Roundup: Georgia Tech, Miami, Southern Miss All Score Key Wins

Image credit: Miami RHP Evan McKendry (Photo by Cliff Welch/Getty Images)

Southern Miss Strikes First

In the season’s first series between ranked teams, No. 21 Southern Mississippi traveled to No. 9 Mississippi State this weekend for a highly anticipated series in the Magnolia State. In last year’s edition of the series, the Golden Eagles swept the Bulldogs at home on Opening Weekend, the start of an ignominious first week of the season for Mississippi State.

With the series this year taking place in Starkville at the new Dudy Nobel Field, Mississippi State was eager to get some revenge. But the Golden Eagles had other ideas. After an outstanding pitchers’ duel between starters Walker Powell and Ethan Small, Southern Miss scratched out a run in the 10th inning and held on for a 1-0 victory to start the weekend.

Friday’s opener didn’t lack for drama. In the 10th inning, the Golden Eagles finally broke through when Erick Hoard delivered a two-out single. Brant Blaylock, who began his college career at Mississippi State before transferring to junior college and then Southern Miss, replaced Hoard as a pinch runner. Blaylock took second on a wild pitch and then scored on freshman Charlie Fischer’s pinch-hit single.

Mississippi State got the tying run on base with two outs in the bottom half of the 10th, but lefthander Ryan Och, a redshirt freshman, retired Gunnar Halter for the final out of the night. Och threw 2.1 scoreless innings of relief to pick up his first career victory.

Och’s impressive night came after an outstanding outing from Powell. The righthander limited the Bulldogs to five hits in 7.2 innings. He struck out two batters, walked none and worked efficiently, throwing only 77 pitches.

Powell and Och combined to throw Southern Miss’ first extra-innings shutout since 2015, when it beat Old Dominion, 2-0, in 12 innings in the Conference USA Tournament.

Small matched Powell, holding Southern Miss to one hit in seven innings. The lefthander struck out 13 batters, walked none and was also efficient, throwing 84 pitches.

Southern Miss (4-0) is off to a strong start to the season after sweeping Purdue on Opening Weekend and needs just one more win over the next two days to score a series win that would resonate all year long. Mississippi State (4-1) was dealt its first loss of the season and will look to bounce back Saturday with Preseason All-American JT Ginn on the mound.

Georgia Tech, Miami Score Top-Five Upsets

Georgia Tech and Miami are traditionally two of the Atlantic Coast Conference’s premier programs. But neither has made the NCAA Tournament in the last two years.

As the Yellow Jackets and Hurricanes try to get back on track this season, they both scored big wins Friday night. Georgia Tech upset No. 3 UCLA, 4-3, on a walk-off home run in the 11th inning, and Miami beat No. 4 Florida, 5-2, in Gainesville.

UCLA (4-1) came to Atlanta without having allowed an earned run in its first four games. Georgia Tech (3-1) snapped that streak with two runs in the second inning against righthander Zach Pettway. But Pettway settled into the game and delivered a quality start.

Georgia Tech got a solid start out of righthander Xzavion Curry, and righthanders Jonathan Hughes and Tristin English combined for 5.2 scoreless innings of relief.

The effort out of the bullpen paid off for Georgia Tech when Kyle McCann, who is taking over behind the plate for Joey Bart, launched a leadoff home run in the 11th for the Yellow Jackets’ second straight walk-off win. McMann has homered three times already this season.

A few hours later, Miami scored a big win of its own in Gainesville. The Hurricanes took an early 2-0 lead against Preseason All-American Tyler Dyson, but the Gators fought back to tie the game in the sixth. Miami struck for two runs in the top of the seventh and went on to a 5-2 victory in which it outhit Florida, 13-5.

Righthander Evan McKendry was excellent for Miami, striking out nine batters in seven innings. He held Florida to two runs on four hits and a walk and threw 91 pitches.

Dyson, meanwhile, again was not sharp for the Gators. The righthander held Miami to two runs and struck out three batters but gave up six hits and a walk. He threw 92 pitches in four innings.

Miami (5-0) has gotten off to a strong start to the season, sweeping Rutgers last weekend and beating Florida Atlantic on Tuesday. But a series win in Gainesville would be a much louder result for the Hurricanes and first-year head coach Gino DiMare.

Things have not been as easy for the Yellow Jackets, however. Georgia Tech went 2-1 in the Atlanta Challenge last weekend, beating Illinois-Chicago on Opening Day before losing, 7-1, to Richmond and needing extra innings to beat West Virginia. It doesn’t have a road series until March 8-10, when it begins ACC play at Miami. A series win against UCLA would help it build some key momentum in the early part of its schedule before a very challenging start to ACC play.

Ace Watch

Friday night is for college baseball’s aces. Here we highlight some of the best pitching performances of the day.

Ryan Anderson, LHP, Nevada: Anderson threw seven hitless innings at Long Beach State in a 1-0 victory. The junior struck out 11 batters and walked four, setting career highs for both strikeouts and walks. Anderson improved to 2-0, 0.75 with 17 strikeouts in 12 innings this season. He has limited opponents to four hits and five walks.

Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville: The sophomore threw seven hitless innings against Brown in a 7-0 victory. Detmers, a potential first-round pick in the 2020 draft, struck out 11 and walked just one, while throwing 89 pitches. He improved to 1-0, 0.75 with 14 strikeouts in 12 innings this season.

Dustin Lacaze, RHP, Texas A&M-Corpus Christi: Lacaze threw seven hitless innings against Oral Roberts in a 5-1 victory for the Islanders. He struck out 11, walked four and threw 99 pitches. Lacaze has yet to allow a run in 13.2 innings this season. He has 16 strikeouts and has held opponents to three hits and six walks.

Alek Manoah, RHP, West Virginia: Matched up against Georgia Southern ace Seth Shuman, a potential top-10 rounds pick, the Preseason All-American delivered another strong start to help West Virginia to a 5-1 victory in Statesboro. Manoah struck out eight batters in 6.1 innings and held the Eagles to one run (unearned) on two hits and two walks. The big righthander improved to 1-0, 0.73 with 21 strikeouts and two walks in 12.1 innings. Shuman, meanwhile, struck out nine batters in six innings, gave up one run and scattered four hits and two walks.

Noah Song, RHP, Navy: Song was dominant in a 2-1 victory against Air Force in Kinston, N.C. The senior recorded the first 10 outs of the game via strikeout and finished the night with 14 punchouts in six scoreless innings. In four years against the Falcons, Song is a combined 3-0, 0.00 with 47 strikeouts and has held them to six walks and 10 hits in 21 innings. 

Around The Horn

— Inclement weather Friday across the eastern half of the country led to a bevy of rainouts and altered schedules. Just among Top 25 teams, there were six rainouts, including top-ranked Vanderbilt’s series opener against Pepperdine. In some parts of the Southeast, the bad weather is expected to persist into Saturday, which would make for a frustrating weekend for many teams.  

— In a doubleheader sweep against Michigan State to open its Brittain Resorts Baseball at the Beach, No. 23 Coastal Carolina outscored the Spartans 25-5. The Chanticleers (6-0) had to replace some key pieces to their lineup this season, but so far the new-look offense is off to an impressive start. They are averaging 10.5 runs per game and are hitting .359/.474/.567 as a team with eight home runs. Center fielder Parker Chavers, who homered in both games against Michigan State, is hitting .400/.462/.900 with three home runs this season. Coastal’s slate toughens the rest of the weekend, as it will face Kent State and North Carolina State, both of which made regionals last season.

Grand Canyon (3-2) rode big games from outfielder Quin Cotton and righthander Kade Mechals to open its series at No. 24 Texas Christian (3-2) with a 4-1 victory. Cotton, the 2018 Western Athletic Conference player of the year, went 2-for-4 with a home run, a stolen base and two runs. Mechals held TCU to one run on three hits and two walks and struck out six batters in 6.1 innings to improve to 2-0.

Illinois used a four-run, ninth-inning comeback to defeat Florida Atlantic, 7-6, and remain undefeated. The Illini (4-0) were trailing, 6-3, going into the ninth inning at Boca Raton and facing righthander Zach Schneider, FAU’s star closer. They quickly made up the difference when Ben Korte hit a three-run home run, his second homer of the game. Then, with two outs, Illinois loaded the bases on back-to-back singles and an intentional walk to Michael Massey. That brought Zac Taylor to the plate and he drew a four-pitch walk to push across the go-ahead run. Righthander Garrett Acton struck out two batters in a perfect ninth inning to pick up his second save of the year. Illinois is off to a 4-0 start for the first time since 2015, when it went on to win a program record 50 games and reach super regionals.

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