Three key story lines from around college baseball Friday.
Strike One: Scholtens Perfect For Wright State
As early as the second inning of his start Friday at Dayton, Wright State righthander Jesse Scholtens had a premonition that it would be a day to remember.
|HOW THE TOP 25 FARED|
|(1) Florida: won, 16-5, vs. Harvard|
|(2) Texas A&M: won, 3-2, vs. Fresno State|
|(3) Oregon State: won, 8-5, vs. San Francisco|
|(4) Louisville: swept doubleheader vs. Notre Dame, 4-3 in 11 innings, 8-2|
|(5) Vanderbilt: won, 7-0, vs. Xavier|
|(6) Miami: lost, 14-3, at Virginia Tech|
|(7) Louisiana State: lost, 7-1, vs. Ball State|
|(8) Texas Christian: won, 8-3, vs. Southern California|
|(9) California: won, 9-2, vs. Texas Tech|
|(10) Virginia: won, 6-0, vs. Duke|
|(11) Oregon: lost, 10-4, at (24) Mississippi State|
|(12) North Carolina: won, 14-2, vs. Pittsburgh|
|(13) Mississippi: won, 15-2, vs. Grambling State|
|(14) UCLA: lost, 7-5, vs. Texas|
|(15) Florida State: won, 8-2, vs. (20) Georgia Tech|
|(16) Louisiana-Lafayette: won, 4-2, at Troy|
|(17) North Carolina State: lost, 7-0, vs. Boston College|
|(18) Arkansas: won, 3-2, vs. Western Illinois in 10 innings|
|(19) Michigan: won, 5-4, at Hawaii in 10 innings|
|(20) Georgia Tech: lost, 8-2, at (15) Florida State|
|(21) Houston: won, 3-1, at (23) Alabama|
|(22) Oklahoma State: won, 8-2, vs. Abilene Christian|
|(23) Alabama: lost, 3-1, vs. (21) Houston|
|(24) Mississippi State: won, 10-4, vs. (11) Oregon|
|(25) East Carolina: won, 10-1, at Rice|
“I didn't have my best stuff at all," Scholtens said. “But I had a feeling I was going to do something special."
By the third inning, Wright State coach Greg Lovelady also found himself thinking about what the game could turn into.
“I tried to fight it, but his stuff was really good and the swings they were taking, I could tell they were having a tough time picking it up," Lovelady said. “He struck out six in the first three innings, and so I was like, 'Man, he's really rolling and they're really struggling, if he can continue to pitch like this, I don't know about a perfect game, but maybe double digit strikeouts and the chance to do something special."
The game did turn out to be one for the record books. Scholtens struck out 12 batters and didn't allow a baserunner, as Wright State defeated Dayton, 1-0. It was the first perfect game in school history and the Raiders' first no-hitter since May 16, 1993.
Scholtens said it was “an honor" to be the first to throw a perfect game in Wright State (8-6) history.
“We're big here about leaving a legacy," Scholtens said. “Being here for two years, I wondered how I would be able to do that."
Scholtens began his college career at Arizona, where he played for one year before transferring to Diablo Valley (Calif.) JC. He came to Wright State last season, and has filled a rotation spot since arriving. He went 7-4, 3.08 last season, and has started this year 2-0, 4.10.
On Friday, with Dayton's lineup stacked with righthanded hitters, Scholtens threw only fastballs and sliders. He said he wasn't able to locate his fastball as well as he would have liked in the zone, but the Flyers couldn't handle the low-90s offering or his sharp slider.
Wright State's offense did just enough for the victory, scratching out a run in the sixth inning against Dayton starter Mason Kutruff. Scholtens said he was determined to make that one run stand up.
Lovelady praised catcher Jason DeFevers, who was behind the plate due to a minor injury to Sean Murphy, and pitching coach Justin Parker for their role in the game. But he saved his most effusive praise for Scholtens.
“He's my hardest worker, an unbelievable kid all the way around and does everything you ask him to," Lovelady said. “He's probably the best teammate I've ever seen. He's on the top step of the dugout whether he's starting or not.
“You want good things to happen to good people, and he's one of the best kids I've ever had as a coach. It's rewarding to know that someone like that gets rewarded by the baseball gods."
Strike Two: King Keeps BC Rolling
As the Atlantic Coast Conference began league play this weekend, Boston College was 10-2, matching its best start since 1977. The Eagles brought that hot start to North Carolina State, and started the weekend with a 7-0 upset of the No. 17 Wolfpack.
Boston College got a strong start from righthander Mike King (7 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K), who improved to 3-0, 1.30. Coach Mike Gambino said it was the kind of performance that the Eagles have come to expect from the junior.
“We're so used to seeing it with Mike, it's almost boring, it's like ho-hum he did it again seven innings, no runs," Gambino said. “That's what Mike does every Friday night. It's really fun to watch."
With a fastball that peaked at 91 mph Friday, King doesn't overpower hitters. But he fills up the strike zone and creates weak contact and ground balls. The Eagles turned three double plays for their starter, all involving his roommate, shortstop Johnny Adams.
“It's really reassuring when you have a man on first with one out that all I need to do is execute a low strike and they're going to roll one over to one of them and they're obviously going to make the play," King said.
North Carolina State, by contrast, was undone by four errors, including three from shortstop Joe Dunand. Five of the seven runs charted to starter Joe O'Donnell (6 IP, 9 H, 2 BB, 5 K) were unearned. The Wolfpack (12-3) have now lost three of their four Friday games to start the year.
Meanwhile, Boston College is one of the surprise teams in the conference. King said they have done a good job of sticking to their game plan this year, which so far is working.
“We have to really attack with our strengths and know that our strengths can compete with any team in the ACC and I feel like in the past that's what we haven't had," King said. “We're slowly starting to develop that and we're becoming a strong ACC team."
Strike Three: Rain Scrambles Schedules
Rain, and the threat of rain later in the weekend, caused schedules to be altered throughout the country, especially in the Deep South and on the West Coast. But the weather hit Louisiana Tech especially hard.
Louisiana Tech scheduled to travel to Texas A&M-Corpus Christ for a three-game series this weekend. Rain pushed the start of the series back to Saturday, and the Bulldogs set out for Corpus Christi on Friday morning. But just an hour into their bus ride, flooding and road closures forced them to turn around.
The Bulldogs attempted to leave for Corpus Christi this morning and ran into this an hour down the road… pic.twitter.com/PxwDi7dyxX
— LA Tech Baseball (@LATechBSB) March 11, 2016
Nine newsmakers from Friday's action.
1. Jordan Sheffield, rhp, Vanderbilt: The Commodores have found their latest dominant Friday night starter. Sheffield (7.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 12 K) retired the first 17 batters he faced against Xavier and carried a no-hitter into the eighth.
2. Jarett Rindfleisch, c, Ball State: Rindfleisch (3-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI) led Ball State's offense and helped guide its pitchers through a 7-1 upset against No. 7 Louisiana State. It was the first multi-homer game of his career.
3. Connor Jones, rhp, Virginia: In a high-profile matchup against Duke righthander Bailey Clark, Virginia and Jones (8 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K) came out on top. The Preseason All-American improved to 3-0, 1.98 this season.
4. Andrew Lantrip, rhp, Houston: Facing No. 23 Alabama, Lantrip (8 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 13 K), led No. 21 Houston to a big win on the road. The junior has now struck out 32 batters and walked just one in 26 1/3 innings this season.
5. Tommy Eveld, rhp, South Florida: After coming on in relief, Eveld (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K) stymied Holy Cross, allowing South Florida to walk off with a 3-2 victory in the 15th inning. Eveld retired the final 18 batters he faced.
6. Clarke Schmidt, rhp, South Carolina: The Gamecocks shut out Charleston Southern, 9-0, behind another strong performance from Schmidt (7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K). The sophomore improved to 4-0, 0.32, and extended his scoreless innings streak to 24.
7. Cal Raleigh, c, Florida State: No. 15 Florida State defeated No. 20 Georgia Tech, 8-2, handing the Yellow Jackets their first loss of the season. Raleigh (3-for-3, HR, 2 R) was a big part of the Seminoles offense.
8. Zak Kutsulis, 1b, Notre Dame: Though it took extra innings, Kutsulis (4-for-5, R, 2 RBI) hit for the cycle in the first game of Notre Dame's doubleheader against Louisville. It was the first cycle for Notre Dame in 16 years.
9. Logan Ice, c, Oregon State: Ice (3-for-3, 2 R, 1 RBI) stayed red hot as No. 3 Oregon State defeated San Francisco, 8-5. The junior fell just a single short of the cycle and is now hitting .474/.543/1.053 in 12 games this season.