Showdown Friday in the Atlantic Coast Conference leads off our look at the highlights from the day's action in college baseball. We'll try to touch on all of the Top 25 teams, as well as some other big series.
• Midseason Player of the Year Danny Hultzen (8 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K) improved to 7-0 in No. 2 Virginia's 6-2 win at No. 14 Georgia Tech, in a battle of 11-1 ACC teams. The Yellow Jackets actually carried a 1-0 lead into the seventh, when David Coleman put Virginia ahead with a three-run homer off Mark Pope (7.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K).
• In the other clash of ACC powers, No. 7 Florida State rallied past No. 16 North Carolina, 5-3. Both teams got solid work from their aces—FSU's Sean Gilmartin (7.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) and UNC's Patrick Johnson (6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K)—but both got no-decisions, as UNC took the lead on Colin Moran's two-run homer in the eighth, only to see Florida State answer with three in the bottom of the frame. James Ramsey doubled home a run to tie the game, then scored the go-ahead run on Jayce Boyd's sacrifice fly. The Tar Heels put runners at second and third with two outs in the ninth, but FSU closer Mike McGee struck out UNC star Levi Michael to end it.
• Bryan Radziewski (5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) out-dueled Cory Mazzoni (7.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 11 K) in Miami's 4-1 win against North Carolina State.
• No. 19 Oregon State won the first game of its big series against No. 5 Arizona State, 5-3 in Corvallis. Ace Sam Gaviglio (9 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) went the distance to improve to 6-1 for the Beavers, who surged ahead with four runs in the seventh, highlighted by Ryan Dunn's two-run double.
• It was a great day for California, as the school's administration scrapped its plans to cut the program after the season, but the No. 13 Golden Bears coughed up a late lead in a 5-4 loss at No. 22 Arizona. Aces Erik Johnson (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 11 K) and Kurt Heyer (8.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 11 K) were strong in no-decisions, but Arizona got to Cal closer Matt Flemer for three in the ninth, as Josh Garcia delviered a game-tying two-run double and scored on Jett Bandy's walk-off single. The Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak, but it's worth noting that they won the opener of each of their last two Pac-10 series also, but proceeded to lose the next two games both weekends.
• Oregon might have been the most disappointing team of the season's first half, and the Ducks might have hit rock bottom Friday, losing 4-3 in 14 innings in a home game against Washington, which entered the contest with a 7-19 record. The Ducks have lost six of their last seven games to fall to 14-13 overall and 0-4 in the Pac-10.
• No. 11 Stanford and No. 24 UCLA each got complete games from their aces in road wins. Seven Cardinal hitters posted mutli-hit days in support of Mark Appel (9 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) in Stanford's 8-1 win at Southern California. I was on hand at Dedeaux Field and will have plenty more on Appel and the Cardinal in Monday's Three Strikes. Gerrit Cole (9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) posted a nearly identical line in UCLA's 3-1 win at Washington State.
• In a clash of 7-2 SEC teams, No. 1 Vanderbilt cruised past No. 21 Alabama, 11-3. The Commodores rapped out 15 hits against Alabama ace Nathan Kilcrease (4 IP, 6 R, 5 ER) and two relievers, helping Sonny Gray (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) improve to 7-1 on the season.
• Mississippi State pulled off a big upset win against No. 4 Florida, 7-5, in Starkville. The Bulldogs jumped on previously untouchable Florida ace Hudson Randall (2.1 IP, 9 H, 6 ER) for four runs in the first, capped by Jonathan Ogden's two-run homer, and four relievers held the Gators to one unearned run over the final six innings. Mississippi State has a young club, and it showed impressive resilience after getting swept at Georgia last week, first winning a midweek game against red-hot Southern Miss, then beating Randall and the Gators
• D.J. Baxendale (5 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K) moved back into the Friday starter spot for Arkansas, and he combined with two relievers to shut out No. 17 Louisiana State, 2-0. LSU freshman ace Kurt McCune (7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K) pitched well in his first career defeat, as Dominic Ficociello's solo homer in the sixth broke a scoreless tie. It was the first career homer for the talented Ficociello, who will hit plenty more in his career.
• Colby Holmes (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K) turned in a gem to lead No. 3 South Carolina to a 3-0 win at Tennessee, clinching the series. South Carolina's weekend rotation looks to be solidifying thanks to the emergence of Holmes and freshman Forrest Koumas. Holmes has 11 strikeouts and no walks over 12 innings in starts over the last two weeks, during which he has allowed just two runs.
• It wasn't easy, but Georgia stayed hot, earning a 9-8 road win against Mississippi. Jordan Poole's two run in the ninth cut Georgia's lead to a run, but closer Tyler Maloof retired the next three batters to earn his nation-leading 12th save in characteristically adventurous fashion. Zach Cone had two hits and two RBIs to lead Georgia, which has won six straight and is sitting pretty at 7-3 in the SEC.
• Auburn snapped its four-game losing streak with a much-needed 12-9 win at Kentucky, which fell to 2-8 in SEC play. Casey McElroy (4-for-5, 2 R, 5 RBI, 2B) led a 16-hit attack for the Tigers.
• Taylor Jungmann (8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 10 K) improved to 7-0 in Texas' 11-3 win at Baylor. Jungmann has lasted eight or more innings in seven of his eight starts. Logan Verrett (5.1 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) fell to 3-3 for scuffling Baylor, which has lost seven of its past nine, scoring three runs or fewer in all seven losses. The Bears were supposed to be one of the Big 12's most offensive teams.
• The other two Big 12 powers ranked in the top 10 were upset on the road. John Stilson (5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K), was solid in a no-decision for No. 6 Texas A&M, but Texas Tech scored single runs against the bullpen in the seventh and eighth, then won it on Kelby Tomlinson's walk-off RBI single in the 12th. Texas Tech relief ace John Neely (4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) earned the win—he now has eight wins and three saves in 16 relief appearances over 33 innings. Neely is 8-0, 2.45 with 36 strikeouts and six walks in 33 innings.
• Kansas State knocked off No. 10 Oklahoma, 2-0 in Manhattan, handing OU ace Michael Rocha (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER) his first loss of the season. Ace Kyle Hunter (7.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 2 K) was strong for the Wildcats, who improved to 3-7 in conference play but now have back-to-back wins against Texas A&M and Oklahoma. And it's worth mentioning that K-State's conference schedule was front-loaded, with series at Texas and Baylor the first two weekends, followed by home sets against the Aggies and Sooners. If Kansas State can win another game this weekend to take the series, it should be in pretty good shape to make a run at a third straight regional.
• No. 22 Oklahoma State got back on track after back-to-back losses, beating Missouri 3-2. Mike Strong (6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER) was solid in a no-decision, and the Cowboys broke a 2-2 tie in the ninth, when Zach Johnson scored the winning run on an error by Missouri shortstop Jesse Santo.
• Rice won the opener of its big series at East Carolina, 2-1. Freshman ace Austin Kubitza (5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 11 K) was stellar for the Owls, and Tony Cingrani (3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K) picked up the win with dominant relief work, as Michael Fuda broke a 1-1 tie with a seventh-inning RBI single off ECU ace Seth Maness (6.2 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K).
• Memphis came from behind to upset No. 18 Southern Mississippi, 6-5. The nation's leader in batting and OBP, Chad Zurcher, drew his third walk of the night to lead off the ninth for Memphis, which scored two runs in the frame on second baseman Isaac Rodriguez's throwing error. T.J. Rich went 4-for-4 for Memphis, a dangerous sleeper that improved to 18-11 overall, 2-2 in C-USA.
• It took him seven tries, but Rick Jones finally picked up his 1,000th career victory in Tulane's 10-8 win at Central Florida. The Knights led 8-4 after seven innings, but the Green Wave rallied with three in each of the next two frames, capped by Jeremy Schaffer's game-winning three-run homer in the ninth. Injury-ravaged Tulane had lost six straight heading into the game, getting off to a 1-5 start in C-USA play.
Around The Nation
• UC Irvine blasted No. 12 Cal State Fullerton, 15-3, to win the opener of the Big West rivalry series in Fullerton. The Anteaters put up back-to-back five-spots in the third and fourth to chase Titans starter Jake Floethe (3.1 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 4 ER). Senior Sean Madigan (3-for-6, 4 RBI) led Irvine's 16-hit attack in support of Matt Summers (7.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K). The Titans send ace Noe Ramirez to the mound Saturday.
• New Mexico stunned No. 15 Texas Christian, 10-5 in Forth Worth. TCU ace Kyle Winkler (6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) exited with a 3-2 lead after six, but the Lobos erupted for eight runs against the TCU bullpen, taking the lead for good on Luke Campbell's two-run double in the eighth. New Mexico is just 10-20 overall, but it improved to 5-2 in the Mountain West Conference, moving into a tie with TCU for first place.
• San Jose State upset No. 9 Fresno State, 3-1, in the WAC opener for both teams. Roberto Padilla (8.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 7 K) outlasted Greg Gonzalez (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K), and Tim Quiery delivered a tie-breaking two-run single in the eighth for the Spartans. Padilla, you might recall, threw a complete game against UCLA in Week Two to give Trevor Bauer his only loss of the season.
• Tyler Ray (6.2 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K) started a combined shutout for the second straight Friday, as No. 20 Troy beat Florida International 4-0 in a big Sun Belt Conference showdown.
• No. 25 Stetson came from behind with four runs in the seventh to beat Kennesaw State, 6-3. The Hatters improved to 10-3 in the Atlantic Sun.
• Our midseason pick to win the Big Ten, Michigan State, beat our preseason Big Ten pick, Minnesota, 4-2. Jeff Holm (2-for-4, 3B, 2 RBI, SB) led the MSU offense behind Kurt Wunderlich (6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K).
• Our midseason pick to win the West Coast Conference, Gonzaga, beat our preseason WCC pick, San Diego, 10-2. Two-way talent Marco Gonzales had four hits and two RBIs in support of Ryan Carpenter (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 9 K).
• Jason Wheeler (9 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K) threw his first career complete-game shutout in Loyola Marymount's 3-0 win at Santa Clara. The Lions and Gonzaga look more and more like the top contenders for the WCC crown as conference play begins this weekend.
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