Here are a few things that stood out in college baseball's opening day:
• All-America pitchers proved as good as advertised. The two top-rated junior righthanders in the nation, Anthony Ranaudo and Deck McGuire, both were strong in their season debuts. Ranaudo allowed just one run on one hit while walking two and striking out six over five innings in Louisiana State's win against Centenary. McGuire was even better, striking out 10 without issuing a walk and yielding five hits over seven shutout innings in Georgia Tech's win against lefthander Aaron Meade and Missouri State. UC Irvine lefty Daniel Bibona, a second-team All-American last year, posted a nearly identical line, striking out 10 and allowing seven hits over seven shutout frame against Loyola Marymount.
Three flame-throwing sophomore righties who earned second-team preseason All-America honors were overpowering. Texas ace righty Taylor Jungmann also had a fine opener, striking out eight and allowing just two runs (one earned) over seven innings in a win against New Mexico. UCLA's Gerrit Cole, struck out nine while allowing just two runs on one hit over six innings in a win against Southern. And Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray struck out eight while allowing just one walk and three hits over eight scoreless against Niagara. The fourth starting pitcher on the preseason second team, Ohio State junior righty Alex Wimmers, was just as good, striking out nine and allowing just one hit and one walk over six scoreless in a win against North Florida.
Florida Gulf Coast lefty Chris Sale, a first-teamer in the preseason, worked just two innings, retiring all six batters he faced, four via strikeouts, in a 10-0 rout of Temple. Sale reportedly topped out at 95 mph and said he felt "unbelievable", but the Eagles pulled him early with the intention of starting him Wednesday against Miami.
• San Diego did not start its preseason All-American, Kyle Blair, opting instead for senior A.J. Griffin, who struck out eight over six innings in a win against Indiana. Reigning West Coast Conference player of the year James Meador sat out the opener for disciplinary reasons but is scheduled to return to the lineup Saturday.
• Just two ranked teams lost to opponents outside the Top 25, with a couple of late games still pending. No. 5 Rice dropped a 6-4 decision to Stanford, which got three hits from freshman Stephen Piscotty and 7 2/3 strong innings from sophomore righty Jordan Pries. And No. 25 Mississippi lost 6-5 to Louisiana-Monroe, as Rebels ace Drew Pomeranz left after four rather inefficient innings, throwing 99 pitches. He allowed just two runs (one earned) and struck out seven, but reliever Rory McKean allowed four runs in the decisive fifth inning.
I find it surprising that Ole Miss would let Pomeranz throw 99 pitches over four innings in the season opener—that's an awfully heavy workload for a compressed outing. A hundred pitches over seven innings is one thing, but that many pitches over four innings means he had some high-pitch-count innings without rest in between, and that's not good for a young pitcher's arm, especially right out of the gate in February. By contrast, LSU removed Ranaudo after 72 pitches over five innings. The Rebels showed that they weren't afraid to ride Pomeranz hard in regionals last year, but one would hope they'd be more conservative in February.
• Tennessee won its opener against Xavier 16-6, but the victory was dampened by an injury to third-team preseason All-American Cody Hawn. Hawn was left crumpled on the ground holding his left (non-throwing) shoulder after getting tagged in a rundown. An MRI and X-ray has been scheduled. Before exiting, Hawn smacked a two-run homer deep over the left-field wall.
• Here's a surprise: San Diego State righthander Addison Reed, a third-team preseason All-American as a closer, got the start today against Oklahoma. He took the loss, allowing four runs on five hits and three walks while striking out six over 4 2/3 innings.
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