A few highlights from Wednesday's action in college baseball:
• Stephen F. Austin State earned a big upset win against Texas Christian, 4-3. The Lumberjacks improved to 19-7 heading into their weekend showdown against Texas State, which carries an identical 8-1 Southland Conference record into the series. Wednesday's win was SFA's first against TCU since 1990. Stephen F. Austin did all of its scoring in the second and third innings, and six relievers made the lead stand up.
• Southern Mississippi beat Mississippi 4-3 in 10 innings. Ole Miss left fielder Tanner Mathis dropped a short fly ball in the 10th, allowing Travis Creel to score the winning run. Boomer Scarborough (7.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER) was solid in a no-decision for the Golden Eagles.
• Lamar upset Baylor, 7-3. Seven Cardinals pitchers stranded 13 Baylor runners, and Aaron Buchanan went 2-for-4 with three RBIs to lead the Lamar offense. [...] Continue Reading »
UPDATED: 1:40 p.m. ET.
Pepperdine announced Thursday that it has barred its baseball team from participating in the 2011 NCAA tournament after the school discovered it had failed to properly administer financial aid awards to a number of its student-athletes.
In addition to baseball, the men's tennis and men's volleyball teams received self-imposed postseason bans. The tennis team had been a strong contender for the national championship.
"This was entirely an administrative matter," director of athletics Steve Potts said in a statement. "It is most unfortunate and regrettable. We are committed to maintaining a culture of complete compliance and accountability in regard to NCAA regulations."
The West Coast Conference announced that Pepperdine is not eligible to win the WCC title, but it will participate in the 21-game conference schedule and all games played against the Waves will count in the conference standings. Should Pepperdine finish in first place in the standings, the automatic bid to the NCAA tournament and the conference title will be awarded to the second-place finisher. Pepperdine players will be eligible for individual awards, however.
Pepperdine coach Steve Rodriguez said he found out a week ago that the administration was looking into the matter, and he found out Wednesday that his team would be banned from the postseason. He met with his team shortly thereafter. [...] Continue Reading »
Before we get to this week's mailbag, there's plenty of news from the Pacific-10 Conference to pass along. The California baseball saga has taken another dramatic twist, as reports say the program is closing in on reinstatement. Former Cal player Stu Gordon, now a San Francisco attorney, has helped supporters of the program raise more than $9 million in pledges, and he met with chancellor Robert Birgeneau this week to present evidence of the fundraising efforts. A decision is expected by the end of this week, but Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour told the Silicon Valley Mercury News, "I'm very hopeful we're going to be able to keep baseball." And Doug Nickle of Save Cal Baseball told the paper he "cannot imagine a scenario" other than reinstatement.
This isn't the first time since the administration announced last September that it planned to cut baseball that the Golden Bears have thought they were close to reinstatement, but this time all signs are very encouraging.
Elsewhere, Oregon State pitching coach Nate Yeskie was arrested and cited for driving under the influence and reckless driving over the weekend. UC Santa Barbara assistant Jason Lefkowitz, in town for a series against the Beavers, was a passenger in the car, which was pulled over after Yeskie allegedly ran two red lights. The OSU administration had no comment on the personnel matter.
In the wake of yesterday's perfect game by Virginia righthander Will Roberts, it seems fitting that today's mailbag question deals with no-hitters:
How about those Seawolves of Stony Brook University? Two no-hitters now in the last five games! Are they the real deal?
Woodland Hills, Calif.
In Stony Brook coach Matt Senk's 31-year coaching career, he had never been involved with a no-hitter until March 18, when freshman Frankie Vanderka threw one against New Jersey Tech.
"So for it then to happen twice in a five-game span is just pretty mind-blowing, to say the least," Senk said. [...] Continue Reading »
Virginia junior righthander Will Roberts threw the first perfect game in school history in a 2-0 win against George Washington on Tuesday. He needed just 98 pitches to record the first Division I perfect game since Auburn's Eric Brandon did it in 2002. Since 1957, there have been just seven other nine-inning perfect games, and just 18 other perfect games of any length. Roberts' gem was also the second perfect game in Atlantic Coast Conference history (Maryland's Dick Reitz threw the last one in 1959 against Johns Hopkins).
Roberts struck out 10 and recorded 14 groundball outs, including the final out, a grounder to second baseman Keith Werman. That touched off a celebration around the mound, as teammates hoisted Roberts onto their shoulders.
"I had no idea what was going on," Roberts said of the celebration. "I felt people grabbing my legs and I had no idea what they were doing, and then they lifted me up. I wasn't really expecting that, but I have the best teammates in the nation. I am really happy for everybody. It is a team effort. It isn't just me."
In fact, the win was the 2,000th in UVa. history, and it improved the second-ranked Cavaliers to 25-2 on the season. Roberts improved to 5-0, 1.13 with 41 strikeouts and three walks in 40 innings, mostly as the midweek starter. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Mississippi State Announces Presence In Wild West
When Mississippi State faced Auburn a year ago, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 9-0 lead on Saturday, but could not hold it. The Tigers started to come back against freshman righthander Chris Stratton and finished the job against the MSU bullpen, winning 16-14 and going on to sweep the Bulldogs.
Contrast that Saturday with this past Saturday, when the Bulldogs again jumped out to a big lead against Auburn, scoring eight runs in the first. Stratton was on the mound again, and this time he held the Tigers at bay into the eighth inning, and MSU went on to sweep the series against 22nd-ranked Auburn.
The Bulldogs took their lumps on the mound over the last two years, but now all the work they have done to rebuild their pitching staff is paying off. Freshmen started 35 of Mississippi State's 56 games a year ago, when MSU finished 6-24 in the SEC, the second-worst record in the conference. But now those young arms have found their bearings, and they have led MSU to an 18-6 start, including a 4-2 mark in SEC play.
"We just really made our freshman guys into the leadership guys on the team last year, and for the most part, they got beat," Bulldogs coach John Cohen said. "But we were investing in all those freshmen—we just kept rolling them out there.
"Our mission No. 1 when we got here (in the summer of 2008): We feel like with our ballpark and the advent of the new bats in college baseball, we felt that pitching and defense was going to be the most important things we could do. So we have spent the majority of our scholarship aid and time and effort around defending the field and getting the very best arms we could get. I think we're starting to see the fruits of that labor." [...] Continue Reading »
• There were plenty of wild games Saturday, but none crazier than Fresno State's 3-2 win against San Diego—in 22 innings. The two teams combined for 39 hits, but neither could push across a run from the ninth (when Fresno scored twice to force extra innings) until the 22nd, when Danny Muno singled, stole second and scored on Garrett Weber's RBI single to left. There were no Austin Wood or Mike Belfiore performances (both pitchers went more than nine innings in the record 25-inning game between Texas and Boston College in 2009) on the mound for either team, but Paul Sewald went seven scoreless for USD, while Fresno got five shutout from Charlie Robertson.
The game lasted seven hours, 12 minutes—making it the longest game in Fresno State history by one hour, 45 minutes. The previous longest game in Fresno history by innings was a 17-inning affair in 1965. The Bulldogs clinched the series against USD and improved to 17-2 on the year. A couple of unusual lines: Dusty Robinson had three hits for the Bulldogs, but also had six strikeouts; Brennan Gowens drove in two of Fresno's three runs, but finished the game 1-for-11; San Diego's Zach Sullivan boosted his average the most, going 5-for-9. One other note: Originally, the teams were scheduled to play a doubleheader, but it was pared back to one game because of the weather. But instead of playing 16 innings (they were scheduled to play a seven-inning game, then a nine-inning game), they wound up playing 22. It was the third-longest game in Division I history, trailing only the 25-inning game between Texas and BC, and the 23-inning contest between Lafayette and McNeese State in 1971.
• Florida evened its series against South Carolina with a 2-1 win behind a complete-game gem from Hudson Randall (9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K), who improved to 4-0, 0.66 with a 25-1 K-BB mark in 41 innings. Freshman Forrest Koumas (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) pitched well in a spot start (scheduled starter Steven Neff experienced shoulder tenderness), but Kamm Washington greeted bullpen ace Matt Price with a solo home run leading off the seventh, propelling the Gators to the win. South Carolina will start lefthander Bryan Harper on Sunday against Karsten Whitson.
• Arizona State knotted up its series against rival Arizona with a 5-1 win behind Brady Rodgers (7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K). Xorge Carrillo's two-run double highlighted Arizona State's four-run second, and Rodgers made the early lead stand up.
• No. 2 Vanderbilt also evened its series at Arkansas with a 4-1 win behind Grayson Garvin (8 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K). Tony Kemp had three hits, and Jason Esposito had two RBIs to power the Commodores. [...] Continue Reading »
• Top-ranked Florida lost its first weekend game of the season, as No. 4 South Carolina earned a 9-2 win in Gainesville. All nine starters had at least one hit for the Gamecocks, led by Peter Mooney (3-for-5, 3 R, 2 RBI), and Michael Roth held the Gators to two runs over 8 1/3 innings despite allowing 10 hits. Brian Johnson (5.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER) took the loss.
• James McCann drove in two runs on an infield single in the eighth inning against Sonny Gray (8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 12 K), as Arkansas came from behind to beat No. 2 Vanderbilt, 2-1. Vandy shortstop Anthony Gomez knocked down McCann's grounder up the middle, allowing Bo Bigham to score easily from third, but Matt Reynolds never stopped running from second base and was able to beat the throw. The Hogs got a strong start from Cade Lynch (6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K), and D.J. Baxendale (2.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R) picked up the win in relief.
• No. 3 Virginia fared better than the two teams ranked ahead of it, riding a 10-run fourth inning to a 14-1 win against Maryland. Danny Hultzen (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K) improved to 5-0, and Chris Taylor drove in four to lead the offense.
• Arizona scored all five of its runs in the final four innings to earn a come-from-behind 5-2 win against Arizona State. Kurt Heyer (7.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 8 K) earned the win, and Matt Chaffee (1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R) picked up his second save, perhaps providing a glimpse of things to come at the back of Arizona's bullpen. Jett Bandy and Seth Mejias-Brean had three hits apiece to lead the offense. [...] Continue Reading »
Wichita State announced today that freshman lefthander Albert Minnis has been suspended for 50 percent of the 2011 season (30 games) for violating the NCAA's "no agent" rule. He began serving the suspension on Feb. 18 when the season began, so he will be eligible to play on April 6 against Alcorn State. The Shockers came to Minnis' defense, but the NCAA's Committee on Student-Athlete Reinstatement rejected the school's appeal on his behalf.
"Wichita State University is extremely disappointed for Albert Minnis and the Wichita State baseball program," director of athletics Eric Exton said in a statement. "Albert is an upstanding individual whose amateurism was compromised by his adviser. The University presented a strong case on Albert's behalf and it is disappointed in the outcome."
That's the news, now the takeaway. The NCAA's inconsistency and hypocrisy when it comes to applications of the "no agent" rule never cease to gall. For one thing, it makes no sense that Nebraska's Logan Ehlers and Minnis received different punishments for the same violation, under very similar circumstances (Ehlers was suspended for 60 percent of the season). According to Wichita State's release, Minnis never explicitly gave his adviser permission to speak with major league clubs on his behalf, but the NCAA ruled that he violated Bylaw 12.3.1 when his advisor initiated two phone calls and four text messages with a Braves scout after Atlanta drafted him in the 33rd round last year. The adviser did not negotiate on his behalf; the conversations related to when Minnis would pitch and how he performed when he did pitch. [...] Continue Reading »
• Arizona State bounced back from Tuesday's loss with a 10-1 win at Cal State Fullerton on Wednesday, splitting the two-game midweek set. Zach Wilson's three-run homer in the third broke open a 3-1 game, and Riccio Torrez (3-for-5, 3 R) was one of six Sun Devils to post multi-hit games. Alex Blackford (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) picked up the win for ASU.
• Florida State played its fifth straight extra-innings game, and took its fourth loss in that stretch, falling 6-4 against Stetson in 11 innings. Ryan Lashley doubled home a run and then scored in Stetson's two-run 11th, helping the Hatters improve to 18-4 on the season.
• Anthony Rendon, limited to DH duties most of this season with a shoulder strain, returned to third base in Rice's 7-2 win against Houston. Rendon went 1-for-3 with a double and an RBI. As he is one of the nation's premier defensive players, his return to the hot corner is obviously a huge boost for the Owls. [...] Continue Reading »
It's Wednesday, which means it's time to dip into the mailbag:
How good is Southern Miss? They have a great record and RPI, but they haven't played the toughest schedule. After beating College of Charleston and UConn this weekend, are they close to being a Top 25 team, and do you think they can win Conference USA?
Southern Miss fans take a lot of pride in their program, and they should. It's a very consistent program that has been to eight straight regionals, and it looks primed to extend that run this spring.
The Golden Eagles (15-4) had won seven straight games before losing to Louisiana-Monroe on Tuesday. They made some noise last weekend in Charleston, beating College of Charleston and Connecticut to help knock those two teams out of the Top 25, and winning a 15-inning marathon against Rhode Island. Senior closer Collin Cargill was sensational against URI, working 7 2/3 scoreless innings to pick up the win. Cargill is one of several key veterans performing at a high level this spring—he is 1-0, 0.00 with four saves through nine appearances. Southern Miss has a long tradition of successful submariner closers, and Cargill has been a rock at the back of the bullpen for three years, racking up 13 saves for USM's 2009 Omaha team and nine more as a junior last year.
"He's proved his worth, I can tell you that," Southern Miss coach Scott Berry said. "That's certainly who I want to get the ball to late in the game. He's a strike-thrower with tremendous sink from underneath. And he's tough to run on. Historically those guys are usually slow to the plate, but he's extremely quick to the plate, so he takes that stolen base away from you. And he's a good athlete—he's made a couple plays this year on the mound that he wouldn't have made two years ago. We're seeing the benefits of a fifth-year guy who's been in the program." [...] Continue Reading »
• Tuesday's showcase showdown was Cal State Fullerton's 7-3 win against Arizona State, a game I caught at Goodwin Field. Jake Floethe (7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) got the win for the Titans, pounding the Sun Devils with his 90-92 mph fastball that peaked at 94, and mixing in an occasional changeup and slider. Nick Ramirez got the Titans going with a two-run single in the first off Jake Barrett (3.1 IP, 7 H, 7 R, 6 ER), and he ended the game by getting Zack MacPhee to pop out with the bases loaded. The Titans chased Barrett with four runs in the fourth; Barrett showed good stuff (sitting at 92-93 and touching 94, with an 83-86 slider), but the Titans were aggressive at the plate and on the basepaths. It looks like Fullerton's offense is coming around. The two teams play again today.
One other note: injured Arizona State freshman Cory Hahn—rehabbing a neck injury in California—attended the game, and the Sun Devils say he is in good spirits. The team spent Monday visiting him.
"It was a great day," ASU coach Tim Esmay said. "We hadn't seen him in a couple weeks. The last time we saw him, he was sitting in a hospital bed. What was neat about it was we got to go in a room, shut the door, and it was just us, sitting like we were sitting in the clubhouse. So it allowed us to be normal around him, tell some jokes and let his personality come out. He has a tremendous personality. I think it was great for our kids to see that Cory's still Cory. And Cory's still part of the brotherhood and part of the program, part of what he was before the accident happened. It was just uplifting, it really was—it was inspirational. I told Cory, you're an inspiration to all of us, just the way you are."
• South Carolina pounded reeling College of Charleston, 24-4, behind a huge day from Adam Matthews (3-for-6, 2 HR, 8 RBI). Jackie Bradley Jr. also homered and drove in three, snapping out of an 0-for-21 skid. The Cougars have lost four straight. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Gators Prove Even Better Than Expected
Coming into the season, Florida looked like the team to beat in college baseball. The Gators earned the No. 1 spot in Baseball America's preseason Top 25, and coach Kevin O'Sulivan knew his team would be good. But his team's 18-2 start—which was punctuated with a midweek win against Florida State last week and a series sweep at Louisiana State this weekend—was beyond even O'Sullivan's expectations.
"If you'd have told me before the season started that we'd be 18-2 with the schedule we've played, I'd have said, 'No way,' " O'Sullivan said. "But the fact of the matter is, we won two one-run games (this weekend at LSU). Either one of those games could have gone either way. I think our pitching depth probably showed up yesterday in the 7-3 win . . . I told my guys to enjoy it. You don't go into LSU often and win a series, or get the opportunity to sweep them."
Florida's pitching staff figured to be one of the deepest in the nation, but the emergence of sophomore righthander Austin Maddox in the bullpen has made the Gators even better on the mound than expected—and who would have thought that was possible, given the outsized expectations? Maddox threw 4 1/3 shutout innings in relief of Karsten Whitson on Sunday, allowing just two hits and no walks while striking out three.
"He's 92-95, it's heavy, it's three pitches for strikes," O'Sullivan said. "With LSU's lineup being so dominant righthanded, we'd used (righties Anthony) DeSclafani and (Tommy) Toledo on Friday, we used (Greg) Larson and (Nick) Maronde on Saturday, so we were thinking, if we need a guy to bridge the gap if Whitson only goes five, we were just trying to get two innings from Maddox, then go to DeSclafani. But he went 4 1/3 and only threw 43 pitches." [...] Continue Reading »
• Florida clinched its second series win ever in Baton Rouge, beating Louisiana State 1-0. Hudson Randall (6.2 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K) and two relievers held the Tigers scoreless for the first time at the new Alex Box Stadium, while Kevin Gausman (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) was a tough-luck loser, allowing only one run on Daniel Pigott's first-inning RBI double.
• Virginia beat Florida State in 11 innings for the second straight day, 5-4, on Jared King's walk-off homer. It was Virginia's 13th straight win, and FSU's third straight loss—all on the road against top 10 teams in extra innings.
• Texas A&M pounded Oklahoma, 11-1. The Aggies rapped out 19 hits in support of So. RHP Michael Wacha (9 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K).
• South Carolina came from behind with single runs in each of the last two innings to beat Georgia, 2-1, evening the series. Scott Wingo hit a walk-off RBI infield single in the ninth.
• Matt Purke (5.1 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K) bounced back from his first collegiate loss, and Texas Christian rebounded from its first Mountain West Conference loss of the season, beating UNLV 12-2. [...] Continue Reading »
Friday was filled with highly anticipated showdowns that lived up to their billing. Here's a roundup:
• No. 1 Florida came from behind with three runs in the ninth to win the opener of its big series at No. 8 Lousiana State, 5-4. Mike Zunino tied the game at 3-3 with a solo homer off LSU closer Matty Ott, and Nolan Fontana hit a go-ahead two-run single later in the frame. LSU catcher Ty Ross hit a controversial RBI double off the left-field wall in the bottom of the frame, narrowly missing a game-tying home run. LSU Fr. RHP Kurt McCune (7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) turned in another strong start in a no-decision.
• No. 7 Virginia nipped No. 6 Florida State, 4-3, in 11 innings. Ace lefties Sean Gilmartin (7.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) and Danny Hultzen (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 12 K) both pitched well and both left with the score tied 3-3. The Cavs trailed 3-1 heading into the seventh, when Steven Proscia hit an RBI double then scored on a Reed Gragnani single. Proscia also came through with a walk-off RBI single in the 11th. Righty Justin Thompson (3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R) earned the win with stellar relief work.
• Michael Rocha (8.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 13 K) out-dueled John Stilson (7 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K) to lead Oklahoma to a 1-0 win against Texas A&M. The Sooners broke the scoreless tie on Garrett Buechele's RBI single up the middle in the seventh.
• Stony Brook Fr. RHP Frankie Vanderka made his second career start and threw the first no-hitter in program history, as the Seawolves beat New Jersey Tech 14-1. Vanderka struck out 13, walked two and allowed just an unearned run in the fifth. He retired the first 12 batters of the game, eight via strikeouts. [...] Continue Reading »
• No. 9 Arizona State completed a two-game midweek sweep of No. 3 Oklahoma with a 6-4 win Wednesday. So. RHP Jake Barrett struck out a career-high 11 over six strong innings to pick up his first win of the year. Preseason All-America second baseman Zack MacPhee led ASU's opportunistic offense, going 2-for-2 with two walks, a run and an RBI.
• Wichita State finished off a two-game midweek sweep of No. 11 Arizona, winning 8-3 in Wichita. Lefthander Charlie Lowell (6 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) picked up the win for the Shockers, who broke open a one-run game on Tyler Coughenour's three-run homer in the seventh.
• Presbyterian upset No. 16 Clemson, 4-3, giving the Blue Hose their first win against Clemson since 1949—though the teams met only five times in that span. The Tigers' fifth straight loss dropped them to 7-7 on the season. A wild pitch and an error led to an unearned run for the Blue Hose in the eighth inning, breaking a 3-3 tie. Clemson will try to get back on track this weekend, when it hosts Duke. Injuries have contributed to the slide; shortstop Brad Miller (who pinch-ran but was picked off in the ninth inning Wednesday) suffered a broken finger last Friday that will require at least two weeks to heal, and righthander Kevin Brady is expected to be sidelined until at least late March with a forearm strain.
• Rice continued its recent slide, losing 3-1 to Dallas Baptist in 11 innings. Jared Stafford held the Owls to a run on six hits over nine innings, and DBU won it on Tyler Robbins' two-run homer in the 11th. No. 25 Rice fell to 10-9 on the season, while DBU improved to 11-6, with notable wins over Oklahoma State, Texas Christian, Washington State and Rice. [...] Continue Reading »
This week's mailbag question was submitted via Twitter last week:
Vandy is 11-1 with only 3 HRs this season. Is the lack of long ball reason for concern?
Since Matt tweeted his question, Vanderbilt has improved to 17-1 and hit two more home runs. That gives the Commodores a whopping five on the season. And when I say "whopping," I'm only half-joking.
Consider this: With five homers in 18 games, Vanderbilt has as many home runs as No. 6 Virginia, No. 13 Cal State Fullerton and No. 22 UCLA combined. The Cavaliers and Titans have hit just one long ball apiece, while the Bruins and No. 19 Connecticut have hit just three. Vanderbilt also has more homers than No. 5 Texas and No. 14 Baylor, which have four apiece.
Twelve other ranked teams have 10 or fewer homers through four weeks. Just College of Charleston (22), Oklahoma (19) and Florida State (16) have hit more than 15 long balls.
The trend holds up nationwide, according to our friends at collegesplits.com. Through four weeks, Division I teams have homered in 1.7 percent of batted balls. That's down dramatically from 2.9 percent at this point a year ago. Scoring is also down, from 7.7 runs per game (per team) to 6.2.
It's a major mental adjustment, but fans need to get used to college baseball's new reality in the era of the BBCOR bats: The home run is simply not a necessity to win in this climate. Vanderbilt and Virginia are a combined 33-2 right now, and neither has played a cupcake schedule. [...] Continue Reading »
It was a particularly rich Tuesday in college baseball, chock full of marquee matchups and showdowns. Here's a rundown:
• No. 1 Florida finally figured out No. 5 Florida State, earning a come-from-behind, 5-4 victory in 10 innings in Gainesville. The Seminoles had won five of the six previous meetings between the teams, and they led 4-2 in the eighth inning Tuesday, but red-hot UF outfielder Daniel Pigott delivered a game-tying two-run single up the middle in the eighth, then came through again with a walk-off RBI single up the middle off All-American Mike McGee in the 10th. "This was really big for us," Pigott, who leads Florida with a .483/.508/.707 line and 18 RBIs, said in an on-field interview at the end of the FSN broadcast. "We needed something like this just to push our team through. We needed to break the spell of not beating Florida State and them getting the best of us. So it was really good, we really needed it for the team morale, and now we can go to LSU on a really high note and be really confident in our abilities."
• No. 9 Arizona State won the opener of its two-game midweek series against No. 3 Oklahoma, 6-2, in Tempe. Sun Devils ace Brady Rodgers, sideliend for the last three weekends with arm stiffness, returned to the mound and struck out five over three innings of one-hit, shutout work. Five different Sun Devils had RBIs in a balanced attack, and three ASU pitchers held Oklahoma's potent offense to just four hits.
• Jason Esposito homered and drove in four to lead No. 2 Vanderbilt past Purdue, 9-0. Lefthander Kevin Ziomek allowed just two hits over five scoreless, and Jack Armstrong made his first appearance of the season, striking out three and walking two in a scoreless ninth. Armstrong had been sidelined with a back injury.
• Furman upset No. 4 South Carolina, 4-2, in Greenville, S.C. Taylor Johnson had three hits to lead the Paladins (7-11), while the Gamecocks mustered just six hits and lost their second straight game—matching their longest losing streak in all of 2010. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Bulldogs Rally Around Taylor
LOS ANGELES—Tragedy has hit Georgia hard over the last two years. In the fall of 2009, freshman infielder Chance Veazey was paralyzed from the waist down in a motor scooter accident, and the loss took a major psychological toll on the Bulldogs. Then, last Sunday at Florida State, outfielder Johnathan Taylor suffered a major spinal cord injury in a collision with Zach Cone.
It was a gut-wrenching, terrifying loss for Georgia, but this time the Bulldogs have rallied around their injured comrade. With a picture of Taylor hanging in the dugout, Georgia has won five straight games since Taylor's injury, including a 3-0 weekend at the Dodgertown Classic to even its record at 8-8.
"Last year, when Chance Veazey—who was my roommate—got in that scooter accident, we didn't come back from it, we didn't respond the way we should have," sophomore shortstop Kyle Farmer said. "But this year, we wanted to change it around and respond the way we should, because J.T.'s a great player, a great life to this team. It's almost like he's with us now . . . We're real close, we're almost like a family."
Georgia played with energy and intensity Friday against UCLA and ace righthander Gerrit Cole, and the dugout erupted when Farmer connected on a high, 97 mph, 0-and-2 fastball for a three-run homer in the seventh inning. Cole had racked up 11 strikeouts through six perfect innings heading into the frame, but Georgia broke the game open in the seventh. After Levi Hyams broke up the no-hitter with a one-out double and Zach Cone's speed forced the Bruins into an error, Chase Davidson delivered a tie-breaking single through the right side, and Farmer followed with his blast to left field. That put the Bulldogs ahead 4-0 and propelled them to a 6-2 victory. [...] Continue Reading »
• No. 11 Virginia clinched a road series win against No. 10 Clemson with an 8-7 victory Saturday. Sr. RHP Tyler Wilson (5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) was solid in a no-decision for the Cavs, but Clemson surged ahead with four runs in the seventh against the UVa. bullpen. Virginia answered with three in the eighth to tie it, then won it on John Hicks' RBI single in the ninth.
• Louisiana State has proven that it is one of the nation's elite teams, clinching a series against Cal State Fullerton with a 7-6 win. After the Titans came from behind to tie the game with a pair of runs in the eighth, LSU went back ahead for good on Tyler Hanover's bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the frame. Freshmen carried the Tigers: Kevin Gausman (7 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) was solid on the mound, and JaCoby Jones had three hits.
• Arizona State clinched a road series win at Auburn with a 9-5 victory Saturday. Unheralded So. DH Joey DeMichele paced ASU's 17-hit attack with a 5-for-5 day (including three doubles), and Matt Newman had two homers and four RBIs.
• California trailed 6-1 after five innings but scratched out five runs over the next four innings to force extras against Rice. Both bullpens were outstanding thereafter, but Cal scored a run in the 15th to win 7-6. Kevin Miller threw seven innings of one-hit, shutout relief for the Golden Bears, and Kyle Porter got the win with four innings of one-hit ball.
• The most stunning result of the day—and probably the season—came in Fort Worth, where Houston Baptist improved to 1-14 with a 7-4 upset of No. 7 Texas Christian. Matt Purke (3.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) got the start and sustained his first career loss against a previously winless Houston Baptist club. Unbelievable. [...] Continue Reading »
Some highlights from Friday's college baseball action:
• Louisiana State held on to beat Cal State Fullerton, 7-6. Fr. RHP Kurt McCune (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) was strong for LSU, but the Titans rallied back to take a 4-3 lead against the Tigers' bullpen. LSU surged back ahead with four in the eighth inning against ace Noe Ramirez (7 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 9 K), highlighted by Grant Dozar's pinch-hit, two-run single.
• Virginia Jr. LHP/DH Danny Hultzen (6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 14 K) continued his utterly dominant start to the season in a 5-0 win at No. 10 Clemson. Hultzen also led the offense with two RBIs. On the season, he's 4-0, 0.66 with 50 strikeouts and four walks in 27 innings, and he's hitting .368/.447/.526 with a team-leading 15 RBIs. If the season ended today, he might be the front-runner for College Player of the Year honors.
• Fellow ACC lefty Sean Gilmartin (7 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K) also continued his hot start in Florida State's 3-1 win against Boston College.
• Sticking in the ACC, Georgia Tech's Mark Pope (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K) threw his second straight complete-game shutout in a 1-0 win against Maryland. Pope has now thrown 25 1/3 scoreless innings; he's 4-0, 0.29 on the season.
• Baylor Jr. RHP Logan Verrett (9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 K) might have posted the day's best pitching performance in a 7-0 win against Louisiana Tech. [...] Continue Reading »
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