In our Under The Radar segment last March, we wrote about Harford (Md.) CC lefthander Jamie Pashuck, who threw no-hitters in back-to-back starts. Paschuck is now at Maryland, but Harford keeps on throwing no-hitters.
Last week, the Fighting Owls recorded a pair of run rule-shortened no-hitters in a span of five days.
"It's amazing, amazing," Harford coach Tom Eller said. "It hasn't sunk in yet that it's been two in one week."
Freshman righthander Taylor Nace earned his first collegiate win by throwing a seven-inning no-hitter Wednesday against Delaware County, striking out 11 batters while walking six but allowing just one to reach second base. Eller describes Nace as "just a straight power guy" who pitches heavily off a high-80s to low-90s fastball, but he mixes in a curveball, slider and changeup.
On Sunday, in the second game of Harford's doubleheader sweep of Jamestown, freshman righthander Matt Petrizzi struck out six during a five-inning no-hitter (shortened because of the 10-run rule) in his first collegiate start. Petrizzi worked in the 84-87 mph range and mixed in a good curveball, Eller said. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Give Me Liberty . . .
Jim Toman never thought his Liberty team would be sitting at 16-2 at this point in the season with a team that returned just three everyday regulars and just one pitcher who threw more than 30 innings a year ago. And after the Flames took three out of four from a talented (but struggling) St. John's team that went to a regional last year and entered this season just outside the Top 25, it's time to recalibrate expectations for Liberty.
The Flames, whose resume also includes an 8-0 midweek win at Virginia, have played well in all facets through the first month of the season, hitting .309 as a team, fielding .983 and posting a 2.37 ERA.
"We've got a pretty good squad," Toman said. "The guys are playing well, finding ways to win. It's a whole new team, and we've had just enough hitting, pitching and fielding to win."
Toman prefers to construct his teams with about two-thirds junior-college transfers and one-third freshmen, so that an inexperienced team isn't necessarily a young team. That is the case this year, as Liberty plays just one freshman regularly—talented slugging first baseman Alex Close, who hit two homers in a midweek game at Old Dominion last week.
Not only are the top four hitters in the lineup juco products, but they all came from the same school: Bellevue (Wash.) CC. Liberty has mined the Northwest since Scott Jackson (now at North Carolina) was its recruiting coordinator. The Flames have had particular success finding religious-minded players who share Liberty's values at Bellevue. [...] Continue Reading »
Top 25 Showdowns
• (5) Rice at (2) Stanford: The Cardinal clinched its third series win against an opponent ranked inside the top 15, mashing its way to an 11-6 win against Rice. Brian Ragira (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI) and Austin Wilson (2-for-4, R, 4 RBI) both homered in support of Brett Mooneyham (6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 9 K), who improved to 4-0. Austin Kubitza (3 IP, 8 H, 7 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) struggled for the third straight week for the Owls, who got a nice day from Michael Fuda (3-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR, 2B) in defeat. Noteworhty: Stanford Jr. OF Jake Stewart missed his second straight game with a back injury and is considered day to day.
• (8) North Carolina at (20) Clemson: The Tar Heels broke a 3-3 tie with three runs in the ninth to clinch a big road series with a 6-3 win. Tommy Coyle (3-for-5, 2 R) and Parks Jordan (2-for-3, R, 2 RBI) led the UNC offense, and Michael Morin worked a scoreless ninth for his fourth save in five days.
• (16) UCLA at (9) Georgia: The Bruins, like the Tar Heels, clinched the road series with a 7-6 win, extending their winning streak to nine games. Red-hot Jeff Gelalich went 3-for-4 to lead the UCLA offense, boosting his season line to .500/.574/.780 in 50 at-bats. The Bulldogs moved Sr. RHP Michael Palazzone to the bullpen with closer Tyler Maloof sidelined for at least another month, and Palazzone (2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER) took the loss in relief of Pete Nagel (5 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 1 ER), as four Georgia errors led to four unearned runs.
• (19) Cal State Fullerton at (6) Texas A&M: Play was postponed with the score tied 5-5 heading into extra innings. Krey Bratsen has gotten on track for the Aggies; his two-run triple highlighted A&M's three-run second inning, but the Titans took their first lead of the series in the sixth, thanks in part to a pair of A&M errors. [...] Continue Reading »
Top 25 Showdowns
• (5) Rice at (2) Stanford: Justin Ringo's walk-off, two-run homer in the 10th inning gave the Cardinal a 4-2 win. Mark Appel (9 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 14 K) was overpowering in a no-decision for Stanford, and Matthew Reckling (6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K) turned in another strong outing for Rice, as each team managed just five hits. Appel reitred the final 11 batters he faced, finishing his outing by strikeout out the side to set a new career high for strikeouts.
• (19) Cal State Fullerton at (6) Texas A&M: Tyler Naquin (3-for-4, 2 RBI) led a 13-hit attack in support of Michael Wacha (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K), as the Aggies won the series opener 6-1. The Titans mustered just four hits, and Dylan Floro (4 IP, 8 H, 4 ER) wasn't his best.
• (16) UCLA at (9) Georgia: Trevor Brown's two-run homer in the fourth inning provided all the support Adam Plutko (9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K) needed in UCLA's 2-0 win. Jeff Gelalich went 4-for-4 for the Bruins, who handed Alex Wood (6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) his first loss.
• (8) North Carolina at (20) Clemson: The Tar Heels broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the sixth and held on for a 4-3 win. Kent Emanuel (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) improved to 4-0, while Kevin Brady (5.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) took his first loss, as Clemson lost its fourth straight Friday game. [...] Continue Reading »
Aaron Fitt spoke recently with Baylor 1B Max Muncy for our newest In The Dugout feature.
Top 25 Showdowns
• Scott Sitz (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R) and three relievers combined on a five-hit shutout, leading No. 12 Florida State to a 1-0 win over No. 18 Central Florida and a sweep of the two-game midweek series. Jayce Boyd's solo homer in the fourth inning against Ray Hanson (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) provided all of the scoring.
Top 25 Upsets
• Georgia State beat No. 10 Georgia Tech 5-4, the Panthers' second straight win against a ranked Yellow Jackets squad and their fourth in the last six years. Freshman Max Schmitz (5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER) earned the win, and Georgia State shortstop Caden Bailey snagged a line drive with two outs and the tying run on third base in the ninth to preserve the win.
• No. 23 Mississippi State came from behind to beat Penn State, 10-6, but lost two more key players to injury. Center fielder/lefthander C.T. Bradford left with a shoulder injury while diving into second base in the fifth inning. Then, in the seventh, third baseman Daryl Norris left with an apparently serious knee injury.
"Those are two guys who are really playing at the height of their ability right now and two guys who are giving us a whole lot," MSU coach John Cohen told the Starkville Daily News. "It is a very expensive win and it is disappointing that those kinds of things happen, but you can't control them and when kids are playing hard, those kinds of things happen."
Bradford and Norris join No. 1 starter Ben Bracewell and senior outfielder Brent Brownlee on the shelf. [...] Continue Reading »
Indiana junior second baseman Micah Johnson, a third-team preseason All-American, was slated to have elbow surgery today that could sideline him for the remainder of the season, though he hopes to return in May.
Johnson returned from the Cape Cod League last summer with soreness in his elbow, and the pain never subsided as the Hoosiers hoped, and he went just 3-for-21 as the team's DH this year.
"Realistically, I don't know what that bodes for us in terms of us getting him back this season or not," Indiana coach Tracy Smith told the Indiana Daily Student. "We will see how it goes with his rehab. He is going to go ahead and take care of it now and get himself right because it was a declining performance for him based on how he was feeling."
Johnson hit .335/.402/.474 with 19 stolen bases in 22 tries as a sophomore last year, and his quick-twitch athleticism helped him rank No. 92 in BA's preseason College Top 100 Prospects list for the 2012 draft.
Top 25 Showdowns
• No. 21 Texas State kept rolling, extending its winning streak to seven with a 3-2 win against No. 5 Rice on Tyler Sibley's two-run, walk-off single in the ninth. Mitchell Pitts (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K) became Texas State's eighth consecutive starting pitcher to avoid giving up an earned run, stretching Texas State's scoreless streak to 57 2/3 innings (six shy of the NCAA record) before the Owls broke through with a run in the eighth against reliever Dylan Adamek. Andrew Benak (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 10 K) turned in another midweek gem in a no-decision for Rice, striking out 10 for the second time in three starts.
• James Ramsey (4-for-5, R, 2 RBI) had two hits in No. 12 Florida State's decisive seven-run sixth inning, as the Seminoles erased an early 4-0 deficit to beat No. 18 Central Florida, 7-6. Chris Taladay had three hits and two RBIs in a losing cause for the Knights.
Top 25 Upsets
• Texas Tech broke open a 4-1 game with four runs in the seventh to knock off No. 11 Arizona State, 8-4. John Neely (3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) picked up the win with solid relief work, and the Red Raiders made good use of a balanced 10-hit attack. [...] Continue Reading »
Texas State coach Ty Harrington knew it would be a challenge to replace two-time Southland Conference pitcher of the year Carson Smith this spring. But in some ways, he thought his 2012 pitching staff had a chance to be even better.
"We lost Carson Smith, and anytime you lose somebody of that quality you wonder who's going to replace him," Harrington said. "We felt like we have more depth on the mound, and thought we had a chance to match people up as games went on, which we haven't been able to do in the past. To be honest with you, our bullpen's been as good as our starters have been."
That's saying something, because the starters have been otherworldly. Texas State's pitching staff is riding an incredible streak into tonight's midweek showdown against No. 5 Rice: The Bobcats have recorded a school-record five consecutive shutouts. Their scoreless streak stands at 50 1/3 innings, within shouting range of the NCAA record of 64 straight set by Arizona State in 1978. The streak has helped Texas State get of to an 8-3 start and jump to No. 21 in the Baseball America rankings.
"It makes coaching a lot easier when you're throwing up zeroes, I'll tell you that," Harrington said. [...] Continue Reading »
Strike One: Aggies Firing On All Cylinders
COLLEGE STATION, TEXAS—Pitching was Texas A&M's calling card during its run to the 2011 College World Series, as one of the nation's best weekend rotations carried a club with a fairly average offense, producing just 5.9 runs per game (107th in the nation). Righthanders Michael Wacha and Ross Stripling returned to give the Aggies a premier one-two pitching punch again this year, but it would be a mistake to call these Aggies one-dimensional.
Certainly, Wacha and Stripling have been every bit as good as expected, and they gave up two runs in 15 innings in this weekend's sweep of Michigan State. But three weeks into the year, A&M is 11-1 and has the look of a complete team, with an explosive offense, an athletic defense and a deep, dependable bullpen.
The offense made serious noise this week, bringing the Aggies back from a 10-1 deficit to win 14-10 Tuesday against Northwestern State, then ending the week with another come-from-behind win against the Spartans on Sunday.
"I'm real proud of our guys. It's tough to win five games in a row, and when you put them over the course of six days, it's pretty impressive," Texas A&M coach Rob Childress said. We got great starting pitching for the most part, and our bullpen did an amazing job. Offensively we just continued to roll. We had a great week starting last Sunday, and that just continued on the rest of this week." [...] Continue Reading »
We'll recap all of Sunday's Top 25 action in tomorrow's Top 25 Tracker. Here's a rundown of some highlights outside the Top 25:
• Wake Forest junior lefthander Brian Holmes threw a no-hitter in the Demon Deacons' 5-1 win against Marshall. He struck out 10 while hitting three batters and walking one in Wake's first no-hitter since Ben Clayton against UNC Greensboro in 2000.
"He sat 86-88 all game, stayed out of the middle of the plate, kept hitters off balance with a good changeup and slider mix—battled all game," said an area scout on hand.
The Demon Deacons also beat Eastern Michigan earlier Sunday to finish off a 4-0 weekend and run their winning streak to eight games.
• We started to suspect in the first two weeks that the ACC might be deeper than usual this year, and fellow ACC upstart Maryland continued to roll, sweeping a four-game set against Manhattan to improve to 9-1. Brett Harman (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K) turned in his third straight strong outing in a 9-0 win Sunday. Meanwhile, Boston College lost its finale at Florida Gulf Coast, 8-5, but still won the road series and and is off to a strong 6-3 start. And Virginia Tech is off to an 11-2 start after finishing a four-game sweep of Yale with two wins Sunday. The Hokies lack marquee victories, but they did beat Coastal Carolina last weekend. [...] Continue Reading »
Top 25 Showdowns
• (1) Florida at (12) Miami: The Gators continued their recent mastery of the rival Hurricanes, pounding out a season-high 16 hits in a 13-5 win, clinching the road series. Brian Johnson struggled on the mound, allowing five runs on nine hits in 3.1 innings, but he made up for it with his bat, setting career highs for hits (four) and RBIs. Freshman Taylor Gushue went 3-for-4 with two homers and four RBIs, while the top two hitters in the order—Nolan Fontana and Daniel Pigott—combined for seven hits and five runs, helping Florida overcome deficits of 3-0 and 5-3. Florida won its 10th consecutive game against Miami in front of 5,063 fans, the largest home crowd at Miami since 1999. Greg Larson (4.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K) was brilliant in relief to pick up the win, while Miami starter Eric Whaley (4.1 IP, 10 H, 8 R, 7 ER) was hit hard.
• (15) Clemson at (3) South Carolina: Speaking of recent mastery, the Gamecocks mashed their way to a series-clinching 9-6 win, their 16th win in their last 22 games against Clemson since 2007. Adam Matthews (2-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR) led South Carolina's balanced 11-hit attack, and freshman Evan Beal (4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) picked up the win in relief, as starters Matt Price (4.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) and Dominic Leone (2.1 IP, 4 H, 6 ER) struggled. A bright spot for Clemson was another big day for Richie Shaffer (2-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR). [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON—In Friday's loss to Texas, Rice's ballyhooed duo of sophomore righthanders—Austin Kubitza and John Simms—lacked their best stuff, and they struggled.
On Saturday, senior righty Matthew Reckling lacked his best stuff, too, but he was able to turn in a quality outing anyway, gutting his way through 6 2/3 innings and allowing just a pair of first-inning runs and four hits in a 6-2 win against Texas Tech.
"I really appreciate what he did. He started weak, but then he came on strong," Rice coach Wayne Graham said. "A creditable outing, when he didn't have his best stuff. He can throw a little harder than that, his curveball can be a little sharper than that, but he used his changeup some, and it was pretty good."
In his first two dominating outings this season, Reckling threw harder than he did Saturday night, when his fastball ranged from 86-91 mph. But of course, Reckling had struggled even when he had good velocity in years past because his command of his fastball was inconsistent. It was a more effective pitch Saturday, even without its best velocity.
"I think I have a lot more movement on my fastball this year," Reckling said. "Last year I threw a lot of four-seams, today I only threw two-seams. Sometimes I'll elevate a four-seam to get it by someone. On the (three) guys that I hit, those were four-seams. So I was like, I'm only throwing two-seams, which I've been doing all year. It's been running a lot, and just trying to keep guys off, move the fastball around." [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON—It's still early March, and Dave Serrano's rebuilding project at Tennessee is still in its infancy, but Serrano did not try to downplay the significance of his team's 5-4 win against Texas on Saturday.
"That was a big win—there are no ifs, ands or buts about it," Serrano said. "We try to say it's another game—it isn't another game. We played the University of Texas, and we came out on top."
It was an important day for the Volunteers, just as it was for Houston, which improved to 2-0 at the Houston College Classic with a 4-1 win against No. 4 Arkansas earlier Saturday. Second-year Houston coach Todd Whitting is a little further along in his rebuilding effort, but both teams can use Saturday's victories to take stock of their progress and build some confidence.
"It doesn't matter who we're beating, we're winning, and that's the main thing," Whitting said. "That's what these guys need. I thought until today's game, even last night, we didn't play games to win. And today they absolutely went out there and they played to win, they didn't play to lose at all. Everybody was aggressive. We continued for two days in a row to be aggressive at home plate. If we can continue to do that, we'll beat some people." [...] Continue Reading »
After a 15-hour work day here in Houston, we'll keep today's roundup short, focusing on the showdowns and upsets in the Top 25:
Top 25 Showdowns
• (1) Florida at (12) Miami: Mike Zunino (4-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B, HR) powered the Gators to a 7-5 win, their ninth straight victory against the Hurricanes and 12th in the last 13 meetings between the two rivals. Tyler Thompson and Austin Maddox added three hits apiece, and Maddox (3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K) was overpowering in relief to earn the save. Eric Erickson (5 IP, 9 H, 6 ER) was hit hard for Miami.
• (3) South Carolina vs. (15) Clemson: In an intense battle befitting college baseball's premier rivalry, the Gamecocks scored two in the 11th to beat the Tigers 3-2 in Charleston. Michael Roth (7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) and Kevin Brady (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) were strong in no-decisions, and the Gamecocks got RBI singles from Connor Bright and Sean Sullivan in the decisive 11th. South Carolina center fielder Evan Marzilli saved the game with a sliding catch in the bottom of the inning to thwart Clemson's comeback bid.
Richie Shaffer, battling a groin injury, started at third base and went 2-for-2 with two runs and three walks for Clemson. But Tigers catcher Spencer Kieboom left the game with an elbow injury in a collision at the plate in the 10th, and coach Jack Leggett told reporters he is unlikely to play Saturday.
Movie star Bill Murray, a co-owner of the host low Class A Charleston RiverDogs, was in attendance. [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON—When Texas coach Augie Garrido turned to address the media Friday night, a reporter jokingly told him the Longhorns are an offensive juggernaut.
"You bet your sweet ass," Garrido responded without missing a beat.
A little levity was in order after the Longhorns scored 11 runs on 13 hits against a very talented Rice pitching staff, en route to an ugly 11-8 win. Texas had scored just 21 runs total in its previous eight games, scuffling to a 4-4 start.
Garrido said even before his team got annihilated in a three-game sweep at Stanford that his hitters had been out of sync, out of rhythm and out of character. Garrido's message never changed: His hitters needed to stop trying so hard ("They say there's no crying in baseball; well, there's no trying in baseball, or else you'll fail," he said two weeks ago) and focus more on the process than the results. [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON—Jared Ray hasn't had many days over the last two years when his arm felt as good as it did Friday, in Houston's 7-4 win against Tennessee in the Houston College Classic. So he wanted to take full advantage, as he said later, and that's just what he did.
A fifth-year senior righthander for Houston, Ray has had three shoulder surgeries in his career, causing him to miss all of 2010 and most of 2011. But he built confidence by returning from his rehab to make five starts down the stretch last year, and he entered this spring feeling stronger than ever.
On Friday, he looked better than ever, striking out a career-high 10 batters over seven innings, allowing just a run on five hits and no walks.
"I knew I felt good coming into the game," Ray said. "It feels good to be healthy again and not ahve to worry about, week-to-week, how I'm going to feel. Just being able to go out here every day and prepare, knowing that I'm going to have my stuff that week."
He certainly had his stuff Friday. Ray maintained 90-91 mph velocity throughout his start, pumping 92-93 mph heat in the second inning. He started the game by striking out the first six hitters he faced, three of them on fastballs and three on low-80s sliders down and away. He relied almost exclusively on his fastball and hard-breaking 78-83 slider, throwing only a couple of changeups (and not effectively). [...] Continue Reading »
HOUSTON—Rice held a press conference today for Wayne Graham, who is part of the 2012 College Baseball Hall of Fame induction class, announced today.
Listening to Graham reminisce about the baseball wisdom he learned from Bibb Faulk and Casey Stengel during his playing days made me realize once again how lucky Rice's players are to learn the game from Graham, one of the great teachers in baseball history. Graham is a direct link to some of baseball's richest history, and I feel like I learn something new about the game every time I speak with him.
The 75-year-old Graham reiterated today that he plans to keep on coaching until he feels like he's no longer an asset to the Owls. Lucky for college baseball.
The other members of a star-studded induction class: Nomar Garciaparra, a standout shortstop at Georgia Tech from 1992-94; Lou Brock, an outfielder at Southern from 1958-60; Brad Wilkerson, a two-way star at Florida from 1996-98; Ed Cheff, who coached Lewis-Clark (Idaho) State from 1977-2010 and won 16 NAIA national championships; Tim Jorgensen, star shortstop at Wisconsin-Oshkosh from 1992-95; and the late Frank Sancet, who coached Arizona from 1950-72.
“This class has plenty of star power,” said Mike Gustafson, executive director of the College Baseball Hall of Fame. “We have players who excelled both in college and the pros and a longtime coach who has been successful at both the junior college and Division I level. It is a truly impressive group.”
HOUSTON—Arkansas sophomore righthander Ryne Stanek has picked up this spring right where he left off at the end of last season. In Friday's 3-1 win against Texas Tech in the Houston College Classic, Stanek continued to demonstrate just how much he has matured since he first arrived in college.
Stanek, an unsigned third-round pick out of high school in Kansas, struggled with his mechanics—and consequently his command and efficiency—throughout much of his freshman year in 2011. In his final regular-season outing, he recorded just one out before getting pulled in the first inning. But the following week in the Southeastern Conference tournament, Stanek suddenly began to harness his electric stuff, going 7 2/3 strong innings. He followed that up with a complete-game gem in regionals against Charlotte.
After a strong summer with Team USA and in the Cape Cod League, Stanek returned to campus with loads of confidence. He stepped onto the mound at a major league park on Friday and said he did not feel nervous—and he did not look nervous, either.
"I thought he did a great job in a big league ballpark, great atmosphere, he came out and was calm and under control," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "We did a good job spotting him a couple of runs, and he did the rest from there." [...] Continue Reading »
Top 25 Upsets
• Ross Heffley (2-for-3, 2 RBI) and Adam Curtis (6.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER) led Western Carolina to a 5-3 win at No. 8 Georgia, handing the Bulldogs their first loss. Chase Hawkins pitched three perfect innings of relief in defeat for UGa.
• Ryan Walker and Matt Shortall combined for six hits and five RBIs in support of Kasey Merck (6 IP, 5 H, 0 R), leading Texas-Arlington to a 10-3 rout at No. 23 Oklahoma. Jonathan Gray (5 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) continued to struggle for the Sooners, who did get four hits from freshman cleanup man Hunter Lockwood.
• Vanderbilt's nightmarish start to the season continued, as the Commodores were pounded at home by Louisiana Tech, 9-3. Ryan Gebhardt went 4-for-5 with three RBIs for the Bulldogs, who got a strong outing from Phil Maton (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K). The Commodores, who ranked No. 10 in the preseason but tumbled out of the rankings this week, fell to 1-7 on the season.
• No. 12 Miami earned a quality midweek win against Florida Atlantic, 10-5. Rony Rodriguez (3-for-4, 3 R, 2 RBI) and Michael Broad (2-for-5, 5 RBI) led the offense for the 'Canes, and Steven Ewing (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) improved to 2-0. Ewing figures to be one of college baseball's top midweek starters this year, unless he forces his way into the weekend rotation at some point. [...] Continue Reading »
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