College Roundup: Utes Take Series At Arizona

SEE ALSO: Perseverance Pays For Tulane

How the Top 25 Fared
(1) Oregon State: won, 4-2, at UCLA in 10 innings
(2) Louisville: lost, 5-3, vs. Duke
(3) North Carolina: won, 5-2, at Pittsburgh
(4) Texas Tech: lost, 12-10, vs. Oklahoma State
(5) Clemson: won, 8-7, vs. (17) Wake Forest
(6) Arizona: lost, 7-3, vs. Utah
(7) Texas Christian: won, 9-4, vs. Baylor
(8) Cal State Fullerton: won, 7-4, at Cal Poly
(9) Louisiana State: split DH, lost 12-5 and won 4-3 at (14) Kentucky
(10) Auburn: won, 15-2, vs. (16) Arkansas
(11) Mississippi State: swept DH, won 4-3 and 13-12 (in 13 innings) vs. Alabama
(12) Long Beach State: won, 4-0, at UC Irvine
(13) Virginia: split DH, won 14-4 and lost 8-2 vs. Notre Dame
(14) Kentucky: split DH, won 12-5 and lost 4-3 vs. (9) Louisiana State
(15) Florida: lost, 4-2, vs. South Carolina
(16) Arkansas: lost, 15-2, at (10) Auburn
(17) Wake Forest: lost, 8-7, at (5) Clemson
(18) Michigan: lost, 1-0, vs. Indiana
(19) Oklahoma: lost, 15-10, vs. Kansas
(20) Southern Mississippi: won, 10-2, vs. Old Dominion
(21) West Virginia: won, 9-7, at Kansas State
(22) St. John’s: canceled vs. Fairleigh Dickinson
(23) Texas A&M: won, 2-1, vs. Tennessee
(24) Houston: lost, 7-1, vs. Tulane
(25) Oregon: lost, 4-3, vs. Stanford

Strike One: Utah Shocks Arizona

Last season, Utah infamously won the Pac-12 conference despite having a losing overall record, as the Utes simply caught fire in conference play. This season, it would probably take divine intervention to unseat No. 1 Oregon State—which won again Friday night, against UCLA.

But the Utes are still a team to keep tabs on, as evidenced by this weekend’s series at No. 7 Arizona. With a 7-3 win on Friday, Utah dealt the Wildcats their first home series loss of the season, and the Utes saw their RPI vault 16 points up to No. 41.

While the Utes sit at below .500 at 16-17 overall (7-10 Pac-12), a huge series win like this could potentially propel them down the stretch.

On Friday, Utah scored six of its seven runs in the final two frames to shock host Arizona, rallying against relievers Tylor Megill and Alfonso Rivas. That offensive surge came after a six-inning duel between Arizona starter Cameron Ming—who has also closed for the Wildcats—and Utah’s Riley Ottesen. Utah relievers Dylan Drachler and Chase Bauerle then closed the door for the series-clinching win.

Arizona fell to 26-11 (9-8 Pac-12) with the loss—only its second series loss of the year, with the first coming at Oregon State.

Utah has now won three of its last four Pac-12 series, including a series win against No. 25 Oregon. The Utes only have one road series remaining–at UCLA.

Strike Two: Duke Gets to McKay

Louisville two-way junior Brendan McKay is widely considered the best player in college baseball, but even he’s not perfect.

On Friday, visiting Duke saddled the lefthander with a career-high five runs in six innings, getting to him early in a 5-3 Duke win over the No. 2 Cardinals.

The Blue Devils jumped out to a 3-0 lead after just two innings.

“The key was we had McKay up around 50 pitches after two innings,” Duke head coach Chris Pollard told “We had such great at-bats. We really extended at-bats all day long, forced their pitchers into a lot of deep counts. We didn’t miss fastballs. I thought it was as locked-in a performance as we’ve had all year.”

The biggest blow came in the fifth inning, as sophomore Griffin Conine—son of Jeff Conine—belted his 12th homer of the year, a two-run shot that proved to be the difference in the 5-3 win.

The Cardinals attempted a comeback, with first baseman Drew Ellis homering twice. But Duke lefthander Mitch Stallings mostly held them in check through his seven innings, allowing just four hits before giving way to Jack Labosky to close the game out.

“The fun part to me was watching a true competitor embrace the moment,” Pollard said of Stallings. “He’s going head to head against the best player in college baseball, and he really relished it and didn’t back away from it. He’ll tell you he didn’t have his best performance, but he kept making pitches.”

Strike Three: Cowboys Top Red Raiders in Shootout

An Omaha team last season, Oklahoma State has had a tougher go of it this season after losing several key pieces from its 2016 roster.

If the Cowboys are to get back into the tournament, they’ll need to go on a run. Friday’s 12-10 win at No. 4 Texas Tech was a good start.

The middle of Oklahoma State’s lineup willed the Cowboys to victory in a high-scoring affair. Oklahoma State’s Nos. 3-5 hitters Garrett Benge, Garrett McCain and Colin Simpson combined for eight of the Cowboys’ 10 hits and drove in 11 of their 12 runs.

McCain, picked as a player to watch in Weekend Preview, got the scoring started with a three-run home run in the first inning, and went 2-for-5 with a career-high five RBIs in the contest.

The win lifted the Cowboys 15 points in the RPI up to No. 51, although they still have more work to do. They’re tied for seventh in the Big 12 at 5-8, but at 22-15 overall, they could earn an at-large bid as long as they continue to trend in the right direction.

Texas Tech fell to 32-9, 8-5 in the Big 12, with the loss.

The Lineup

Nine newsmakers from Friday’s action.

Darren McCaughan, rhp, Long Beach State: The junior righthander threw his second consecutive complete game—third of the year—in a shutout of UC Irvine. He allowed just three hits and no walks in his second career shutout, striking out five. The win gave the Dirtbags eight shutouts on the season—tied for most in the country.

Dylan Busby, 3b, Florida State: Battling injury this season, a healthier Busby is getting hot at the right time for FSU. Play at rival Miami on Friday, Busby went 3-for-5 and drove in four runs—three on a fifth-inning home run—to lead the Seminoles to a 6-3 win over the Hurricanes. Since missing last week’s game against Florida, Busby is hitting .524 with 11 hits, four home runs, two doubles and 16 RBIs.

Luke Heimlich, lhp, Oregon State: Dueling against UCLA ace Griffin Canning (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 3 BB, 10 K), Heimlich came out on top allowing just two hits and striking out 10 to three walks in 7.1 scoreless frames. The bullpen behind him blew Oregon State’s 2-0 lead in the ninth to saddle him with a no-decision, but the Beaver prevailed in extras.

Auburn Offense: After hitting just 10 home runs in the team’s first 34 games, the Tigers have now hit nine in their last six. They added three more Friday night—from Daniel Robert, Josh Anthony and Dylan Ingram—to defeat Arkansas, 15-2, in a Top 25 SEC clash.

Michael Hearne, lhp, Notre Dame: Hearne held a potent Virginia lineup in check, not allowing a hit until the sixth inning, to lead the Fighting Irish to a win over the Cavaliers in the second game of a doubleheader. Hearne threw eight strong innings, allowing two runs on six hits and striking out six.

Jonathan Stiever, rhp, Indiana: The sophomore outdueled Michigan ace Oliver Jaskie in an important 1-0 win over the Wolverines. Stiever struck out seven and scattered six hits in seven scoreless innings, as the Hoosiers improved to 20-15-2 and their RPI jumped to No. 35.

Corey Merrill, rhp, Tulane: The senior righthander threw eight shutout innings against Houston to lead the Green Wave to a big American Athletic Conference win. Merrill allowed just three hits and walked just three as first-place Tulane improved to 8-2 in the conference.

Robby Howell, rhp, Central Florida: In a key American series against Connecticut, the senior righthander delivered one of his best outings of the year, throwing his second complete game this season, striking out a career-high 11 and allowing just one run on four hits in an 8-1 win.

Chris Williams, c, Clemson: Williams didn’t pick up a hit Friday night, but he had the most important at-bat of the game, as he walked with two-outs and the bases loaded in the ninth inning to seal a comeback, walk-off win against No. 17 Wake Forest. He drove in the third run of the ninth with his walk, as the Tigers won 8-7 in the series opener.

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