UConn Upsets No. 1, Bryce Jarvis Throws Perfect Game & More On A Wild Friday

Image credit: Duke righthander Bryce Jarvis (Photo courtesy of Duke)

Florida Opens Rivalry Showdown With Extra-Innings Win At Miami

Florida and Miami is one of college baseball’s premier rivalries and annually seems to produce an exciting series in late February. With the Gators this year ranked No. 2 and the Hurricanes ranked No. 3 – the first time both teams went into a regular-season series ranked in the top three since 1992 – the series has even more buzz around it.

Friday night’s opener lived up to the hype with a tense, extra-inning affair. Florida edged Miami, 2-1, in 11 innings in Coral Gables on a night that was dominated by pitching.

While a strong wind across the outfield made for a tough hitting environment, so too did the pitchers. Starters Tommy Mace (Florida) and Brian Van Belle (Miami) were both excellent. Mace struck out eight batters and held the Hurricanes to one run on two hits and two walks in seven innings. Van Belle struck out nine and limited the Gators to one run (unearned) on four hits and one walk in seven innings.

Things didn’t get much easier for either team once the bullpens came into play. But the Gators trio of Christian Scott, Ben Specht and Nick Pogue combined for four scoreless innings and held Miami to one hit and two walks, giving Florida’s offense time to break through.

The Gators needed the time as lefthander J.P. Gates and Tyler Keysor held them hitless for 2.2 innings, but they were eventually able to get to closer Daniel Federman. In the 11th inning, Austin Langworthy started a rally with a one-out single and Jordan Butler followed with a pinch-hit single. After Federman got a strikeout for the second out of the inning, Jacob Young bounced a double just inside the left field line to score Langworthy.

After Specht walked the leadoff batter in the bottom half of the inning, Pogue entered and retired the heart of Miami’s lineup in order, ending the game by getting Preseason All-American first baseman Alex Toral to fly out to center field.

Florida (6-0) stayed perfect on the season while relying on its strengths of pitching and defense, a familiar formula for the Gators. They are now one win away from clinching their series against the Hurricanes for the sixth straight season, but coach Kevin O’Sullivan isn’t looking ahead.

“All in all, it was a really, really good win for us, a win we should be able to build off of,” he said. “But it’s a long season. We’ve got a long way to go. We’ve got to get a little bit better offensively. We struck out 14 times tonight. We’ll talk about that at breakfast.”

Miami (4-1) will look to bounce back Saturday on what should be another special day at Mark Light Field. Alex Rodriguez is scheduled to throw out the first pitch before a sold-out crowd.

UConn Scores Repeat Victory Against Michigan 

Last Sunday, Connecticut spoiled what would have otherwise been an undefeated weekend for Michigan at the MLB 4 Tournament at Salt River Fields in Talking Stick, Ariz., beating the Wolverines, 7-1.

On Friday afternoon, in the opener of their series in Port St. Lucie, Fla., UConn (2-2) backed it up with an 8-7 victory over No. 1 Michigan (3-2) in come-from-behind fashion. 

The Wolverines came out on fire. In the top of the first, righthander Jeff Criswell struck out the side in order. Then, in the bottom half of that frame, they took full advantage of some wildness from UConn starter Joe Simeone and an ill-timed error to score five runs on just one hit. 

But just like Vanderbilt did against Criswell last Friday, the Huskies waited him out and were able to break through late. 

The first four batters in the sixth inning all reached base, and Criswell was lifted for righthander Cameron Weston. He was greeted by a Reggie Crawford RBI sac fly, a Kyler Fedko single, and an error that brought home another run, tying the game at six. 

From there, it was a back-and-forth affair. The Wolverines immediately went back on top in the bottom of the sixth on an RBI single off the bat of third baseman Ted Burton against righthander Pat Gallagher, who had previously been cruising, throwing two scoreless innings prior to that run coming home and striking out four Wolverines along the way. 

However, anyone who thought UConn would run out of gas was sorely mistaken, as it battled back to tie it in the eighth on a Kyler Fedko RBI double and then took the lead, for the first time and for good, with a run in the ninth on a Christian Fedko RBI single. 

The comeback was complete and lefthander Caleb Wurster closed it out, working around a walk. 

Wurster put the bow on the victory, but the bullpen in general was a big strength for Connecticut in this one. It handled 8.1 innings after Simeone failed to get out of the first inning, holding the Wolverines to two runs on three hits and striking out 16. 

Offensively, the Fedkos led the way for UConn, combining to go 6-for-9 with five RBI, which accounted for half of the team’s hits and most of the team’s runs driven in. 

Last weekend in Arizona, the Huskies taking losses in their first two games didn’t necessarily reflect the capabilities of the team and the talent on the roster. Back-to-back wins over Michigan, however, does.

Bryce Jarvis Throws Perfect Game

Duke righthander Bryce Jarvis on Friday threw the first perfect game in program history in an 8-0 victory against Cornell. He struck out 15 batters and needed just 94 pitches to complete the feat.

Jarvis had impressive control all game long and got into a three-ball count just once, in the fifth inning. When he wasn’t striking hitters out, he was producing ground balls. The junior induced 10 groundball outs and just two flyouts.

Jarvis told Duke broadcaster Chris Edwards that he felt good in the bullpen before the game and credited his success to his control. Once he reached the ninth inning, Jarvis said he was simply bearing down on executing one pitch at a time and not worrying about the history hanging in the balance.

“My mindset was to go out there and control what I can control,” Jarvis told Edwards. “Once the ball leaves my hand there’s nothing I can do about it. I have to trusty that my defense is going to make a play if they put it in play. After the pitch leaves my hand, it’s on to the next one.

“There’s really no other way to do it.”

Outfielder Rudy Maxwell led the Duke (4-1) offense. He went 2-for-4 with a double, triple, two runs and three RBIs. First baseman Matt Mervis and third baseman Erikson Nichols added two hits each.

Jarvis, the son of former major league righthander Kevin Jarvis, improved to 1-1, 0.69 with 17 strikeouts and one walk in 13 innings this season. He last year went 5-2, 3.81 with a team-high 94 strikeouts.

Jarvis’ perfect game was the 31st in Division I history, the last of which was thrown by East Carolina’s Jake Kuchmaner last March. It was also the seventh no-hitter in program history, the last of which was a combined effort against Penn State on March 1, 2019.

For Cornell (0-1), it was a rough way to start the season. The Big Red’s lineup Friday featured five freshmen making their college debuts.

Ole Miss Throws Combined No-Hitter Against Xavier

No. 15 Mississippi continued its strong start to the season with a 13-0 victory against Xavier as sophomore lefthander Doug Nikhazy and freshmen Drew McDaniel and Jackson Kimbrell combined for a no-hitter.

Nikhazy, a 2019 Freshman All-American, started the game with nine strikeouts and two walks in six hitless innings. He rebounded well from last week’s start against Louisville, when he gave up four runs in 5.1 innings.

McDaniel, making his collegiate debut, followed with two scoreless innings. He struck out one batter and walked another. Kimbrell followed with a perfect ninth inning, striking out one.

Ole Miss had not had a nine-inning no-hitter since 1966. It did throw a combined seven-inning no-hitter last March against Arkansas-Pine Bluff.

Catcher Hayden Dunhurst went 2-for-4 with a home run and five RBIs to lead the Ole Miss (4-1) offense. Shortstop Anthony Servideo went 1-for-3 with two walks to continue his hot start to the season.

Ace Watch

Friday night is for the aces. Here we highlight some of the best pitching performances of the day.

Parker Brahms, RHP, Sacramento State: In a 4-0 victory against Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Brahms struck out 10 batters in six scoreless innings. That performance raised his career strikeout total to 280, breaking the program record, which previously stood at 277 and was held by Erik Bennett (1987-89). Brahms improved to 2-0, 0.77 with 17 strikeouts in 11.2 innings this season.

Trenton Denholm, RHP, UC Irvine: Denhom threw seven hitless innings against Rice to help lead UCI to a 10-1 victory. He struck out six and walked one before Rice was able to break up the no-hitter in the eighth inning with Denholm out of the game. The junior is now 1-1, 2.13 with 12 strikeouts and three walks in 12.2 innings this season.

Braden Olthoff, RHP, Tulane: Olthoff threw a three-hit shutout at Cal State Fullerton to lead Tulane to a 1-0 victory in the opener of a tough road series. The junior struck out 16 batters and walked one to keep the Green Wave undefeated at 5-0. Olthoff, a California native who went to junior college about an hour away from Fullerton’s Goodwin Field, improved to 2-0, 0.60 with 26 strikeouts and one walk in 15 innigns this season.

Alfredo Ruiz, LHP, Long Beach State: Facing No. 20 Wake Forest, Ruiz threw seven scoreless innings to help lead Long Beach (3-2) to a 6-2 victory. The sophomore limited the Demon Deacons’ powerful offense to two hits and three walks, while striking out four batters. Ruiz improved to 2-0, 0.00 and has held opponents to just four hits and three walks in 14 innings this season.

Levi Thomas, RHP, Troy: Thomas threw six hitless innings against Louisiana Tech and Troy opened the series with a 4-0 victory. The junior struck out 11 batters and walked one and is off to a sensational start to the season at 2-0, 0.00 with 25 strikeouts, one walk and two hits allowed in 11 innings. On Friday, senior relievers Levi Fultz and Lance Johnson combined for three scoreless innings and held the Bulldogs to just one hit.

Around The Horn

— No. 9 Mississippi State (4-0) made a late push to beat Oregon State (2-3), 6-2. The win was all the more impressive when you consider MSU was without first-team Preseason All-American righthander J.T. Ginn, who missed his start due to arm soreness. Behind outstanding work from lefthander Christian Chamberlain (5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 12 K), the Beavers held a 2-0 lead going into the eighth inning, but the Bulldogs rallied for six runs in that frame, highlighted by a three-run blast from left fielder Brandon Pimentel. 

Central Florida (5-1) beat No. 12 Auburn (5-1), 3-1, a big step toward winning a series that would be an early resume builder for the Knights. UCF lefthander Colton Gordon held the Tigers to one run on four hits with seven strikeouts in six innings, out dueling Auburn righthander Tanner Burns, a Preseason All-American, and first baseman Jordan Rathbone led the offense by going 2-for-4 with an RBI single and a solo homer. 

Eastern Kentucky (4-0) claimed a 2-0 upset win at No. 13 Louisiana State. Five EKU pitchers, led by righthander Brennan Kelly’s 4.1 innings, combined to hold the Tigers scoreless on just three hits. The Colonels managed just four hits themselves, but made the most of them, bringing home their runs on RBI singles by catcher A.J. Lewis and right fielder Nick Howie. 

Oklahoma righthander Cade Cavalli showed more evidence of his immense potential, throwing seven innings, giving up six hits and one run with one walk and nine strikeouts in the Sooners 2-1 win against Illinois State (1-3). No. 16 OU (5-1) collected just five hits against the Redbirds, but cashed in for two runs in the sixth, one on an RBI fielder’s choice off the bat of third baseman Peyton Graham and one on an RBI double by DH Trent Brown. 

Houston (2-2), coming off of a disappointing series loss to Youngstown State, scored a much-needed 11-4 win against Stanford (1-4) to kick off the Round Rock Classic. Defense really let the Cardinal down. In a seven-run fourth inning for the Cougars, they committed three errors, and by the time righthander Brendan Beck exited during the fourth, he had given up eight runs, but only three were earned. Stanford is now similarly in need of wins the rest of the weekend after falling to 1-4 on the season. 

— In the nightcap of the Round Rock Classic, Tennessee defeated No. 4 Texas Tech 6-2. The Volunteers (5-0) scored three runs in the bottom of the first against Tech righthander Clayton Beeter on a Zach Daniels solo homer and a two-run shot from Jordan Beck, and they never looked back. Meanwhile, the Red Raiders (4-1) were never quite able to get things rolling offensively against Tennessee pitching. After Chad Dallas got the Vols through the first five innings, fellow righthander Sean Hunley was absolutely lights out, throwing four shutout innings to close out the win, limiting Texas Tech to one hit and two walks. 

— No. 21 Georgia Tech (4-1) blitzed Ohio State starter Garrett Burhenn, a 2019 Freshman All-American, scoring 11 runs on 14 hits against him in three-plus innings on the way to a 12-4 win. Left fielder Michael Guldberg went 3-for-3, Baron Radcliff was 2-for-4 with a home run and freshman first baseman Drew Compton went yard twice. The Buckeyes (2-2) came into the weekend with an opportunity to possibly play their way back into the rankings with a series win, but now they’ll have to battle back to do so. 

Boise State (0-1) played its first game in 40 years on Friday night, but after a 7-0 loss to Texas (6-0), the Broncos will have to wait at least one more day for their first run and their first win. Naturally, it was still a game of firsts for Boise. When lefthander Travis Weston struck out Texas catcher D.J. Petrinsky in the first inning, it was the program’s first punch out since it was eliminated in 1980. The same was true of third baseman Torin Mongtomery’s walk in the second inning, the first baserunner, and first baseman Joe Yorke’s single immediately afterward, the first hit. Despite getting hung with the loss, Weston was a bright spot for Boise State, striking out six and walking none in four innings, and the Broncos can hang their hat on having played a clean game, as they committed just one error. 

Merrimack has proven to be competitive in its first season at the Division I level, at least to this point. After splitting four games with Oral Roberts last weekend, the Warriors (3-2) got this weekend started with a 9-6, 11-inning win against Michigan State (4-1) in Greenville, S.C. Tied 6-6 in the top of the 11th, Merrimack got three runs, two on a double off the bat of shortstop Nick Shumski. 

Central Arkansas (3-2) upset Conference USA favorite Southern Mississippi (4-1), 6-3. Righthander Gavin Stone set the tone, throwing 6.2 innings, giving up three hits and one run with four walks and eight strikeouts. Offensively, the Bears did a good job of getting to hard-throwing USM righthander Gabe Shepard, tagging him for four runs on four hits and four walks in 2.2 innings.

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