff Gold (7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) turned in a strong start in Oregon's 4-1 win against Cal State Northridge, but his defensive resourcefulness stole the headlines after a ball got stuck in his glove on a comebacker, and he threw ball and glove to first base for the out. Credit first baseman Ryon Healy with maintaining his concentration after the ball and glove separated in mid-air. The video is definitely worth a look, if you haven't already seen it on SportsCenter. [...] Continue Reading »
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