Friday delivered another exciting day of college baseball around the country. We break down the top storylines of the day.
LSU Gets Back On Track
With No. 14 Texas coming to Alex Box Stadium for a highly anticipated matchup, No. 22 Louisiana State had to act quickly this week to get back on track following a series loss to Notre Dame – its first Opening Weekend series loss since 1999. LSU started to do so with a 14-6 win Wednesday against New Orleans and it truly made a statement Friday with a 13-4 rout of Texas.
LSU’s offense jumped all over Texas righthander Nolan Kingham, who delivered one of the best starts of Opening Weekend last Friday, for five runs in the first inning to set the tone. Righthander Zack Hess, who moved to the front of the rotation this week for the Tigers, bounced back from his poor outing against Notre Dame to strike out 10 batters in six innings and deliver a quality start.
LSU (3-2) played its best game of the young season despite missing two key pieces of its lineup. Center fielder Zach Watson missed his second straight game after tweaking his oblique this week and shortstop Josh Smith is out indefinitely due to a stress reaction in his back. As a result, the Tigers have a new-look lineup that includes freshman Hal Hughes, the son of former Oklahoma coach Pete Hughes, at shortstop and Austin Bain, who was exclusively a pitcher in his first three years of college, at DH. Both Hughes and Bain collected two hits and scored a run Friday.
The Tigers were relentless offensively, pounding out 16 hits and drawing six walks. Second baseman Brandt Broussard went 4-for-5 with four RBIs to lead the way, but everyone in the lineup contributed. The depth and explosiveness of its offense is one of LSU’s biggest strengths this season and after a slow start, it seems to have broken out after scoring 27 runs in the last two games.
The Tigers still have some questions to answer on the mound and need to finish the series victory with another win against the Longhorns (3-2), but on Friday they showed what can happen when they play to their potential.
North Dakota State’s Riley Johnson Throws No-hitter
North Dakota State sophomore righthander Riley Johnson on Friday threw the season’s first no-hitter, blanking Central Connecticut State in a 2-0 victory in Punta Gorda, Fla. It was the first no-hitter in 10 years for the Bison.
Johnson struck out eight batters and walked one, facing just two batters over the minimum. He improved to 2-0, 1.29 this season.
The Bison (3-2) gave Johnson the lead in the third inning with an unearned run and tacked on an insurance run in the eighth. Third baseman Matt Elsenpeter drew two walks, drove in a run and scored a run.
Friday was CCSU’s opener, giving the Blue Devils’ season an inauspicious start.
Friday night is a showcase for college baseball’s top arms and they did not disappoint this week.
Trey Cumbie, RHP, Houston: Cumbie gave up a leadoff hit against No. 13 Cal State Fullerton and then retired 21 straight batters. He struck out 10 batters in 6.2 innings, but settled for a no-decision in a taut pitchers’ duel against Colton Eastman.
Adam Hill, RHP, South Carolina: Hill threw seven no-hit innings and struck out 14 batters in a 7-0 victory against Charleston Southern. Hill threw 100 pitches before turning the no-hitter over to the bullpen. Charleston Southern was able to scratch out a hit against Hunter Lomas to avoid being the second team no-hit on Friday.
Sean Hjelle, RHP, Kentucky: A Preseason All-American, Hjelle proved to be too much Friday for Oakland hitters. He carried a no-hitter into the eighth inning, struck out a career-high 13 batters and walked none in a 10-1 victory. Hjelle is 2-0, 0.66 with 16 strikeouts and two walks in 13.2 innings this season.
Sean Mooney, RHP, St. John’s: Facing Monmouth at the Penn State Invitational in Cary, N.C., Mooney threw struck out a career-high 11 batters and scattered four hits and two walks in six scoreless innings. The sophomore improved to 2-0, 0.82 with 19 strikeouts and three walks in 11 innings. No. 23 St. John’s won, 3-0, and is off to a 5-0 start having given up just four runs (three earned).
Noah Song, RHP, Navy: Song bounced back from an Opening Day loss to dominate Air Force in a 16-1 victory in the Freedom Classic in Kinston, N.C. The junior struck out 16 batters in six scoreless innings and held the Falcons to two hits and two walks. Song’s 16 strikeouts are the fifth most in a single game in program history.
Around the Bases
- Cal Poly upset No. 4 Arkansas, 4-3, in the opening game of the Tony Gwynn Classic in San Diego. Preseason All-American outfielder Alex McKenna delivered a walkoff RBI single to give the Mustangs (2-3) a big victory. McKenna went 2-for-5 and is hitting .316/.435/.421 this season.
- The Atlantic Coast Conference had a disappointing start to the weekend. With 13 teams in action (Notre Dame was rained out), the ACC compiled a 7-6 record and went 0-4 against teams from last year’s top eight RPI conferences. No. 15 Virginia blew a lead in the ninth inning against Eastern Kentucky and lost, 7-6, at home. No. 6 North Carolina lost 2-1 at East Carolina to open a much-anticipated series. Miami jumped out to an early lead at home against top-ranked Florida but was unable to hold it and lost 7-3 to the Gators. It was the Hurricanes’ fifth-straight loss to their in-state rivals. The conference’s best result came from No. 11 Clemson, which showcased the strength of its lineup in a 12-1 rout of an ascendant Dallas Baptist team.
- All-American second baseman Nick Madrigal left No. 2 Oregon State’s 10-8 victory against Ohio State after getting thrown out at the plate in the eighth inning. He has a left wrist injury and will be out for at least the rest of the weekend.