College Baseball Takeaways: Louisville, Auburn Record Big Upsets
Louisville Outslugs No. 1 Notre Dame
This weekend’s series between Louisville and No. 1 Notre Dame presented a clash of styles. The Cardinals came into the weekend ranked third in the nation in scoring (10.3 runs per game) and the Fighting Irish ranked second in the nation in team ERA (1.66).
In Friday’s opener, Louisville’s offense got the better of Notre Dame’s pitching staff. The Cardinals knocked starter Aiden Tyrell out after the first inning and never stopped scoring in a 16-11 victory. The victory snapped the Irish’s 10-game winning streak.
It was a back-and-forth game early, with Notre Dame throwing some blows and Louisville consistently responding. The game was tied at nine after five innings and from there the Cardinals started to pull ahead. Cameron Masterman homered to lead off the sixth inning and they pushed another run across in the inning. They scored five in the seventh, taking advantage of four walks, to put the game away.
It was a full team effort for the Louisville offense. Eight of its starters had at least a run, a hit and an RBI. Masterman and Levi Usher homered, and Jack Payton collected three hits. Louisville’s offense has been humming at a high level lately. Friday marked the fourth straight game the Cardinals have scored at least 10 runs and the eighth time they have done so this season.
Friday was Notre Dame’s worst day on the mound by far this season. The Irish (12-2, 2-1) hadn’t given up 16 runs total over their last eight games and last gave up at least 16 runs in a game April 2, 2019.
Louisville (14-4, 1-0) has operated a bit under the radar so far this season after losing two out of three in a tournament at South Florida on Opening Weekend. But over the last few weeks, the Cardinals have built momentum going into their ACC opener Friday. There’s still some things to work out with their pitching staff, but the way they’re hitting, they look like a team that will make noise in ACC play all spring.
Auburn Evens Series With Blowout Of No. 2 Ole Miss
Auburn will go into Saturday with a chance to win a series against No. 2 Mississippi thanks to a 19-5 win for the Tigers (14-5, 1-1) against the Rebels (14-4, 1-1) Friday night.
After failing to put up runs in the first two innings, Auburn got going with a four-run third inning that included a two-run double for right fielder Bryson Ware. And from that point forward, the Tigers never stopped scoring. All told, they scored in six different half innings, in each case putting up a crooked number.
It was a big day at the plate for a number of Auburn hitters, as you might expect. Third baseman Blake Rambusch went 4-for-6 with two doubles and four RBIs out of the leadoff spot. Center fielder Kason Howell had a home run and three RBIs. First baseman Sonny DiChiara had a home run and four RBIs. Left fielder Mike Bello was 3-for-3 with four runs scored in the nine spot in the lineup.
On the mound, lefthander Hayden Mullins gave up one run on two hits and four walks in five innings.
On the other side, Ole Miss had all kinds of trouble stringing together outs. Six different pitchers took the mound for the Rebels, and all of them gave up at least one run. Starter Derek Diamond gave up five hits on four hits and four walks in 3.1 innings. The Ole Miss lineup is going to be able to patch over bad nights on the mound often this season, but there’s little it can do to keep up when the opposition has a 19-run night.
Palmquist, Explosive Offense Lead Miami To Win
Miami’s offense jumped on Clemson pitching early and often, providing a comfortable lead quickly on the way to an 11-4 win Friday night against the No. 15 Tigers.
The Hurricanes (12-5, 3-1) got two runs in the first, two more in the second and four in the fourth, which more or less put the game out of reach right away. Left fielder Edgardo Villegas drove in runs on two occasions in those early rallies, plating one on an RBI groundout in the second and two more on a two-RBI double in the fourth.
Much of that early damage came against Clemson righthander Mack Anglin, who gave up runs in bulk for the first time Friday, surrendering six runs in three innings. His walk total had been a little elevated so far this season, and that continued against Miami with five walks issued in three innings, but he hadn’t been hurt by it until Friday.
Miami also added three insurance runs late to keep Clemson at an arm’s length, even as the Tigers (14-3, 0-1) tried to claw back in it, thanks in large part to solo homers for second baseman Blake Wright in the eighth and ninth innings.
Suffice it to say that Miami lefthander Carson Palmquist got a ton of run support, even though he didn’t need it. He threw 6.1 shutout innings, giving up three hits and two walks with 11 strikeouts. It was a much-needed bounce back for Palmquist, who got roughed up last weekend to the tune of 10 runs (nine earned) in 3.2 innings against Boston College.
Clemson, meanwhile, after starting the season 14-0, has hit a three-game skid. The Tigers lost Sunday in their series finale against Northeastern and lost again Tuesday against Georgia State. They'll look to snap that streak Saturday.
Oregon State Hammers Arizona State
No. 3 Oregon State routed Arizona State, 21-0, in Corvallis. It was the Beavers’ biggest win in conference play since 1954.
The Beavers (13-3, 3-1) wasted no time lighting up the scoreboard. They scored 20 runs in the first five innings, posting crooked numbers every time. They pounded out 17 hits on the night and drew 15 walks.
Freshman second baseman Travis Bazzana went 3-for-7 and hit a grand slam, Oregon State’s lone home run of the night. He drove in eight runs and scored three more. The grand slam was the Australian native’s first career home run.
Not to be lost in the offensive explosion was lefthander Cooper Hjerpe. He struck out 12 batters in seven scoreless innings. He held the Sun Devils to one hit and two walks and allowed just one runner to reach scoring position.
Oregon State has raced out to a fantastic start to the season and Friday’s rout only strengthens its case as the best team in the Pac-12.
Tennessee Stays Hot, Beats South Carolina
Tennessee has been one of the most consistent teams in the country this season and opening SEC play Friday against South Carolina did nothing to slow down the Volunteers.
No. 9 Tennessee bashed four home runs and got another excellent start from freshman righthander Chase Burns and defeated South Carolina, 8-3. The victory extended the Volunteers’ winning streak to nine games.
Burns was not phased by his introduction to SEC competition. He held South Carolina to one run on two hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He struck out nine batters. Burns improved to 4-0, 0.67 with 34 strikeouts and nine walks in 26.2 innings.
Tennessee’s powerful offense gave Burns all the support he needed. Four different Vols—Cortland Lawson, Luc Lipcius, Jorel Ortega and Evan Russell—homered, accounting for all but one of their runs. As a team, Tennessee has now hit 50 home runs in 18 games, by far the most in the nation.
Little has slowed Tennessee (17-1, 1-0) this season. So far, the Volunteers have played much the way they did last season, when they won the SEC East and reached the College World Series for the first time since 2005. There’s still a long way to go to reach Omaha, but Tennessee looks like it has what it will take to make a return trip.
Wake Forest Upsets Georgia Tech In Atlanta
Georgia Tech’s offense is good enough that it’s best to get a quick start rather than find yourself trying to play catch up, and that’s precisely what Wake Forest did in a 5-3 win against the No. 14 Yellow Jackets.
The Demon Deacons (15-3, 2-2) got three runs in the first against Georgia Tech righthander Chance Huff on a three-run blast off the bat of shortstop Michael Turconi and grabbed extremely important insurance runs in the fourth and fifth on an RBI groundout for first baseman Nick Kurtz and an RBI fielder’s choice from DH Jake Reinisch, respectively.
Georgia Tech (14-4, 3-1) kept pace early with runs in the first, second and fourth, but Wake Forest righthander Rhett Lowder mitigated damage well in his five innings, and the bullpen slammed the door shut over the last four innings.
Wake Forest is showing early signs of being a much-improved team this season, and one more win this weekend to clinch the series win at Georgia Tech would be another huge step in that direction.
Jonathan Cannon Leads Georgia To Big Win
Behind a sensational start from righthander Jonathan Cannon, No. 18 Georgia shut out Mississippi State, 11-0, to open SEC play.
Cannon was voted a Preseason All-American by MLB scouting departments and on Friday he looked every bit like a premium SEC ace. He struck out nine batters in eight scoreless innings and held Mississippi State to three hits and no walks. He worked efficiently and threw 99 pitches.
While the game finished in a rout, Cannon spent most of the night in a pitcher’s duel with Preston Johnson, who delivered a quality start and struck out 10 batters in six innings.
Johnson was solid, but Cannon was excellent. He retired the first 12 batters he faced before Logan Tanner doubled to lead off the fifth inning. Mississippi State (11-7, 0-1) didn’t get another runner into scoring position until the eighth inning.
Cannon improved to 4-1, 1.83 on the season. He has struck out 37 batters and walked just one in 34.1 innings. He’s gone at least six innings in all five of his starts—including his worst outing of the year when he gave up six runs at Georgia Tech.
With Cannon at the front of its rotation, Georgia (15-3, 1-0) makes for a formidable matchup on Friday nights. The Bulldogs have won six straight and are now need just one more win this weekend to clinch a big series win to open SEC play.
Behind Riley Cornelio, TCU Opens Big 12 Play With Victory
With righthander Riley Cornelio pitching the game of his career, Texas Christian defeated Baylor, 3-0, Friday night to get Big 12 play started in impressive fashion.
TCU (12-4, 1-0) didn’t do a ton offensively, as Baylor (9-8, 0-1) got good work out of lefthander Tyler Thomas (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R), but the Frogs did enough. In the fifth, it broke a scoreless tie with a solo home run off the bat of shortstop Tommy Sacco. It scored another single tally in the seventh when second baseman Gray Rodgers scored on a wild pitch, and it got its final run on an RBI double for first baseman David Bishop in the eighth.
The big story, though, was clearly the performance of third-year sophomore righthander Riley Cornelio, who threw eight scoreless innings, allowing two hits and one walk with seven strikeouts on 101 pitches.
A blue-chip prospect coming out of the Colorado prep ranks, Cornelio arrived at TCU with much fanfare, but his first two seasons were a struggle, with just 17.2 total innings to show for them. He’s been solid so far this season, but nothing like what he showed against the Bears.
It remains to be seen if the Cornelio we saw Friday is the Cornelio we’ll see moving forward, but if he’s even a fraction as good the rest of the way, it will be a massive development for a TCU team that could use a true high-ceiling Friday guy who can go toe-to-toe with any other pitcher in the league.
Southern Mississippi Out-Slugs Florida Atlantic To Begin C-USA Play
It’s not necessarily the way the team has won games so far this season and it’s also not necessarily the program’s typical way of doing things, but Friday, Southern Mississippi got out the bats to take down Florida Atlantic, 9-7.
FAU got to USM righthander Tanner Hall for three runs in the first three innings, including one on a Nolan Schanuel solo home run in the third, but the Golden Eagles (12-6, 1-0) fought back for five runs of their own in the bottom of the third, three of them crossing the plate on a three-RBI triple off the bat of Will McGillis.
From there, the teams traded blows. FAU (13-6, 0-1) tied it 5-5 in the sixth. USM jumped back out ahead 7-5 in the bottom of the seventh on a single by Carson Paetow that brought home two runs, one on the hit itself and another on a throwing error. And after FAU tied it again 7-7 in the top of the ninth, USM walked off with a win in the bottom of the ninth on a two-run homer for Danny Lynch.
It’s a big win for USM, not just because it gets them off on the right foot in conference play, but also because it shows the Golden Eagles’ ability to win games when it gets off schedule on the mound.
Luis Ramirez Shines In Return For Long Beach State
Long Beach State righthander Luis Ramirez was scratched from his start last week against Gonzaga due to a minor injury. At the time, the Dirtbags said the plan was for Ramirez to return this week for the Big West opener against Hawaii.
That plan came to fruition and Ramirez was outstanding in his return to the mound. He threw seven scoreless innings and helped the Dirtbags to a 4-0 victory.
Ramirez struck out 10 batters and held Hawaii to two hits and a walk. The hits came early for the Rainbow Warriors (6-11, 0-1), as they recorded them in the first five batters of the game. After that, however, they didn’t collect a hit the rest of the night, as righthander Matt Fields finished the game with two perfect innings.
Ramirez improved to 2-0, 0.36 on the season. He has struck out 28 batters in 25 innings and limited opposing hitters to 15 hits and four walks. He has allowed just one extra-base hit.
Long Beach State (9-7, 1-0) last weekend lost Friday night without Ramirez, but came back to win the series against Gonzaga and has now won four straight. The Dirtbags have righted the ship following a six-game losing streak that came on the heels of their Opening Weekend series win at Mississippi State.
Now, with Ramirez back at the front of the rotation, the Dirtbags are in an excellent position going into conference play.