College Baseball Takeaways: Upsets Continue Into Saturday

Image credit: Oklahoma State OF Caeden Trenkle (Photo courtesy of Oklahoma State)

Oklahoma State Evens Series with Vanderbilt

Given the difficult task of beating Vanderbilt in Nashville, it’s just about all you can ask to be in position to win the series going into Sunday, and that’s where Oklahoma State finds itself after it won a 4-3 nailbiter on Saturday. 

The Cowboys (1-1) got all of its work done early on offense. Two runs scored in the first on a Nolan McLean sacrifice fly and on a double steal play that scored Marcus Brown from third. They tacked on another run in the second on a Roc Riggio RBI single and the made it 4-0 in the fourth on Caeden Trenkle RBI double. 

The rest of the way, the name of the game was making those four runs stand up, and solid pitching from beginning to end made it happen. 

Righthander Victor Mederos, a high-profile transfer from Miami, struggled with control and walked four batters, but ended up surrendering just one run in four innings. Righthander Roman Phansalkar followed by also giving up one run in four innings. 

Righthander Trevor Martin wobbled a bit in the ninth, as the Commodores (1-1) scored a run on a wild pitch and had the tying run at third base with two outs, but he struck out Parker Noland to end the rally and the game. 

Sunday’s finale to determine a series winner promises to be a barn burner.

Long Beach State Clinches Series Win Over Mississippi State

One day after the trio of Luis Ramirez, Matt Fields and Devereaux Harrison combined to shut out No. 3 Mississippi State on one hit in a 3-0 win, Long Beach State (2-0) broke out the bats in a big way in a 13-3 win Saturday to clinch the series in Starkville. 

Mississippi State (0-2) took a 2-1 lead at the end of the first inning, but that was the last time that the Bulldogs were even remotely in control. The Dirtbags immediately came out and scored three runs in the second, capped off by a two-run homer off the bat of nine-hole hitter Alex Pimentel. 

By the end of the fourth, the Long Beach State lead had swelled to 8-3, and it poured on the runs late, with first baseman Jonathan Long connecting for solo homers in the eighth and ninth innings. 

On the mound, after starter Marques Johnson gave up six hits and three runs in 2.2 innings, Long Beach got outstanding relief work from righthanders Jack Noble and Ethan Clough, who combined to throw 6.1 scoreless innings. 

Mississippi State will bounce back from this season-opening series loss. There’s little doubt about that, although it’s likely little solace at the moment. Meanwhile, the series win for Long Beach State could serve as a catalyst to raise the team’s postseason ceiling. Coming into the season, the Dirtbags certainly looked like a regional team, but perhaps this opens the door for them to put together a hosting resume. 

Bryant Wins in Extras to Clinch Series with East Carolina

It’s one thing to pull off an upset on the road against a ranked team when everything clicks and you run away with things early, as Bryant did in a 10-2 win over No. 15 East Carolina on Friday. It’s quite another to pull off that kind of upset when the more talented team fights tooth and nail the next day, but that’s what Bryant did by taking down ECU 6-5 in 10 innings on Saturday. 

The Pirates (0-2) held a 3-1 lead all the way through to the eighth inning thanks in large part to a strong start from veteran lefthander Jake Kuchmaner, but for the second day in a row, the Bulldogs (2-0) had success against the ECU bullpen. They scored two runs in the top of the eighth on an RBI triple off the bat of leadoff hitter Matt Woods and a wild pitch that brought Woods home. 

Then, in the top of the tenth, they plated two more on a throwing error by ECU shortstop Ryder Giles and an RBI double by Derek Smith. The Pirates got one back in the bottom of the 10th on a solo home run by Alec Makarewicz, but righthander MT Morrissey held them at bay from there, ending the game with strikeouts of Bryson Worrell and Ryan McCrystal. 

Bryant has been a very good program for a while now, and it’s no surprise that it’s playing well this weekend, but it’s still a disappointing start to the season for ECU, a team that plays very well at home and that’s coming off of a super regional appearance. 

Oregon State’s Offense Rolling Early 

The Oregon State offense is off to a record-setting pace to start the season. After beating New Mexico, 21-1, on Opening Day, Oregon State on Saturday defeated Gonzaga, 13-5. The Beavers’ 34 runs through the first two games of the season is a program record, breaking the mark previously held by the 1960 team. 

As a team, Oregon State (2-0) is hitting .400/.558/.520 with 30 hits and 22 walks. Outfielder Jacob Melton has picked up right where he left off when he was injured last spring and is 4-for-8 with a double and a stolen base to start the season. Wade Meckler has scored five runs, Justin Boyd has three stolen bases and freshman Travis Bazzana has raced off to a strong start. 

The offensive barrage has the Beavers flying high, but their pitching has also been impressive so far. Up until Gonzaga put up a five-spot in the ninth inning Saturday, Oregon State’s pitchers had given up just one run in 17 innings.  

Oregon State will need to build on this hot start – especially once it steps into conference play – but the early returns have made the Beavers look like serious contenders in the Pac-12 and beyond.  

Southeast Missouri State Wins Second Straight in Extras Against Dallas Baptist

Games don’t get much tighter than the first two games of the weekend between Southeast Missouri State and Dallas Baptist. 

Friday’s game ended with the Redhawks collecting a 7-6 win in 12 innings thanks to an RBI triple off the bat of Jevon Mason. 

It was more of the same Saturday, with Southeast Missouri State (2-0) making a furious comeback and winning 6-5 in 10 innings to capture the series. 

DBU (0-2) led 3-0 through seven innings, but the Redhawks got on the board in the eighth on a Peyton Leeper RBI single and then took a 5-3 lead in the ninth on a Ryan Malzahn RBI double and a three-run home run off the bat of Joel Vaske. The Patriots sent it to extras thanks to a Jace Grady two-run home run in the bottom half of the ninth, but a 10th inning run on a Brett Graber RBI single made the ultimate difference. 

Southeast Missouri State righthander Jason Rackers, a transfer from Tennessee, gave up the two-run homer to Grady in the ninth, but otherwise, there was a lot to like about his performance. Up to that point, he had thrown 5.1 scoreless innings with two hits allowed and six strikeouts. That’s a very positive development for the Redhawks’ pitching staff. 

Maryland Claims Series Win At Baylor 

After defeating Baylor, 4-0, on Opening Day, Maryland on Saturday clinched the series with a 9-5 victory. The Terrapins jumped out to an early lead with a four-run first and never looked back. 

Maryland (2-0) got four hits from sophomore shortstop Matt Shaw and outfielder Bobby Zmarzlak homered and scored three runs. Lefthander Ryan Ramsey delivered a quality start and the Terrapins played clean defense. 

It was a winning formula for the Terrapins, who logged a quality series win. Baylor (0-2) is a projected NCAA Tournament team and an Opening Weekend road series win makes for a strong start as Maryland looks to again compete at the top of the Big Ten standings and build on its 2021 regionals performance.  

Maryland will aim for a sweep Sunday with sophomore righthander Jason Savacool getting the ball. He went 7-3, 5.97 last spring. 

Liberty Rides Bullpen to Win in Gainesville

One of the biggest reasons for optimism about Liberty’s chances to compete well with No. 6 Florida in Gainesville this weekend was the presence of righthander Trey Gibson, a proven ace with excellent stuff, in the Flames’ rotation. 

And yet, on Saturday, Florida scored four runs off of Gibson in three-plus innings, erasing an early 4-0 lead for Liberty, and the Flames managed to win 6-4 anyway. 

The bullpen deserves a ton of credit for the victory, as four pitchers combined to hold Florida (1-1) to two hits in six scoreless innings. While the bullpen went to work, Liberty (1-1) pushed across the go-ahead run in the top of the fifth on a Cameron Foster RBI double and then added an insurance run in the eighth thanks to a Stephen Hill sacrifice fly. 

Both Foster and Hill had big games. The former, the top recruit in Liberty’s most recent recruiting class, drove in three runs, while Hill reached base four times, all on walks. 

Liberty showed what it can do on Saturday, so Florida will have to come out and play well on Sunday to ensure it takes the series. 

Sacramento State Dominates on the Mound

Sacramento State’s pitchers dominated from beginning to end in a doubleheader sweep of Northern Illinois. 

In game one, an 8-0 Hornets win, freshman Colin Hunter tossed a seven-inning no-hitter with no walks and nine strikeouts on just 86 pitches. In the second game, a 2-0 victory for Sacramento State (3-0), freshman lefthander Noah Lucchesi (4 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 1 K) and righthander Ryan Fleming (3 IP, 1 H, 1 BB, 3 K) shut out the Huskies (0-3) on five hits. 

The Hornets didn’t need much offense given how well the staff pitched, but leadoff man Jorge Bojorquez had three hits across the two games, including a pair of doubles in game one. 

Fullerton Explodes for 11 Runs in Victory Against Stanford

Cal State Fullerton got shut out in a 1-0 loss to No. 7 Stanford on Friday. For a team that has struggled mightily on offense the last few seasons, that probably felt all too familiar. 

But it was a very different story on Saturday, as the Titans ran the Cardinal off the field by an 11-0 score. 

Fullerton (1-1) collected 16 hits on the day, including four from center fielder and leadoff hitter Damone Hale, three from shortstop Zach Lew and three from DH Austin Schell. First baseman Caden Connor also drove in four runs, all of them on a grand slam in the fourth inning. 

Lefthander Tyler Stultz gave the Titans five scoreless innings to start and four relievers combined to throw four hitless innings after him. 

It’s just one win and that does not a season make, but for a Cal State Fullerton team that didn’t get to enjoy many wins like this in 2021, it has to feel pretty good. 

San Diego Upsets Oregon for Second Straight Day

San Diego has had a field day offensively against Oregon the last two days. After an 11-1 win on Friday, USD came away with a 10-4 triumph on Saturday to clinch the series. 

A seven-run third inning, which gave the Toreros (2-0) a 9-0 edge, opened things up quickly. Caleb Ricketts brought home a run in that frame with a sacrifice fly and three more scored on a triple off the bat of center fielder Dustin Allen, but the Ducks (0-2) also helped by allowing two runs to score on wild pitches and another to score on a throwing error. 

After lefthander Brycen Mautz gave up four runs (three earned) in 5.2 innings, albeit it with 12 strikeouts, righthander Jack Hyde came on and took away any hope of an Oregon comeback by throwing 3.1 scoreless innings with just one hit allowed. 

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