Ranking the Top 25 College Baseball Pitching Performances of the 2020 Season

Image credit: Oklahoma righthander Dane Acker (Photo by Brian Westerholt/Four Seam Images)

College baseball produced a bumper crop of outstanding starting pitchers in 2020. In the most recent BA 300, there are more than 30 college arms inside the top 100 alone. 

An abbreviated 2020 season, which cut things off before conference play even got underway for most teams, robbed us of getting to see many of the best Friday night pitching showdowns we were slated to see, but there were already plenty of performances worth celebrating. 

From no-hitters to absurd strikeout totals, here are the 25 best pitching performances during the 2020 season. 

1. Oklahoma’s Dane Acker vs. Louisiana State—March 1

9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 11 K

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The Oklahoma righthander threw a no-hitter against LSU on March 1 as part of the Shriners Hospitals for Children College Classic in Houston. He walked just one batter and struck out 11 along the way. 

2. Duke’s Bryce Jarvis vs. Cornell —Feb. 21

9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 15 K

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To say the righthander mowed through the Big Red lineup would be an understatement. Jarvis struck out 15 Cornell batters en route to the program’s first perfect game, and most impressive of all, did all of that on just 94 pitches. 

3. North Carolina State’s Nick Swiney vs. Purdue—Feb. 29

8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 15 K

The lefthander dominated the Boilermakers on just 98 pitches as part of a great month on the mound. In all four of his starts in 2020, Swiney threw at least six innings, and he struck out at least 11 batters in three of the four. 

4. Long Beach State’s Adam Seminaris vs. Mississippi State—Feb. 28

8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K

The outstanding performance for Seminaris in a 4-0 win against Mississippi State helped announce the Dirtbags as a much-improved team in 2020. One of the biggest disappointments of the canceled season is not getting to see Seminaris and Beach try to make good on the promise they showed early this season. 

5. Central Arkansas’ Gavin Stone vs. Southeastern Louisiana—March 6

9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 13 K

In what turned out to be his last start of the season, Stone no-hit the Lions in a 2-0 win. The lone walk was issued in the fifth inning, after which Stone retired the final 15 batters he faced.

6. Texas A&M’s Asa Lacy vs. New Mexico State—March 6

7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 13 K

The most anticipated portion of this particular Lacy start was the showdowns between the lefthander and New Mexico State shortstop Nick Gonzales, a fellow likely top-five pick. Lacy got the best of Gonzales and dazzled in general, throwing seven hitless innings and striking out 13. 

7. Louisiana State’s A.J. Labas vs. Oklahoma—March 1

8 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K

On nearly any other day, what Labas did against the Sooners would have resulted in a routine LSU victory. But on this day, it was overshadowed by the no-hitter for Acker on the other side, and the homer surrendered to OU’s Justin Mitchell was enough to turn it into a hard-luck loss. 

8. Duke’s Bryce Jarvis vs. Florida State—March 6

7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 K

The only pitcher to have two games on this list, Jarvis made easy work of the Seminoles in his one ACC start, solidifying his place in the discussion among the best pitchers in the country during the abbreviated 2020 season. Just two weeks after his perfect game, he carried another one into the seventh inning on this day.

9. San Diego’s Jake Miller vs. Monmouth—Feb. 28

9 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 10 K

In a game he initially wasn’t even supposed to start, Miller took the opportunity and ran with it, throwing USD’s first no-hitter since 2008 and continuing the 2020 college baseball trend of no-hitters galore. 

10. Clemson’s Sam Weatherly vs. South Carolina – Feb. 28

7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 11 K

The Clemson lefthander showed no sign of letting a road start in a rivalry series get to him, as he threw seven no-hit innings against South Carolina as part of a 7-1 Tigers win. 

11. Georgia’s Cole Wilcox vs. Georgia Tech—Feb. 29

7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 11 K

Speaking of pitchers stepping up in rivalry games, Wilcox helped the Bulldogs capture an impressive sweep of the rival Yellow Jackets with seven dominant innings against a quality lineup. 

12. Ball State’s Kyle Nicolas vs. Sacred Heart—Mar. 6

7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 17 K

It would be hard to be in control any more than Nicolas was against Sacred Heart. He struck out 17 of the 21 batters he retired. Like Labas, though, it wasn’t enough to score a win, as Ball State got walked off in a 1-0 defeat. 

13. Vanderbilt’s Jack Leiter vs. South Alabama—Feb. 18

5 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 12 K

What a starting debut it was for Leiter. He retired 15 batters, 12 of them via strikeout, all against a pretty solid South Alabama lineup. In a shortened freshman campaign, Leiter would end up surrendering just three runs in 15.2 innings. 

14. UC Irvine’s Trenton Denholm vs. Rice—Feb. 21

7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K

In typical Denholm fashion, the righthander didn’t pile up huge strikeout numbers, but rather, just expertly navigated the Rice lineup on the way to throwing seven no-hit innings in a 10-1 Anteaters win. 

15. Tulane’s Braden Olthoff vs. Cal State Fullerton—Feb. 21

9 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 16 K

Among newcomers to college baseball this season, Olthoff, a junior college transfer, had as big an impact on his team as any. Just one week after this 16-strikeout performance in a 1-0 win against the Titans, he threw the first six innings of a combined no-hitter for the Green Wave against Middle Tennessee State. 

16. Florida’s Tommy Mace vs. Miami—Feb. 21

7 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 8 K

Mace had a starring role in his team’s series sweep of Miami on the road. He went toe-to-toe with Brian Van Belle and bought enough time for Florida to come through with a 2-1 win in extra innings. 

17. Max Meyer vs. North Carolina—Feb. 28

9 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 14 K

One of the very best pitchers in college baseball over the last three seasons, Max Meyer’s final season was highlighted by this gem against the Tar Heels as part of the Cambria College Classic at U.S. Bank Stadium. 

18. Texas Christian’s Johnny Ray vs. Minnesota—Feb. 22

9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K

Against the Golden Gophers, Ray gave TCU one of the best starts it got in 2020. A starting rotation that included Ray and senior Charles King was going to be a big reason for optimism for the Horned Frogs had the season continued. 

19. Louisville’s Reid Detmers vs. Wake Forest—March 6

6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 15 K

The Preseason All-American struck out at least nine batters in each of his four starts during the 2020 season, with this gem against the Demon Deacons the best of the bunch. The 15 strikeouts were the most for Detmers in a start since he struck out 16 against Georgia Tech in March 2019. 

20. Wake Forest’s Jared Shuster vs. Louisville—March 7

7.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 13 K

One day after the dominant start from Detmers, Wake Forest lefty Jared Shuster returned the favor. His 13 strikeouts were a career high after topping out at 12 in 2019. 

21. Kansas State’s Jordan Wicks vs. Utah—Feb. 23

7 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 10 K

With a 0.35 ERA through four starts, any Wicks start could have made this list, but his outing against the Utes gets the nod. In addition to seven no-hit innings, he set a career-high in strikeouts with ten. 

22. Army’s Logan Smith vs. Duke—Feb. 14

7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 10 K

An Opening Day start against a ranked team on the road was no problem for Smith, who helped get his season off on the right foot with seven shutout frames against the Blue Devils. Smith went on to finish the season with a 1.61 ERA. 

23. Southern California’s John Beller vs. Vanderbilt—March 7

8 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 7 K

Beller set the tone in a 2-1 win against Vanderbilt, which was a huge piece of the puzzle in USC’s solid showing in the Southern California College Baseball Classic. This was the highlight of the season for Beller, although his previous start, when he threw seven shutout innings against Seton Hall, could have been included on this list as well. 

24. Oklahoma State’s Brett Standlee vs. Arizona State—Feb. 18

7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K

Standlee made just one start this season, but he made it count, scattering seven hits and limiting a powerful Sun Devils lineup to just one run in a 2-1 midweek win for the Cowboys. 

25. Campbell’s Cam Cowan vs. South Alabama—Feb. 14

8.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 15 K

Cowan’s Opening Day gem was a sight to behold. Not altogether unlike the aforementioned Jarvis perfect game, Cowan was dominant and efficient, which is a difficult combination to pull off. The righthander worked into the ninth inning and threw just 94 pitches.

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