College Roundup: Deatherage Gives N.C. State A Lift

Strike One: Deatherage Sparks Wolfpack

RALEIGH, N.C.—In addition to having one of—if not the best—names in college baseball, Brock Deatherage also has the most electrifying tool set on the nation’s 12th-ranked team in North Carolina State.

Deatherage had a relatively quiet opening weekend, going 2-for-11 in the Wolfpack’s series at Hawaii, but in Friday’s home opener against Austin Peay State, he showed why he was the No. 49 prospect on the preseason College Top 100 rankings. The junior right fielder started his day by drilling a double into the opposite field, left-center gap and later came in to score day’s first run, and he kept heating up from there, finishing a triple shy of the cycle and going 4-for-4 with three RBIs in the Wolfpack’s series-opening 9-3 win.

(1) Texas Christian: lost, 13-9, vs. Arizona State
(2) Florida State: won, 16-3, vs. Samford
(3) Florida: won, 1-0, vs. Miami
(4) Louisiana State: won, 6-1, vs. Maryland
(5) South Carolina: won, 4-3, vs. (25) Wright State
(6) Louisville: won, 7-2, vs. Nebraska-Omaha
(7) Cal State Fullerton: lost, 6-1, at UNLV
(8) Oregon State: lost, 6-1, vs. Ohio State at Surprise, Ariz.
(9) Vanderbilt: lost, 5-3 (10 inn.), vs. Illinois-Chicago
(10) Washington: won, 11-1, at Saint Mary’s
(11) East Carolina: won, 7-3, vs. La Salle
(12) North Carolina State: won, 9-3, vs. Austin Peay State
(13) Virginia: won, 7-3, vs. Rutgers
(14) North Carolina: won, 2-0, vs. Radford
(15) Clemson: won, 1-0 (13 inn.), vs. Elon
(16) Louisiana-Lafayette: won, 2-0, at Sam Houston State
(17) Georgia Tech: won, 15-6, vs. Youngstown State
(18) Coastal Carolina: won, 1-0, vs. Ball State
(19) Arizona: won, 8-3, vs. McNeese State
(20) Oklahoma State: won, 10-7, vs. Texas State
(21) Texas Tech: won, 4-2, vs. California
(22) Mississippi: won, 7-2, vs. UNC Wilmington
(23) Stanford: won, 6-0, vs. Kansas
(24) UC Santa Barbara: won, 7-4, vs. Tulane
(25) Wright State: lost, 4-3, at (5) South Carolina

Deatherage socked a two-run homer down the right field line in his second plate appearance against APSU senior Alex Robles. He then went back to working the other way with another double to left-center in the fourth. After chipping a single up the middle in the sixth, Deatherage got one shot at finishing the cycle when he came up in the bottom of the seventh. The Governors refused to play along, however, and intentionally walked him as there were men on second and third and first base was open.

For his part, Deatherage didn’t feel he’d needed to make any real changes coming out of opening weekend. The only things that changed Friday were the results.

“I just started off a little bit slow (last week),” he said, “had a couple calls not go my way. But it’s baseball. Things always come back and you get repaid. That’s the way I look at it. . . . It wasn’t (that my swing was off), it was nothing like that. I felt fine. It was just the results. It’s baseball, and baseball’s a hard game. Hitting’s a hard game. So throughout the week, it was just about getting more reps.”

As a group, the Wolfpack came out sharp and showed no ill effects from last week’s 4,000 mile trip to Honolulu. Senior lefty Sean Adler (5.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 SO) set a career-high for strikeouts and the Wolfpack played error-free defense in limiting the Governors, the preseason favorites in the Ohio Valley Conference and a team that racked up 37 runs in their first four games, to just one run through the game’s first eight innings.

“(Austin Peay) can put on a display (in batting practice) like you don’t see very often,” Wolfpack head coach Elliott Avent said, “so I thought Adler pitched very, very well. I thought (reliever Austin) Staley pitched very well, because they can really swing it. We played good defense. We did everything well today. We played a really complete baseball game today.”

Strike Two: Faedo, Gators Continue Dominance Over Canes

No team will be happier to watch Florida ace Alex Faedo move on to pro ball after this season than Miami. Of course, the Hurricanes are probably pretty sick of the Gators in general.

Faedo, a junior righthander and first-team Preseason All-American, threw 6.1 no-hit innings against the Canes in their matchup last season in Coral Gables. One year later, the Canes fared no better on Friday night in Gainesville, as Faedo retired 13 straight Miami hitters to start the game—that’s a combined 10.2 no-hit innings spanning the two starts—before finally yielding a one-out double in the fifth. Faedo (8.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 SO) went on to work into the ninth and had a chance to go the distance, a rarity for the ever-deep Gators, but a two-out error and subsequent walk twice extended the game, and Faedo was pulled after 119 pitches.

Assuming that was his final look at the Canes, and Miami has to hope it is, Faedo finishes having worked 21.1 innings over four career appearances against them and allowed a grand total of one earned run.

The Gators needed him to be that good, too. Florida pieced together a run in the third against Miami’s Jesse Lepore (6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 SO), but that was all they would get, winning the series opener 1-0. Frank Rubio closed out the win, fanning Romy Gonzalez to strand the tying run in scoring position in the ninth.

“(Faedo) pitched great,” Florida head coach Kevin O’Sullivan told “I did expect him to be better (than last week, a no decision against William & Mary). His bullpen was really good. He was focused, and I could tell as the weekend got closer, he was focused and he was prepared. He spent a lot of time watching video and he was prepared. He worked awfully hard this week.”

It was an all-too-familiar feeling for the Canes against Florida, which has won the teams’ annual weekend series in six of the last seven years. The win was also the 400th career victory for O’Sullivan, making him the fastest coach in Gators program history to reach that mark.

Strike Three: Sun Devils Hand No. 1 TCU First Loss

Top-ranked Texas Christian had allowed just nine runs in its first four games. The first four innings of Friday’s game against Arizona State were more of the same, with the Frogs holding a 1-0 lead with Brian Howard on the mound. But then ASU’s Tyler Williams homered off Howard to lead off the top of the fifth, and the rest of the night turned into a back-and-forth slugfest with the Sun Devils coming out on top, 13-9.

On a rare night that TCU’s lockdown pitching and defense failed it—its pitching allowed 13 hits and six walks while its defense made four errors—Arizona State scored in five straight innings from the fifth to the ninth, led by first baseman Lyle Lin’s three hits, and six different Sun Devils had RBIs. ASU built a 9-2 lead by the middle of the eighth inning, but TCU wouldn’t go quietly, scoring seven runs of its own over the final two innings against the ASU bullpen to make things interesting again.

TCU hit three home runs in a span of four hitters in the bottom of the ninth, but the fireworks finally ended there, as ASU lefty Chaz Montoya came on and struck out the final two hitters of the game to seal the win.

The Sun Devils, who swept Northwestern on opening weekend, improve to 4-1 on the season after taking the first game in Fort Worth, returning to the site where their 2016 season ended in regionals at the hands of TCU. There’s more work to do, but they’re halfway to what would be a major landmark series win for third-year coach Tracy Smith.

The Lineup

Nine newsmakers from Friday’s action

Gavin Sheets, 1b, Wake Forest: The Demon Deacons might not have Will Craig any more, but they can still roll up some huge offensive numbers, as they did Friday in mashing six home runs in a 15-5 blowout of Southern California. No one had a bigger night that Sheets, though, as the junior tied program records with his three home runs and nine RBIs, part of a 4-for-4 game. He’s the first Deac to homer three times in a game since Allan Dykstra in 2006.

Charlie Barnes, lhp, Clemson: We’re giving the nod to Barnes (7.2 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 SO), but he and relievers Ryley Gilliam (4.1 IP, 1 H,  0 R, 0 BB, 9 SO) and Brooks Crawford (1 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 SO) all deserve a tip of the cap after combining to work 13 shutout innings with 23 strikeouts—a single-game school record—and zero walks against Elon. The Tigers needed every bit of their brilliance as well, winning 1-0 on Seth Beer’s walk-off single in the bottom of the 13th. Clemson’s previous single-game strikeout record (21) had stood since 1923, having also been tied once in 1952.

Brent Rooker, dh, Mississippi State: It’s tough when you have eight RBIs, and that’s not even the biggest figure for that night. Such is the case for Rooker, who nonetheless starred in MSU’s 11-6 win over Indiana State. The junior went 4-for-4 with two home runs, those eight runs driven in and, just for good measure, he stole two bases.

Ricky Tyler Thomas, lhp, Fresno State: The talented lefty was nothing short of brilliant (7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 15 SO) against UC Riverside, setting a career high for strikeouts. Unfortunately for Thomas and the Bulldogs, UCR rallied from a 3-0 deficit against Fresno’s bullpen to force extras, and then the game just never ended. The score remained deadlocked until UCR finally pushed across a run in the top of the 18th and held on from there for a 4-3 win.

Brandon Gibis, 3b, Illinois-Chicago: Gibis only had one hit Friday, but it was a timely one as the senior drilled a go-ahead RBI double in the top of the 10th to lift the Flames to a 5-3 win at No. 9 Vanderbilt, their first win over a ranked opponent since February 15, 2013.

Andrew Summerville, lhp, Stanford: The Cardinal are having to make do without injured ace Tristan Beck, but they showed some of their depth on the mound as Summerville (6 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 8 SO) fired six no-hit innings in a 6-0 win against Kansas. With Summerville taken out after 97 pitches, reliever Will Mattheissen kept the combined no-hit bid alive into the eighth until it was broken up by KU second baseman James Cosentino.

Noah Song, rhp, Navy: The Midshipmen may not have former Golden Spikes Award semifinalist Luke Gillingham to turn to on Friday nights, but they haven’t lost much with Song taking over that role. Starting the opener of Navy’s annual series against service academy rival Air Force in Kinston, N.C., the sophomore Song (7 IP, 5 H, 0 R) racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts in leading the Mids to a dominant 11-3 win.

Gunner Leger, lhp, Louisiana-Lafayette: With their offense scuffling, the Ragin’ Cajuns have asked a lot of their pitching in the early going, but veterans Leger (6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 SO) and Dylan Moore (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R) were up to the job Friday, carrying ULL to a 2-0 win at Sam Houston State. The Cajuns improve to 2-2, with both their wins coming via shutouts.

Justin Dillon, rhp, Sacramento State: Lastly, we would also be remiss if we didn’t belatedly recognize the efforts of Hornets senior righty Dillon, who threw their first no-hitter as a Division I program on Thursday night against Northern Kentucky. Dillon faced just two batters over the minimum and racked up a career-high 13 strikeouts, finishing his no-no on just 107 pitches.

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