Image credit: Michigan first baseman Matt Schmidt (Photo courtesy of Michigan)
The 2020 season may have been just a month long, but there was no shortage of outstanding games in those four weeks of action.
There were no-hitters galore—several of them quite unconventional—dramatic finishes and games that went well into the night.
There were also games that are likely to define how we think about a team’s 2020 season, like Long Beach State’s series-opening win over Mississippi State, Florida’s multiple airtight victories over Miami and Mississippi’s series of statement-making wins over the course of several weeks.
Here are the 25 best games from a season gone too soon.
1. Michigan 4, Vanderbilt 3 – Feb. 14
This Opening Day game got the season started with a bang. In a matchup of the two 2019 College World Series finalists, Michigan righthander Jeff Criswell and Vanderbilt righthander Mason Hickman both turned in solid pitching performances, and Michigan’s fifth-year senior first baseman Matt Schmidt connected for a two-run homer in the top of the ninth to turn a 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 Wolverines win in the blink of an eye.
2. Oklahoma 1, Louisiana State 0 – March 1
Oklahoma righthander Dane Acker and Louisiana State righthander A.J. Labas had dueling no-hitters going into the eighth inning on the final day of the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic in Houston, right up until Sooners catcher Justin Mitchell connected for a solo homer to begin the eighth. From there, Acker finished the no-no, striking out 11 Tigers along the way and giving Oklahoma its first individual no-hitter since 1989.
3. Florida 2, Miami 1 (11 inn.) – Feb. 21
The quality of the Friday night matchup between Florida and Miami was fitting of the magnitude of this series, with both teams in the top three of the rankings at the time. Both Florida righthander Tommy Mace (7 IP, 2 H, 1 R) and Miami righthander Brian Van Belle (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R) were outstanding, and it took an 11th-inning Gators run on an RBI double by right fielder Jacob Young to provide the difference.
4. Mississippi 7, Louisville 6 – Feb. 16
This was the game that really started the Rebels on a path that ended with them finishing inside the top ten in the Top 25. After splitting the first two games of the series, Ole Miss won the rubber match thanks in large part to a 2-for-3 day with two walks from shortstop Anthony Servideo, punctuated by a strikeout/caught stealing double play to end the game.
5. UC Davis 4, Loyola Marymount 3 (24 inn.) – Feb. 28
This game started Friday, Feb. 28 and finished Saturday, Feb. 29 due to a suspension for darkness. It took so long to finish that the teams had to play a doubleheader Sunday to get the rest of the series in. By innings, this game fell just short of the record-setting 25-inning game between Texas and Boston College from the 2009 Austin Regional.
6. Texas Tech 6, Florida State 5 (11 inn.) – Feb. 29
Texas Tech won both of its games against Florida State as part of a three-team tournament that also included Florida Atlantic, which helped propel them to ending the season as the No. 2 team in the country. In the matchup Feb. 29, Texas Tech first baseman Cole Stilwell drove in four runs and the Red Raiders took the lead in the 11th on a throwing error by FSU third baseman Carter Smith.
7. Liberty 6, Marist 4 – Feb. 29
In a 2020 season that ended up being filled to the brim with no-hitters, this was by far the strangest. Three Flames pitchers held the Red Foxes hitless, but eight walks, a hit batter and an ill-timed error allowed Marist to score four runs anyway and it was still a 4-4 game in the bottom of the eighth before Liberty scored two runs to put it away.
8. Long Beach State 4, Mississippi State 0 – Feb. 28
This win will go down as the highlight of a 2020 season that was full of them for the Dirtbags. Lefthander Adam Seminaris threw eight shutout innings and struck out 10, allowing just one hit and two walks along the way.
9. Duke 8, Cornell 0 – Feb. 21
It wasn’t much of a game from a scoreline standpoint, but this Friday tilt between the Blue Devils and Big Red gave us the most dominant pitching performance of the season. Duke righthander Bryce Jarvis threw a perfect game and struck out 15, all on just 94 pitches.
10. UNC Greensboro 1, Fairfield 0 – Feb. 22
The Spartans no-hit the Stags in this win. Lefthander Jake Lewis threw the first seven innings, with righthander Austin Parsley handling the final two frames. That’s notable on its own, but this game also featured the return of UNCG skipper Billy Godwin, who had suffered a stroke the previous weekend. In the grand scheme of things, Godwin’s return is the headline, with the no-hitter providing icing on the cake.
11. Florida State 2, Florida 0 – March 11
Florida State ended an 11-game losing streak to rival Florida with a midweek win just a couple of weeks ago. To make it extra sweet for the Seminoles, they handed the top-ranked Gators their first loss of the season, snapping a 16-game winning streak for the last unbeaten team in the country. Lefthander Antonio Velez set the tone with six innings, giving up one hit and two walks with seven strikeouts, and freshman first baseman Dylan Simmons went 3-for-4.
12. Mississippi 2, East Carolina 1 – Feb. 29
In a road atmosphere that rivaled what you would see in a regional (only without the warm weather of June), Ole Miss righthander Gunnar Hoglund stepped up to the big moment and allowed just five hits and one unearned run to the Pirates in six innings of work, and the Rebels continued a hot start to the season.
13. Villanova 2, Arizona State 1 – Feb. 15
The first massive upset of the 2020 season, Villanova played tough with Arizona State the first weekend of the season and even captured this win Saturday. Righthander Gordon Graceffo threw 5.1 innings, giving up two hits and one run. He was relieved by lefthander Danny Wilkinson, who threw 3.2 shutout innings. The Sun Devils were walked nine times in the game, but just never could make the Wildcats pay.
14. Florida 7, Miami 4 (10 inn.) – Feb. 22
The only series with two different games appearing on this list, this rivalry showdown between then top-three teams lived up to every bit of the hype. After the first game went 11 innings, game 2 went 10. Tied 2-2 going into extra innings, the Gators exploded for five runs in the top of the tenth and then held off a Hurricanes rally in the bottom half of the frame.
15. Navy 2, Penn State 1 (11 inn.) – March 6
It was impressive that Navy was able to push this game into extra innings while getting no-hit, but then the Midshipmen did one better and scored a run in the bottom of the 11th to walk off with the win, all while still getting no-hit. The winning run scored thanks to two Penn State errors in the 11th.
16. UC Santa Barbara 6, Oregon State 0 – March 6
On the surface, this looks like a fairly routine win for the Gauchos. Righthander Rodney Boone threw 5.1 shutout innings and the UCSB offense used two different three-run innings to build an insurmountable lead. But looking closer, the Gauchos collected just one hit, with only two of their six runs coming on an RBI hit, a two-RBI triple by shortstop McClain O’Connor in the fifth inning. The Beavers fared only a little better, scratching out two hits in the loss.
17. Arizona State 6, New Mexico State 5 (10 inn.) – Feb. 25
Perhaps the best prospect matchup of the 2020 season came in this midweek game, which pitted Arizona State first baseman Spencer Torkelson against New Mexico State shortstop Nick Gonzales. Neither player saw much to hit, as Torkelson walked five times with Gonzales drawing two free passes, and neither player had a hit, but the game itself helped make up for it, with the Sun Devils walking off with the win on a bases-loaded walk by left fielder Trevor Hauver.
18. Mississippi State 3, Texas Tech 2 – March 11
The most recent game on this list, Mississippi State capped a two-game midweek sweep of Texas Tech with a hard-fought win. Tied 1-1 in the bottom of the seventh, the Bulldogs took the lead on RBI doubles from first baseman Josh Hatcher and DH Luke Hancock.
19. Grand Canyon 5, Stanford 3 (18 inn.) – Feb. 28
This game happened on the same night the Davis-LMU marathon got underway, so perhaps it got overshadowed by the sheer absurdity of that game, but it deserves its own accolades. The teams combined to use 14 pitchers who threw a total of 577 pitches before a three-run 18th inning for the Lopes gave them a lead they wouldn’t relinquish.
20. UCLA 3, Vanderbilt 2 – March 6
Coming into this game, there was excitement about it being Vanderbilt righthander Kumar Rocker’s return to the mound after he missed his previous start, but it ended up being UCLA righthander Zach Pettway’s night after Rocker was chased in three-plus innings. Pettway threw six innings, giving up three hits and two runs (one earned) with no walks and four strikeouts.
21. Iowa 5, North Carolina 4 (10 inn.) – Feb. 29
North Carolina was sitting pretty heading to the bottom of the ninth with a 4-0 lead at the Cambria College Classic in Minneapolis, but Iowa bounced back to score four runs in the ninth to send it to extra innings and then captured the win in the bottom of the tenth on a walk-off homer off the bat of Austin Martin.
22. Baylor 8, Nebraska 7 (10 inn.) – Feb. 15
In a game of streaks, Baylor jumped out to a 6-1 lead after the fourth inning and Nebraska came back to take a 7-6 lead after the sixth. Then the Bears scored a tying run in the ninth on an RBI groundout off the bat of second baseman Ricky Martinez and walked it off in the 10th on an RBI single from first baseman Chase Wehsener.
23. Georgia 5, Santa Clara 4 (12 inn.) – Feb. 22
Santa Clara played Georgia well all weekend, and in game 2 of the series, it took the Bulldogs 12 innings to come away with the win. Tied 3-3 going to the tenth, the teams traded runs in the inning before Georgia won in walk-off fashion in the 12th on a home run off the bat of left fielder Tucker Bradley.
24. Texas Southern 8, Mississippi State 4 – Feb. 25
This might be the biggest upset of the abbreviated 2020 season, given that TSU came into the game 0-9 on the season and Mississippi State was then ranked in the top five. Texas Southern head coach Michael Robertson called it the second-best win in program history, behind only the Tigers’ 2004 upset of host Rice in the Houston Regional.
25. San Diego 7, Monmouth 0 – Feb. 28
Righthander Jake Miller tossed a no-hitter against Monmouth to begin a three-game series. He walked two, struck out ten and did it all in fairly efficient fashion, on just 102 pitches. It was the first no-hitter for San Diego since Josh Romanski no-hit Harvard back in 2008. Miller wasn’t even scheduled to start the game—the sophomore made his first start of the season after a late scratch.