Three key storylines from around the nation on Friday
Strike One: Unhittable Hingst
Arizona State gave sophomore Ryan Hingst the ball for his first start of 2016 on Friday night against Utah. Suffice to say he’s earned another one.
The righthander delivered the 10th no-hitter in Sun Devils history, striking out a career-high nine and allowing just four baserunners—three walks and one hit-by-pitch. Hingst retired the last 11 hitters to finish the job, ending with a 121 total pitches.
|HOW THE TOP 25 FARED|
|(1) Florida: won, 12-5, at Kentucky|
|(2) Texas A&M: lost, 3-2, vs. (13) Louisiana State|
|(3) Oregon State: lost, 5-0, at (15) California|
|(4) Miami: won, 9-8, vs. (17) Clemson|
|(5) Texas Christian: lost, 2-0, at Texas|
|(6) North Carolina: won, 8-0, vs. Georgia Tech|
|(7) Mississippi: lost, 9-5, vs. (18) South Carolina|
|(8) Louisville: lost, 6-3, vs. (9) Virginia|
|(9) Virginia: won, 6-3, vs. (8) Louisville|
|(10) Mississippi State: won, 3-1, vs. Georgia|
|(11) Vanderbilt: won, 8-6, at Missouri|
|(12) Florida State: won, 8-5, vs. (21) North Carolina State|
|(13) Louisiana State: won, 3-2, at (2) Texas A&M|
|(14) UCLA: won, 4-3, at Arizona|
|(15) California: won, 5-0, vs. (3) Oregon State|
|(16) Houston: won, 5-2, vs. George Washington|
|(17) Clemson: lost, 9-8, at (4) Miami|
|(18) South Carolina: won, 9-5, at (7) Mississippi|
|(19) Oklahoma State: won, 5-4, at Kansas State|
|(20) Long Beach State: lost, 4-2, at Cal State Fullerton|
|(21) North Carolina State: lost, 8-5, at (12) Florida State|
|(22) Alabama: won, 7-3, vs. Tennessee|
|(23) Michigan: won, 10-2, vs. Illinois-Chicago|
|(24) UC Santa Barbara: won, 5-2, vs. Southern California|
|(25) Arkansas: won, 3-2, vs. Auburn|
“In the sixth inning, I noticed everybody was just ignoring me (in the dugout),” Hingst told azcentral.com. “Higgy (pitching coach Brandon Higelin) is usually right next to me between innings and I noticed he wasn’t next to me. That made me look at the scoreboard, and that’s when it really kind of hit me.”
His closest calls came in the second, when second baseman Andrew Snow made a diving play on a ball that deflected off the pitcher’s mound, and the eighth, when center fielder Andrew Shaps had to make a running, over-the-shoulder catch on a deep drive to keep things going. He also had a 14-pitch battle with Utah’s Max Schuman in the fifth that ended in a walk.
A projectable 6-foot-4 righthander, Hingst was our No. 5 prospect in the Alaska League last summer, working primarily with an 87-91 mph fastball and a slider. However, Sun Devils coach Tracy Smith noted to reporters after Friday’s game that Hingst was still bumping 92 mph in the late innings, along with the fact he was dominating the game with the fastball almost exclusively.
Hingst’s no-hitter is ASU’s second in four years after Ryan Kellogg threw one at Oregon State in 2013. The Sun Devils won the game 5-0, setting up a rubber game with the Utes on Saturday.
Strike Two: Bukauskas Dominates Yellow Jackets
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—It took someone throwing a no-hitter to upstage North Carolina’s J.B. Bukauskas among Saturday’s standout pitching performances. That’s how good the Tar Heels’ talented sophomore righthander was on Friday evening against Georgia Tech, an offense that came into the weekend hitting .326 as a group—eighth best in the country—and averaging better than seven runs a game.
Bukauskas came out in the top of the first pumping 94-96 mph fastballs, recording back-to-back strikeouts of Connor Justus and Matt Gonzalez, and the tone was set. He went on to match his career high with 11 strikeouts over eight shutout innings, as the Tar Heels leveled the series with a dominant 8-0 win.
The Yellow Jackets only seriously threatened him once, when they loaded the bases with no outs in the top of the second with three straight singles. A line-drive double play turned the inning around, and Bukauskas was then able to escape unscathed on a fly to center field. From there, he began relying more heavily on his mid-80s slider, and Tech’s hitters simply couldn’t handle it.
“I think the scouting report against me recently has just been to hunt that fastball, and when you see it, you’ve got to get it,” Bukauskas said. “So I started throwing the slider in there. They were definitely doing that (hunting fastballs) in the second inning. There was a big difference between that and the first inning. I could definitely tell they were real geared up for the fastball, and we changed it up the next inning, going to more sliders, and that ended up being more effective.”
Bukauskas never did use his changeup, relying strictly on his fastball-slider combo. He admitted afterward he’ll likely need the changeup more when the Heels face Miami next weekend, but on this night, the fastball and slider were more than enough.
Beginning with that double play, all Bukauskas did was retire 17 consecutive hitters. A leadoff double in the top of the eighth finally broke his streak, but he recovered to set down the next three and keep the shutout intact. Even though he’d surpassed the 100-pitch mark, he was still able to reach back for some last 95 mph heaters, finishing his night in style with back-to-back strikeouts of Ryan Peurifoy and Arden Pabst.
Strike Three: Madison Marathon
Friday had more than its share of standouts games and performers, but we’ll give a shout out here to the craziest game of the night, a battle of wills between James Madison and Northeastern that lasted 19 innings and 5 hours, 46 minutes—the longest game in the history of both programs—before the Dukes finally walked off with a 7-6 win.
Before things went off the deep end, Northeastern built a 4-1 lead with ace Aaron Civale on the mound. Civale turned in his third straight double-digit strikeout performance, whiffing 10 in seven innings, but the Dukes twice came back to tie it. Back-to-back homers by Ky Parrott and Brett Johnson leveled things at 4-4 in the sixth, and the teams traded two-spots in the eighth.
From there, stalemate. James Madison loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the 13th but failed to score, while Northeastern stranded the potential go-ahead run in scoring position six times in the extra frames. Finally, JMU broke the deadlock in the bottom of the 19th, when back-to-back walks set up Kyle McPherson’s game-winning double. Aside from McPherson, the hero of the night for Madison was senior righthander Ben Garner, who came out of the bullpen in the top of the ninth and went on to throw eight shutout innings of relief, fanning seven.
“I could not be prouder of the way we competed tonight,” Dukes coach Marlin Ikenberry told jmusports.com “To come back and tie it in the bottom of the eighth was impressive, but it was even more impressive to watch Garner throw those innings in relief and then have Christian Leckert come in and do a great job. Both teams had chances to win this game multiple times, but we got a big swing from Kyle McPherson in the 19th.”
In all, the teams combined for 29 hits, 36 strikeouts (23 by NU’s pitching), and 29 runners left on base. Parrott led the way offensively, going 4-for-8 with a homer, a double and a walk.
Nine newsmakers from Friday’s action
Willie Abreu, 1b, Miami: Clemson overcame a 7-2 deficit against Miami, but it was all for naught after Abreu crushed a two-run, walk-off homer in the bottom of the ninth, taking a 2-1 pitch from Alex Bostic out for an opposite field blast over the left field wall. It’s Abreu’s second walk-off homer in as many Fridays after he hit a game-winning grand slam a week ago against Louisville.
J.P. Sears, lhp, The Citadel: On a night of dominant pitching performances, Sears was untouchable in his own right. The senior struck out 19—the most by a Division I pitcher this season—in The Citadel’s 10-2 win at Virginia Military Institute. He did it over eight innings, retiring 15 straight VMI hitters from the fourth through the eighth, 13 of them via strikeouts, while allowing one run on three hits.
Bryan Reynolds, cf, Vanderbilt: After being down to its final out, Vanderbilt scored four runs in the top of the ninth to stun Missouri, 8-6. Reynolds struck the final blow, a mashing a two-run homer to straightaway center field, his fourth of the year, that put the Commodores in front. The win saves Vandy from what would’ve been a 1-3 start in SEC play.
Aaron Sandefur, rhp, Pittsburgh: The Panthers have been a pesky out in the early going of ACC play, and they got their own big night on the mound Friday. Sandefur, another senior, threw his first career complete game shutout in Pitt’s 5-0 win against Boston College, evening up that series. Beyond that, he set a career high with 12 strikeouts and didn’t hand out a single walk while limiting the Eagles to five hits.
Robert Tyler, rhp, Georgia: The Bulldogs’ ace was brilliant on the road against a hot Mississippi State team, throwing six no-hit innings with six strikeouts. Unfortunately for Tyler, he also handed out six walks and thus ran up a pitch count of 107 in those six innings, compelling the Georgia staff to take him out of the game with the no-hitter still intact. Things unraveled quickly from there, as MSU scored twice in the seventh and once in the eighth to win 3-1.
Ryan Mason, rhp, California: The Golden Bears clinched a vital series win against No. 3 Oregon State behind an outstanding effort from Mason (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 7 K), who authored his second career shutout in a 5-0 win.
Ryan Noda, 1b, Cincinnati: Noda went a combined 5-for-7 with two home runs as the Bearcats swept a doubleheader from crosstown rival Xavier, 4-0 and 9-2. After starting the season 1-11, the Bearcats have now won 10 straight games–their longest winning streak in 26 years–to get back to the .500 mark.
Timmy Richards, ss, Cal State Fullerton: Richards had only one hit Friday, but it was the biggest one in the Titans’ 4-2 win against rival No. 20 Long Beach State, as Richards went deep on the first pitch he saw from the Dirtbags’ Ty Provencher in the bottom of the eighth to break a 2-2 tie. The Titans’ win sets up a rubber game Saturday.
Ty Culbreth, lhp, Texas: No one’s played a tougher schedule than the Longhorns, a better team than their 11-12 record indicates. They’ve finally broken through this weekend, clinching a series win against No. 5 Texas Christian behind Culbreth (6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 3 K) and three relievers, who combined on a four-hit shutout.