College Baseball Takeaways: Texas Tech, Ole Miss Bounce Back
Texas Tech Upsets Texas
This weekend’s series against No. 13 Texas Tech in Austin looked and felt very much like a trap series for No. 3 Texas.
It would be easy for Texas to look ahead at next weekend’s series against Texas Christian, which will likely be for the Big 12 title. On top of that, Texas Tech is coming in angry after losing a series at home against Baylor last weekend, and this series also seems like something of a chance for a last stand for the short-handed Red Raiders if they want to host regionals.
On Friday, at least, consider the Longhorns trapped, as they fell, 6-3, to their rivals. The Texas Tech offense got to righthander Ty Madden early on, scoring six runs (five earned) against him in five innings of work. It was the most runs Madden has allowed this season, surpassing the four runs in four innings Mississippi State tagged the Preseason All-American for on Opening Day.
The Texas bullpen held Texas Tech (29-10, 9-7) scoreless after Madden exited, but the damage was done.
Texas (34-10, 12-4) hung in with Texas Tech into the middle innings, as its offense tagged lefthander Patrick Monteverde for three runs in 4.1 innings, but the Red Raiders’ bullpen clamped down from there, with five pitchers combining to throw 4.2 shutout innings with one hit allowed, led by 2.2 hitless innings from righthander Ryan Sublette.
Texas still has excellent pitchers to run out there the rest of the weekend, but Texas Tech has to feel good going into the last two days of this series with a win against Madden in its pocket.
Gunnar Hoglund Stifles South Carolina
In Oxford, No. 17 Mississippi took a big step toward breaking its streak of consecutive series losses, which currently stands at four, and No. 12 South Carolina’s offense continued to struggle, as the Rebels won the opener, 5-1.
Righthander Gunnar Hoglund, a potential top-10 draft pick, is not the pitcher you want to face when you’re hurting for runs and on Friday the Gamecocks found out why, as he threw six scoreless innings, giving up one hit and no walks with nine strikeouts. That’s an excellent start under any circumstances, but it’s even more impressive when you consider that Hoglund was skipped in the rotation last weekend for precautionary reasons.
South Carolina (26-13, 11-8) scored a run against righthander Derek Diamond on a Josiah Sightler home run, but Diamond and Taylor Broadway combined to throw three innings with just the one run allowed to close out the win.
Friday’s game was the third time in four SEC games that South Carolina has been limited to one run on two hits after Arkansas did it to them twice last weekend. The pitching has mostly been good enough to win games in the last two weekends, but the offense just has been stuck in neutral.
Offensively for Ole Miss (29-12, 11-8), Kevin Graham, T.J. McCants and Hayden Leatherwood all had two hits, and Justin Bench drove in two runs, both on an RBI single in the fourth inning. Finishing off this series win would be huge for an Ole Miss team looking to remain in the hosting discussion.
The ACC Wheel Of Chaos Continues To Turn
Since the start of conference play in February, it’s been clear that the ACC was in for a chaotic season. That chaos reared its head again in a big way Friday.
Clemson routed No. 5 Louisville, 11-5. Virginia went on the road to its in-state rival and blew out No. 25 Virginia Tech, 18-1. Boston College, which started the day in last place, trounced Miami, 13-0. In non-conference action, Kennesaw State upset Georgia Tech, 5-1.
There were some more expected results around the conference, as well. North Carolina State defeated Wake Forest, 13-7 (though the game wasn’t as straight forward as the final score makes it appear, as NC State scored the final seven runs to pull away). Florida State beat Troy, 3-2, and Notre Dame continued to take care of business with a 4-0 victory against North Carolina.
It will take more than a series-opening upset to truly shake things up in the ACC and perhaps Georgia Tech, Louisville, Miami and Virginia Tech will all bounce back for series wins. But Friday’s results were a reminder of just how much parity this season exists in the ACC. Notre Dame (22-8, 19-8) is the lone team not to have lost a conference series and eight of the 14 teams are within three games of .500 in ACC play.
On the day, Clemson and Virginia gained the most from their wins. The Tigers (19-18, 13-12) have put together a four-game winning streak to edge back above .500 both overall and in conference play, putting them back in line for an NCAA Tournament bid.
The star of Friday’s victory as freshman Caden Grice, who hit three home runs, drove in eight runs and threw an inning out of the bullpen. He’s hitting .333/.432/.651 with 11 home runs on the season.
Virginia (21-19, 12-16) isn’t as red-hot as the Tigers, but Friday’s victory pushed the Hoos to 10-6 in April. After going 7-10 and losing all four series in March, that turnaround is significant. If Virginia can finish off a series win in Blacksburg, it also would be well on its way to a regionals bid.
As for Notre Dame, the Fighting Irish just keep rolling. They have been the ACC’s most consistent team and have proven they can win games multiple ways. Not only are they likely to host a regional, they also have a very real chance at winning their first conference title since 2006, when they were members of the Big East.
Vanderbilt Buries Florida Early
A series in Gainesville against No. 2 Vanderbilt presented an opportunity for No. 16 Florida to put a marquee series win on a resume that is in need of some top-line items.
It became clearly early in the game on Friday that if the Gators are going to pull it off, theyre going to have do so by winning the last two games of the series, as Vanderbilt came out and blitzed them early on the way to an 11-7 win that wasn’t as close as the final score would suggest.
The Commodores (32-7, 14-5) went up 6-0 against Florida righthander Franco Aleman after two innings and scored nine runs off of him in five innings of work. Big blows early included a two-run double off the bat of Jack Bulger in the second inning and a two-run homer for Isaiah Thomas in the fifth. Bulger and C.J. Rodriguez both ended the game with three RBI.
On the mound, Vandy righthander Kumar Rocker wasn’t the best version of himself, but he was plenty good enough on this night, giving up four hits and two runs in five innings. Florida did some damage against the Vanderbilt bullpen, scoring two runs in the sixth and three more in the eighth. The rally forced the Commodores to use more arms than they might have liked, but otherwise it was too little and too late.
To win the series, Florida (28-12, 11-7) was going to have to beat either Rocker or Jack Leiter anyway, so all is not lost, but it does ramp up the degree of difficulty that it will have to go into Saturday’s game against Leiter in a must-win position if it wants to have a winning weekend.
Iowa Edges Closer To Postseason With Win At Indiana
In Bloomington, Iowa (19-11) scored a 6-5 win against Indiana (18-9) in game 1 of a series between two teams squarely in the discussion to be postseason teams out of the Big Ten.
Lefthander Trenton Wallace, as he has been all season, was steady for the Hawkeyes, throwing seven innings, giving up seven hits and three runs with one walk and nine strikeouts.
While Wallace was holding the Hoosiers at bay, the lineup was going to work against lefthander Tommy Sommer and taking advantage of some sloppy defense, as three of the six runs scored, all against Sommer or reliever Braydon Tucker in the first six innings, were unearned.
Things really started to shift in the third inning, when Iowa’s Austin Martin connected for a two-run homer, which gave the Hawkeyes a lead they would cling to tightly as the game wound down. Indiana scored two runs in the eighth off of righthander Dylan Nedved to make a 6-3 game a 6-5 game, but Nedved was able to throw a clean ninth to close it out.
It’s been said, but it bears repeating: if it finishes off this series win, Iowa has been in this position before and fallen short. In 2018, coming off of a series win over Oklahoma State in early May, Iowa was in great position for a regional bid, but fell off down the stretch and missed the postseason. In 2019, it was a series win against UC Irvine at the same time of year, but it ended the same way, with Iowa missing the postseason.
Step one is winning another game in this series, but the more important step is what comes afterward as Iowa looks to exorcise some demons from the last two full seasons.
TCU Provides Uniquely Confounding Hosting Case
With a Big 12 title and RPI problems, TCU has the most confounding hosting case this season.
Central Michigan’s Jordan Patty Throws Perfect Game
Central Michigan righthander Jordan Patty was masterful Friday. Facing Miami (Ohio), he threw a perfect game in a 14-0 victory that was shortened to seven innings due to run rule.
Patty was in control from the start Friday. He went to a three-ball count on just one batter all game and he matched his career high with 11 strikeouts. Patty’s gem was the first perfect game in program history and CMU’s first no-hitter since 2003.
While Patty was on another level Friday, he has been exceptional all season for CMU. He is 6-1, 1.73 with 61 strikeouts and 17 walks 62.1 innings on the spring. He has now thrown 38 straight scoreless innings, a streak that dates to March 26 against Ohio.
Patty was the story of the day, but CMU’s offense also impressed Friday. The Chippewas exploded for 14 runs, including a 10-run fourth inning that took advantage of four errors by the RedHawks.
Central Michigan (25-11, 17-4) has won five straight games and is tied for first place in the MAC with Ball State.
UCLA Comes Back For Key Win
Following a tough series loss at Oregon last weekend, UCLA returned home this weekend to take on Oregon State. Going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Bruins were staring another tough loss in the face as they trailed by four runs.
The game had been tied after seven innings, but Oregon State scored three in the eighth and another in the ninth to push ahead. Now, UCLA needed a comeback against closer Jake Mulholland, who is the Beavers’ all-time saves leader.
But a comeback is what the Bruins got. They loaded the bases with three straight singles and pushed a run home on a walk. After a strikeout, pinch hitter Jack Filby came to the plate as UCLA’s last hope. He fell behind 1-2 in the count before tying the game with a bases-clearing double to send the game to extra innings.
The Bruins kept it going in the 10th, loading the bases with one out on a single and two walks (one intentional). A balk called on righthander Jack Washburn scored the winning run and gave UCLA a 6-5 victory.
That undoubtably wasn’t how UCLA drew up a Friday night win, but it’s a win nonetheless. The Bruins got solid production from their key players – Kevin Kendall led the Bruins with two hits, Matt McLain scored twice and drew four walks and righthander Zach Pettway held the Beavers to one run in six innings – and they got support from the likes of Filby and righthander Max Rajcic, who threw a scoreless 10th inning for the win.
The Bruins (24-13, 11-8) have been up-and-down this season, but they’re finding their way. They’re now just two games behind first-place Arizona and are 8-2 over their last 10 games. Those two losses both came at Oregon and were by a total of three runs. UCLA has pushed its RPI up to 29 and it could be in the conversation to host a regional if it can finish off a series win against Oregon State.
Extra-Inning SEC Thrillers
The SEC provided two entertaining extra-inning games Friday. Auburn defeated No. 22 Georgia, 10-6, in 14 innings and No. 4 Mississippi State walked off with an 8-7 victory in 12 innings against Texas A&M.
The Tigers outlasted the Bulldogs in Athens to even a series that began Thursday. Auburn took leads in the first, fifth, 12th and 13th innings, but every time Georgia quickly answered to tie the game. But the Bulldogs were never able to pull ahead and when Ryan Bliss and Rankin Wooley both homered in the top of the 14th inning, it proved to be too much to come back from one final time.
In Starkville, Texas A&M held a 7-3 lead at the seventh-inning stretch. But Mississippi State scored three runs in the bottom of the seventh and then pushed a run across in the ninth to send the game to extra innings. Veteran slugger Tanner Allen, Mississippi State’s best and most experienced hitter, won the game in the 12th with a lead-off home run. He finished the game 4-for-7 with three runs.
Auburn (18-21, 4-16) and A&M (24-20, 5-14) are in the cellar of the SEC West. But their performances Friday were a reminder of just how difficult the SEC slate can be.
Oklahoma Wins Bedlam Series Opener
If there’s one thing you can say about Oklahoma this season, it’s that the Sooners can put runs on an opponent in a hurry when they’re swinging it well, and that was certainly the case in a 16-2 win against rival Oklahoma State.
The Sooners (21-19, 5-8) did most of their damage in the third, fourth and fifth innings when they scored five, two and seven runs, respectively, before adding on two more in the ninth.
There were big days aplenty for Oklahoma. Right fielder Brett Squires went 4-for-6 with a home run. Third baseman Peyton Graham was 3-for-5 with a homer of his own, and first baseman Tyler Hardman went 2-for-5 with a home run and six RBI. Speaking of Hardman, he’s somewhat quietly putting up a monster season. He’s hitting .431/.523/.725 with 10 home runs and 42 RBI.
With the loss, the last two games of this series become crucial for Oklahoma State (24-13-1, 7-9), which could find itself sitting perilously close to the bubble with a series loss. Because the Cowboys have mostly come up empty in their series against the elite teams on their schedule, it was important that they continue to take care of business in the series they were expected to win, and that includes this one against the Sooners.
Friday night is for the aces. We’ve already highlighted the work of Ole Miss' Gunnar Hoglund and Central Michigan's Jordan Patty. But plenty more pitchers stepped up around the country. Here are five more who had impressive games.
John Baker, RHP, Ball State: Baker threw a two-hit shutout in a 12-0 victory against Bowling Green State, shortened to seven innings by run rule. He struck out seven batters and walked two. He gave up a single and a walk in both the first and seventh innings, while firing five perfect innings in between. Baker is 5-2, 2.47 with 69 strikeouts and 19 walks in 69.1 innings this season.
Anthony Becerra, LHP, Jackson State: Becerra threw a three-hit shutout in a 13-0 victory at Alabama State, shortened to seven innings by run rule. He matched his career high with 11 strikeouts and walked three batters. Becerra is 6-1, 3.05 with 81 strikeouts in 56 innings this season.
Nick Durgin, RHP, Stetson: Durgin threw a two-hit shutout in a 5-0 victory against Jacksonville. He struck out 10 batters, walked one and needed 105 pitches to throw his first career complete game. Durgin improved to 6-2, 2.61 with 67 strikeouts and 17 walks in 62 innings this season.
Michael McGreevy, RHP, UC Santa Barbara: McGreevy struck out 15 batters in eight innings in a 4-1 victory against Cal Poly. He faced just one batter over the minimum as he held the Mustangs to two hits and no walks. McGreevy improved to 6-1, 2.76 with 85 strikeouts and six walks in 71.2 innings on the season.
Braden Olthoff, RHP, Tulane: Olthoff threw eight scoreless innings to outduel Houston ace Robert Gasser, a rising draft prospect, to lead Tulane to a 3-0 victory. Olthoff struck out 12 batters, walked none and scattered five hits. He improved to 5-1, 2.56 with 70 strikeouts and nine walks in 54.1 innings, while the Green Wave swept the doubleheader to run their winning streak to 12 games.