Louisville's Jared Poland (UL photo)

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D1 Digest: Poland’s Prowess, Texas Tech’s Thrilling Win Headline Friday

Analysis

>> Friday SCOREBOARD
>> LATEST RPI
>> LATEST FIELD OF 64
>> POWER RANKINGS: C | 1B | 2B | SS | 3B | OF | SP | RP
>> Aaron Fitt on resurgent North Carolina’s win over Wake
>> Shotgun Spratling on Louisville’s win over VT
>> Eric Sorenson on LMU-Pepperdine


DID YOU SEE THAT?

— Louisville righthanded pitcher Jared Poland put together one of his best starts of the season in a strong 8-1 win over hard-hitting Virginia Tech. Poland struck out two and allowed a run on six hits in 6.1 innings of work, while offensively, the Cards got production out of Isaac Humphrey, who hit a home run, tallied three hits, and knocked in two runs. U of L climbed to 8 in the RPI with the win, while the Hokies dropped to 12. A big game awaits on Saturday.

— Vanderbilt is getting hot at precisely the right time. The Commodores and Arkansas were tied 6-6 in the top of the 10th inning before electric Commodores outfielder Enrique Bradfield Jr., hit a three-run home run that was a laser beam down the right-field line. Bradfield finished the night with three hits and four RBIs, along with two stolen bases, as VU picked up a 9-6 win. Parker Noland set the tone in the game with an early home run, and he finished the contest with two hits and three RBIs, while Thomas Schultz was a bright spot at the backend of the bullpen, tossing three shutout frames to close it out. How about this? Vandy is up to ‘3’ in the RPI right now. Here they come … 

— Tennessee clinched the SEC regular season title with a dominant 9-2 win over Georgia on Friday. The Vols touched up Bulldogs ace righthanded pitcher Jonathan Cannon for six runs in 4.1 innings of work. Evan Russell hit two homers for the Vols, while Luc Lipcius also had a big day with a home run. Jorel Ortega also had a productive night with three hits and three RBIs, while on the mound, righthander Blade Tidwell allowed a run in four innings, and Cam Sewell allowed a run in three innings. 

— Speaking of teams potentially getting hot at the right time, keep an eye on Texas Tech as the weekend progresses. Tech’s Cole Stilwell hit a fourth-inning grand slam that helped propel the Red Raiders to a 7-6 win over Oklahoma State. The Red Raiders touched up OSU ace righthanded pitcher Justin Campbell for six runs in five innings, with Stilwell having a huge night and freshman Owen Washburn tallying two doubles. Tech’s RPI vaulted 11 spots with a win. Another win this weekend would be massive. 

— Stanford righthanded pitcher Alex Williams is the heart and soul of that team, and he put together another strong start in a 5-0 road win over Utah. He struck out six, walked one and allowed just three hits in eight shutout innings, while Kody Huff led the offense with three hits. By the way, the Cardinal is up to 17 in the RPI (+11) since yesterday. Here they come … 

— Could Evansville make its way to the NCAA postseason bubble even if it doesn’t win the Missouri Valley tournament? The Purple Aces are a game ahead of Southern Illinois in first place in the league after domination Dallas Baptist, 9-2, on Friday. UE righthanded pitcher Shane Gray tossed an absolute gem in the win, striking out 10, walking one and allowing just two runs on six hits in a complete game performance. Eric Roberts and Chase Hug each hit homers for the Aces. UE now sits at 64 in the RPI, which is still short of an at-large bid. But they continue to gain ground and would likely vault heavily into the at-large discussion with another win over DBU this weekend. 

— With its 8-7 win over Michigan on Friday night, Maryland, which improved to 14 in the RPI, notched a historic triumph — 39 wins is a school record for the Terps. Three Terps hit homers in the win.

— Connecticut has dominated the Big East for much of the spring, but Xavier said not so fast in the series opener, winning 7-2. Luke Bell tossed two shutout innings for Xavier, Jack Lynch allowed a run on three hits in 3.1 innings of work, and Jared Gadd tossed 2.2 shutout frames. Meanwhile, Andrew Walker hit a home run for the Musketeers. XU is up to 58 in the RPI (+16), while UCONN dropped to 44, which is a none-spot drop. 

— There’s no doubt they have some serious work to do but keep a wise eye on Oklahoma in the hosting discussion over the next couple of weeks if it continues the current level of play. OU demolished West Virginia, 15-1, on Friday, with Brett Squires, Trent Brown, and Peyton Graham each hitting homers, while Wallace Clark had two hits and four RBIs. On the mound, OU lefty Jake Bennett was terrific, striking out seven with no walks, while also allowing a run on three hits in six innings. OU is up to 31 in the RPI and is now a solid 12-7 in the Big 12. 

— UCLA has been on the struggle bus as of late, but righthanded pitcher Max Rajcic got the Bruins back on track Friday night in a 4-0 win over Washington State. Rajcic had a performance to remember, striking out 14 and allowing just one hit in eight innings of work. Interestingly, though, UCLA’s RPI dropped four spots to 67.

BUBBLE WATCH

— Louisiana entered the weekend very much on the bubble, and the Cajuns suffered a narrow 7-5 loss to Texas State. Wesley Faison had a massive night at the plate for the Bobcats, hitting two homers, tallying four hits, and knocking in four runs for the Bobcats. He also finished the night with a pair of doubles. Fortunately for the Cajuns, their RPI only dropped three spots. 

— Pat Hallmark’s UTSA club hit the road Friday night and took care of suddenly scuffling Southern Miss, 8-7. Ryan Flores and Sammy Diaz each had big nights at the plate for the Roadrunners. Flores went 3-for-4 with an RBI, while Diaz went 3-for-4 with a walk and two RBIs. With the win, UTSA is up to 48 in the RPI (+6), while Southern Miss dipped 17 spots to 32. USM’s hosting hopes are on the verge of going right down the drain leading up to the conference tournament. 

— Coastal Carolina, another bubble team, scored nine runs in its final four at bats to knock off Troy, 10-6, on the road. Coastal’s Chris Rowan and Tyler Johnston each hit homers in the game, while Reece Maniscalco was terrific out of the bullpen with six strikeouts in three shutout frames. Coastal’s RPI is up around eight spots overnight, sitting at 37 now. 

— While Auburn moved up to No. 4 in the RPI with a 3-2 win over rival Alabama, the Crimson Tide’s chances of making the postseason continue to get bleaker by the day. Auburn’s Mason Barnett struck out four and allowed two runs and two hits in 5.1 innings, while the bullpen was terrific for AU with John Armstrong tossed 2.2 shutout innings and Blake Burkhalter closing it out with style. Alabama is now 53 in the RPI with a 10-15 league record. In other words, it’s about all she wrote at this point. 

— Remember when Florida was considered a definite bubble team? The Gators improved to 12-13 in the SEC with a dominant 13-1 win over Missouri. The Gators hit four homers against the Tigers, with Josh Rivera knocked in three runs. BT Riopelle had another big day at the plate, too, with two hits and two RBIs, while hard throwing righthanded pitcher Brandon Sproat had another big start, striking out seven, walking one and allowing just a run on three hits in 6.2 innings. UF is sitting at 13 in the RPI and surging forward. They are closing to getting into the hosting mix than anything else at this point. 

— Both Conference USA bubble teams — Louisiana Tech and Old Dominion — were victorious on Friday night. ODU put up a 13-spot on Marshall in a 13-8 win, with Andy Garriola hitting yet another home run and knocking in four runs, while Tommy Bell tallied three hits and knocked in two runs. ODU now sits at 54 in the RPI, which is shocking a -13 decline in the last 24 hours. As for Tech, Cole McConnell, and Jorge Corona each had massive nights with a home run, three hits and four RBIs. The Bulldogs are 55 in the RPI (-5) after the win.

— Iowa was sitting on the bubble coming into the weekend, and righthanded pitcher Adam Mazur set the stage for a strong weekend in a 5-0 triumph over Michigan State. Mazur struck out seven, walked two and allowed four hits in seven shutout innings. Iowa still has much more work to do with an RPI of 68, but a nice start to the weekend.

— North Carolina continues to better its positioning for the postseason after a 3-2 win over Wake Forest on Friday. Max Carlson allowed two runs on four hits in five innings, while the UNC bullpen did a terrific job with Shawn Rapp and Davis Palermo combining to throw four shutout innings. With the win, UNC is now 11-14 in the ACC with an important 24 RPI. As for Wake, it still sits at 23 in the RPI, but is now two games under .500. The next two games are important for both squads. Aaron Fitt has more on this game, here

— Notre Dame entered Friday just outside the top eight, and Pittsburgh entered the day on the bad side of the bubble. The Fighting Irish picked up an 8-2 win over the Panthers, as ace pitcher John Michael Bertrand struck out nine and allowed just two runs on six hits in seven innings. ND is back into the Top 10 RPI-wise, while Pitt is sitting at 60. 

— Houston has not gotten a lot of help from an RPI standpoint this season, but it just continues to win at a high level, beating UCF, 9-6, on Friday. Hard-hitting Cougars first baseman Ryan Hernandez had a huge night at the plate with two bombs and five RBIs, while Logan Clayton was strong out of the pen with two shutout frames. UH’s RPI is still sitting at an ugly 70, but also is now 13-6 in the league with an impressive 34-16 overall mark.

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