Friday Roundup: Mark Appel Shows Off Mature Approach At USC

LOS ANGELES—Mark Appel didn’t have his best stuff Friday at Southern California. But what he did have was pretty darn good.

The No. 1 prospect in college baseball was efficient, falling one out shy of his fourth complete game of the year and leading Stanford to a 4-2 win at Southern California. Appel conserved his energy by pitching to contact in the later innings, throwing back-to-back six-pitch innings in the seventh and eighth. He finished with seven strikeouts and just one walk, allowing two earned runs on seven hits over 8 2/3 innings.

“He didn’t have his good stuff tonight, but he battled,” Stanford coach Mark Marquess said. “It was probably one of his better games, considering the circumstances—we left a lot of guys on base and couldn’t get anything for him. He only threw 108 pitches, so he did a good job.”

Marquess said Appel’s slider wasn’t as sharp as it normally is, but the 85-88 slider still served as his putaway pitch on five of his seven strikeouts. His fastball sat at 95-97 and bumped 98 during the first three innings before settling in at 92-94 and touching 95-96 in the second half of the game. He also mixed in his 81-84 mph changeup effectively, even against a USC lineup that featured eight righthanded hitters.

Mark Appel (Photo by Larry Goren)

Mark Appel (Photo by Larry Goren)

“I think Coach is right in that it definitely wasn’t my best stuff,” said Appel, a senior righthander. “In the course of the season, you’re going to have a bunch of games where you have your best stuff, and then probably half the games where you’re going to have to compete and battle. Tonight was one of those games where I think I was gripping my slider too tight, I was yanking off. They have a lot of righties, which you usually don’t see when a righty is on the mound. I just didn’t get a good feel for the slider, kind of had to rely on the fastball and changeup, pitch to contact a little bit to get deep into the game.”

It was a winning formula—as usual. I’ll have more on Appel in the next week or so at

Two more notes for Stanford: first-team preseason All-America slugger Austin Wilson, who has been sidelined since Feb. 16 with a stress reaction in his elbow, returned to action as Stanford’s DH. He walked in the third, struck out looking in the fourth and was lifted for a pinch-hitter in a big spot in the sixth. Another Stanford star who recently returned from injury, A.J. Vanegas, recorded the final out after USC put two men on with two outs in the ninth. Vanegas worked at 92-94 mph and threw two solid sliders at 82-83.

“Getting wilson back and getting Vanegas back, that helps us,” Marquess said. “Having Vanegas back is a big plus for us. I’m real proud of him—he’s come back and thrown well. That’s his third or fourth time out, and his control has been outstanding, which is surprising, and his velocity has been good.”

On to the rest of Friday’s highlights.

Top 25 Showdowns

• (2) Vanderbilt at (17) Mississippi: The Commodores tied the score with an unearned run in the fifth against Bobby Wahl (6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 6 BB, 8 K), then scored single runs in the eighth and ninth against Tanner Bailey en route to a 3-1 win. Kevin Ziomek (7.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) improved to 6-1 for Vandy, and Brian Miller (1.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R) earned his ninth save. Mike Yastrzemski scored the go-ahead run on Spencer Navin’s sacrifice fly in the eighth.

Aaron Nola

Aaron Nola (Photo by Andrew Woolley)

• (7) Kentucky at (3) Louisiana State: The Tigers broke a 1-1 tie with four runs in the fifth against A.J. Reed (5 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 4 ER), then extended the lead with three runs in each of the next two innings en route to an 11-1 win. JaCoby Jones (3-for-5, R, 2 RBI, 2B) led the LSU offense in support of Aaron Nola (7 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K). Alex Bregman extended his hitting sreak to 18 games with an RBI triple in the seventh. At 28-2, LSU has matched the best 30-game start in school history (1986).

• (6) Oregon State at (10) UCLA: Adam Plutko (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) was outstanding in UCLA’s 3-2 win. Brian Carroll’s RBI single in the seventh against Matt Boyd (6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) proved to be the game-winner, as Boyd took his first loss of the season (6-1).

• (11) Oregon at (24) Arizona State: Freshman R.J. Ybarra’s walk-off RBI single in the 11th propelled Arizona State to a 6-5 win in a back-and-forth affair. The Sun Devils built a 5-1 lead against Jake Reed (5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) through seven innings, but the Ducks rallied back with four runs in the eighth to chase Trevor Williams (7.1 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K). Michael Benjamin and Jake Peevyhouse had two hits and two RBIs apiece for ASU, while Ryon Healy did likewise for Oregon.

Top 25 Upsets

• (12) Georgia Tech at Duke: Lefthander Trent Swart (8 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K) rocked Georgia Tech to sleep in a 2-0 upset. Tech ace Buck Farmer (8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) threw 71 of 89 pitches for strikes, including the first 19 pitches of the game, but he wound up taking his first loss of the season.

• (19) Houston at Marshall: In a slugfest that featured a combined 39 hits, Marshall bludgeoned its way to a 19-13 win. Eric Escobedo (3-for-6, 4 R, 3 RBI) and Sergio Leon (2-for-5, HR, 6 RBI) led the Marshall onslaught against Daniel Poncedeleon (3.1 IP, 7 H, 6 ER) and the Cougars. Frankie Ratcliff (3-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI) homered for Houston, which had all nine starters record hits as part of a balanced 18-hit attack.

• (21) Cal Poly at UC Santa Barbara: Austin Pettibone (8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) bested Joey Wagman (6 IP, 11 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) in the Gauchos’ 4-2 victory. Tyler Kuresa had three hits to lead the UCSB offense.

• (22) Virginia Tech at North Carolina State: Grant Clyde (3-for-7, 3 R) singled to lead off the 14th, advanced to second on an error, reached third on a balk and scored on a wild pitch, propelling the Wolfpack to an 8-7 victory. Chris Overman (4.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K) provided outstanding relief work for N.C. State, and Carlos Rodon (5.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 10 K) reached double-digit strikeouts despite not pitching his best. Andrew Rash (3-for-7, 2B, HR, 3 RBI) led the offense for the Hokies.

• (23) San Diego at Loyola Marymount: Colin Welmon (8 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K) improved to 5-1 in LMU’s 4-0 win against Michael Wagner (6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) and the Toreros.

Other Top 25 Results

• Maryland at (1) North Carolina: Skye Bolt (3-for-4, 2B, 5 RBI) and Cody Stubbs (2-for-4, 2B, 4 RBI) led the UNC offense behind Kent Emanuel (8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K), as the Tar Heels cruised to a 12-4 win.

• (4) Cal State Fullerton at UC Davis: Thomas Eshelman (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K) extended his career-opening walk-free streak to 58 innings in the Titans’ 3-0 win.

• (8) Florida State at Miami: The Seminoles erased a 2-0 deficit with two runs in the eighth, then scored two more in the ninth to win 4-2. Luke Weaver (5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) moved into the Friday starter job and took a no-decision for the Seminoles, who got four combined innings of one-hit, scoreless relief from Gage Smith and Robby Coles. Giovanny Alfonzo’s RBI double off Eric Nedeljkovic provided the go-ahead run in the ninth.

• (9) Louisville at Cincinnati: Nick Ratajczak (4-for-6, 2 R, 2 RBI) spearheaded Louisville’s 15-hit attack in an 8-3 win. Dace Kime earned the win with two scoreless, hitless innings of relief of Chad Green (4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER).

• (13) Oklahoma at Texas: Jonathan Gray (6.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K) improved to 6-1 in Oklahoma’s 2-1 win. Matt Oberste’s school-record hitting streak ended at 30 games, but Anthony Hermelyn (2-for-3, RBI) led the OU offense.

• (14) Arkansas at Alabama: Brian Anderson (2-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B) was one of six Hogs to record multiple hits in support of Ryne Stanek (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K), who posted his second stellar start in three weeks, leading Arkansas to a series-clinching 6-0 win.

• (15) South Carolina at Tennessee: After L.B. Dantzler reached on an error, Max Schrock delivered a tie-breaking RBI double in the ninth to lift the Gamecocks to a 5-4 win. Nolan Belcher (6.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) was solid in a no-decision for South Carolina.

• Illinois at (16) Indiana: The Hoosiers jumped out to a 3-0 lead over the first two innings, and Joey DeNato (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) and the IU bullpen made it stand up, as Indiana stretched its school-record winning streak to 17 games with a 3-2 victory. The first-ever night game at Indiana drew a sellout crowd of 2,757, the largest crowd in school history.

• (18) Rice at East Carolina: The Owls broke a scoreless tie with three unearned runs in the ninth against Jeff Hoffman (8.2 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K) to win 3-0. Austin Kubitza (7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 10 K) and Zech Lemond (1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K) combined on a five-hit shutout.

• Villanova at (20) Notre Dame: Ricky Sanchez hit a walk-off RBI single in the 11th to lift Notre Dame to a 4-3 win. Pat Connaughton (4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 1 K) moved into the Friday starter role and took a no-decision, and Dan Slania (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K) earned the win with stellar relief.

• (25) Florida Atlantic at Louisiana-Monroe: Nathan Pittman and Mitch Morales had two hits and two RBIs apiece in support of Austin Gomber (7 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 9 K), leading the Owls to an 8-6 win.

Other Highlights

• Michael Cederoth (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 14 K) was overpowering in San Diego State’s 2-0 win against Nevada and ace Braden Shipley (8 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K), who fell to 4-1.

• Mississippi State took control with four runs in the third against Jonathon Crawford (5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 2 ER, 5 BB, 4 K) and went on to a 7-3 win over Florida. Luis Pollorena (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) improved to 5-1 for the Bulldogs.

• Indiana State ace Sean Manaea missed his start at Wichita State with a strained hip muscle, though the Sycamores hope he can go Sunday, according to reports. The Shockers took advantage of Manaea’s absence, beating Indiana State 4-1 behind Cale Elam (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K).

• Speaking of Missouri Valley Conference aces, Missouri State’s Nick Petree (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) did not give up an earned run but still took his first loss of the season, 2-1 at Illinois State. Chris Razo (9 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 K) was masterful for the Redbirds.

• Michael Suiter (4-for-5, R, 2 RBI, 2B) led Kansas’ 12-hit attack against Jason Hursh (3.2 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 2 K) and Oklahoma State, as the scrappy Jayhawks won the series opener, 7-5.

• Johnny Field and Trent Gilbert had three hits apiece behind Konner Wade (8.2 IP, 6 H, 1 ER) in Arizona’s 10-1 win against California.