Vanderbilt’s incredible run continued Saturday with a 5-2 win against No. 15 South Carolina, clinching the road series as well as the SEC East division title for the Commodores—with seven conference games remaining. Tyler Beede (6.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 7 K) carried a no-hitter into the seventh inning for the second time this season and went on to improve to 12-0, 1.73 on the season. Zander Wiel (3-for-4, r, 2 RBI) led Vandy’s 14-hit barrage against Jordan Montgomery (2.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER) and the Gamecocks. Wiel, a redshirt freshman making his eighth career start, continues to give the ‘Dores a significant boost in the middle of the lineup.
“He changed his body from November (of 2011) to the next February—he lost some weight, gained some strength, and took a liking to the weight room,” Vanderbilt coach Tim Corbin said of Wiel this week. “He went off and played in the Perfect Game league up in New York, experienced some success there, but was still in a logjam at first base with Conrad (Gregor) coming back, obviously. His at-bats in the fall and spring were very competitive, then you could see his batting practice swing started to get more consistent, juice to the middle of the field. The energy of the ball was different. You could tell that balls he hit last year that couldn’t get to the outfield fence were getting to the outfield fence now and leaving the yard. We happened to take Conrad Gregor off the field one game, we just inserted Zander right in the 4-hole right away, not the 8-hole, and he had two home runs and a double and two walks. We’ve just left him in there. You could tell he was one of those kids, if he did get it, it would start to happen.”
For Vanderbilt, which is now a record 21-2 in SEC play, it has been that kind of year—where unknown redshirt freshmen emerge to give a loaded team even more weapons than it had before.
On to the rest of Saturday’s highlights.
Top 25 Showdowns
• (21) Florida at (3) Louisiana State: LSU completed its first sweep of Florida since 2001 with an 18-6 thrashing, marking the most runs the Tigers have scored this season. Alex Bregman, Sean McMullen and Christian Ibarra had three hits apiece as part of a 19-hit attack, and JaCoby Jones (2-for-5, HR, 6 RBI) blasted a grand-slam off the left-field scoreboard to punctuate LSU’s eight-run sixth, helping Ryan Eades (6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) improve to 8-1. Danny Young (2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER) struggled for the Gators, and the bullpen provided no relief.
• (14) Arkansas at (23) Kentucky: The Hogs clinched the series with a 5-3 win in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader, but Kentucky salvaged the finale, 4-3. Brian Anderson (3-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) led the Arkansas offense behind Ryne Stanek (5.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) in the first game, as the Hogs beat Corey Littrell (8 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 7 K). Zac Zellers (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) delivered a walk-off RBI single in the second game, capping UK’s three-run rally in the ninth against Trent Daniel and Landon Simpson. All three runs were unearned. Randall Fant (5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) and Kyle Cody (7 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) were both strong in no-decisions.
Top 25 Upsets
• Stanford at (8) Arizona State: The Cardinal has responded with its back against the wall, clinching the big road series with an 9-8 win in 11 innings. Brian Ragira’s two-run single in the 11th put Stanford ahead, and Sam Lindquist (4.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER) stranded the bases loaded in the bottom of the frame after ASU scored a run. The Cardinal had come from behind with three in the seventh against Ryan Kellogg (7 IP, 9 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) to tie the score at 7-7.
• (12) Oklahoma at West Virginia: Ryan Tuntland and Ryan McBroom combined for four hits and five RBIs to lead the Mountaineers to a 9-3 win, evening the series. Dan Dierdorff (6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) turned in a solid start for WVU, while Jake Fisher (5.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) started and lost for OU.
• (24) Mississippi at Auburn: Blake Austin (4-for-4, 2 R, RBI) led Auburn’s balanced 12-hit attack against Mike Mayers (5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER) and the Ole Miss bullpen, as the Tigers leveled the series with an 8-5 win. Auston Bousfield (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI) led the Ole Miss offense in defeat.
Other Top 25 Results
• Long Beach State at (4) Cal State Fullerton: The Titans clinched the series with a 2-1 win behind Justin Garza (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), who improved to 10-0. Fullerton won despite mustering just eight hits, as it answered Long Beach’s run in the top of the seventh with one of its own in the bottom of the frame, then went ahead when Carlos Lopez doubled and scored in the eighth.
• Presbyterian at (5) North Carolina State: Tarran Senay hit a two-run homer to spark N.C. State’s four-run fourth, and the Wolfpack never looked back, clinching the series with an 8-1 win. Four North Carolina State pitchers combined on a two-hitter, with Andrew Woeck (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K) earning the win in relief of Anthony Tzamtzis (3.2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER).
• California at (6) Oregon State: Andrew Moore (9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 2 K) dazzled in the first complete game of his career, and Andy Peterson and Dylan Davis combined for five hits and five RBIs to lead the Beavers to a series-clinching 5-0 win.
• Utah at (9) UCLA: Nick Vander Tuig (6.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) led the Bruins to a series-clinching 5-4 win. Pat Valaika (2-for-3, R, RBI) led the UCLA offense. With Arizona State losing twice and UCLA winning twice so far this weekend, the Bruins now sit alone in third place in the Pac-12 at 13-7, two games ahead of the fourth-place Sun Devils (but three games behind Oregon State).
• Central Florida at (10) Florida State: Jameis Winston and Giovanny Alfonzo drove in two runs apiece in support of Brandon Leibrandt (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K), as the Seminoles clinched the series with a 6-1 win.
• (11) Oregon at Washington State: Ryon Healy (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI) hit his 10th homer of the season, and J.J. Altobelli had three hits as part of Oregon’s balanced 12-hit attack behind Cole Irvine (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K), as the Ducks clinched the road series with a 6-3 win.
• (13) Louisville at Villanova: Kyle Kibson and Zak Wasserman combined for five hits and four RBIs in support of Jeff Thompson (6.1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 12 K), leading the Cardinals to a series-clinching 6-5 win.
• (16) Indiana at Nebraska: The Hoosiers ran their winning streak to nine games with an 8-6 win in the series opener at Nebraska. Kyle Schwarber (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI) homered twice to lead Indiana’s 14-hit assault in support of Joey DeNato (6.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K).
• Air Force at (17) New Mexico: The Lobos clinched their eighth straight MWC series victory with a 17-1 blowout of Air Force. D.J. Peterson (3-for-6, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2B) and Alex Allbritton (4-for-5, R, 4 RBI, 2B, HR) helped lead UNM’s 25-hit barrage in support of Sam Wolff (7.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K). The Lobos, who lead the Mountain West by six games against San Diego State and UNLV, can clinch at least a share of the MWC’s regular-season title with a win Sunday.
• Maryland at (18) Clemson: Kyle Convissar (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI) led Maryland’s balanced 14-hit attack in support of Jimmy Reed (8 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 11 K), as the Terrapins won the series opener 7-2. Daniel Gossett (2.1 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K) struggled for the Tigers.
• (19) Rice at Alabama-Birmingham: The Owls evened the series with a 5-4 win behind Jordan Stephens (7.2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 11 K). Ford Stainback (3-for-4, R, RBI) led Rice’s 13-hit attack.
• Middle Tennessee State at (20) South Alabama: The Jaguars swept a doubleheader with a pair of extra-innings wins, 12-11 and 3-2, to clinch the series. MTSU scored three in the ninth to force extra innings in the opener, then took the lead with two in the top of the 14th, but USA answered with three in the bottom of the frame without the benefit of a hit, scoring the winning run on Dustin Dalken’s bases-loaded walk. Matt Bell (6 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) was solid in a no-decision in the second game, and the Jaguars scored the winning run on Nolan Earley’s walk-off RBI double in the 10th.
• Alabama at (22) Mississippi State: The Bulldogs clinched the series by sweeping a doubleheader, 10-6 and 5-4. Trey Porter (2-for-3, R, 4 RBI) hit a two-run double to highlight MSU’s seven-run second inning in the opener, and MSU got four combined innings of shutout relief from Ross Mitchell and Jonathan Holder. The bullpen came up big again in the nightcap, as Ben Bracewell and Chad Girodo combined to work four innings of scoreless relief of Kendall Graveman (6 IP, 6 H, 4 ER), and Jacob Robson (3-for-5) delivered a walk-off RBI single in the 10th. Hunter Renfroe (2-for-3, 2 R, RBI) hit his 15th homer of the season in that one.
• (25) Virginia Tech at Boston College: The Hokies clinched the series with a 7-5 win behind Devin Burke (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K).
• The first ticket to the NCAA tournament has been punched. Columbia swept a doubleheader against Dartmouth, 6-5 (10 innings) and 12-5, to win the best-of-three Ivy League championship series, sending the Lions to regionals for the first time since 2008. Mike Fischer led off the 10th with a ground-rule double in the first game and scored the game-winning run on Gus Craig’s walk-off RBI single. Columbia overcame a 5-4 deficit with six runs in the seventh in the second game. Jordan Serena (4-for-6, 2 R, RBI) led Columbia’s 16-hit attack in that one. We’ll try to have more on the Lions in Monday’s Three Strikes.
• We wrote about red-hot South Florida in last week’s Three Strikes, and the Bulls just keep on winning. USF clinched a huge road series win against Notre Dame with a 4-3 win in 10 innings, a day after the Bulls won a 19-inning marathon. Nick Gonzalez (7 IP, 8 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K) was strong in a no-decision Saturday, and Jimmy Falla (4-for-5, RBI) delivered an RBI single to cap USF’s three-run 10th. The Irish answered with the runs in the bottom of the frame, but slugger Trey Mancini grounded out with the bases loaded to end it. USF, which remains atop the Big East standings at 15-2, has won 17 of its last 18 games.
• Bubble-dwelling Kansas clinched a huge series against Baylor with a 6-5 win on Kevin Kuntz’s walk-off RBI single in the ninth. Jordan Piche (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K) improved to 6-2 with strong relief work.
• Erik Schoenrock (9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K) out-dueled Aaron Blair (8.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 8 K) in Memphis’ 1-0 win against Marshall. The Tigers also won the second game of the doubleheader, 9-6, to clinch the series.
• The nation’s longest winning streak belongs to Illinois State, which won its 12th straight with a series-clinching 6-0 win against Creighton. Chad Hinshaw (2-for-3, 3B, 3 RBI) led the Illinois State offense behind Dan Savas (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K). The Redbirds (11-3) lead the Missouri Valley Conference by percentage points over Wichita State (12-4).
• Defending national champion Arizona is in serious jeopardy of missing out on regionals. The Wildcats dropped a home series to Washington, which followed up Friday’s 23-1 laugher with a 2-1 win Saturday behind Austin Voth (7.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER). The Huskies are 7-3 in their last 10 games against Oregon State, Gonzaga, Cal and Arizona. At 16-28, they are not threat to make a regional, but they are certainly capable of playing spoiler.
• Southern Conference-leading Western Carolina completed a nice two-game series sweep against Ohio Valley Conference leader Tennessee Tech with a 6-1 win. The Catamounts, who got a strong start from Jordan Smith (7 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), have won 13 of their last 14 games, helping them climb to No. 51 in the RPI (according to WarrenNolan.com) and built a three-game lead in the SoCon.
• National home run leader Kris Bryant (1-for-3, 2 R, 2 RBI) blasted his 23rd long ball of the year in San Diego’s 6-3 win at St. Mary’s, clinching a must-win series for the Toreros.