Clemson coach Jack Leggett cleared the air with South Carolina coach Ray Tanner this morning, in the wake of Tanner's fiery comments after the Gamecocks beat the Tigers on Tuesday night. In a teleconference with reporters this afternoon, Leggett said he had a rough night of sleep Tuesday night, prompting him to call Tanner in the morning. He said the two had a good 45-minute talk.
"I think we both feel kind of bad that the great efforts of both of our teams last night were overshadowed by some of the events surrounding the game," Leggett said. "I wanted to get past that and get to the point where we could both start playing baseball and start moving on with the rest of our schedule. Obviously we're not going to agree on everything, but that's the nature of the rivalry . . . We both apologized a little bit to each other for some of the things that happened on both sides, some of the things that were said."
Leggett dodged questions about whether or not warming bats was a legitimate practice. The Tigers were suspicious when South Carolina bats were warm to the touch on Sunday, prompting Leggett to speak with the umpires about Jackie Bradley Jr.'s bat after he hit a home run. The Gamecocks said they simply left their bats in the sun, and they try to keep the bats as warm as possible to fight vibrations.
"It's not about any one player," Leggett said. "I do not want Jackie Bradley Jr. to take this as us trying to discredit anything he's done. He's one of the greatest players I've faced in 34 years in coaching. I would not want him to think that this was about his bat or his trying to do something in the wrong way."
In other Clemson news, righthander Kevin Brady, who exited Sunday's game after four innings, will be sidelined for two weeks with a strained forearm.
Speaking of arm issues, Arizona State ace Brady Rodgers has missed the last two weeks with tightness in his arm, but coach Tim Esmay told DevilsDigest.com that the sophomore righty is on the mend, and he wanted to pitch this past Sunday.
"He didn't have an opportunity to throw off the mound last week, he was throwing flat ground," Esmay told the website. "He threw a preparation for a start bullpen (Monday) and he felt good. That sounds to me like it is getting better and better."
This week's mailbag question also deals with arm injuries:
Hey Aaron, Glad to see Tulane back in the top 25. Their pitching has clearly been fantastic. However, Randy LeBlanc and Robby Broach both were injured this weekend. Any news on what the extent of those injuries are? What are your thoughts on the Tulane vs. Wichita State series this weekend?
Washington, D.C. [...] Continue Reading »
Nebraska freshman lefthander Logan Ehlers has been suspended for 60 percent of the regular season because his adviser had contact with a professional team on his behalf last summer. Nebraska is appealing the NCAA's ruling, but as it stands Ehlers will not be eligible until April 12.
"The things Logan has done and they've decided to go through the process on are such minute and fine things," Cornhuskers coach Mike Anderson told Baseball America. "We believe Logan did things right. We're talking about contact that did not involve any negotiations—zero. And we're talking about Logan setting a number and not wavering from the number through the summer to be here. We think Logan did things right the entire time."
Ehlers was an eighth-round pick by the Blue Jays out of Nebraska City (Neb.) High last June. He reportedly turned down an $800,000 offer from the club, but his adviser broke the NCAA's "no agent" rule when he had contact with Toronto in the Cape Cod League.
"We're talking about a 30-second contact in the Cape Cod League," Anderson said. "The question was asked, 'Is the number still the same?' The answer was yes. I think Logan's honesty really hurt him with the NCAA." [...] Continue Reading »
Just when you thought the Clemson-South Carolina rivalry couldn't get more emotional, tensions ratcheted up to a fever pitch this weekend. South Carolina took offense when Clemson coach Jack Leggett questioned Jackie Bradley's bat after a home run Sunday, and the Gamecocks bristled more when Clemson's Will Lamb called South Carolina lefthander Tyler Webb "soft" after the game.
Due to Saturday's rain postponement, the Gamecocks had a day to stew before the finale was played Tuesday in Greenville. Starters David Haselden (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K) of Clemson and Adam Westmoreland (5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) both pitched well in no-decisions, but the Gamecocks surged ahead on Jake Williams' pinch-hit three-run homer in the seventh. Clemson battled back with three runs in the ninth, but Gamecocks closer Matt Price struck out pinch-hitter Jon McGibbon with the tying run at third base to close out a 5-4 win. The Gamecocks have now won 14 of their last 20 against Clemson, but Tuesday's victory was among the most emotional. The Anderson (S.C.) Independent Mail provides a great overview of the entire controversy; here are a few highlights from Tanner's postgame press conference:
"The whole thing was a bunch shenanigans,” Tanner said. “I don’t think that’s what this rivalry should be about. It’s two very good baseball teams at the collegiate level playing against each other. That’s where it should start and that’s where it should end. That’s the way I feel."
"(Leggett) called the bat out. I guess when (Clemson’s Richie) Shaffer hit one 600 feet (Tuesday) I should’ve gone out there. I didn’t appreciate it, I’m offended by it. I don’t cheat. I don’t allow my players to cheat. I haven’t done anything wrong. I felt like we were called out a little bit.” [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: It's Always About Pitching For Texas
AUSTIN—Augie Garrido was positively beaming as he greeted a throng of reporters on the turf at UFCU Disch-Falk Field on Sunday. The Texas coach alternately cracked jokes, waxed philosophical and analyzed his team's big series win against Stanford.
Ace Taylor Jungmann did the heavy lifting on Friday, as usual, falling just an out shy of his third straight complete game in Texas' 4-3 win. But that's nothing new; the Longhorns must expect to win every Friday behind the overpowering Jungmann, one of college baseball's most accomplished and talented pitchers.
No, the story of the weekend for Texas was the way it bounced back Sunday from an ugly 9-2 loss Saturday, during which senior righty Cole Green struggled and the team committed five errors.
"It's a little bit different than it's been the last two years—we've got some young guys starting, which is different. But we have good character, and we're working well as a team," junior shortstop Brandon Loy said. "We've just got to cut out some of these bad losses we're having. It's one thing if you come out and don't play good, and the other team plays better than us and beats us. But to come out and don't play well and get beaten 9-1, 10-1, whatever it is—we can't have those games. But then again, we came out and bounced back and had a good win (Sunday)."
Sunday was a different story. The defense was crisper, the pitching was better, and the result was a 4-2 win.
"It's always important to turn a game like yesterday around and see how the team's going to respond, and I think we responded the way we would hope for it to," Garrido said. "We got quality pitching out of Sam Stafford, and then the relief was what we needed to keep their team under control." [...] Continue Reading »
College baseball is dealing with another scary neck injury. Two weeks after Arizona State's Cory Hahn was hurt in a collision at second base, Georgia outfielders Johnathan Taylor and Zach Cone collided head-on while trying to catch a line drive against Florida State. Cone was able to stand with help from trainers, but Taylor never moved and had to be taken by stretcher and ambulance to St. Mary's Hospital, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported.
Bulldogs coach David Perno declined to give specifics on Taylor's injury, but he did tell Baseball America that the junior cannot feel his legs. He will have surgery mid-morning Monday, Perno said, and will go to the Shepherd Center for spinal cord injury rehabilitation later in the week.
“We’ll know more about J.T. (Johnathan Taylor) in the next 24 to 48 hours, and Zach is going to be okay,” Perno said after the game, per the AJC. “J.T. is a very special kid, and he’s very tough. You don’t see collisions on line drives, sometimes on pop-ups, but they both were going full-speed and they both could’ve made the catch. It was great effort.”
"I'm just worried about that young man," FSU coach Mike Martin said after the game. "That's just heart-breaking. I've seen two people run together before . . . but that one was just a nightmare."
HOUSTON—Saturday's final game at the Houston College Classic lasted just one hour, 45 minutes, making it the shortest game in the tournament's history by 25 minutes. Texas A&M sophomore righthander Michael Wacha and Rice freshman righty Austin Kubitza simply pounded the strike zone, and Kubitza was spectacularly efficient in the Owls' 1-0 win.
Kubitza needed just 88 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout of the Aggies, and 66 of those pitches were strikes. He struck out seven and scattered six hits. Not only did he issue zero walks, but he did not even go to a single 2-and-0 count all night.
"I'd look up there, and I don't think I ever remember him throwing a ball, it seemed like," Wacha said of Kubitza. "He was just pumping the strike zone, and that's how you have to do it."
In front of a large crowd in a major league stadium, the freshman Kubitza was not intimidated. Quite the opposite, in fact.
"After our (pregame) prayer huddle, everyone was like, 'Oh, he's scared,' " Kubitza said. "I was like, 'Hey, I'm pitching a shutout, y'all just need to get me a run.' Everything was just there for me, and they scored the run for me I needed." [...] Continue Reading »
• South Carolina won the first game of this weekend's big showdown series against Clemson, 6-3. Michael Roth (7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) improved to 3-0 for the Gamecocks, who hit three home runs, including Christian Walker's third of the year, a two-run shot in the fifth to put South Carolina ahead for good.
• Taylor Jungmann (8.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 9 K) finally gave up a few runs and fell an out short of his third straight complete game, but he still improved to 3-0 in Texas' 4-3 win against Stanford. Mark Appel (7.1 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) pitched well but fell to 0-2 for the Cardinal.
• Aces turned in gems all over the place Friday. UCLA's Gerrit Cole (9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K) bounced back from a loss to San Jose State last week by taking a perfect game into the seventh against Nebraska, and the Bruins won 1-0 in 11 innings. The Cornhuskers got six innings of one-hit ball from talented freshman Jon Keller.
• Vanderbilt's Sonny Gray (9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 15 K) needed just 106 pitches to rack up a career high in strikeouts in a 3-1 win against Brown.
• Oregon's Tyler Anderson struck out 14 in a 5-0 win against Long Beach State, allowing six hits and three walks over eight shutout innings. [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON—It was a good day to be a top prospect at the Houston College Classic. Logan Verrett and Brooks pinckard shined for Baylor in Friday's first game. John Stilson pitched very well in a no-decision for Texas A&M, and C.J. Cron reached base five times for Utah in the second game. And the best prospect in college baseball—Anthony Rendon—had three hits, two runs and an RBI to lead Rice to an 8-7 win against Kentucky in the third game.
Both of Rendon's first two hits were lasers to left field—a double down the line on a 1-and-2 pitch from lefthander Taylor Rogers in the first, and a single to left on a 2-2 offering in the third. He battled back from an 0-2 hole in that at-bat, then hit a couple of hard foul balls before whipping his bat through the zone for a line-drive single.
"I guess the first couple pitches in the count, I'm just trying to swing as hard as I can, put the barrel on the ball," Rendon said. "Good things will happen when you swing hard, you have good bat speed and you put the barrel on it, obviously. Then with two strikes, I like to open up a little bit, keep my weight back a lot more so I'll see the ball longer, then I'll try to spray wherever the pitch is going." [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON—Preseason All-Americans John Stilson and C.J. Cron were the main prospect attractions in the day's second game here at Minute Maid Park. Stilson pitched well for Texas A&M, and Cron hit well for Utah, but both were upstaged by Utes pitchers Rick Anton and Tyler Wagner, who carried Utah to a 2-1 win, its first of the season.
Anton, a senior lefthander, allowed just one run on five hits and a walk while striking out eight over seven strong innings. Wagner, a sophomore righty, followed with two scoreless innings to pick up the save.
The Aggies threatened repeatedly, but Anton and Wagner made big pitches in big spots. Six times A&M put its leadoff man aboard but failed to score. A&M stranded three runners at third base and two more at second. All told, the Aggies were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position and 1-for-18 with runners on base. [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON—As usual, the Houston College Classic is a feast for scouts, with six teams stocked with plenty of quality prospects. No fewer than eight major league scouting directors numbered among the dozens of scouts in attendance Friday at Minute Maid Park, and the first game of the day gave them a look at a pair of potential top-three-rounds picks in Baylor junior righties Logan Verrett and Brooks Pinckard. Both pitched well in Baylor's 5-2 win against Houston.
Verrett admitted he was feeling some jitters taking the mound in a big league park, and he worked at 87-90 mph in the first inning. Soon he settled into the 89-91 range and topped out at 92. He located his fastball well and mixed in an 82-85 mph slider, and a few changeups later.
"I was pleased with the start after the first two innings—I kind of settled down, got in my groove, and just played catch with Joey (Hainsfurther)," Verrett said. "The first time through the lineup, we started everyone off with fastballs, trying to get ahead. They caught onto that, and started putting balls in play, so we started mixing it up, just to keep them off balance." [...] Continue Reading »
Some highlights from Wednesday's games:
• Florida International junior righthander Ryan Fitzpatrick threw a no-hitter in a 4-0 win against Northeastern. It was the fifth no-hitter in FIU history, but the first nine-inning no-hitter since the program joined Division I in 1983. Fitzpatrick faced just one batter over the minimum, allowing one walk and striking out five.
"In the sixth or seventh inning I looked up there and there were no hits so I was like 'All right, just keep on going,'" Fitzpatrick said. "The defense was great. I would get the ground balls and they just took care of me. This doesn't happen very often at all. I guess I got lucky."
• In the showdown of the day, Coastal Carolina topped College of Charleston, 12-3, behind a career-high 12 strikeouts from So. RHP Josh Conway and a two-homer, six-RBI day from Daniel Bowman. It was the first loss of the season for the Cougars, while Coastal broke out of its offensive slump to improve to 5-4. [...] Continue Reading »
It's Wednesday, so let's dip into the mailbag. Reminder: you can submit questions to my weekly mailbag via Twitter (@aaronfitt) or by e-mailing firstname.lastname@example.org. This week's question deals with a certain high-profile Rice Owl:
It sounds like Anthony Rendon is swinging the bat the way we expect but are there any lingering effects from his ankle injuries defensively? I saw him last year against USD and was as impressed by his fielding as his hitting.
Rendon, the reigning College Player of the Year, has been slowed in the early going not by his surgically repaired ankle, but by his right shoulder. He strained a muscle during a preseason stretching exercise, then played through the discomfort during the opening weekend against Stanford. The strain has affected his throwing, but not his hitting, so he has spent the last four games at DH. He has continued to produce offensively, hitting .387/.525/.613 with two homers through nine games.
"He can really hit—the bat's fine," a National League scout said. "He's a hard guy to get out." [...] Continue Reading »
Showdown of the day:
Florida State continued its recent mastery of Florida, handing the top-ranked Gators their first loss of the season, 5-3 at Tampa's Steinbrenner Field. The Seminoles have won five of the last six meetings between the two clubs, including an elimination game in last year's College World Series. FSU scored five runs in the third inning, highlighted by Jayce Boyd's two-run triple into the teeth of a 30 mph wind and off the left-field fence. RHP Scott Sitz (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) earned the win, and Mike McGee struck out the side in the ninth to end it.
• Arizona over Rice, 10-8. The Wildcats gave Friday starter Kurt Heyer the start and got 2 2/3 scoreless innings from him, but hard-throwing lefty Bryce Bandilla earned the win in relief with 1 2/3 hitless innings. Robert Refsnyder and Josh Garcia had three hits and three RBIs apiece to lead the Arizona offense, which also took advantage of two Rice errors to score six unearned runs.
• Louisiana State over Southeastern Louisiana, 7-3, behind a strong start from Tyler Jones (6.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) and three hits from Mason Katz. The game's actual attendance was 7,903, a record for a midweek game at Alex Box Stadium. [...] Continue Reading »
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