Strike One: Upsets Abound On Wild Day In Pac-12
The Pac-12 Conference's parity was showcased Saturday as all three of its teams in the Top 25--No. 1 Oregon State, No. 6 Arizona and No. 25 Oregon--were upset. In addition, last-place Washington State defeated archrival Washington.
|How the Top 25 Fared|
|(1) Oregon State: lost, 7-1, at UCLA|
|(2) Louisville: won, 7-5, vs. Duke|
|(3) North Carolina: won, 3-1, at Pittsburgh|
|(4) Texas Tech: won, 8-2, vs. Oklahoma State|
|(5) Clemson: split DH vs. (17) Wake Forest, won 11-0 and lost 8-3|
|(6) Arizona: lost, 4-2, vs. Utah|
|(7) Texas Christian: lost, 16-5, vs. Baylor|
|(8) Cal State Fullerton: lost, 13-6, at Cal Poly|
|(9) Louisiana State: off|
|(10) Auburn: lost, 7-3, vs. (16) Arkansas|
|(11) Mississippi State: off|
|(12) Long Beach State: won, 8-2, at UC Irvine|
|(13) Virginia: won, 9-0, vs. Notre Dame|
|(14) Kentucky: off|
|(15) Florida: won, 7-5, vs. South Carolina|
|(16) Arkansas: won, 7-3, at (10) Auburn|
|(17) Wake Forest: split DH at (5) Clemson, lost 11-0 and won 8-3|
|(18) Michigan: lost, 12-9, vs. Indiana|
|(19) Oklahoma: lost, 5-2, vs. Kansas|
|(20) Southern Mississippi: lost, 13-11, vs. Southern Mississippi|
|(21) West Virginia: lost, 8-4, at Kansas State|
|(22) St. John's: won, 9-0, vs. Farleigh Dickinson|
|(23) Texas A&M: won, 3-1, vs. Tennessee|
|(24) Houston: won, 8-7, vs. Tulane|
|(25) Oregon: lost, 8-5, vs. Stanford|
While UCLA became just the third team this season to defeat Oregon State with a 7-1 victory and set up a rubber game Sunday, the other upsets had more immediate impact. Utah's 4-2 victory at Arizona gave it a sweep in the series for the second straight season. Stanford's 8-5 victory at Oregon and Washington State's 6-3 victory against Washington clinched series wins for both teams.
Stanford and Utah both have been big winners this week. After back-to-back conference series losses, the Cardinal (22-12, 7-7) were able to bounce back on the road at Oregon, where they had not won a series since 2009, the Ducks' first season after restarting the program. They have leveled their conference record and climbed to No. 22 in the RPI on Saturday night, up 19 spots this week. Utah, last year's conference champion, has won back-to-back series after getting swept at Oregon State. The Utes (17-17, 8-10) are back to .500 overall and are up to No. 36 in RPI, up 21 spots this week.
The tumultuous weekend has left the conference standings as muddled as ever behind the first-place Oregon State (31-3, 15-2). The Beavers have a five-game lead over California and UCLA, which are tied for second. The gap between second place and last place is an even tighter 4 1/2 games.
The Pac-12 title came down to the season's final day last year, and while that may not happen again, teams seem certain to be jockeying for position throughout the second half of the season.
Strike Two: Schwarz Powers Florida
-- Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) April 22, 2017
South Carolina again found itself on the cusp of winning a marquee series, and again it ended in heartbreak.
The Gamecocks held a two-run lead going into the eighth inning of Saturday's rubber game against No. 15 Florida, just six outs away from their first series win in Gainesville since 2011. But the first three Gators' hitters in the inning reached base, bringing J.J. Schwarz to the plate to face righthander Colie Bowers.
Schwarz has struggled this spring, but he came through in the clutch Saturday. He blasted a grand slam into the left field bleachers, sending Florida to a 7-5 victory to clinch the series. The Gators (27-13, 10-8) have won back-to-back Southeastern Conference series and six of their last eight games.
Coach Kevin O'Sullivan said it was good to see Schwarz get rewarded for the work he's put in to improve this season.
"He's been working awfully hard in the cages on his own and with the coaches," O'Sullivan said. "For him to come through in a situation like that, not only does it make him feel good, but it makes his teammates and everybody around him, his coaches, feel good."
Schwarz went 1-for-2 with two walks in the game. He is hitting .243/.321/.396 with five home runs this season. He has now homered five times in eight career games against the Gamecocks.
The Gamecocks (24-15, 9-9), meanwhile, have lost four straight series. During that stretch, they have lost eight SEC games by a total of 12 runs. South Carolina's difficult schedule continues this week with a home series against Kentucky, the SEC East Division leader, and a visit to Louisiana State the following week.
Strike Three: BYU Beats San Diego, WCC Race Tightens
After losing the opening game of its series at San Diego on Thursday, Brigham Young bounced back to win the next two games, clinching a key West Coast Conference series with a 12-8 victory Saturday.
The Cougars' offense pounded out 18 hits (16 of which were singles) and used a pair of six-run innings to power it to victory. Keaton Kringlen went 4-for-6 with three RBIs to lead the offense, and Brennon Anderson and Tanner Chauncey added three hits each.
BYU (22-14, 11-4) has won four straight WCC series, climbing to within a game of Gonzaga and Loyola Marymount, which are tied for the conference lead.
The Toreros (27-11, 13-5) came into the weekend in first place in the WCC, but dropped out of the lead with Saturday's loss. San Diego travels to Loyola Marymount next weekend for another critical conference series.
The top four teams in the WCC qualify for the conference tournament, and BYU, Gonzaga, Loyola Marymount and USD are beginning to separate themselves from the pack. Saint Mary's is in fifth place, but is 2.5 games off the pace to reach the field. The Gaels will have a chance to get back in the mix over the next two weeks, however, as they take on Gonzaga and USD.
Nine newsmakers from Friday's action.
-- Clemson Baseball (@ClemsonBaseball) April 22, 2017
Alex Eubanks, rhp, Clemson: In the first game of a doubleheader against No. 17 Wake Forest, Eubanks threw a shutout and struck out 12 batters to lead Clemson to an 11-0 victory. Eubanks scattered seven hits and did not allow a runner to advance past first base until the eighth inning. Wake Forest's streak of not getting shutout was snapped at 82 games.
Rylan Bannon, 3b, Xavier: Led by Bannon (6-for-6, HR), Xavier clinched its series against Butler with a 17-12 victory. Bannon has homered in four of the last five games and is now hitting .320/.454/.653 with 12 home runs and 10 stolen bases in 40 games.
Evan Kruczynski, lhp, East Carolina: In his second start after returning from a broken ankle that sidelined him for more than a month, Kruczynski threw eight scoreless innings at Cincinnati and led East Carolina to a 6-0 victory, its first in American Athletic Conference action. Kruczynski retired the final 22 batters he faced and allowed just one hit, a first-inning single.
Matt Menard, dh, Baylor: Led by Menard (5-for-6, 2 2B), Baylor pounded out 19 hits in a 16-5 victory at No. 7 Texas Christian. The senior set a career high for hits, raising his line to .301/.374/.385 in 39 games this season.
Will Morgan, dh, Old Dominion: Morgan (4-for-5, 3 2B, 6 RBI) helped Old Dominion defeat No. 20 Southern Mississippi, 12-8, to even a critical Conference USA series. Morgan, a sophomore, set career highs in hits, doubles and RBIs, and is hitting .279/.355/.368 in 20 games this season.
Nolan Trabanino, lhp, Texas-San Antonio: Behind a four-hit shutout from Trabanino, Texas-San Antonio defeated Florida Atlantic, 6-0, becoming the first team this season to win a series against the Owls. Trabanino threw the Roadrunners' first complete game of the season and improved to 6-3, 3.20.
Sam Donko, rhp, Virginia Commonwealth: Donko got the final four outs of VCU's 3-0 victory at Fordham to earn his 11th save of the season and 31st of his career. With Saturday's save, Donko, a senior, became the Rams' all-time record holder, breaking a record that has stood for 23 years. He is 1-2, 0.95 with 39 strikeouts and five walks in 38 innings this season.
Kyle Wright, rhp, Vanderbilt: Wright built on his strong start last week against Vanderbilt, throwing seven scoreless innings in a 1-0 loss at Georgia. The Preseason All-American struck out eight, and held the Bulldogs to one hit and three walks, extending his scoreless innings streak to 19.
Alex McKenna, of, Cal Poly: With McKenna (3-for-6, 2 SB, 3 RBI) leading the way at the top of the lineup, Cal Poly collected 18 hits and five walks in a 13-6 victory against No. 8 Cal State Fullerton. McKenna is hitting. 357/.438/.481 with nine stolen bases this season.