Friday Roundup: Auburn's Mize No-Hits Northeastern
The Year of the No-hitter shows no sign of slowing down.
Auburn righthander Casey Mize, No. 8 on BA’s Top 300 draft prospects, joined the ever-growing college baseball no-no club with an exceptional outing in Friday night’s 6-0 win against Northeastern.
Mize, who is coming off of a breakout summer with USA Baseball’s Collegiate National Team, became the first Tiger to throw a no-hitter since nine Tigers combined for one in 2002. Mize struck out 13 over nine dazzling frames, needing just 105 pitches to make history.
"In 27 years, that's about as good as I've seen on the mound," head coach Butch Thompson told auburntigers.com. "I've seen some good ones. Just being in this league for 17 years, you're going to get to coach some really good ballplayers and pitchers especially. But start to finish, Casey Mize, that's probably about as good as I've seen."
Mize retired the first 10 batters he faced—six via strikeout—before a throwing error by Auburn shortstop Will Holland allowed the first and only Northeastern baserunner to reach.
Auburn is now a perfect 14-0 on the season and has steadily climbed up the College Top 25 to No. 20. This weekend marks the Tigers’ last tuneup before SEC play begins.
Cal State Fullerton Takes Down Oregon State
There’s no question that Cal State Fullerton has faced one of the more brutal opening-season schedules in the country.
The Titans opened the year by getting swept at now-No. 4 Stanford, then a series loss to Houston, then, finally, a series win at Tulane.
On Friday, Fullerton faced its toughest assignment yet—and prevailed—taking down No. 2 Oregon State, 5-3, in Corvallis, Ore. With the win, Fullerton rose to 4-8 and the Beavers, who lost just four times in the regular season last year, fell to 13-1.
Fullerton rode a strong outing from ace Colton Eastman (7 IP, 3 R, 8 K) and chipped away at the Beavers pitching staff on the offensive-end. A two-run ninth sealed the victory.
While the Titans still have a long climb back to .500, a series win against Oregon State would undoubtedly go a long way toward bolstering their resume as they prepare to head into Big West play.
Relentless No. 8 Kentucky Knocks Off No. 5 Texas Tech
For a few moments, it looked like Texas Tech would remain undefeated. Kentucky trailed by two runs, and Texas Tech had two men on in the top of the first. Sean Hjelle was in big trouble and he hadn't recorded an out.
Hjelle broke out a quality breaking ball to strike out Grant Little, but Cameron Warren followed with an RBI single. With a 3-0 lead and two men on, the Red Raiders had a chance to blow open the game before Kentucky got a chance to swing the bat.
But as he's done many times before Hjelle got out of the jam, inducing a ground ball double play. And once he'd escaped the first, he tormented the Red Raiders for six more innings.
And with the Kentucky lineup, a three-run deficit just isn't that daunting. A Kole Cottam two-run home run in the second and a Cottam two-run double in the fifth helped Kentucky quickly recover.
The Wildcats chased Texas Tech starter Davis Martin after only three innings. Martin gave up only three runs, but the patient Wildcats forced Martin to average more than 20 pitches an inning. On a very chilly, blustery day that was enough to lead Texas Tech coach Tim Tadlock to pull him.
Hjelle (4-0), a Minnesota native, had no such issues with the chill. Once he got through the first, he started to roll, spotting his 88-92 mph fastball and mixing in an effective slider and curve. He retired his last 10 batters before leaving after seven efficient innings. He allowed three runs, two earned, with five hits allowed, one walk and six strikeouts.
"I was really proud of our team," Kentucky coach Nick Mingione said. "Our team did not flinch. There was no panic whatsoever. It started with Sean . . . He never tries to do too much ever. He set the tone. His poise and his approach bled over to our team. That’s why he’s Sean Hjelle."
The loss dropped Texas Tech to 14-1. Kentucky is now 13-2.
Duke Upsets Virginia As ACC Play Kicks Off
Duke is a team that is very much on the rise in the ACC. The Blue Devils entered conference play with just two losses—both coming in a weekend at Vanderbilt—and with one of the best power hitters in college baseball batting third for them in Griffin Conine.
Taking on visiting No. 14 Virginia, both Conine and the Blue Devils were in top form Friday night. Conine ripped a laser line-drive to right field for a solo shot in the first inning to give Duke an early lead, then flexed his opposite-field pop in his next at-bat as he sent a booming drive off of the wall in left field.
Teammate Jimmy Herron added a booming go-ahead shot of his own, over the blue monster at Durham Bulls Athletic Park, and the Blue Devils cruised to a 6-3 victory.
With the win, Duke improved to 11-2 and is on the Top 25 radar, if it can finish off a series win in Saturday’s doubleheader.
“We’ve got a really good club over there, an extremely well-coached club,” Duke coach Chris Pollard said of Virginia. “I told our guys, ‘You can enjoy it for two hours, and then you have to get back in the moment and ready to grind through a long day of baseball.’”
Virginia, meanwhile, fell to 9-5 and could be facing a pivotal point in the season already, as top hitters Jake McCarthy and Cam Simmons have gone down with significant injuries.
Elsewhere in the ACC, No. 19 Louisville and visiting No. 13 North Carolina volleyed back and forth for most of the night before Louisville claimed a 5-4 lead late to remain undefeated. No. 10 Clemson took down visiting Georgia Tech, 3-2, and No. 3 Florida State took down Wake Forest, 7-3, on the road.
2020 Bowman NEXT – Baseball America's Top 100 Giveaway
Enter now through March 16th for your chance to win a 2020 Bowman NEXT – Baseball America’s Top 100 set from Bowman!
Kris Bubic, lhp, Stanford: After falling at Texas in the four-game series opener, Bubic served as Stanford’s much-needed stopper, allowing just one run on three hits and striking out nine across six innings Friday night as the Cardinal tied the series, 1-1.
Jared Janczak, rhp, Texas Christian: The veteran righty was lights-out for TCU as it began the Dodger Stadium Classic with a 10-1 win over Southern California. Janczak struck out eight and allowed five hits in seven scoreless innings.
Ryan Rolison and Brady Feigl, Mississippi: Ole Miss’ one-two punch was untouchable in a Friday doubleheader against Eastern Illinois. The duo combined to allow just two runs and struck out 15 in 14 innings.
Trey Benton, rhp, East Carolina: The electric sophomore righty came within two outs of a complete game in a series-opening 3-1 win against Charlotte. Benton struck out six and allowed just one earned run.
Around the Bases
- There were several additional upsets on Friday. No. 16 Louisiana State fell to Hawaii, 4-2. No. 24 Coastal Carolina lost to High Point, 8-5. No. 18 Indiana dropped one to Pacific, 2-1. And No. 6 Arkansas split a doubleheader with Kent State.
- How’s this for a day at the yard: Kansas State junior center fielder Drew Mount went 2-for-4 against Mercer on Friday with not one but two grand slams. He drove in eight runs in the 12-3 win for K-State.