Thursday Roundup: Wild Night Out West

Image credit: Colton Eastman (College Baseball Insider)

Eastman’s No-Hitter Highlights Wild Night In the West

Cal State Fullerton ace righthander Colton Eastman joined an exclusive club on Thursday night—a club that is getting less and less exclusive by the day.

In a 3-0 victory over UC Santa Barbara in the Big West opener, Eastman twirled the fifth no-hitter in Titans’ history, striking out seven and walking just one across nine dazzling frames. The no-hitter was the 17th no-no thrown by Division I pitchers this spring—breaking the all-time record for no-hitters in a single season, set in 2013.

As it would turn out, though, Eastman’s no-hitter was just the tip of the iceberg on a wild, wild night on the west coast.

No. 1 Oregon State, a team that lost just three Pac-12 games all of last year, fell to a 5-19 Utah team on the road, as the Utes beat up on Beavers’ pitching for an 8-7 win. The Beavers dropped to 20-3 on the season, facing a team that opened the year with 13 straight losses.

And we’re just getting started.

No. 3 Stanford also lost on Thursday night, in a 10-1 drubbing at home to visiting Oregon. Stanford ace Tristan Beck threw his worst outing of the year, giving up six runs to the Ducks in four innings, while Oregon sophomore closer-turned-starter Kenyon Yovan blanked the Cardinal for six innings. The loss was only Stanford’s third of the season. Oregon, meanwhile, has gotten off to a 15-9 start this season against a solid schedule. The Ducks’ RPI jumped to No. 24 after the win, and a series win would be huge resume booster.

No. 15 UCLA was third of the ranked Pac-12 teams to lose Thursday, as California peppered Bruins starter Jake Bird for five runs on 14 hits in a 5-2 Golden Bears win. It was a much-needed win for the Bears, as the team opened 1-5 in conference play.

Adding to the west coast wild-ness: No. 23 San Diego State lost to New Mexico, Arizona State’s Spencer Torkelson broke Barry Bonds’ freshman home run record with his 12th homer of the year in a loss to Washington State, and Long Beach State pounded Fresno State, 24-10.

Arkansas Takes Opener in Top 10 Battle

No. 6 Arkansas dealt the first blow against No. 4 Mississippi in the premier series of the weekend.

Led by ace Blaine Knight and reliever Matt Cronin, the Razorbacks defeated the Rebels, 6-4, in Oxford.

The Arkansas offense got to Ole Miss ace Ryan Rolison early, saddling him with five runs on nine hits and jumping out to a 4-0 lead by the second inning. The Rebels would tie the score in the third, but the Razorbacks took the lead for good in the sixth on a Jordan McFarland home run and an RBI single from Casey Martin.

The win was a lift for a Hogs team in the midst of a brutal road trip that started with a series loss at defending national champion Florida. The Rebels, meanwhile, fell to 23-4. They entered this weekend coming off their best series win of the season—against Texas A&M on the road.

Ace Watch

A look at some of the top pitching performances in Thursday’s slate of games.

Connor Coward, RHP, Virginia Tech: The senior righthander did what few pitchers have been able to do this season—shut down No. 10 North Carolina State’s potent offense. Hosting the Wolfpack in Blacksburg, Coward held N.C. State to just two unearned runs on three hits in eight innings, striking out nine to just one walk. The performance lifted the Hokies to a 10-2 upset over the Wolfpack.

Isaiah Kearns, Jackson Wolf, Shane Ennis, West Virginia: It took a committee approach, but the Mountaineers impressively shut out No. 11 Texas Tech on Thursday night in a 1-0 upset in Lubbock. The starter Kearns opened with three scoreless frames, Wolf added four and Ennis fired two scoreless for his first save of the year. Both the Mountaineers and the Red Raiders are now 1-3 in the Big 12.

Zack Hess, RHP, Louisiana State: The sophomore Hess has seemingly found his groove as LSU’s newest Friday night starter. The electric righty struck out 10 and allowed one run on three hits in 6.2 innings against Mississippi State, as the No. 21 Tigers claimed a 10-1, series-opening win.

Cole Sands, RHP, Florida State: Setting a career high with seven innings pitched, the junior Sands allowed three runs on four hits and struck out eight in No. 5 FSU’s 9-4 win over No. 20 Louisville. The Seminoles are looking to win their third straight ACC series, while the Cardinals are trying to avoid losing their third straight.

Kyle Hurt, RHP, Southern California: In a classic West Coast pitcher’s duel, Hurt came out on top against Washington in a 1-0 win, striking out eight and yielding just three hits in seven innings.

Tim Cate, LHP, Connecticut: After a slow start to the season, Cate appears to be getting in a groove. The talented junior lefty allowed just two hits in 6.2 scoreless innings, striking out six in a 9-1 win against Hartford in UConn’s home opener. The Huskies opened the season with 21 consecutive games on the road.

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