Opening Day College Roundup
Opening Day delivered an exciting day of college baseball around the country. We break down the top storylines from around the country.
Southern Miss Gets Revenge
No. 21 Southern Mississippi routed No. 23 Mississippi State, 11-0, Friday to secure a big win over an in-state rival and get its season started with a loud statement. The Golden Eagles also got some payback on the Bulldogs after last year’s Hattiesburg Regional that saw Mississippi State upset the hosts and end one of the best seasons in Southern Miss’ history.
Righthander Nick Sandlin (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K) was dominant Friday and outpitched Preseason All-American lefthander Konnor Pilkington (4 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 6 K). Sandlin was making his first college start after spending the last two seasons as a closer. Southern Miss’ biggest question entering the season was starting pitching and if Sandlin can continue to pitch like he did Friday, it would go a long way to solidifying the rotation.
Mississippi State, meanwhile, will need to bounce back after a poor day offensively. Center fielder Jake Mangum and first baseman Josh Hatcher, the top two hitters in its order, combined for five hits. The rest of the lineup had one hit and one walk. With Mangum hitting leadoff, setting the table won’t be a problem for the Bulldogs. But they need some hitters to step up in the middle of the order to become run producers.
Friday night is for college baseball’s best arms to showcase their talents and they did not disappoint Friday.
Nolan Kingham, RHP, Texas: With Kingham leading the way, No. 14 Texas defeated Louisiana-Lafayette, 3-0. Kingham struck out 10 batters and held the Ragin’ Cajuns to three hits and one walk in eighth innings.
Shane McClanahan, LHP, South Florida: The top lefty in the 2018 draft class pitched like it Friday and helped USF upset No. 6 North Carolina, 4-3. McClanahan struck out 11 batters in six scoreless innings. He walked five and gave up three hits but was able to work out of trouble when he needed to against the Tar Heels.
Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn: Mize turned in an efficient outing in Auburn’s 6-0 victory against Longwood. The Preseason All-American threw 75 pitches in six scoreless innings as he struck out seven batters, walked none and scattered three hits.
Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi: Facing Winthrop, the favorite in the Big South Conference, Rolison delivered a sterling effort in a 7-3 victory. He struck out 12 in five innings and held the Eagles to one hit and two walks.
Brady Singer, RHP, Florida: The top-ranked prospect in the 2018 draft class made a strong debut as No. 1 Florida defeated Siena, 7-1. Singer struck out eight batters in seven innings and held Siena to one unearned run on two hits and a walk.
Under The Radar: Arkansas State Starts Red Hot In Sun Belt Play
Arkansas State has swept two straight series and looks like a contender in the Sun Belt West Division as it aims for its first regionals appearance since 1994.
Around the Bases
- No. 7 Texas Christian spoiled opening night for Grand Canyon’s newly renovated Brazell Field with a 3-2 comeback victory. But the victory was somewhat marred by an injury that forced Preseason All-American first baseman Luken Baker to leave the game after he was hit in the face by a groundball.
- Virginia Military Institute upset South Carolina, 7-6, to spoil coach Mark Kingston’s debut with the Gamecocks. Righthander Josh Winder was the Preseason Southern Conference pitcher of the year, but it was VMI’s bullpen that led the way Friday. Seven relievers combined to hold the Gamecocks to one run in 5.1 innings and stave off a comeback.
- Stanford righthander Tristan Beck made a strong return to the mound after missing last season due to an injured back. He held No. 11 Cal State Fullerton to one run on four hits and a walk in six innings and struck out five batters. No. 9 Stanford went on to win, 5-1.
- Kent State was twice down to its final strike in the top of the ninth inning against Sam Houston State. But shortstop Josh Hollander, the nine-hole hitter, hit a grand slam to give the Golden Flashes a dramatic, 7-4 victory against the Bearkats.
BYE. BYE. BASEBALL!!!Kent State’s @hollander_josh with the GRAND SLAM on a 3-2 count with 2 outs in the 9th to give @KentStBaseball the 7-4 win over Sam Houston State! #BiteDown #MACtion #SCTop10 pic.twitter.com/wzQdhDCaS1 — #MACtion (@MACSports) February 17, 2018