College baseball's Opening Day is in the books, and there is plenty of action to digest. Quality pitching performances abounded, and there were even a few offensive explosions (led by Virginia DH/3B Kenny Towns' two-grand slam day in a rout of East Carolina). Let's round up the Top 25 showdowns and upsets, then touch on a few other highlights from a fun first day.
Top 25 Showdowns
• (9) Stanford at (18) Rice: Austin Kubitza (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 12 K) pitched much better than first-team preseason All-American Mark Appel (5 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K), leading Rice to a 5-1 win. Kubitza set a career high for strikeouts in a game and escaped trouble by getting inning-ending strikeouts in the third, fourth, fifth and sixth. Zech Lemond (3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) was strong in relief to earn the save.
• (14) Texas Christian at (13) Mississippi: Bobby Wahl (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K) bested Brandon Finnegan (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) in a crisp pitcher's duel, as Ole Miss pulled out a 1-0 win. Tanner Bailey and Brett Huber combined for 2.2 innings of one-hit relief for the Rebels, who pushed across the winning run on Will Jamison's squeeze bunt in the fifth.
Top 25 Upsets
• Indiana vs. (4) Louisville: Joey DeNato (4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K) and Evan Bell (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K) stifled Louisville's offense in a 2-0 upset at the Big East/Big Ten Challenge. The Big Ten favorites got two hits apiece from Kyle Schwarber and Dustin DeMuth and pushed across runs in the fourth and fifth against Chad Green (4 IP, 7 H, 2 ER).
• Appalachian State at (8) North Carolina State: First-team preseason All-American Carlos Rodon (6 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) took his first collegiate loss—his first loss since his junior year of high school in 2010—as the Mountaineers hit three home runs against him en route to a 6-3 upset. Jamie Nunn (6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) picked up the win for Appalachian State, making new coach Billy Jones victorious in his first game at ASU, and his return to his old stomping grounds. Jaylin Davis (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) led the App State offense. Reigning national stolen base champ Trea Turner (2-for-4, 2 R) hit the ground running for the Wolfpack, stealing two bases.
• Minnesota at (12) UCLA: Michael Handel (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI) hit a two-run double to highlight Minnesota's four-run 10th, propelling the Gophers to a 6-2 upset. Adam Plutko (6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) carried a shutout into the seventh before Minnesota got to him for two runs in the frame. Tom Windle (4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K) was solid for the Gophers, though he was on a 65-pitch limit. Billy Soule and Kevin Kray combined for four shutout innings of relief for Minnesota.
• Duke at (17) Florida: Mike Rosenfeld's RBI triple in the eighth inning broke a 2-2 tie, and he went on to score the eventual winning run later in the frame, propelling Duke to a 4-3 win. Trent Swart (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) out-lasted Florida ace Jonathon Crawford (3.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), and Duke won the battle of the bullpens. Earlier Friday, Florida announced that talented speedster Taylor Ratliff—a transfer from Jacksonville—was denied in his attempt to gain an eligibility waiver for 2013.
• Oklahoma State at (21) New Mexico: The Cowboys tied the score with a run in the seventh and pulled out a 4-2 win with two runs in the ninth, as pinch-hitter Tanner Krietemeier singled home a run and went on to score another. OSU ace Jason Hursh (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) did not disappoint in his first start since returning from Tommy John surgery. D.J. Peterson had two hits and an RBI in a losing cause for UNM.
• San Diego State at (25) San Diego: The Aztecs spoiled the grand opening of USD's Fowler Park with an 8-1 win in front of a sellout crowd of more than 1,700. Michael Cederoth (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 6 K) worked around spotty control to earn the win, while Dylan Covey (3 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 1 K) struggled in defeat for the Toreros. Justin Hepner (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K) provided strong relief for SDSU, which got big offensive days from Greg Allen (4-for-5, R, RBI), Tim Zier (3-for-5, 3 RBI) and Brad Haynal (3-for-5, 2 RBI).
Other Top 25 Results
• Seton Hall at (1) North Carolina: Kent Emanuel (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K) needed just 106 pitches to throw a complete-game shutout in UNC's 1-0 win. Freshman Skye Bolt singled and scored the game's only run in the sixth against Seton Hall ace Jon Prosinski (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER).
• Long Beach State at (2) Vanderbilt: The Commodores took control with a five-run third inning in support of Kevin Ziomek (6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K), and Vandy cruised to a 10-4 win. Jon Maciel (4 IP, 9 H, 10 R, 5 ER) got the start for Long Beach and got roughed up.
• Western Illinois at (3) Arkansas: The Hogs got dominant pitching from Ryne Stanek (4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), Trey Killian (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R) and Tyler Wright (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R) in a 9-1 win. Eric Fisher (2-for-4, 3 RBI, HR) led the Arkansas offense.
• Portland at (5) Mississippi State: The Bulldogs broke the game open with a seven-run second inning in support of Jacob Lindgren (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) en route to a 16-1 blowout. C.T. Bradford (2-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI) and Wes Rea (1-for-2, 2 RBI) homered, while Adam Frazier, Mitch Slauter and Daryl Norris combined for 10 hits, leading a 21-hit onslaught.
• Utah Valley vs. (6) Oregon State: Dan Child (5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) was solid, and the Beavers got four combined innings of two-hit relief from Tony Bryant and Max Engelbrekt in a 5-2 win. Jake Rodriguez (2-for-4, 2 RBI) led the OSU offense.
• Liberty at (7) South Carolina: After retiring Ray Tanner's number as part of an array of pregame tributes, the Gamecocks won Chad Holbrook's head coaching debut, 4-3, behind Jordan Montgomery (6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K). L.B. Dantzler (2-for-2, 2 RBI) homered in the second to put South Carolina up for good, and the Gamecocks scratched out two crucial insurance runs in the seventh.
• Maryland at (10) Louisiana State: Aaron Nola (6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K) was brilliant in LSU's 1-0 win. Sunday's projected starter, Chris Cotton, worked 1.1 shutout frames to earn the save. Leadoff man Chris Sciambra (4-for-4) scored the game's only run on Alex Bregman's RBI single in the third against Maryland ace Jimmy Reed (5 IP, 6 H, 1 ER).
• (11) Kentucky vs. UNC Asheville: A.J. Reed went 4-for-5 with a triple and three RBIs to lead the offense, and he picked up the win with a strong start (5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K), as Kentucky rolled to a 9-2 victory.
• (15) Oregon at Hawaii: Jake Reed (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K) and Christian Jones (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R) combined on a five-hit shutout, leading the Ducks to a 3-0 win.
• Akron at (16) Georgia Tech: Buck Farmer (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 14 K) might have turned in Friday's best individual performance, leading the Yellow Jackets to a 3-0 win. Farmer needed just 97 pitches to get through eight innings despite his career-high 14 strikeouts, and Sam Dove (2-for-4) drove in two of Tech's three runs.
• Hofstra at (19) Oklahoma: Anthony Hermeyln's three-run double highlighted OU's four-run first, and the Sooners never looked back in a 10-4 win. Dillon Overton (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) was dominant for Oklahoma.
• Rhode Island at (20) Florida State: Jose Brizuela (2-for-4, 2 R, 4 RBI, HR) led the FSU offense behind Brandon Leibrandt (5 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) in an 11-5 win.
• Southern California at (22) Cal State Fullerton: Thomas Eshelman (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K), the first Fullerton freshman to start the season opener since 1987, retired the first 14 batters he faced, leading the Titans to a 3-2 win. After James Roberts briefly gave USC a 2-1 lead in the sixth, the Titans answered with two in the bottom of the frame, capped by Matt Orloff's go-ahead RBI bunt.
• Missouri at (23) Southern Mississippi: Chase Fowler had three RBIs in support of Andrew Pierce (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 9 K), leading Southern Miss to a 5-2 victory.
• Coppin State at (24) Arizona: The defending national champs thoroughly dominated Coppin State in a 16-0 laugher. Konner Wade (6.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K) and Nick Cunningham combined on a one-hit shutout, and Johnny Field (3-for-5, 3 R, 5 RBI, 3B) led the offense.
• Virginia at East Carolina: Kenny Towns smacked two grand slams to lead the Cavaliers to a 14-4 rout against Jeff Hoffman (4.2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 7 K) and the Pirates. Towns' first grand slam came in the first inning against Hoffman, and he added another opposite-field grand slam in the seventh. They were the first two career home runs for the sophomore.
• Tulane vs. Sam Houston State: Tony Rizzotti (9 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K) was sublime in his Tulane debut, leading the Green Wave to a 2-0 win at Texas State's tournament. A redshirt sophomore junior-college transfer, Rizzotti threw Tulane's first opening-day shutout since 2008.
• Missouri State at Texas State: In the other great pitching matchup in San Marcos, Missouri State's Nick Petree (5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K) and Texas State's Kyle Finnegan (6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 11 K) each took no-decisions, but the Bears won 3-2 on Dylan Becker's RBI single in the 11th.
• In a compelling tournament in Wilmington, Kent State dropped a pair of one-run games, 10-9 to Virginia Tech and 7-6 to UNC Wilmington. Chad Pinder homered and drove in five to lead Virginia Tech's potent offense. The Seahawks forced extra innings with two runs in the ninth and won it with another in the 10th.
• Sacramento State at Texas: Mark Payton (4-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2B) powered the Texas offense in a 6-5 win. Parker French (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K) was stellar for the Longhorns, but the Hornets made things interesting with five runs in the eighth against the UT bullpen.
• Bethune-Cookman at Arizona State: The Sun Devils scored a run in the bottom of the ninth to force extras, then added another in the 11th to earn a walk-off 5-4 win. Kasey Coffman (3-for-4) drove in the winning run in the 11th.
• Baylor at UC Irvine: Andrew Thurman (5.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) was solid in UCI's 6-4 win. The Anteaters took control of the game with five runs in the third against Ryan Smith, highlighted by Dominique Taylor's two-run single.
• Illinois-Chicago at Texas A&M: Tomas Michelson (7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K) and two relievers combined on a four-hit shutout, as the Flames stunned the Aggies, 2-0. Kyle Martin (6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K) was a tough-luck loser for A&M.
• IPFW at Indiana State: It was a bad day for first-team preseason All-America pitchers, as Carlos Rodon and Mark Appel weren't the only ones to take losses. Sean Manaea (4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) losing to IPFW might have been the most stunning of all. The Mastadons scored both of their runs in the fifth to chase Manaea, and three IPFW pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout in the 2-0 upset.
• Maine at Auburn: Junior-college transfer Damek Tomscha (2-for-4, 2 RBI) made a splash in his Auburn debut, hitting a walk-off homer in the ninth to propel the Tigers to a 3-2 win.
• Virginia Military Institute at Alabama: Freshman shortstop Mikey White (4-for-5, 2 RBI) also had a loud debut, leading the Crimson Tide to an 8-3 win.
• Saint Louis at Oral Roberts: In a neat mid-major showdown, Alex Alemann (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) bested Alex Gonzalez (8 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K), as the Billikens won 4-2.
• Creighton at Dallas Baptist: The Bluejays spoiled the opening of DBU's sparkling new facility with a furious late-innings rally for an 11-9 win. Creighton overcame an 8-4 deficit with four runs in the eighth and three more in the ninth, and the Bluejays rapped out 17 hits in the game.
• Ball State at Middle Tennessee State: In yet another 1-0 game, the Blue Raiders rode Hunter Adkins (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K) to the victory.
• Western Michigan at Pepperdine: In the first game I attended Friday, Pepperdine cruised to an 11-1 win behind Scott Frazier (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K), who pounded the zone with a 91-94 mph fastball that bumped 95 and mixed in a sharp downer curve at 73-77.
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