UCLA Rally Caps Freaky Friday In D1

Analysis

It seems like we just can’t have what you might call a “normal” Friday in our sport this year. Every time you look at the Top 25 results or dig a little into the mid-major results, there are a number of freaky things going on. Today it was another slew of wicked pitching performances that took center stage. But from deep down in the Horizon League we found the most sublime performance of the day.

But more on that in a minute. First off, I took in Game Two of the Battle of Tinseltown as UCLA came from behind and beat back USC with a big ninth inning by a 4-2 count. It was UCLA’s 10th win in their last 15 games and sixth win in their last nine Pac 12 games. For the second night in a row the two teams played pretty even baseball until the late innings where UCLA was able to pull out a late-inning win.

Freshman shortstop Ryan Kreidler basks in the light of his two-RBI base hit that won the game for UCLA in the ninth inning.

UCLA trailed 2-1 after the first two innings, but eventually got the game-tying solo home run from Sean Bouchard in the top of the sixth inning. Things stayed 2-2 until the top of the ninth inning where Michael Toglia and Chase Strumpf started the inning with a walk and a single back-to-back. Pinch hitter Jake Pries then added a single to load the bases. Ryan Kreidler then strode to the plate and delivered a two-run single to break up the tie. It was Kreidler’s second RBI hit of the game as he also stroked a run-scoring double in the second inning.

With their two wins so far at Dedeaux Field, the Bruins improve to 23-20 overall and 12-8 in Pac 12 play. Their RPI has also jumped up from No. 64 coming into the weekend up to No. 53. They keep pulling off wins lie this and they’ll jump into the at-large conversation in no time flat.

LINESCORE:
UCLA – 010 001 002 – 4  8  1
U.S.C – 200 000 000 – 2  11  3

PITCHING
WP: Nick Sheidler, 3-4
LP: Connor Lunn, 0-1
Save: Scott Burke, 4

TOP HITTERS.
Bruins:
– Ryan Kreidler, 2-for-4, 3RBI
– Sean Bouchard, 1-for-4, HR, RBI

Trojans:
– Frankie Rios, 4-for-5, RBI
– Corey Dempster, 2-for-4, RBI

RECORDS:
– UCLA, 23-20, 12-8 Pac 12
– USC, 19-24, 6-14 Pac 12

PICS. 
A few more images from tonight’s game.

These are the two UCLA heroes of the first two games at USC. Kreidler, the shortstop and Chase Strumpf, who hit a two-run home run in Thursday’s 2-0 win.

 

UCLA head coach John Savage wasn’t taking any chances, pulling starting pitcher Moises Ceja (40) after just 1.1 innings tonight.

 

Frankie Rios paced the USC offense, going 4-for-5, including an RBI double in the first inning.

 

Close but no cigar.USC centerfielder Christian Moya just misses at this diving catch of a UCLA screamer to the meadow.

 

UCLA batters in the dugout time themselves with USC pitcher Connor Lunn.

 

The Bruins congratulate themselves over another hard-earned win in South Central L.A.

 

Now, let’s get onto the subject of what happened across the country in Division I baseball. Here is the best and worst of the day in our beloved sport on this Cinco De Mayo…

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THREE UP
The best of the day in college baseball

1- TJ Alas, Northern Kentucky. 
Alas, nobody had a better day than Mr. Alas. The senior slugger went all Reggie Jackson on us by being a big-swatting giant killer today, drilling three three-run home runs (yes, not a typo… three bombs) to help lead the Norsemen to a stunning 13-10 slugfest with Wright State. And in case you’re wondering, I do know that NKU’s nickname is actually “Norse” but that sounds weak, so I call them the Norsemen, which is a phrase you’ve actually heard of.

2- Mississippi State
“We’ve got some Dogs up in here, woof! Woof!” Gotta love what Dem Dogs are doing here, beating Texas A&M at Olsen Field in front of that raucous audience of 5,490 by a 5-1 score. Try to act surprised, but Brent Rooker had another great night, going 2-for-3 with two walks and an RBI double. He was joined by Hunter Vansau, who was 3-for-4 with a pair of RBI. Denver McQuary and Cole Gordon combined on the five-hitter, with nine Ks and just one walk.

3- Louisville pitching… okay, and Notre Dame’s pitching too.
Yeah, it was *only* Notre Dame, but we’ve still gotta give Brendan McKay (again?) and Lincoln Henzman huge props here for one-hitting the Irish in Friday’s 2-0 win in South Bend. McKay went 8.0 innings and struck out eight, while giving up the lone base knock. Henzman came in to strike out the side in the ninth inning, giving UofL pitching 11 more punch outs on the year. But before we get off the subject, give UND pitchers Brad Bass and Peter Solomon some credit too as they held the Cards to just three hits on the night and took the tough-luck loss. Devin Mann’s fifth-inning yard call was the deciding score of the night.

Honorable Mentions
– The Big O for the Big Blue
Michigan starting pitcher Oliver Jaskie sat down 14 Ohio State Buckeye batters via the strikeout in the Wolverines’ 6-0 blanking of their hated rival. Jaskie wasn’t completely on-point, giving up seven hits in the game, but he also only walked one batter, had four three-up, three-down frames and didn’t allow a single Buckeye to reach third base until the final batter of the night.

– South Carolina
The Gamecocks came into this weekend having lost their last five SEC weekends. But now, they got their series vs. LSU off to a great start by lacing Tigers’ ace Alex Lange for all three runs in the third inning and then having Will Crowe, Josh Reagan and Tyler Johnson combine to shut down the LSU bats for most of the night. This game might not have even been close if not for the Gamecock arms allowing seven walks to the Tigers.

Biggest stat of the night? South Carolina only had two baserunners left on base, LSU had 11… including the tying run left at third in the bottom of the ninth.

– Long Beach State’s Big Mc.
Darren McCaughan, the Dirtbag ace, was up to his old tricks again, shutting down Cal Poly with a complete-game three-hitter with 11 Ks to lead the Dirtbags to a 3-0 win at Blair Field. It was also McCaughan’s fourth complete game of the 2017 season. Diabolical man. Daniel Jackson was all the offense the ‘Bags needed, going 2-for-2 with two walks and two runs scored.

– The Golden One at UNC Wilmington
Casey Golden was great all night tonight but saved his best for last, smacking a game-winning home run in the bottom of the 12th inning to lead the Seahawks to a 4-3 win over CAA-leading Northeastern. Golden finished the night 3-for-6, slapping doubles in his first two at-bats of the game and scoring on both of them. Yes, Golden was the goose tonight, scoring all three times he reached base.

– The Bash Brothers at Wake Forest
Gavin Sheets and Keegan Maronpot both hit a pair of round-trippers and combined for nine RBI as the Demon Deacons mashed their way past Boston College 15-5. But they weren’t the only stars in this woodshedding as Ben Breazeale went 4-for-4 and Johnny Aiello was 3-for-5. Wake is now 31-13 overall and 14-8 in ACC play.

– Step on the Gasser.
Northern Illinois outfielder Jason Gasser had a wicked-huge day at the dish, going 4-for-5 with six RBI in the Huskies 18-6 win over division-leading Central Michigan. His day was highlighted by a bases-loaded, bases-clearing double in the sixth inning, putting NIU up 14-1 at the time.

– Cal Stevenson, Arizona
His two-run jog-off home run in the bottom of the ninth helped the Wildcats beat Washington 5-4. Here is a screen grab of the HR on the Pac 12 Network…

A screen grab from Arizona’s big celebration at home plate awaiting the arrival if the two-run home run hero, Cal Stevenson.

Aaron Fitt was on-site and has this write-up on it:
https://d1baseball.com/columns/walk-off-gives-arizona-emotional-lift/

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THREE DOWN
The worst of the day in college baseball

1- New Mexico.
The Lobos have to be careful, because the Mountain West Conference is somehow horribly underrated by all the measuring sticks and metrics in our sport, losing any conference game can kill their RPI. Tonight they blew a 12-5 lead, allowing Air Force to score 13 runs in the final four innings as the Falcons soared to a huge 18-14 win in Albuquerque. And it’s not that Air Force is a bad team, improving to 24-20 on the year, but the Falcons came in with an RPI of 223. UNM’s ranking went from No. 35 down to No. 45 after the loss.

2- Kentucky
When you’ve got a 3-1 lead going into the ninth inning and taking on one of the bottom feeders of your conference at home… you DON’T lose a game to Georgia. Yep, that happened tonight as the Wildcats and their 21st-ranked pitching staff got punched in the gut for four runs in the top of the ninth inning by the rather paltry, 203rd-ranked offense of the Bulldogs. Keep an eye on this weekend series and the Bat Cats’ RPI, if it happens to drop out of the top eight.

3- UConn’s bad luck.
The Huskies have had some tough losses this season – including giving up five runs in the ninth inning last week to lose to Cincinnati 5-4 on Friday – and this one only adds to the pain. The Huskies gave Houston all it could handle, even scoring three runs to tie the game at 5-5 in the top of the ninth inning. But in the 10th, the Cougars would score the game-winning run on a bases-loaded walk by Connor Hollis, his third free pass of the night. UConn drops to 24-19 overall and 9-7 in AAC play.

Dishonorable Mentions
– Ole Miss pitching. 
Yes, I know they’re still a relatively young group, but the Rebels came into their game with Florida as the ninth-best pitching unit in the country at 3.03 in ERA. Tonight, the Gators of Florida made minced meat of them, pasting them for 11 runs and 12 hits to take game one of the series in Gainesville, 11-2. Nelson Maldonado (solo shot) and Ryan Larson (grand slam) each homered for the Gators and Dalton Guthrie went 3-for-4 to lead the offense. Before we really chastise the Rebs too harsh here, let’s see how they respond on Saturday and Sunday of the series.

– The Oral Roberts bullpen
With today’s 10-7 loss to North Dakota State, the Eagles are still far-and-away the top team in the Summit with a record of 19-3. But today’s loss to the Bison was a little on the painful side. At the seventh inning stretch the Eagles lead 7-3, but then the ORU bullpen gave up five runs in the bottom of the seventh and two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to lose control of this one. ORU also drops to 32-12 overall.

– Morgan Cooper, Texas
This dude has been such a bad-arse all season, allowing just four multi-base hits in his 68.1 innings of work this season, all doubles. Tonight, in a wild wild wild 11-10 TCU win over the Longhorns, the Burnt Orange ace gave up four doubles and a home run and was chased after just three innings. The game was eventually decided in the 11th inning as two walks and a single led to a bases-loaded RBI sacrifice fly off the bat of Horned Frogs’ Connor Wanhanen.

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