College Takeaways: Texas, Oregon Capture Statement Wins Friday
Ty Madden Dazzles In Win Against South Carolina
Game 1 of the marque series between No. 10 South Carolina and No. 20 Texas in Austin lived up to expectations, as a classic pitchers duel broke out between Longhorns righthander Ty Madden and Gamecocks righthander Thomas Farr.
Farr tossed six innings, giving up seven hits and one run with one walk and 10 strikeouts, only to be outdone by Madden, who gave up three hits and one run with three walks and five strikeouts in seven innings.
Tied 1-1 going to the bottom of the eighth, Texas plated three runs, two on a double by Zach Zubia and one on a D.J. Petrinsky single. The Longhorns (9-5) went on to win, 4-1.
To succeed in this series, Texas was going to have to slow down the middle of the South Carolina lineup, and while DH Wes Clarke did have two singles, which made up half of the Gamecocks’ hits, consider that mission accomplished through one game.
Oregon Stays Red-Hot In Win At Oregon State
A week ago, Oregon’s offense exploded for 36 runs in a four-game sweep at UC Santa Barbara. That was a difficult test for the Ducks, but the schedule offered no let up. Next up: a (non-conference) rivalry showdown with No. 17 Oregon State, which entered the weekend with a 1.64 team ERA and on a 10-game winning streak.
On Friday, facing righthander Kevin Abel, the 2018 Freshman of the Year, the Ducks again showed they were more than up to the challenge. They got to Abel early, scoring four runs in the second inning and knocking him out in the fifth. Oregon (7-2) didn’t let up and got a great start from lefthander Robert Ahlstrom to roll to a 7-0 victory.
Veteran slugger Kenyon Yovan continued his sensational start to the season, going 2-for-5 with a home run – his fifth in as many games. Outfielder Tanner Smith added two hits of his own, including a three-run triple.
As good as the Ducks were offensively, their pitching staff silenced the Beavers’ offense and just one runner advanced past first base. Ahlstrom struck out 10 batters, walked none and scattered three hits over seven innings. Relievers Hunter Breault and Nico Tellache combined for two scoreless innings to complete the shutout.
The Ducks are now one win away from winning a series against their in-state rivals for the first time since 2016, which also came in Corvallis. While these games won’t count in the conference standings, they’re also stating their case as contenders in the Pac-12.
Louisville Starts Strong Against Boston College
Coming off a tough series loss last weekend at Georgia Tech, No. 15 Louisville this weekend has a big opportunity to bounce back at home against No. 13 Boston College. That’s just what the Cardinals did Friday with a 7-3 victory.
Louisville (9-4, 2-2) dug an early hole when three errors led to three unearned runs for BC in the first two innings. But the Cardinals got back on track and lefthanders Michael Kirian and Adam Elliott combined to contain the Eagles’ powerful offense. Elliott was especially good out of the bullpen, throwing four scoreless innings and holding BC to one hit and a walk.
Louisville’s own offense was patient against righthander Mason Pelio, a Preseason All-American. He walked six batters and the Cardinals made him pay, scoring five runs in 4.1 innings against him.
The key for the Cardinals now will be winning one of the next two games to claim the series. They also won the opener last weekend at Georgia Tech before giving up 32 runs over the final two games of the series. Louisville will this weekend be able to turn to righthander Glenn Albanese, its Opening Day starter, who is slated to pitch Saturday after missing the last two weeks. If he can deliver a quality start, it might be enough to flip last weekend’s result.
Pittsburgh Battles Back Late At Georgia Tech
Pittsburgh continues to prove its mettle within the ACC, this time with an 11-9 win at No. 7 Georgia Tech.
Pitt trailed 5-0 after six innings. At that juncture, Yellow Jackets lefthander Brant Hurter had thrown six scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts. But in the seventh, the Panthers pounced when the Georgia Tech defense let down Hurter, with a Tres Gonzalez miscue in left field letting in three runs. Pitt went on to score one in the eighth and then seven in the ninth, including the tying and go-ahead tallies on a two-RBI single by right fielder Kyle Hess.
First baseman Bryce Hulett went 3-for-5 and catcher Riley Wash was 4-for-5 to help lead the Pittsburgh lineup, which collected 19 hits.
Hurter has been up and down this season for Georgia Tech, and while he wasn’t perfect on Friday, giving up 10 hits in his six-plus innings, he gave the Yellow Jackets what they needed. But the bullpen’s ability to close out wins continues to be a concern. As good as Tech’s offense is and as good as the starting pitching has been in spurts, it stands to reason that the bullpen is going to have to be more consistent for the team to carry on as ACC title contenders.
Gonzaga Lineup Enjoys Field Day At TCU
Gonzaga scored an upset win at Texas Christian, 13-8. The teams traded blows early, with the Horned Frogs taking an 8-7 lead after the fifth, but Bulldogs lineup hit the gas pedal from there while their bullpen held the line.
The big blow came in the top of the sixth, when the Bulldogs (7-7) scored three runs on a bases-clearing double off the bat of Andrew Orzel as part of a two-hit day for the third baseman. Shortstop Brett Harris went 3-for-4 with two walks and six different players had at least two hits when it was all said and done.
Lefthander Bradley Mullan threw the final 3.2 innings for Gonzaga, giving up three hits and one run to close out the win.
This is far from the only offensive outburst that Gonzaga has had this season. It scored 17 runs in an opening weekend win over Kansas State and scored 10 and 19 runs in two victories over Dallas Baptist the next weekend. The ability to put those types of run totals on the board will make this a dangerous team against anyone.
2021 Big 12 Baseball Stock Watch
After yet another thrilling finish in the Big 12 last season, we take stock of where things stand in the conference in the aftermath of the 2021 season.
Cal Poly Stating Its Case
With a home series this weekend against No. 8 UCLA, Cal Poly has an excellent chance to make a statement before Big West play begins next weekend. It took a big step to doing just that Friday with a 5-4 victory.
The Mustangs (7-4) fell behind 3-0 after three innings before grabbing the lead in the middle innings. UCLA tied the game in the eighth inning, but Cal Poly bounced right back and took advantage of an error by Preseason All-American shortstop Matt McLain in the bottom half of the inning to score what turned out to be the winning run.
Shortstop Brooks Lee went 2-for-4 with a two-run triple and center fielder Cole Cabrera added two hits and two runs. The Mustangs also got impressive work from their bullpen, as Kyle Scott and Dylan Villalobos combined to hold the Bruins to one run over the final 4.2 innings – including two hitless innings from Villalobos to finish the game.
Since losing a series against Nevada on Opening Weekend, Cal Poly has won six of its seven games. Half of those victories have come against Pac-12 competition (it also beat Southern California twice). The Mustangs were voted fourth in the Preseason Big West coaches’ poll, but another win this weekend might install them as the new conference favorites. UC Santa Barbara and UC Irvine were picked first and third, respectively, but are off to up-and-down starts. Long Beach State, meanwhile, has yet to play a game because it is this season limited to a conference-only schedule.
Tough Day For Last Weekend’s Hot-Starting Big Ten Teams
With the exception of No. 22 Michigan (4-1), which beat Purdue 9-1, Friday was a difficult day for the Big Ten teams that got off to a fast start last weekend.
Indiana’s games against Penn State on Friday were postponed after coach Jeff Mercer tested positive for Covid-19. Mercer has mild symptoms and will go into a 10-day isolation period. Meanwhile, the Hoosiers and Nittany Lions will pick the series back up on Saturday, with doubleheaders now scheduled for the next two days.
On the field, Ohio State went 0-2 on the day in Minneapolis, losing 4-0 on just two hits to Iowa before losing 10-4 against Nebraska, with starter Garrett Burhenn surrendering seven runs in five innings. Those were two specific results that had to hurt for Ohio State after its offense looked solid and Burhenn turned in the best start of the bunch last weekend.
In Greenville, S.C., Northwestern blew out Michigan State 14-2, with righthander Sam Benschoter allowing 13 runs in three innings of work, one week after he threw eight scoreless innings against Maryland. Of the Wildcats’ 13 runs, 12 came on three grand slams, one in each of the first three frames, tying a Division I record for most grand slams in a single game.
If those results are any indication of what we should expect the rest of the season, the Big Ten race is going to be quite a wild ride.
Jacksonville, Stetson Score Big Upsets
The ASUN Conference got a pair of big upsets Friday against SEC teams. Stetson defeated No. 24 Alabama, 4-2, as Nick Durgin carried a no-hitter into the ninth inning and Jacksonville took down No. 6 Florida, 10-9, staving off a late rally.
Jacksonville’s upset was the more surprising of the two, as the Dolphins were just 3-8 going into the day and Florida is ranked in the top 10. Jacksonville scored eight runs in the final three innings against Florida’s deep, talented bullpen. The Gators made a late push, plating four runs in the ninth inning, but the Dolphins hung on for their fourth-straight victory.
Stetson (11-4) also had to hold off a ninth-inning rally at Alabama but controlled the game most of the day thanks to Durgin. He threw eight hitless innings, working around two walks, two hit batters and two errors to keep the Tide off the scoreboard. But after Peyton Wilson broke up the no-hitter to lead off the ninth inning, Zane Denton followed with a home run, halving the deficit and ending Durgin’s day. While Alabama brought the go-ahead run to the plate, Danny Garcia was able to shut the door and secure a big victory for the Hatters.
The ASUN has flexed some muscles early this spring but hadn’t had any breakthrough close to what Stetson and Jacksonville did Friday. Florida Gulf Coast (8-4), Kennesaw State (8-5), Liberty (8-5) and Stetson are all off to solid starts. What they’ve done already could enable the conference’s top teams to contend for at-large NCAA Tournament bids – as they did in 2018 when Stetson hosted a regional – and at least is setting up an exciting conference race.
Indiana State Clinches Series
In the best series this weekend between mid-major programs, Indiana State clinched a road series win against No. 25 Florida Atlantic with a 10-2 win Friday night.
Lefthander Geremy Guerrero threw 7.1 innings, giving up five hits and one run with one walk and 13 strikeouts. Over his last two starts, wins at Florida International and FAU, Guerrero has given up eight hits and three runs with two walks and 28 strikeouts in 15.1 innings.
It’s still too early to focus too much on postseason resumes, but already, the Sycamores have laid the groundwork to be in at-large position if they finish near the top of the Missouri Valley Conference, with a neutral site series win over Pittsburgh, a four-game split on the road against Tennessee and now this series win over FAU.
Friday night is for the aces. We’ve already highlighted the work of Texas’ Ty Madden, Stetson’s Nick Durgin and Oregon’s Robert Ahlstrom. But plenty more pitchers stepped up around the country. Here are five more who had impressive games.
Trevor DeLaite, LHP, Liberty: Delaite threw a one-hit shutout in a 4-0 victory against North Alabama in the ASUN opener. He struck out five batters, walked two and worked efficiently, throwing just 89 pitches. Delaite, a graduate transfer from Maine, improved to 2-1, 2.28 on the season with 23 strikeouts and six walks in 23.2 innings.
Sebastian Keane, RHP, Northeastern: Keane, a second-year freshman, threw a two-hit shutout to lead Northeastern to a 2-0 victory against Massachusetts-Lowell in the second game of a doubleheader. He struck out nine batters, walked none and did not allow a runner to advance past first base. Keane struggled in his first two starts of the season but got back on track and is now 1-1, 6.06 with 21 strikeouts in 16.1 innings.
Scott Randall, RHP, Sacramento State: Randall threw a two-hit shutout in a 6-0 victory at Tarleton State in seven innings. He retired the first 10 batters he faced and finished the night with seven strikeouts and two walks. Randall improved to 2-0, 1.50 with 21 strikeouts and two walks in 24 innings this season.
Alejandro Rosario, RHP, Miami: The true freshman this week moved to the front of the Hurricanes’ rotation and responded with a stellar start in a 10-0 victory against Wake Forest. Rosario held the Demon Deacons to one hit and two walks in seven innings, while striking out seven batters. He improved to 2-0, 1.96 with 23 strikeouts and seven walks in 23 innings.
Chris Turpin, RHP, New Orleans: Turpin threw a three-hit shutout in a 3-0 victory against Houston Baptist. He struck out nine batters, walked none and worked efficiently, as he needed just 87 pitches. Turpin improved to 3-0, 3.24 with 34 strikeouts and four walks in 25 innings this season and has now thrown 15 straight scoreless innings.