Midweek Madness: Wednesday, April 8
Showdown of the day
There was only one game between ranked foes Wednesday, and it was a good one between No. 18 Florida Atlantic and No. 13 Miami. The Hurricanes avenged an early-season loss at FAU by winning Wednesday’s game in Coral Gables 4-3 in 10 innings. Both teams got solid starts on the mound from Sean Labsan (5 IP, 5 H, 0 R) and Danny Garcia (5.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER), but the Owls took a 3-0 lead against Garcia in the fifth. Miami answered with three in the sixth, and the score remained knotted until the 10th, when George Iskenderian (3-for-4, RBI) delivered a walk-off single to score Ricky Eusebio. Credit the stellar Miami bullpen for holding down FAU’s dangerous offense in the later innings, as Daniel Briggi, Cooper Hammond, Michael Mediavilla and Bryan Garcia combined to work 4 2/3 innings of one-hit, shutout relief, issuing no walks and striking out seven. This was the fifth top-25 RPI win of the season for Miami, which is sitting pretty at No. 2 in the RPI.
A trio of upsets
Wednesday’s fairly light slate of games was highlighted by three ranked teams getting upset:
• In a game that started Tuesday and was suspended by darkness and resumed Wednesday, UNLV toppled No. 5 Arizona State 7-6, giving the Rebels their first win over a top-five team since 2003. A.J. VanMeetren (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI) was one of five Rebels to record multiple hits in the game, and UNLV’s bullpen held off ASU’s ninth-inning rally, stranding the tying run in scoring position to end the game. UNLV does have some talent and experience on its roster, but the Rebels have not had a good season and are just 13-18 overall, so this is a bad loss for the Sun Devils.
• After losing 5-0 at Florida State on Tuesday, Florida Gulf Coast returned the favor with a 5-0 upset victory on Wednesday, helping the surging Eagles climb over .500 overall at 17-16. Since getting swept at Nebraska to fall to 8-12, FGCU has gone 9-4, a stretch that includes single road wins at Miami and FSU and a road series win at fellow Atlantic Sun contender North Florida. Nick Deckert (5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R) started Wednesday’s game and earned the win, and relievers Jordan Desguin and Adam Eggnatz combined with him on a seven-hit shutout against FSU’s elite offense. The Seminoles were shut out for the first time this season.
• Another upstart mid-major, George Washington, clobbered No. 16 Maryland on the road, 12-1. Brandon Chapman went 3-for-4 with two runs and two RBIs to lead the GW offense, and seven Colonials combined to shut down Maryland’s potent offense. It was a huge win for George Washington, which hadn’t beaten a ranked opponent since 2008. In Gregg Ritchie’s third season as head coach, George Washington has quietly emerged as a strong contender in the Atlantic 10, and it is now sitting 18-10 overall and 6-2 in the conference. GW hasn’t had a winning overall record since 2005, the year after Tom Walter’s successful reign ended, so this season marks a major step forward.
• Senior Boo Vazquez was supposed to be a big part of Pittsburgh’s offense this year, but an illness sidelined him for the first 14 games of the season. He had gotten off to a slow start in his return, but maybe Wednesday will be a springboard for him. The physical Vazquez went 3-for-5 with two homers, three runs and four RBIs against his hometown team, Youngstown State, in a 12-1 win.
• Alex Bregman is known most for his bat, and then for his excellent defense at shortstop. But this year, LSU star is reminding everyone that he is one of college baseball’s most well-rounded players, and he can beat opponents with his speed, too. Bregman stole four bases in Wednesday’s 9-6 win against Northwestern State, making him 21-for-25 in steals on the season. He also went 2-for-3 with three runs scored.
• North Carolina earned a quality win against a dangerous Big South contender for the second day in a row, following Tuesday’s 9-3 win against Coastal Carolina with a 6-0 victory against Liberty. Korey Dunbar and Elijah Sutherland combined for five RBIs to lead the UNC offense, and Dunbar hit his fourth homer of the season. Hunter Williams (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K) overcame shaky control early in the game to blank the Flames for six innings, continuing his strong run of midweek starts. And reliable sidewinder Trevor Kelley worked two innings of one-hit ball to lead the bullpen.
• While UNC has recovered quickly from its series loss at Clemson this past weekend, the Tigers have just as quickly squandered the momentum from that series, losing back-to-back midweek games Tuesday and Wednesday to fall back below .500 at 16-17. After falling to Georgia on Tuesday, Clemson lost a 4-3 decision to Charleston Southern on Wednesday. Chris Singleton had four hits to lead a 13-hit barrage for CSU, which improved to just 13-18 overall. The Tigers wasted a good start from Clate Schmidt (7 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 1 ER), as the bullpen blew a one-run lead in the ninth and allowed the winning run to score in the 10th. Clemson can’t afford losses like that if it wants to turn its season around and make a second-half run — an outcome that seems increasingly unlikely.