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D1 Digest: Chaos Abound On Manic Saturday

Analysis

>> Saturday SCOREBOARD
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>> Mark Etheridge’s March to Omaha Blog
>> Eric Sorenson on Stanford’s series win over UCLA
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There was a whole lot of action to unpack on Saturday. Because of the Easter Sunday holiday, many series began Thursday and concluded Saturday, but plenty of others are ongoing. A host of Top 25 teams went down yet again on Saturday, and a few others fought back. Let’s take a quick survey of Saturday’s results, starting with series that have already concluded, and then looking at series that will wrap up Sunday.

Notable Three-Game Sweeps

• Three teams ranked in the top 10 were swept this weekend. The highest of the bunch was No. 4 Texas Tech, which was clobbered 11-3 on the road at TCU on Saturday, completing the sweep. Elijah Nunez had five RBIs, while Tommy Sacco and Reed Spenrath had three hits and two RBIs apiece to lead the TCU offense in support of Brett Walker (6 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). At 24-12 overall, 10-5 in the Big 12, the Horned Frogs are suddenly right back on the right side of the regional hosting race.

• After losing seven out of nine games heading into this week, Florida State has rebounded in a big way, posting a 4-0 week with a Tuesday win against Florida followed by a home sweep of No. 9 Louisville. The much maligned FSU offense did the heavy lifting in a 10-9 victory in Saturday’s series finale, as Jordan Carrion (4-for-4, 3 RBI, HR) led the way. The Seminoles improved to 10-8 in the ACC and resuscitated their fading regional hosting hopes.

Duke completed an eyebrow-raising home sweep of No. 10 Notre Dame with a 6-2 win, as Damon Lux hit a key two-run homer in a three-run fourth inning, and Luke Fox (5.1 IP, 2 ER) turned in strong work out of the bullpen. Duke entered the weekend just 3-12 in the ACC but is now showing signs of life at 6-12, though it still has a long way to go. Notre Dame slipped to 8-7 in conference.

• No. 6 Arkansas wrapped up a sweep of No. 15 LSU in Fayetteville with a 6-2 victory Saturday, as Brady Slavens drove in three (two of them via a home run in the seventh) in support of Jaxon Wiggins (5.1 IP, 2 ER). The 11-4 Hogs lead the SEC West by two games over Alabama.

East Carolina reasserted itself as the team to beat in the American Athletic Conference by completing a road sweep of UCF with a 10-1 victory, as Alec Makarewicz’s grand slam highlighted an eight-run fifth inning to put the Pirates in command. ECU outscored the Knights 32-8 in the three-game sweep, and suddenly the Pirates are all alone atop the AAC standings at 7-2.

Georgia Southern took control of the Sun Belt East Division race by sweeping Georgia State, which had entered the weekend riding high at 10-2 in the league. The Panthers jumped out to a 6-0 lead through two innings Saturday, but the Eagles clawed their way back and tied it up with four runs in the seventh, then won it with two unearned runs in the eighth. Georgia Southern is now 11-4 in conference, one game ahead of Georgia State (but one game behind West Division leader Texas State).

• No. 3 Oregon State cruised to a sweep of early-season darling Long Beach State with a 14-3 victory Saturday. Wade Meckler (3-for-3, 5 R, 2B, HR) and Justin Boyd (2-for-4, HR, 5 RBI) spearheaded a 14-hit barrage for OSU, and freshman Jacob Kmatz (5 IP, 3 ER) improved to 6-0. The Beavers have won seven straight to improve to 27-7 on the year.

• No. 11 Southern Miss beat FIU 6-4 in 12 innings to run its winning streak to nine games and improve to 13-2 in Conference USA, two games ahead of second-place Louisiana Tech. Reece Ewing hit a two-run homer in the 12th to provide the winning margin for the streaking Golden Eagles.

Notable Series Clinched Saturday

• No. 22 Stanford clobbered No. 12 UCLA 11-0 to take the rubber game of its huge road series in Westwood. First-team preseason All-American Brock Jones — who homered 18 times last year but had gone deep just three times through 29 games this spring – cranked two home runs Saturday and drove in four, as did Drew Bowser. And Quinn Matthews (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 8 K) sparkled in his return to the weekend rotation. The Cardinal has won four straight series and is now 12-7 in the Pac-12.

Utah knocked off No. 20 Arizona for the second straight day to take the rubber game in Salt Lake City. Jayden Kiernan and Alex Baeza had three hits apiece to lead a balanced 15-hit attack for the Utes, who cruised to an 11-4 victory and improved to 7-8 in the Pac-12, keeping them in contention. The Wildcats, meanwhile, have lost back-to-back series to Washington State and Utah, and are now looking at a plunge out of the Top 25.

• No. 25 Ole Miss is also on its way out of the rankings after losing two of three at South Carolina. Saturday’s rubber game was a wild back-and-forth affair, with Ole Miss rallying with four runs in the ninth to tie it at 8-8, only to see the Gamecocks win it on a walk-off sacrifice fly in the bottom of the frame. The plucky Gamecocks (6-9) now have a better SEC record than the free-falling Rebels (5-10).

Texas A&M slugged its way to a 23-9 win in its rubber game at No. 13 Georgia. This was another back-and-forth battle that featured six-spots by A&M in the second and sixth innings plus a six-spot by Georgia in the fourth. But the Aggies put it out of reach with 10 runs in the top of the ninth. Everybody got into the action for A&M, which rapped out 19 hits, but Ryan Targac and Jordan Thompson led the way with four RBIs apiece. This was a huge road series win for the Aggies, who are now in good shape at 8-7 in the SEC.

Vanderbilt took down No. 23 Florida 8-6 to clinch the rivalry series with one game left to play Sunday. Enrique Bradfield Jr. provided a crucial three-run triple in the sixth, and Tate Kolwyck had a tie-breaking RBI single in the seventh to put the Commodores ahead for good. Vandy is now 7-7 in the SEC and finally has its first series win against a viable at-large contender.

Cal Poly pulled out its second straight one-run victory to win a scintillating Big West showdown series on the road against UC Irvine. The Anteaters won Thursday’s opener, but the Mustangs rallied with four runs in the ninth to steal Friday’s game 4-3, then built a 7-0 lead in Saturday’s rubber game and held off Irvine’s comeback bid. Matthias Haas and John Lagattuta had two RBIs apiece to lead the Cal Poly offense in the finale. The Mustangs are now 9-3 in the Big West.

Notable Series Evened Up Saturday

• No. 1 Tennessee snapped its two-game losing skid with a convincing 9-2 win against No. 24 Alabama, behind two homers from Jordan Beck and another from Luc Lipcius. But the headlines in this game were made by the ejections of Tennessee pitching coach Frank Anderson and head coach Tony Vitello (who chest-bumped umpire Jeffrey Macias after he was tossed), and Alabama first-base coach Matt Reida (who was tossed after an exchange with the Tennessee dugout).

The most important storyline, however, might be the early exit of Tennessee starting pitcher Chase Dollander, who left the game after getting struck by a line drive and later returned to the dugout in a sling. Stay tuned.

West Virginia leveled its series against No. 5 Oklahoma State with a 5-2 win. McGwire Holbrook hit a two-run homer and drove in four of WVU’s five runs, and Ben Hampton (5.1 IP, 2 ER) turned in a strong start to improve to 6-2 on the year. Trey Braithwaite worked two innings of one-hit, shutout relief to earn his fourth save.

• No. 8 Virginia throttled Pittsburgh 18-0 to even up that series at Pitt. Jake Gelof had four hits to lead a balanced 16-hit attack in support of Brian Gursky (6.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R).

North Carolina evened up its series against Georgia Tech with a 10-5 win, as Danny Serretti, Johnny Castganozzi and Hunter Stokely had three hits apiece to pace UNC’s 17-hit barrage in support of Brandon Schaeffer (5.2 IP, 4 ER). Both teams are now 8-9 in the ACC heading into Sunday’s critical rubber game.

Wake Forest bounced back from a 1-0 loss to Clemson on Friday with a 12-9 victory Saturday, leveling the series. The Tigers trailed 9-4 after seven but stormed back with four runs in the eighth and another in the ninth to tie it, only to see Wake Forest win it on Michael Turconi’s walk-off three-run homer in the 10th.

Notable Teams That Avoided Sweeps

• No. 2 Miami salvaged its series finale at No. 21 Virginia Tech with an 8-5 victory Saturday. Max Romero and Dominic Pitelli had three RBIs apiece for the Hurricanes, who remain comfortably atop the ACC standings at 14-4.

• No. 16 Dallas Baptist avoided getting swept at Bradley with a 6-1 win. Blayne Jones homered and drove in three in support of Ryan Johnson, who tossed five no-hit innings to improve to 3-0.

• No. 17 Auburn rallied from behind in the late innings to beat Mississippi State 3-2. The Tigers scored twice in the seventh to tie it, then went ahead for good on Brooks Carlson’s RBI double in the eighth, making a winner out of Joseph Gonzalez (8 IP, 2 ER). Auburn managed not to get swept in Starkville and improved to 8-7 in the SEC.

• No. 7 Texas also salvaged its series finale on the road at Kansas State, winning 4-2. Lucas Gordon turned in five innings of two-run ball, and Dylan Campbell delivered a tie-breaking RBI double in the sixth to propel the Longhorns, who are now 6-6 in the Big 12.

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