Tennessee had hit just four home runs in its first 13 games. Florida sophomore ace Logan Shore had given up a grand total of one in his college career, and none this season. So of course, the Volunteers pounded three homers in the top of the first inning on Friday night in Gainesville, hit four in the game and went on to down No. 2 Florida 6-3 on the opening night of SEC play.
In the cases of two of the Tennessee home run hitters—junior A.J. Simcox and sophomore Nathaniel Maggio—the homers were the first of their careers. Feels like a time to break out the old saying: that’s baseball.
“(Shore) left the ball up and Tennessee was obviously geared up for his fastball,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan told gatorzone.com. “He didn't locate the ball and it was just that simple. He was one strike away from getting out of the inning down 1-0, but their guy (Maggio) had a really good at-bat. He just left the ball up. There really isn't anything else other than that. He has to get all of his pitches going. They had a game plan to jump his fastball and they did, so credit them."
The Vols’ power surge was only half the story though. Senior righthander Bret Marks baffled the Gators for eight innings, carrying a no-hitter into the ninth before giving up a leadoff single to Dalton Guthrie. Marks walked the next hitter and was subsequently pulled, but his eight innings pitched nonetheless established a career high, and he struck out eight.
An unsigned 22nd-round pick of the Yankees in 2012, Marks pitched two seasons at Wallace State (Ala.) CC before coming to Tennessee in 2014. He posted a 6.43 ERA in limited action for the Vols in his first year in the program last year, but he’s pitched his way into the Friday starter’s role this spring and lowered his ERA to 1.17 with Friday’s effort.
“When the guys start swinging the bat like I know they’re capable of, it made it feel easy,” Marks told utsports.com. “For me, Benito (Santiago) and (David) Houser were awesome behind the dish. The defense made some great plays behind me. The guys did a great job and I couldn’t be happier for them.”
Pegged as a regional team before the season, the Vols entered the weekend just 7-6, having taken series losses to Florida International and UC Irvine. One more win in Gainesville could change their outlook in a hurry.
Onto the rest of the night, where upsets and rainouts abounded.
SEE ALSO: Video highlights from Friday’s action
Top 25 Upsets
(3) Virginia at Virginia Tech: Nathan Kirby (7.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 6 K) gave Virginia another fine outing, but the Cavs could do nothing with Virginia Tech’s Sean Keselica (9 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) and lost their second straight game, 2-1. Each team scored a run in the first inning, and the score would remain 1-1 until the bottom of the ninth, when the Hokies loaded the bases with one out. The Cavs turned to closer Josh Sborz to try to get them out of the jam, but he missed with four straight pitches to Brendon Hayden for a walk-off walk.
(8) Oregon at California: After starting 13-2, Oregon has suddenly lost three straight after getting dropped 9-3 in its Pac-12 opener at Cal. Max Dutto and Chris Paul homered for the Golden Bears, who opened up a 6-0 lead through four innings to hand Cole Irvin (3 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K) his first loss of the year. Cal has been surging itself, winning 13 of 14 games since losing a home series to Duke on opening weekend.
(14) Texas Tech at San Diego State: The Red Raiders’ second weekend on the West Coast hasn’t started any better than the first one. After getting swept at Cal State Fullerton last week, the Raiders were trounced 9-0 in Friday’s series opener at San Diego State. The Aztecs got a dominant outing from Bubba Derby (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K), while Ryan Moseley (5 IP, 7 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) took his second loss for Tech as SDSU scored twice in the first, four times in the fourth and never looked back.
Oregon State at (16) Arizona State: Andrew Moore (7.1 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K) and Seth Martinez (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K) dueled to a standstill, as the Beavers and Sun Devils remained scoreless until the top of the ninth. The Beavers finally broke through on Caleb Hamilton’s RBI single off Ryan Burr, set up by a walk and an error. Freshman Mitch Hickey closed it out in the bottom of the ninth as the youthful Beavers won their 11th straight to improve to 15-3.
(17) North Carolina at Pittsburgh: UNC scored the second-most runs it has in a game all season, but its own pitching collapsed in a back-and-forth 12-9 loss at Pitt. The Panthers knocked Zac Gallen (3.2 IP, 6 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 3 BB, 0 K) out in a six-run fourth, only to see UNC come back to take the lead on Skye Bolt’s three-run homer in the sixth. That lead was short lived, as Pitt tied the game in the bottom of the inning and went ahead for good on Charles Leblanc’s RBI single in the seventh off Trent Thornton.
Wake Forest at (18) Florida State: The third upset of the day in the ACC came in Tallahassee, where Wake Forest stopped Florida State’s 11-game winning streak cold with a 4-1 win. Matt Pirro (5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) improved to 5-0 for the Deacs, who opted to bring scheduled Sunday starter Parker Dunshee (3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R) out of the bullpen to finish the job. Wake outhit FSU 12-4 for the game.
(21) UC Santa Barbara at Wichita State: Dillon Tate (8 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) threw well once again, but the UCSB bullpen couldn’t protect a 2-1 lead in the ninth, losing 3-2. Daniel Kihle’s RBI single off Joe Record tied it and, after a pitching change, Jordan Farris’ walk-off RBI single off Connor Baits ended it. Woody Woodward (2-for-4, 1 RBI) led the Gauchos offense.
Southern Illinois at (25) Illinois: Here’s the real biggest upset of the night, as SIU came into Friday just 2-13 yet went to Champaign and shut out Illinois 2-0 behind a superb effort from Aaron Hauge (8 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 6 K). The Salukis scored both their runs in the top of the third off Kevin Duchene (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K), who took his first loss of the year.
Other Top 25 Results
Mississippi at (1) Louisiana State: Conner Hale’s two-run double keyed a three-run fourth inning as LSU ran its winning streak to 14 with a 6-4 win against Ole Miss to open SEC play, handing the Rebels’ Christian Trent (7 IP, 9 H, 6 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) his first collegiate loss in the process. The Rebels were able to get Jared Poche’ (5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) out of the game in the sixth, but the LSU bullpen preserved the lead, with freshman Jesse Stallings picking up his nation-leading eighth save.
Baylor at (4) Texas Christian: TCU won its Big 12 opener in typical fashion, as Mitchell Traver (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) and two relievers combined to hold Baylor to four hits in a 3-1 win. Cody Jones (4-for-4) led the TCU offense and drove in the first run of the game with an RBI infield single in the third.
Arkansas at (5) Vanderbilt: Rain washed out three of the SEC’s seven series openers, including this one between the Commodores and Razorbacks. They’ll play a doubleheader Saturday.
Fairfield at (6) Central Florida
UCF senior Tommy Williams hit for the cycle, while standout freshman Cre Finfrock (7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 11 K) turned in the best start of his young career as the Knights breezed past winless (0-6) Fairfield 11-1. Dylan Moore and Derrick Salberg also had three hits apiece, while the Knights piled up 17 as a team.
Kentucky at (7) South Carolina: Kentucky actually had a 1-0 lead through four innings, but Max Schrock’s grand slam in the fifth turned the game around, and South Carolina kept piling on from there en route to a 10-1 win. Wil Crowe (7 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 10 K) retired 16 of the final 18 Kentucky hitters he faced and matched a career high for strikeouts. He and reliever Cody Mincey (2 IP, 0 H) combined on a one-hitter.
Washington State at (9) Southern California: The Trojans eased into Pac-12 play with a 10-3 win against Washington State, led by four hits from leadoff man Bobby Stahel. The Cougars did keep it close until USC pulled away with a four-run sixth, keyed by Timmy Robinson’s two-run double. Brent Wheatley (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K) picked up the win.
Auburn at (10) Texas A&M: Grayson Long (6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) assumed the Friday starter’s role, replacing the injured A.J. Minter, and the Aggies kept rolling, beating Auburn 6-2 to stay perfect at 19-0. Hunter Melton (2-for-4) had all six RBIs for the Aggies, his second-inning grand slam off Keegan Thompson (7 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) giving them the lead for good.
Washington at (11) UCLA: While the UCLA offense still looks to regain its footing, the Bruins got a sterling performance from ace James Kaprielian (7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K) to edge Washington 2-0. Kevin Kramer’s solo homer, his fourth of the year, in the bottom of the first gave UCLA a lead it would hold all night, although the Bruins wouldn’t score again until scratching out an insurance run in the bottom of the eighth.
Louisiana Tech at (12) Rice: Kevin McCanna (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K) gave the Owls a strong start, but they trailed 2-1 entering the bottom of the eighth before rallying for three runs to win it 4-2—a rally that featured only one hit. Three walks, a passed ball and a sac fly gave Rice the lead. Charlie Warren’s RBI single to make it 4-2 was the Owls’ only base knock of the inning.
Boston College at (13) Louisville: Weather also washed out the series opener between the Cardinals and Eagles. Their battle for bird superiority will wait for a Saturday doubleheader.
Alabama at (15) Mississippi State: Another one sunk by rain. Another doubleheader Saturday.
North Carolina State at (19) Miami: The one ranked ACC team to avoid Friday’s upset bug was Miami, albeit barely. David Thompson’s walk-off home run leading off the bottom of the 10th gave the Hurricanes a 3-2 win against N.C. State. The Canes had to piece together their pitching after starter Thomas Woodrey was a late scratch with a stomach virus, using six pitchers to hold NCSU scoreless after the second inning.
Texas Southern at (20) Dallas Baptist: The Patriots won their seventh straight by a 6-1 count against Texas Southern. Drew Turbin and Chane Lynch led the offense with two hits apiece, while Cory Taylor (6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) picked up his second win.
West Virginia at (22) Texas: The other Big 12 series to get underway Friday nearly saw another upset as Texas came from behind to beat West Virginia 4-3 in 10 innings. The Longhorns trailed 3-1 before solo homers by Brooks Marlow in the sixth and C.J. Hinojosa in the seventh brought them back. Parker French (9 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) went nine innings but did not get a decision. Marlow led off the bottom of the 10th with a double and came in to score on Connor Macalla’s walk-off sac fly.
(23) Cal State Fullerton at Indiana: Mother Nature won in Bloomington as well, so these two will kick their series off with a doubleheader Saturday.
Buffalo at (24) Houston: Trying to get back on track, Houston won its third straight by drubbing 3-8 Buffalo by a 9-1 score. Andrew Lantrip (7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 12 K) set a career high for strikeouts, and Josh Vidales (3-for-3, 2 RBI) paced the Cougars offense.