Friday Roundup: Marco Gonzales Bests Scott Frazier

MALIBU, Calif.—One of the weekend’s best prospect showdowns took place Friday at Pepperdine, where Gonzaga lefthander Marco Gonzales (7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) got the better of Waves righty Scott Frazier (5.2 IP, 3 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 6 BB, 4 K), leading the No. 24 Zags to a 6-3 win. Frazier allowed just one hit through five innings, but the wheels came off for him in the sixth, when Gonzaga scored four runs on four walks and three singles.

Frazier ran his fastball up to 95-96 in the first and pitched at 92-93 for most of the game, mixing in an inconsistent (but sometimes good) 74-76 downer curveball and flashing a decent 80-81 changeup against lefties. One area scout said earlier Friday that Fraizer’s draft stock is dropping.

“There’s a lot going on with his delivery; he pitches uphill,” the scout said. “The breaking ball is the same thing—more uphill than downhill. He probably needs to learn a slider, because he just can’t throw a curveball, I don’t think. The spin’s OK, but the arm action, he collapses, there’s shoulder tilt, it comes out of his hand so early that hitters can recognize it. He can bounce it, but guys still pick it up early enough to spit on it. He will show you a changeup here and there, but I think he’s a reliever.”

Marco Gonzalez

Marco Gonzalez (Photo by Bill Mitchell)

Gonzales, on the other hand, is one of the most polished pitchers in the 2013 draft class, and he was in control Friday, even though he was not dominant. He labored a bit in the first two innings, stranding the bases loaded in the first by striking out Chris Amezquita with a nasty changeup, then giving up a run on two hits in the second, but he settled into a groove after that, retiring the next six hitters.

“I felt like I found my tempo in the third inning, and once I was getting my pitches down, that was really key for me,” Gonzales said. “My secondary stuff was working, my changeup was good. So I located my fastball, and that was it from there. That’s the key—you spot the fastball, it makes the changeup that much better, and vice versa, so that was key for me today.”

Gonzales worked in the 88-91 mph range with his fastball, and he used his disappearing 76-80 changeup—one of college baseball’s best secondary pitches—to induce plenty of weak contact against righthanded hitters. He mixed in a 76-79 breaking ball as a get-me-over pitch, and he featured a short 81-82 cutter against lefties.

“It’s been about a year and a half in the making, and it’s finally coming around for me,” Gonzales said of the cutter. “It’s really been working for lefthanded hitters, complements my changeup well because it goes the other way. My curveball’s more a show pitch, but it’s actually improved this year, so that’s been good. But (the cutter) is sharp and it’s about 81-82, so I was really proud of it today, it was going good.”

On to the rest of Friday’s highlights. The day’s slate was reduced by a host of rainouts in the Eastern part of the country, but three games between ranked foes still took place.

Top 25 Showdowns

calpoly• (4) Cal State Fullerton at (23) Cal Poly: Jordan Ellis (3-for-4, 3B) scored both of Cal Poly’s runs in a 2-1 win against Big West-leading Fullerton. Joey Wagman (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER) improved to 8-2 for the Mustangs, who broke a 1-1 tie with a run in the sixth against Thomas Eshelman (7.1 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K).

• (6) Florida State at (7) Virginia: The series opener was postponed by rain until Saturday.

• (13) UCLA at (10) Oregon: Brian Carroll drew a leadoff walk in the fifth, stole second and went on to score the only run of the game, as UCLA earned a big road win 1-0. Adam Plutko (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K) out-dueled Tommy Thorpe (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K), and David Berg (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K) picked up his ninth save.

• (15) North Carolina State at (14) Georgia Tech: Tarran Senay (3-for-6, HR, 6 RBI) led N.C. State’s 15-hit barrage against Buck Farmer (5 IP, 10 H, 7 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) and the Georgia Tech bullpen, as the Wolfpack won its 12th straight game, 13-4. Anthony Tzamtzis (3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R) and Grant Sasser (1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R) combined to work five hitless innings in relief of Ryan Wilkins (4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 6 K), who took over the Friday starter duties with Carlos Rodon moved back to Saturday.

• (17) Kentucky at (18) South Carolina: The series opener was postponed by rain until Saturday.

Top 25 Upsets

• Texas A&M at (12) Arkansas: Jonathan Moroney’s pinch-hit grand slam off Chris Oliver in the eighth inning lifted the Aggies to a come-from-behind 5-3 win at Arkansas. Barrett Astin (5.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 3 K) left with a 3-0 lead, but the Hogs’ bullpen could not hold it. Daniel Mengden (6 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) was solid in a no-decision for A&M, which snapped its four-game losing streak and is trying to end a three-series losing skid.

• Auburn at (16) Mississippi State: The Bulldogs won the the series opener (which was suspended Thursday and resumed Friday) 6-3, but the Tigers pulled off a 3-1 upset in the second game. Ross MItchell (3 IP, 4 H, 0 R) and Jonathan Holder (2.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K) provided stellar relief in the opener, and Wes Rea had two RBIs to lead the MSU offense. Kendall Graveman (7 IP, 10 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) was solid in defeat in the second game, but Michael O’Neal (7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K) held the Mississippi State offense in check, and Patrick Savage had two hits and two RBIs to lead the Auburn offense.

houston• (22) Rice at Houston: The Cougars chased Jordan Stephens (4 IP, 7 H, 7 ER) with five runs in the fifth and tacked on a crucial insurance run in the seventh en route to an 8-7 win against Rice. Frankie Ratcliff (3-for-4, R, 3 RBI, 2 3B) and Jonathan Davis (2-for-4, 2 RBI) led the Houston offense in support of Daniel Poncedeleon (5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K).

Other Top 25 Results

• (3) Louisiana State at Alabama: Aaron Nola (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K) followed up his first career complete game last week at Arkansas with a brilliant complete-game shutout in LSU’s 5-0 win. Raph Rhymes (3-for-4, 3 RBI, 2B, 3B) fell a homer shy of the cycle, leading LSU’s 11-hit attack.

• (8) Louisville at St. John’s: The Cardinals erased a 4-1 deficit with two runs in the eighth and four more in the ninth to beat St. John’s 7-4. Louisville scored four runs without getting a hit in the ninth, taking advantage of a walk, two hit batsmen, two wild pitches and a huge error by St. John’s shortstop Dustin Breshears that allowed three runs to score on the play. Jeff Gardner had three hits to lead the Louisville offense, and Chad Green (5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) was solid in a no-decision.

• Valparaiso at (9) Arizona State: Michael Benjamin (3-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 2B) led ASU’s 19-hit onslaught in support of Trevor Williams (6 IP, 9 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K), as the Sun Devils rolled to a 16-3 win. ASU broke open a 7-3 game with nine runs in the eighth.

• New Orleans at (11) Oklahoma: Slugger Matt Oberste (3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, 2B, 3B) moved to the leadoff spot and led Oklahoma’s 13-hit attack behind Jonathan Gray (6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 10 K), as the Sooners snapped a three-game losing streak with a 10-0 win against UNO, which fell to 6-34.

• (19) Indiana vs./vs./at Butler: The Hoosiers halted their four-game losing streak with a 12-2 thrashing of Butler. Sam Travis and Dustin DeMuth had three hits and two RBIs apiece, and Scott Donley went 4-for-4 with two RBIs in support of Joey DeNato (7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K).

• (20) Clemson at Miami: Thomas Brittle’s RBI groundout in the sixth inning gave Clemson its only run against Chris Diaz (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K), and that proved to be enough support for Daniel Gossett (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K) and the Clemson bullpen, as the Tigers won 1-0. Clemson has won 11 straight games, tied with fellow ACC team North Carolina for the nation’s second-longest active streak, behind another ACC team, N.C. State (12).

• (21) Mississippi at Tennessee: Bobby Wahl (9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K) took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and went on to throw the first complete game of his collegiate career, leading the Rebels to a 5-0 win. Stuart Turner and Christian Helsel had three hits apiece to lead Mississippi’s 14-hit attack.

(25) UNC Wilmington at George Mason: Ryan LaGrange (4-for-4, R, RBI) led the UNCW offense behind Mat Batts (6.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K), as the Seahawks won the series opener 4-2.

Other Highlights

• Stanford overcame a 3-0 deficit with three runs in the fifth and another in the sixth to win the opener of a big series against Arizona, 4-3. Austin Wilson hit a two-run single in the fifth, and Alex Blandino delivered a tie-breaking RBI double in the sixth, helping Mark Appel (6.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) improve to 7-2.

• In a matchup between two of the three teams that entered the weekend tied for first place in the Sun Belt Conference, Western Kentucky slugged its way past South Alabama, 10-8. Ryan Huck (2-for-5 , 3 RBI) led WKU’s balanced 12-hit attack, and the Hilltoppers held off South Alabama’s furious charge in the late innings.

• San Francisco won the opener of a big West Coast Conference series against Loyola Marymount, 10-5. Bradley Zimmer, Zachary Turner and Derek Atkinson combined for seven RBIs for the Dons, and Haden Hinkle (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 5 K) was stellar in relief of Abe Bobb (6 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). USF is 9-4 in the WCC.

• Nevada-Las Vegas outlasted San Diego State in 17 innings, 9-8. The Rebels overcame an 8-3 deficit in the seventh through ninth innings to force extra innings, and the score remained 8-8 until the 17th, when UNLV took advantage of an SDSU error to score an unearned run.

• Sticking in the Mountain West conference, New Mexico continued to surge, beating likely first-rounder Braden Shipley (7.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K) and Nevada, 5-2. Drew Bridges (5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) was solid in a no-decision for the Lobos, who got two hits apiece from D.J. Peterson and Josh Melendez. Peterson went 1-for-4 against Shipley, doubling in the sixth inning.

• Bryant carried a 19-game winning streak—the longest in Division I this year—into Friday’s game at Sacred Heart, but the Pioneers got a gem from Troy Scribner (9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 11 K) and pulled off the 4-1 upset.

• Florida won its seventh straight game, 8-6 at Missouri. Six Gators recorded multiple hits as part of an 18-hit assault in support of Jonathon Crawford (5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K), who improved to 3-5.

• Texas continued its slide, falling to 4-9 in the Big 12 with a 1-0 home loss to West Virginia. Harrison Musgrave (9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K) threw a gem for the plucky Mountaineers, who improved to 22-17 overall, 5-5 in the Big 12. Texas is trying to avoid its fifth straight conference series loss.

• Elsewhere in the Big 12, Oklahoma State earned a big 9-2 win against Kansas State, as Robbie Rea (2-for-3, 2 HR, 3 RBI) led the OSU offense behind Jason Hursh (7 IP, 11 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K).

• And Baylor continued its Big 12 charge, winning 3-2 at Texas Christian. Max Garner (7 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) and Preston Morrison (8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) were solid in no-decisions, and Mitch Price delivered a game-winning solo homer in the ninth.