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College Baseball Takeaways: Clemson, Miami Win Rivalry Thrillers

Miami Wins Rivalry Series Opener With Florida

The rivalry series between Florida and Miami always provides electric atmospheres and Friday was no exception at Mark Light Field for the No. 25 Hurricanes’ 5-2 win against the No. 18 Gators.

Miami (8-1) got five shutout innings from lefthander Carson Palmquist, who was making his first career Friday start. He gave up three hits and three walks with six strikeouts along the way. The scoring, meanwhile, got started in the fourth, when Miami third baseman Yohandy Morales connected for a mammoth two-run home run that disappeared well over the left field wall, a swing that he punctuated with a bat flip and some celebration as he made his way up the first base line.

Miami extended the lead to 4-0 in the fifth when Dominic Pitelli scored from second on a CJ Kayfus groundout and on an RBI double by Morales, with a Jacob Burke RBI groundout in the seventh adding insurance as Hurricanes righthander Andrew Walters shut the door with 2.1 scoreless innings of relief. The runs for Florida (8-3) came in the seventh on RBI singles for Sterlin Thompson and Wyatt Langford.

Florida has mostly controlled the rivalry between these two in recent years, but with one more win this weekend, Miami would secure back-to-back series wins over the Gators for the first time since 2008-09.

Clemson Rallies For Win At South Carolina

The Reedy River Rivalry again delivered a thrilling game Friday night, as Clemson defeated South Carolina, 3-2. The Tigers trailed for most of the night in Columbia before Jonathan French tied the game with a solo home run in the eighth inning and Bryar Hawkins delivered the go-ahead run with a two-out, ninth-inning single.

The game began with a pitchers’ duel between South Carolina’s Will Sanders and Clemson’s Mack Anglin. Sanders struck out 14 batters and held the Tigers to one run in seven innings, while he worked around six hits and five walks. Anglin also delivered a strong start, holding the Gamecocks to two runs on two hits and four walks in six innings. He struck out nine.

But it was Clemson that came out on top in the battle of the bullpens. The Tigers were able to push two runs across against Wesley Sweatt and John Gilreath, while Jackson Lindley, Alex Edmonson and Ryan Ammons combined for three scoreless innings.

The Tigers (9-0) remained undefeated with the victory and is off to its best start to a season since 2002. They also now will have home-field advantage as the series moves to Greenville, S.C., on Saturday before concluding Sunday in Clemson.

Mississippi State Wins Big, But Landon Sims Leaves Game With Trainer

Mississippi State this weekend traveled to New Orleans to take on red-hot Tulane. It looked like the kind of series that could be a tricky one for the Bulldogs.

On Friday, however, No. 11 Mississippi State more than took care of business, defeating the Green Wave, 19-2. While it was a big day for the offense, which scored a total of three runs on 12 hits in two midweek games against Grambling State and Southern Mississippi, the win was sullied by concern for ace Landon Sims.

Sims was off to a truly dominant start to the game, striking out 10 of the first 11 batters he faced. But he exited the game in the fourth inning with a trainer. After the game coach Chris Lemonis told 247 Sports’ Steve Robertson that they took Sims out because he didn’t feel right after his last pitch.

Any injury that keeps Sims out for an extended period would be awful news for Mississippi State (6-4). Sims last season was a first-team All-American as a relief ace and this year was voted a first-team Preseason All-American by MLB scouting departments as he moved to the rotation. He has been impressive in his new role and is 0-2, 1.15 with 27 strikeouts and two walks in 15.2 innings. Losing perhaps the best pitcher in the country would be a significant blow for the Bulldogs.

Behind Traxel, Early Runs, Cal State Northridge Upsets Stanford

Cal State Northridge (6-2) followed an effective script to score a 9-3 win at No. 2 Stanford. It jumped on  starter Alex Williams quickly, scoring five runs in the first three frames to force a move to the bullpen earlier than the Cardinal would have liked, it kept pressure on the  bullpen throughout, and perhaps most importantly, it got good starting pitching from righthander Blaine Traxel to neutralize a good Stanford offensive attack.

Traxel wasn’t perfect, as he gave up nine hits and three runs in 7.1 innings, but with no walks compared to seven strikeouts in his outing, he didn’t beat himself and limiting the Cardinal (6-3) to just three runs has to be seen as a win.

Offensively, CSUN DH Gabe Gonzalez had a big day, driving in five runs, including three on a three-run homer in the second inning to really jump the Matadors ahead. Second baseman Mason Le and right fielder Andrew Sojka also had three-hit games. Off to a 6-2 start, with one of those losses a 13-inning defeat against UCLA, CSUN looks like it might be a darkhorse contender in the Big West.

Stanford, meanwhile, has now lost back-to-back games after sweeping through last weekend's Round Rock Classic and throwing 24 straight scoreless innings in the tournament. It will look to get back on track Saturday.

Southeastern Louisiana Holds Down Arkansas Offense to Win 7-3

Southeastern Louisiana righthander Will Kinzeler turned in an outstanding start to help the Lions (5-5) to a 7-3 win against No. 10 Arkansas (5-3) on Friday in Fayetteville. He threw six innings, giving up five hits and one run with two walks and five strikeouts.

Offensively, the Lions didn’t do anything against the Razorbacks’ pitching staff in eight of the nine innings played, but in the one inning in which they pushed runs across, the sixth inning, they scored seven runs, three on singles, two on walks and one on a hit by pitch.

The Razorbacks have had a strange start to the season, even beyond being 5-3. They’ve now lost two Friday games at Baum-Walker Stadium after they also dropped a game Opening Day to Illinois State, and offensively, they’ve scored more than six runs in a game just once this season, in a blowout midweek win against Nebraska-Omaha.

There is good news and bad news about all of this for Arkansas. The bad news is pretty obvious. It hasn’t played up to preseason expectations so far, especially offensively. The good news, however, is that in spite of stumbling out of the gate, it hasn’t taken on a losing weekend yet and its pitching, if anything, has been solid enough to win thus far, suggesting that things should level out once this group begins to swing the bats better.

Gabriel Hughes Leads Gonzaga To Upset At Oklahoma State

Gonzaga ace Gabriel Hughes delivered a gem Friday night and led the Bulldogs to a 4-3 upset at No. 4 Oklahoma State.

Hughes struck out 11 batters in seven innings (one shy of his career high) and held the Cowboys to three runs on three hits and a walk. He threw 110 pitches.

Hughes spent the summer playing with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team and has carried that momentum into 2022. He’s thrown three straight quality starts to open the season and is 2-0, 3.12 with 30 strikeouts and five walks in 19 innings.

Gonzaga (7-2) got a strong offensive effort, outhitting Oklahoma State (6-3), 10-5. With a full-team effort, the Zags picked up another quality win as they continue a strong start to the season. Gonzaga’s lone losses on the year came on Opening Weekend against Oregon State in Surprise, Ariz.

Gonzaga last year won a series at Texas Christian, which helped push it into the hosting discussion. Another win in Stillwater this weekend could eventually carry similar weight on its postseason resume this spring.

Tracy Smith (Andrew Woolley Four Seam Images)

Michigan Hires Tracy Smith As Next Coach

Michigan tabbed Tracy Smith as its next baseball coach.

Northeastern Stifles NC State Offense

Things for the most part have gone swimmingly this season for the North Carolina State offense, but  Friday, the lineup was held to four hits in a 4-1 loss to Northeastern.

The Huskies (4-5) got excellent work from righthander Cam Schlittler, who threw eight innings, giving up three hits and two walks with five strikeouts on 100 pitches, 68 of which were strikes. He turned the ball over to highly-touted freshman righthander Dennis Colleran, who gave up a solo home run to NC State third baseman Josh Hood but was able to close the door and seal the victory.

Perhaps most impressively, Schlitter was the first pitcher to be able to slow down NC State freshman slugger Tommy White. Not only did White not add to his home run total, but he took an 0-for-4, giving him his first hitless game of the season and the first weekend game in which he did not homer.

Schlittler got run support early in this one as well, with the Huskies scoring three runs in the first on a two-RBI double off the bat of dynamic freshman center fielder Mike Sirota and an RBI single from left fielder Corey DiLoreto. As part of a big day for him individually, Sirota also drove in a run in the second on a sacrifice fly and scored a run in the ninth on a pinch-hit RBI infield single off the bat of Mark Darakjy.

For NC State (8-2), there’s little shame in a loss to a talented Northeastern team, but it does make it clear that things won’t be as easy offensively as they have been for the Wolfpack to this point of the season. There will be plenty of better days ahead for a talented lineup, but Schlittler is far and away the best starting pitcher they’ve faced this season and he pitched like it.

Ole Miss Outslugs UCF To Stay Undefeated

In one of Friday’s wilder games, No. 6 Mississippi hit five home runs to beat Central Florida, 8-7, in a back-and-forth game in Orlando.

Ole Miss scored all of its runs on home runs, starting with a three-run shot from TJ McCants in the fifth inning that gave it a lead. After UCF reclaimed the lead with a home run of its own in the bottom of the fifth, the Rebels got back-to-back-to-back home runs in the sixth from Peyton Chatagnier, Jacob Gonzalez and Tim Elko. Chatagnier added another home run the following inning and Ole Miss was able to hold on for the victory to remain undefeated.

Ole Miss (9-0) has one of the best offenses in the country and it was on full display Friday. The Rebels have hit 19 home runs on the season, led by Elko’s five. They are averaging 11.1 runs per game.

UCF (7-2) has been solid this season and nearly came away with a big upset Friday night. The Knights will turn to righthander Connor Staine as they look to even the series Saturday.

Erik Bakich Collects 300th Michigan Win In Victory Against Maryland

In a game between two Big Ten teams that officially counts as a non-conference contest, Michigan downed No. 21 Maryland 7-4, collecting a win to begin the Keith LeClair Classic in Greenville, N.C. and giving coach Erik Bakich his 300th win at Michigan.

The Wolverines (7-3) trailed 4-0 after five innings, thanks in part to three unearned runs allowed in the first inning, but the bats came alive late. A Tito Flores RBI double and a run-scoring fielder’s choice off the bat of Ted Burton made it 4-2 in the sixth. Then a Riley Bertram two-run homer in the seventh tied it 4-4. And in the eighth, Michigan took the lead for good on a Joey Velazquez pinch-hit three-run homer.

On the mound, a trio of Michigan relievers in Walker Cleveland, Noah Rennard and Willie Weiss held the Terrapins (8-1) scoreless over the final four frames.

Purdue, Wake Forest Improve To 10-0

Purdue and Wake Forest on Friday both improved to 10-0 on the season, matching top-ranked Texas for the best start to the season. While the Longhorns’ 10-0 start has come with plenty of fanfare, the Boilermakers and Demon Deacons have gone more under the radar.

On Friday, Purdue defeated Longwood, 6-1, in Holly Springs, N.C., while Wake Forest routed Massachusetts-Lowell, 13-3.

Purdue is now off to its best start to a season since 1909. It hasn’t played an onerous schedule – just one win has come against a team with a winning record (Charlotte) – but all 10 games have been away from West Lafayette. For a team that last season finished 12th in the Big Ten at 16-26, the start to this season represents a significant turnaround.

Wake Forest is 10-0 for the first time since 1964 and has been an offensive force, outscoring opponents, 130-33. Like Purdue, Wake Forest’s schedule wouldn’t be confused with a murderer’s row. The Demon Deacons have played just one team with a winning record (Georgetown), but they have played half their games against teams that reached the 2021 NCAA Tournament and came into the season as favorites in their respective conferences (New Jersey Tech and Virginia Commonwealth). And, like Purdue, Wake Forest is coming off a tough 2021 season.

Purdue and Wake Forest will have a chance to further prove themselves as the season goes on, but for now they’re as hot as any team in the country.

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