North Carolina State coach Elliott Avent has been around college baseball a long time, but he’s never seen anything quite like last night’s game between his Wolfpack and the Akron Zips.
N.C. State’s pitchers set a new single-game NCAA Division I record by striking out 31 Akron hitters in an 18-inning contest, which the Wolfpack won 5-4. The 31 strikeouts easily beat out the previous single-game record of 26, set by Austin Peay State against Murray State in a 15-inning game in 1987. Not to be overlooked, Akron’s staff struck out 20 N.C. State hitters, and the combined 51 strikeouts is also a new D-I single-game record, shattering the old mark of 41 set in a game between Auburn and Arkansas in 1994.
On top of that, N.C. State used 11 different pitchers (just two short of an NCAA record) in a neutral-site game where the ‘Pack was the visiting team and had to shut Akron down each time out.
"We knew we had a deep staff," Avent said. "We had some guys step up and do things that were beyond what they had done this season." [...] Continue Reading »
As expected, the NCAA has appealed the ruling in the Andrew Oliver case. The Sandusky (Ohio) Register reported the NCAA filed an appeal last month with the Ohio Sixth District Court of Appeals, claiming that judge Tygh Tone reached his decision to reinstate the Oklahoma State lefthander (and overturn the no agent rule) "against the substantial weight of the evidence" and "based upon clearly erroneous conclusions of the law".
You knew the NCAA would fight this one tooth and nail, even with the forces of logic and decency lined up against it, but the timing of the appeal was somewhat unexpected. Beth A. Naufel, a court administrator for Tone, told the Register that because the jury portion of the trial (to determine monetary damages) is still pending, the court was under the understanding that "it wasn’t a final appealable ruling".
Frances King, an assistant court administrator for the Sixth District, told the Register that the judges could sanction the NCAA if they feel the appeal is frivolous, but they have not yet determined that to be the case.
Before we get to today’s mailbag, let’s acknowlegde a few upsets from Tuesday’s action. The most surprising score of the day was Rhode Island’s 3-0 upset at Miami behind eight scoreless, three-hit innings from junior righthander Eric Smith. A URI press release hailed the victory as "arguably the biggest victory in the program’s history."
"This is so wild right now," Smith said afterward, according to the release. "It’s like I can’t even speak. The guys are all so pumped; it’s awesome. I’m still catching my breath."
Miami was shut out for the first time since 2004. The Hurricanes had one baserunner reach third base, in the first inning, and that was it.
"That pitcher just stuffed us," Miami coach Jim Morris said of Smith this afternoon. "It wasn’t like he was a thumber–I think he’s going to pitch in the big leagues. He was 6-foot-3, throwing 88-92 with good sink, and a good hard breaking ball. He threw strikes, pitched inside, had a 1.1(-second) release time, and ate our lunch. We didn’t hit the ball hard off him, at all. What a crazy game. We faced pretty good pitching at Florida this weekend and hit the ball pretty hard, and this guy just ate our lunch for eight innings. He ate everybody’s lunch from one through nine." [...] Continue Reading »
The Stephen Strasburg phenomenon just keeps picking up steam. Frequent BA contributor Kirk Kenney has started a blog to monitor San Diego-area baseball in general and Strasburg in particular, and he reported Friday that the San Diego State ace touched 102 mph seven times in his 16-strikeout performance against Nevada. Kirk said that information came from the Aztecs’ coaches, and that they said their radar gun has typically been slower than scouts’ guns, not the other way around. Kenney said a scout he talked to Friday had Strasburg up to 101 on his Stalker gun early in the game, but he put his gun away by the middle innings.
If you’ve got Strasburg fever, be sure to check Kirk’s blog regularly–it will be updated every week with sights, sounds, rumors and innuendo from every Strasburg start.
It looks like next the Houston College Classic will have another strong field in 2010. The host Astros announced today that Missouri, Texas, Texas Christian and and Texas Tech will join annual participants Houston and Rice in the 10th annual event at Minute Maid Park. It will take place from March 5-7 next year.
Strike One: Ducks Make A Splash
It was sunny but cold for Oregon’s first home game in 28 years, but the low-to-mid-40s temperatures weren’t about to keep fans away from the first game at brand-new P.K. Park.
"As you can imagine, there was a lot of anticipation, a lot of important people were there, and there was a passing of the baton from the old Oregon baseball history to the new," Ducks coach George Horton said Sunday. "It was a full house—rocking and rolling. My athletics director said it best—here’s a gazillionaire who’s seen a lot of sporting events, and he said he had a tear in his eye. It was a special game."
It wasn’t special just because it was Opening Day at the new ballpark. And it wasn’t special just because the Ducks were hosting defending national champion Fresno State. After battling the Bulldogs to a scoreless tie through eight and a half innings, the Ducks won it in the ninth on a pinch-hit RBI single from senior infielder Andrew Schmidt. [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON–Texas A&M showed admirable resilience tonight in the final game of the Houston College Classic. The Aggies trailed 3-0 heading into the bottom of the fourth but battled back for a 5-3 win. The big blow was a tie-breaking two-run homer by senior center fielder Kyle Colligan in the sixth inning. Houston bullpen ace Chase Dempsay entered the game to face Colligan with a runner aboard, and Colligan turned on Dempsay’s first pitch–an 86 mph fastball over the inside corner–and launched a towering shot to left field.
Houston made things interesting in the ninth, loading the bases against A&M closer Travis Starling. But Starling escaped, getting Blake Kelso to line to shortstop to end the game.
I’ll have a few more thoughts on the Houston College Classic in Three Strikes tomorrow, but here’s a quick look at how some of the pitchers in today’s finale looked: [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON–We had a scary moment in the fourth inning here at Minute Maid Park tonight, as Houston catcher Chris Wallace was hit in the face by an errant Barret Loux fastball. Wallace lay writhing on the ground for several minutes as the crowd hushed, and he was taken off the field on a cart.
We have gotten word that Wallace is at the hospital receiving stitches under his eye, and he is scheduled to have an MRI. He is currently coherent and awake. Obviously, our thoughts are with Wallace and his family, and we will hope for the best.
It almost seems trivial to say it right now, but Wallace is a good-looking player, and I heard one American League area scout say he likes Wallace as a prospect. Wallace has a sturdy catcher’s build and has done very sound work behind the plate. He also blasted two opposite-field home runs in Houston’s first game of the weekend against Baylor.
HOUSTON–I’ve charted pitches during Texas A&M sophomore righthander Barret Loux’s first two innings (though I’m not sure I’ll be able to do the whole game, as I’m already behind schedule on Top 25 Tracker). He’s been outstanding through two hitless, scoreless innings, racking up four strikeouts (including striking out the side in the second). Loux is just attacking Houston hitters with his fastball–32 of his first 34 pitches have been heaters. He’s sat at 91-93 and touched 94 five times on my Stalker Pro II radar gun. Loux has conserved his strength early in at-bats, getting ahead with 90-91 mph heaters and then reaching back for 93-94 to put hitters away with two strikes. His two offspeed pitches: a 75 mph curveball for a soft line out in the first, and an 83 mph changeup that dove into the dirt in the second.
HOUSTON–Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said last night that Rice is the best team in Texas. It’s hard to argue with him after the Owls completed a 3-0 weekend at the Houston College Classic with their second-straight win over a top Lonestar State contender.
The Owls got a third straight strong outing from their starting pitcher–this time freshman lefthander Taylor Wall–and systematically dismantled sixth-ranked Baylor 8-3 on Sunday afternoon.
Wall allowed just one run on three hits and a pair of walks while striking out eight over 6 1/3 innings. He doesn’t have the kind of velocity we’ve seen from a lot of other pitchers this weekend, sitting around 85-86 mph with his fastball, but he used a four-pitch mix very effectively. His best pitch was a deceptive 73-74 mph changeup with excellent arm speed, and he used his 77-80 slider as a chase pitch against both righthanded and lefthanded hitters. [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON–Baylor just got hosed by the umpires about as bad as you can get hosed. With runners on first and second and one out in the top of the third, Dustin Dickerson hit a sinking liner to left field. Rice left fielder Jeremy Rathjen dove forward for it, and it’s unclear if he caught the ball or not, but the third base umpire standing right in front of the play in shallow left very clearly held his arms out to signal safe. Rathjen threw the ball in to second base, where the Owls should have gotten a force out, leaving runners on the corners with two outs.
Instead, the home-plate umpire appeared to overturn the call, ruling that the ball was caught and the runner on second base had been doubled off, ending the inning. Even if the ball was caught–and from my vantage point it’s tough to tell–there’s no way the home-plate umpire can make that call after the third-base umpire very clearly ruled the ball had dropped. The runners must take their cue from the third-base umpire and assume the ball dropped. This is not like yesterday’s triple play, where no umpire made any clear call and all the baserunners were confused. In this case, there was no ambiguity–one umpire made a call, and the other umpire took the game into his own hands, depriving Baylor of a key scoring opportunity in a game it trailed 3-1.
UPDATE: Here’s what Bears coach Steve Smith had to say about the controversial play:
"The umpire in the field ruled no catch–I believe everybody saw that. So the baserunners react to no catch. Rice threw the ball into second base–they’re reacting to the play the way they thought the play was. The umpire in the field asked for help, after he’s made a no-catch, and the umpire at home plate reversed the call. At that point in time, getting the call right is really a moot point. You can’t have a do-over on that kind of a play, and that’s what they did."
HOUSTON–As Ryan Berry bounced out of the dugout to take the mound to start the ninth inning, the Rice faithful cramming the left half of the lower seating bowl at Minute Maid Park rose as one and greeted him with a boisterous standing ovation. A moment later, they began to chant: "Ry-an, Ber-ry (clap, clap, clapclapclap)."
Fueled by adrenaline, the atmosphere and the prospect of beating the No. 1 team in the nation, Berry reached back for a couple of 93 mph fastballs (his hardest of the night) and struck out the first two batters of the ninth before allowing a double to Texas A&M’s Brooks Raley. That wasn’t about to derail him–not on this night. He simply got Luke Anders to chase an 84 mph slider in the dirt, his 12th strikeout of the night, to cap a transcendent performance in a 2-0 win against the rival Aggies.
"That’s called dealing right there, man," Rice coach Wayne Graham said afterward. "He was back to some of the games he’s pitched in the past. That was as good as he’s ever pitched, though. He didn’t walk anybody and he struck out 12, and he gave up two hits–that’s about as good as it gets. Against aluminum bats, you can’t pitch better than that." [...] Continue Reading »
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