Ten Thoughts: Friday, April 29Analysis
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Team Of The Day: Georgia Tech
The Yellow Jackets have stepped out of ACC play this weekend to take on No. 15 Coastal Carolina, and what a series opener it was for Danny Hall’s club. The Jackets peppered the Chanticleers to the tune of 9-1 with righthander Brandon Gold leading the charge on the mound. Gold struck out five, walked two and allowed a run on six hits in eight innings. Meanwhile, the offense, too, had a good night with DH Brandt Stallings going 2-for-4 with a home run and four RBIs, while right fielder Kel Johnson added a pair of hits to help lead the charge.
Most importantly, the Jackets are another win this weekend from getting seriously into the hosting mix. Right now, the RPI is in the top 20, and while they still have work to do in league play the rest of the way, it gets them into the discussion.
Upset Of The Day: Cincinnati over No. 17 East Carolina
Remember, folks, it’s not an upset. The Bearcats have been one of the great stories of the past few weeks, and they improved to 9-4 in the American Athletic Conference and .500 overall with an extremely impressive 3-0 road win over Cliff Godwin’s Pirates.
Cincinnati starting pitcher Andrew Zellner had a terrific night on the mound, striking out three and walking one, while also allowing just five hits in seven shutout innings. He threw 94 pitches, 62 for strikes. Meanwhile, Connor McVey led the offense with a pair of hits, with ECU lefthander Evan Kruczynski allowing just two runs (one earned) on five hits in 6.1 innings.
With the win, get this: Cincinnati has increased its lead atop the AAC standings to 1 1/2 games with Tulane falling at home to Houston.
It’s the year of the Bearcat, apparently.
Other notable upsets:
Houston 10, No. 22 Tulane 6: Corey Julks/Josh Vidales, 3 H, 2 RBI
Southern California 8, No. 24 Arizona 5: USC’s AJ Ramirez with a grand slam
Auburn 5, Kentucky 2: AU’s Anfernee Grier w/ HR, 3 H, 4 RBI
Towson 4, College of Charleston 3: TOW’s Brady Policelli w/ 3B, 2 RBI
— USC Trojans Baseball (@USC_Baseball) April 30, 2016
Player Of The Day: RHP Chad Donato, W. Virginia
The Mountaineers are trying to make a run to end the regular season and the veteran righty got them off to a terrific start in a series-opening 10-0 win over Baylor. Donato threw a complete game shutout, two-hitter, while striking out nine and not walking any Bears hitter. For the year, Donato is now 2-3 with a 2.99 ERA in 75.1 innings, along with 88 strikeouts and just 15 walks, while teams are hitting him at a .229 clip.
• Florida took back the top spot in the D1Baseball Top 25 this week and was in trouble much of the way on the road against South Carolina. However, it was able to capitalize once righthander Clarke Schmidt was out of the game for the Gamecocks. The Gators entered the ninth inning down 4-3 before freshman Jonathan India smacked a home run to tie it up and Nick Horvath hit a solo home run to give UF a 5-4 lead and ultimately the win. UF starting pitcher Logan Shore struck out five, walked two and allowed three runs on five hits in 4.2 innings, while South Carolina’s Schmidt struck out six, walked two and allowed three runs (one earned) on five hits in 6.1 innings.
— Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) April 30, 2016
• Arizona State has started to figure things out as of late, and it began a crucial home series against New Mexico with a commanding 9-5 victory. ASU righthander Seth Martinez chipped in a high quality start, striking out nine and allowing just two runs on two hits in 6.2 innings, while the offense rolled as well with standout shortstop Colby Woodmansee going 2-for-3 with three RBIs. ASU still has a long way to go, but guess what? Its RPI is now up to 82, which is a stark contrast from the triple digits it was a couple of weeks ago.
• The WCC Showdown between Gonzaga and BYU this weekend could very well determine which of the two gets into the NCAA postseason is the not too distant future. And the Bulldogs drew second blood with an impressive 9-5 win Friday night. Gonzaga’s Jeff Bohling had a monster day at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a home run and three RBIs, while Nick Brooks also added a home run in the contest. After winning the series opener against Creighton in commanding fashion last weekend, the Cougars proceeded to drop the final two games of the series. They are looking to avoid the same fate this weekend.
• Vanderbilt needs to take care of its home turf this weekend with gritty Georgia in town, and it did just that on Friday night, getting off to a ridiculously good start in a 15-3 thrashing of the Bulldogs. Vandy outfielder Bryan Reynolds had a huge night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a home run and an RBI, while Jeren Kendall had two hits and two RBIs. On the mound, Vandy righthander Jordan Sheffield was impressive, striking out six, walking one and allowing seven hits in seven shutout frames.
• Texas Tech is close to taking total control of the Big 12 regular season title race again, as it extended its league lead to three games over second-place TCU with a 7-3 win over the Horned Frogs on Friday night. Tech leadoff hitter Stephen Smith was terrific as usual, going 4-for-6 with two RBIs, while first baseman Eric Gutierrez went 3-for-5 with an RBI. Tech also got a strong start from Davis Martin, who kept the ball low in the zone and allowed just two runs (one earned) on three hits in 6.1 innings.
— Texas Tech Baseball (@TTU_Baseball) April 30, 2016
• Conference USA is extremely competitive this season, and the opener between Florida Atlantic and Southern Mississippi was another dandy, with the home team Owls taking home a 9-5 victory. FAU’s Stephen Kerr led the offensive charge with three hits and three RBIs, along with a walk, while catcher Tyler Frank knocked in three runs and Brett Lashley added a pair of hits. On the mound, FAU starter Marc Stewart didn’t have a great start, but how about reliever Nick Swan? The young lefthander struck out two and allowed just one hit in just 4.2 innings.
• Washington is making major waves on the national stage these days. The Huskies added yet another quality win to their resume with a 4-2 road win over California to begin the weekend. UW righthander Noah Bremer allowed just a run on five hits in 5.1 innings, while once again, reliever Troy Rallings was terrific, striking out four in two shutout innings of work. Meanwhile, first baseman John Naff went 3-for-3 with a home run and two RBIs. While UW is surging and getting into the hosting discussion, the Golden Bears are now 9-10 in the Pac-12 and could soon put themselves in a danger zone.
• Long Beach State apparently was angered by losing the first two games to UC Riverside last weekend. The Dirtbags have now scored 28 runs in their last three games after crushing red-hot Cal Poly 14-3 at home. The Beach’s Daniel Jackson went 4-for-6 with two RBIs to lead the charge, while leadoff hitter Garrett Hampson also put together a solid performance, going 2-for-5 with three RBIs, and Luke Rasmussen had three hits and two RBIs. The Dirtbags have some ground to make up in the Big West title race, but with Friday’s win, they are now just 1 1/2 games out of first place.
Speaking of the Big West, our Shotgun Spratling had this piece on the title race with just a few weeks remaining.
The Aces Cometh
• LSU righthander Alex Lange has had his back and forth moments this season, but he put together a strong start for the second-straight week. Lange allowed two runs in the first inning in a 6-3 win over Ole Miss, but was terrific the rest of the way, striking out seven, walking one and allowing three runs (two earned) on seven hits in a complete game performance.
• Rice junior righthander Jon Duplantier put together yet another impressive performance in a 5-1 win over Charlotte. Duplantier showed electric stuff and a crisp breaking ball, as he struck out 12, walked one and allowed a run on three hits in eight innings. The Owls, by the way, split the doubleheader with the 49ers, and saw their RPI drop several spots.
• Maryland junior righthander Mike Shawaryn was outstanding in a road 7-1 win over Penn State. Shawaryn struck out six, walked one and allowed a run on four hits in a complete game performance. For those wondering, Shawaryn now has a 3.81 ERA in 26 innings, along with 32 strikeouts and six walks.
• Illinois split an afternoon doubleheader with No. 19 Minnesota at home, and lefthander Doug Hayes put together a high quality start in a 2-0 victory. Hayes struck out six, walked one and allowed eight hits in the complete game shutout.
• Nicholls State senior righthander Justin Sinibaldi put together an outing to remember Friday night as his club silenced McNeese State 3-0. Sinibaldi struck out eight, walked one and allowed just three hits in a complete game performance.
• Wichita State hasn’t had the season it was hoping for, but there have been plenty of positive moments. For instance, lefthander Cody Tyler put together a strong outing in an 8-0 silencing of Southern Illinois. Tyler struck out five, didn’t walk anyone and allowed four hits in a complete game performance.
• Notre Dame bounced back from a tough weekend with a nice performance in a 2-1 win over Ohio to start the weekend. Sophomore righthander Peter Solomon pieced together a stud performance, striking out 10 and allowing just a run on six hits in six innings.
• Milwaukee senior righthander Brian Keller twirled an absolute gem in a 6-0 win over Northern Kentucky at home. Keller, a 6-foot-3, 170-pounder, struck out 11, didn’t walk anyone and allowed just three hits in a complete game performance.
• Saint Louis righthander Matt Eckelman had a strong start in a 2-1 win over Davidson on Friday. Eckelman, a veteran for the Billikens, struck out seven, walked one and allowed just a run on seven hits in 8.2 innings.
• South Florida righthander Phoenix Sanders put together a strong start in a 4-0 blanking of scuffling UCF. Sanders struck out 12, walked one and allowed two hits in eight innings of shutout ball. For the season, he now has a 3.15 ERA in 71.1 innings, along with 75 strikeouts and 19 walks.
• UC Irvine senior lefthander Elliot Surrey had one of his best starts of the season in a 2-0 blanking of rival Cal State Fullerton. The lefty struck out seven, walked two and allowed five hits in the complete game performance.