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College Baseball Roundup: Michigan, Georgia Tech Score Key Wins

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Michigan lefthander Tommy Henry (Photo by Tomas DeRosa)

Michigan Gets Statement Win To Start Dodger Stadium Classic

Michigan came into the season ranked No. 20 and was projected as the Big Ten Conference favorite. Entering this weekend, the Wolverines had done nothing to disprove those expectations, but they also had yet to play a projected regional team.

So, this weekend at the Dodger Stadium Classic in Los Angeles, and especially on Friday night at No. 2 UCLA, was a big opportunity for No. 18 Michigan.

The Wolverines didn’t miss their chance. They came out swinging Friday night at Jackie Robinson Stadium, scoring four runs in the top of the first inning and never looking back, en route to a 7-5 victory.

Junior lefthander Tommy Henry, who is climbing draft boards this spring, delivered another strong start, though UCLA (9-3) did snap his scoreless innings streak with two runs in the third inning. Henry had opened the season with 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He finished Friday’s start with 10 strikeouts in six innings and held the Bruins to two runs on six hits and two walks.

With the victory, Henry improved to 4-0, 0.62 with 44 strikeouts and four walks in 29 innings. As a 6-foot-3, 205-pound lefthander with a low-90s fastball, a good slider and the ability to locate his stuff, he is pitching his way toward the first day of the draft.

The Wolverines’ offense provided Henry with plenty of support Friday. All nine starters produced at least one hit and they tagged righthander Zach Pettway for six runs. First baseman Jordan Brewer led the charge, going 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI and outfielder Miles Lewis added two hits and two runs.

Sophomore center fielder Jesse Franklin, a prominent 2020 draft prospect, has struggled so far this season and is hitting .152/.333/.242. But he showed some signs of life Friday. He hit a two-run double in the first inning to give Michigan a 3-0 lead and finished the night 1-for-3 with a walk.

Franklin isn’t the only young Michigan hitter who is off to a slow start. DH Dom Clementi (.176/.300/.176) missed the first two weeks of the season due to injury and is still rounding into form. Catcher Joe Donovan (.226/.342/.484, 2 HR) is also still finding his footing at the plate.

Michigan’s pitching staff, led by Henry, has offset those slow starts. Once the Wolverines’ offense starts firing on all cylinders, they should be able to find a whole extra gear.

On Friday night, Michigan (9-2) showed what it is capable of. It will try to build on that result the rest of the weekend at the Dodger Stadium Classic, as it visits Southern California (4-8) on Saturday and takes on Oklahoma State (8-4) at Dodger Stadium on Sunday. With Friday’s victory, the Wolverines have positioned themselves well for a marquee weekend in LA.

Georgia Tech Scores Pivotal Win Over Miami

Mother Nature had her way with much of the slate Friday as the Atlantic Coast Conference opened league play, and series openers for No. 22 Duke at Virginia, Notre Dame at Wake Forest, and No. 3 North Carolina at No. 21 Clemson were postponed due to poor weather.

There was, however, plenty of drama to go around in Friday’s 5-4 victory in 10 innings for Georgia Tech (10-4) at Miami (10-3), which ended minutes after No. 6 Florida State walked off with a 9-8 win over Virginia Tech on a three-run double by J.C. Flowers.

With the game in Coral Gables tied at 4 in the top of the tenth, Georgia Tech catcher Kyle McCann unloaded a no-doubt home run, his tenth of the season, to put the Yellow Jackets on top, 5-4.

Not willing to go quietly in the bottom half, the Hurricanes put two men on before to third baseman Raymond Gil sent a ball deep to right field, only to have right fielder Colin Hall make a leaping catch to secure the win.

The North Carolina vs. Clemson series or the Virginia Tech vs. Florida State series might be more high-profile because they involve highly ranked teams, but there may not be a more important series this weekend than the one between Georgia Tech and Miami when it comes to postseason implications.

Both programs are historical powers in the sport, but both are also coming off of back-to-back seasons that ended without a postseason run, which is unheard of in both places. Now, they’re in similar spots within the ACC pecking order and they’re looking for an early leg up in conference play. That certainly gives this series outsized importance, even when you take into consideration its early placement on the schedule.

The Yellow Jackets have several players scuffling out of the gate, including the usually steady trio of Chase Murray, Luke Waddell, and Tristin English, who came into the Miami series hitting .211, .212, and .213, respectively. Their struggles have been offset by the torrid start from McCann, who has begun a Player of the Year campaign in earnest.

The junior backstop, who also has a walk-off homer against UCLA on his ledger, has slugged seven home runs in the month of March already.

The good news is that the rest of the offense is showing signs of coming around. English hit two home runs in Friday’s win, Murray collected two hits and a walk, and Waddell had a hit and a walk as well. McCann’s been doing a lot of heavy lifting so far, but that may not have to be the case for much longer.

If McCann’s early-season exploits have been one major storyline for the Yellow Jackets, the performance of redshirt junior righthander Jonathan Hughes, finally healthy after several years of battling injuries, is another.

In Friday’s win, he threw 3.2 scoreless innings in relief of righthander Xzavion Curry, bringing his ERA down to 0.66 on the season. With bullpen quality and depth having been a concern for Georgia Tech in recent years, that’s a welcome sight.

There will be tougher ACC tests ahead for both teams this season, but this is the type of swing series that can make a big difference when splitting hairs between potential postseason teams, and Georgia Tech landed an important first blow.

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Vanderbilt Clinches SEC Title, Stanford Starts Strong

Vanderbilt clinched the SEC title and Stanford opened a pivotal series against Oregon State with a win.

Ace Watch

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

Logan Allen, LHP, Florida International: Allen was dominant again this week, as he and righthander Jan Figueroa combined for a two-hit shutout against Seton Hall. The sophomore struck out 11 batters in seven scoreless innings and limited the Pirates to one hit and one walk. Allen has not given up a run since Opening Day and has thrown 18 straight scoreless innings. With the win Friday, he improved to 2-1, 1.57 with 42 strikeouts and eight walks in 23 innings.

Cooper Chandler, RHP, Pepperdine: In a 1-0 victory UC Davis, Chandler threw a shutout, striking out seven batters, walking none and scatter five hits. The sophomore worked efficiently, throwing 98 pitches and facing just three hitters over the minimum. Chandler this season is 1-0, 1.85 with 15 strikeouts and five walks in 24.1 innings.

Reid Detmers, LHP, Louisville: The sophomore continued his stellar season with 7.2 scoreless innings in Louisville’s 4-0 victory against Boston College to open ACC play. He struck out 13 batters, walked none and limited the Eagles to three hits. Detmers this season is 3-0, 0.33 with 41 strikeouts and five walks in 27.2 innings. He has thrown 22 consecutive scoreless innings.

Pauly Milto, RHP, Indiana: Against host Washington at the Seattle Baseball Showcase at T-Mobile Park, Milto was outstanding in leading Indiana to a 1-0 victory. He carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning before pinch hitter Noah Hsue’s two-out single broke up the effort. Milto finished the night with eight scoreless innings, six strikeouts and allowed just three baserunners – a hit, a walk and a hit batter. The senior is 3-1, 1.86 with 29 strikeouts and three walks in 29 innings.

Andre Pallante, RHP, UC Irvine: Behind a strong performance from their ace, the Anteaters beat St. John’s, 3-0, their sixth win in their last seven games. Pallante struck out nine batters in seven scoreless innings, scattering five hits and a walk. The 2018 All-American improved to 2-1, 3.32 with 30 strikeouts and seven walks in 21.2 innings.

Around The Horn

— No. 10 Louisiana State (10-3) put together a wild ninth-inning rally to get past California (6-5) with a 4-3 victory. Things got crazy with a man on first, Drew Bianco, and two outs in the frame. Down to his final strike, designated hitter Giovanni DiGiacomo beat out an infield single on a slow chopper to third base. Hal Hughes actually struck out behind him, but the ball got away from Cal catcher Korey Lee, allowing Hughes to reach to load the bases. Then, Josh Smith dunked a softly-hit two-run single into center field to send the Tigers home victorious. It wasn’t the prettiest win, but after getting swept at Texas last weekend, LSU will take it.

Gonzaga (5-6) picked up a quality 6-4 win at Texas A&M (13-3), a team on the cusp of the Top 25. Zags righthander Casey Legumina got the best of A&M lefthander John Doxakis, throwing five shutout innings while the Bulldogs’ offense chased the Aggie starter after hanging three runs on him in four innings of work. Gonzaga didn’t get off to an ideal start this season, and it’s still fighting to get back above .500, but this victory, as well as it’s sweep of Southern Mississippi last weekend, could pay big dividends come May if it does enough to put themselves into the postseason discussion.

Oregon State (11-1) and Minnesota (2-9) put on a dandy of a game in the inaugural Seattle Baseball Showcase at T-Mobile Park. Gophers sophomore righthander Max Meyer, who has been electric as a closer, was excellent in his debut as a starter. Unfortunately for Minnesota, his only blemish was the two-run homer he allowed to Oregon State catcher Adley Rustchman, which pushed the Beavers to a 2-1 win. Meyer held Oregon State to four hits in six innings, walked none and struck out eight. Minnesota has played a very tough schedule to this point of the season, all on the road, but a 2-9 start is not what it had in mind coming off of a super regional appearance. Meanwhile, Beavers righthander Kevin Abel was scratched before the game after he reportedly tweaked his back, but word out of the Oregon State camp is that the 2018 Freshman of the Year is all right. Righthander Grant Gabrell started in his stead and held the Gophers to one run in 4.2 innings before lefthander Christian Chamberlain threw 4.1 scoreless innings to finish the game.

— No. 4 Stanford (10-3), with a resounding 8-1 win, evened their four-game series with No. 9 Texas (12-4). Sophomore Jacob Palisch was outstanding in giving up just four hits and one run in six innings, and catcher Maverick Handley continues to be a catalyst in the lineup, going 2-for-5 with three RBI out of the leadoff spot.

Arizona State (13-0) stayed undefeated with a 12-0 drubbing of Xavier (5-6). First baseman Spencer Torkelson was pitched to quite carefully, as he was walked twice, but he did manage one hit and he scored all three times he reached base.  Catcher Lyle Lin and second baseman Carter Aldrete had huge games, as each had three hits and they combined to drive in six runs. Arizona State is one of four remaining undefeated teams (Florida State, North Carolina State and Tennessee) in the country. Don’t look now, but with this series against Xavier, a midweek game against New Mexico State, next weekend’s Pac-12 Conference opener with Washington State, and the following midweek game against California Baptist, the Sun Devils are perhaps the leader in the clubhouse to be the last undefeated team remaining this season.

Nebraska (5-6) showed fight last weekend at the Frisco Classic and came away with a marquee win over then-No. 8 Texas Tech. On Friday, Nebraska returned to the Lone Star State and took down No. 25 Baylor (9-3) by a 12-4 score thanks to huge games from third baseman Angelo Altavilla and catcher Luke Roskam. Altavilla, looking for a bounce back junior season, hit two home runs, driving in five. Roskam went 4-for-6 on the evening with a homer and four RBI. Roskam came into Friday’s game hitting just .189, so the Huskers certainly hope this outburst will help him get the ball rolling.

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