Kel Johnson, Georgia Tech

D1 Digest: Tuesday, Feb. 21

Analysis



Team of the day:
South Florida

The Bulls began the season on a positive note with a series win over Iowa over the weekend, and continued their winning ways on the road against No. 3 Florida State with a 4-3 triumph. USF used six pitchers in the victory, while David Villar led the way offensively with a pair of hits and an RBI. Though FSU didn’t come away with a victory, watch out for Andrew Karp, who struck out nine, didn’t allow a walk and allowed just three hits in seven shutout innings.

Upset of the day: Jacksonville over Florida

Oh boy, what a Tuesday it was. Florida hit the road earlier in the day to get the upsets brewing. JU trailed the Gators 2-0 going to the ninth inning, but rallied for three runs in the bottom of the inning, winning 3-2 on an infield single from second baseman Scott Dubrule. Dubrule finished the night with three hits, while JU got a stellar performance from Casey Kulina, who struck out six, walked one and allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings. Meanwhile, UF starting pitcher Michael Byrne struck out eight and didn’t allow a walk in seven innings.

Player of the day: Kel Johnson, Georgia Tech

Johnson has had a fruitful career with the Yellow Jackets and is off to another strong start this spring, leading the Jackets to a 10-3 road victory over Georgia Southern. Johnson smacked three homers in the win over the Eagles, also scoring three runs and recording four RBIs. Through four games, Johnson is hitting .438 with five homers and 10 RBIs.

Around The Nation

• Milestone Met For O’Connor — Virginia scored seven runs in the seventh and eighth innings to come back and beat VMI at home, 9-7. Leadoff hitter Ernie Clement led the Cavaliers offensively with a pair of hits and RBIs, while Nate Eikhoff, Pavin Smith and Jake McCarthy each had two hits. With the win, long-time Cavaliers head coach Brian O’Connor earned career win No. 600.

• The Freshman Four — Ole Miss had a huge opening weekend with a clean series sweep over East Carolina and didn’t skip a beat Tuesday night in a 16-4 win over Arkansas State. The most interesting part of the win? The Rebels threw four true freshmen and the quartet recording a whopping 19 strikeouts. The group included Will Ethridge (5 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K), Houston Roth (2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), Ryan Rollison (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) and Greer Holston (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K).

•  Patriots Attack — Dallas Baptist headed to the Houston area Tuesday night looking to notch an impressive win under its belt. It did just that in an 8-4 win over No. 23 Rice. DBU starting pitcher Ray Gaither had a quality performance, striking out five in four shutout innings, while closer Seth Elledge was outstanding with three strikeouts in 1.2 innings. At the plate, electric outfielder Jameson Hannah had a home run and two RBIs. For Rice, righthander Willy Amador returned to the mound from a nose injury, and while he struck out five, also allowed two runs in two innings.

• Cowboys Lasso Sun Devils — Apparently, Oklahoma State was a little angry about a series loss to Grand Canyon, because the Pokes took out their aggression in hapless Arizona State, 18-4, on Tuesday night. Oklahoma State scored 15 of its 18 runs in its final four at bats, with Travis Wacker and Cameron Dobbs combining for seven hits and Jon Littell having a monster day with four hits and a triple. While the performance was overshadowed by the offense, OSU righty Jonathan Heasley had a quality start, striking out two and allowed just two hits in five shutout innings.

• Big Easy Surprise — Former LSU standout and now New Orleans head coach Blake Dean had a night to remember as his Privateers beat up LSU’s bullpen with six runs in the fifth and four in the sixth to claim an 11-8 home victory. UNO’s Orynn Veillon had a huge night at the plate with a pair of doubles and two RBIs, while Aaron Palmer and Samuel Capielano each hit a home run. The ugliest part of this game? The LSU bullpen, which I said repeatedly before the season was a question mark, got roughed up. Hunter Kiel allowed four runs in 2/3 inning, Collin Strall allowed two runs without recording an out and Russell Reynolds allowed four runs in 2/3 of an inning.

• Sing A Song About The Southland (Conference) — New Orleans wasn’t the only SLC team to make some noise on Tuesday. Southeastern Louisiana beat Tulane 8-5, Nicholls State beat Louisiana-Lafayette 3-1 with Mike Hanchar striking out nine in seven shutout innings and Houston Baptist took care of No. 25 Houston, 3-2, with Addison Russ and Weston Smart putting together impressive pitching performances. SFA almost finished off the night in style with an upset win over No. 16 Texas A&M. However, the Aggies won the game in the bottom of the 12th after the Lumberjacks threw two-straight wild pitches trying to get an intentional walk.

• Pounding On The South Plains — Texas Tech had an impressive Opening Weekend at Mississippi State and didn’t’ disappoint in its home opener, a 16-1 triumph over New Mexico State, where the Red Raiders outhit the Aggies 18-2. John Henry Gonzalez led Tech on the mound by allowing just a run on two hits in 5.1 innings, while shortstop Orlando Garcia had a day to remember, going 4-for-5 with a pair of homers, four runs and seven RBIs. Garcia is off to a nice start this spring, hitting .364 with a triple, three homers and 14 RBIs.

• Struggling Santa Barbara — The Gauchos hope to return to normalcy when they open the home slate of their schedule later this week, because the road hasn’t been too kind to them after dropping to 1-3 after a 2-1 loss to CSU Bakersfield. CSUB’s Isaiah Moten had a strong performance, striking out nine and allowing just a run on three hits in 7.1 innings, while UCSB got a solid showing from Chris Clements, who allowed two runs on six hits in 5.1 innings.

In Case You Missed It

• You want a rough start to your home schedule? How about Louisiana-Monroe against McNeese State on Tuesday. The Cowboys scored 15 runs in the fifth inning en route to a ridiculous 32-4 victory over the Warhawks. McNeese began the game scoring four runs in the first, two in the second, six in the third, two in the fourth and, finally, 15 in the fifth. Ricky Ramirez set the school record for runs scored in a game with six, while the team tallied 29 hits.

• Wake Forest’s Jonathan Pryor had a night to remember in a dominant 15-8 win over UNC Greensboro. The Wake leadoff hitter went 5-for-5 with a double, home run and five RBIs. Oh yeah, he also was hit by a pitch.

• The upsets continued out on the West Coast, where UCLA dropped a 3-2 home decision to UC Riverside, thanks to a three-run eighth inning from the Highlanders. The story to watch from this game, though, is imposing Bruins lefty Justin Hooper. Though Hooper allowed a pair of runs in 4.1 innings, he showed electric stuff, striking out 10 and walking two, while showing a fastball at 92-94 mph, along with an 84 mph slider and 85 mph changeup. Hooper rising to the occasion could be a game-changer for the Bruins.

• UC Irvine All-American outfielder Keston Hiura had a night to remember in a 7-5 win over San Diego State. The hard-hitting All-American went 3-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs, giving him 100 total RBIs in his collegiate career.

• It was a night to forget for the Mississippi State bullpen. The Bulldogs looked well on their way to winning again with an 8-3 lead entering the ninth inning. However, Morehead State scored 10 runs in the inning to beat MSU 13-8.

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