Weekend Madness: Friday, May 15
The Big Winner: Miami
The Hurricanes are in the mix for a top-eight national seed, and to help their case, were hoping to make a statement at home this weekend against Georgia Tech. Well, if that was UM’s goal, it’s doing a good job after clinching the series win over the Yellow Jackets with a 22-1 triumph on Friday night.
And get the night third baseman David Thompson had against the Jackets. The hard-hitting veteran went 4-for-6 with three homers (18 total this season) and nine, yes, nine, RBIs to lead the Miami offense. Meanwhile, Hurricanes catcher Zack Collins knocked in three runs and David Ruiz went 3-for-4 with a double and two RBIs, and outfielder Jacob Heyward had a double, two hits and two RBIs to help lead the way.
Overall, the Hurricanes finished the night with 21 hits and knocked out Georgia Tech starting pitcher Ben Parr after allowing four runs on four hits in just an inning.
Though the pitching was certainly overshadowed by the offense on this night, Miami starting pitcher Andrew Suarez was very good against the Jackets. He struck out six, didn’t walk anyone and allowed a run on four hits in six innings.
What a night it was for the Hurricanes, who by the way, moved up to No. 2 in the latest RPI with the victory. The ‘Canes are knocking on the door to a national seed. That much is certain.
Another Big Winner: UCLA
The arm of junior righthander James Kaprielian is one of the big reasons the Bruins could very well win another national title this spring. And boy, was Kaprielian good Friday night in a 1-0 hard-fought win over Arizona. From a stuff standpoint, those on hand said he was consistently 92-94, touching 95, with his fastball. This, of course, all in front of multiple scouting directors and at least two general managers from the Dodgers and Rockies.
“This was an awesome experience to be a part of with my team and coaching staff,” said Kaprielian. “They had by back all night and continuously push me each week to be great. We made a good step in the right direction towards our goal of becoming Pac-12 Conference champions, but now it’s about tomorrow’s game.”
Kaprielian and the Bruins tossed a combined no-hitter, which is the first no-hitter in UCLA history, surprisingly enough. Kaprielian gets most of the credit in this one, striking out 11 and walking four in nine innings, while reliever David Berg tossed a scoreless top of the 10th before the Bruins won in the bottom frame on a Kevin Kramer sacrifice fly.
While it was a magical night for the Bruins, it was pretty much the same old for the Wildcats, who’ve been unable to catch many breaks this season. Arizona starting pitcher Cody Hamlin was terrific against the Bruins, striking out just two but also allowing just eight hits in 8.1 shutout frames.
It was a magical night at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
What Other National Seed Contenders Did
LSU: The Bayou Bengals needed a boost from freshman righthander Austin Bain, and he didn’t disappoint in a 9-2 road win over South Carolina. Bain really mixed his pitches well, showcasing a good fastball with location and a sharp curveball. He struck out seven, walked just one and allowed two runs on four hits in 6.1 innings. Meanwhile, catcher Kade Scivicque led the offense with two doubles and three RBIs, while outfielder Andrew Stevenson had four hits and two RBIs. While LSU wins the outright SEC title with a win tomorrow, South Carolina desperately needs a win to stay alive in the postseason race.
Louisville: Though the Cardinals are in very good shape for a national seed with a commanding lead on the rest of the ACC, NC State needs a series win this weekend over the Cards to kind of solidify its spot in the postseason field. Well, the Wolfpack beat the Cards 3-2 with starting pitcher Brian Brown striking out seven and allowing just two hits in 5.1 innings, while the bullpen was able to finish the job.
TCU: If Horned Frogs righthander Preston Morrison allows seven runs on nine hits in 5.2 innings, you’d think the Frogs struggled against Oklahoma. But that wasn’t the case as the Frogs banged out 11 runs on 15 hits in an 11-9 win over the Sooners, which likely knocks them (OU) out of the postseason mix unless they win the Big 12 tournament. TCU’s Nolan Brown led the way with a home run, three hits and three RBIs, while Jeremie Fagnan and Derek Odell each hit a home run and second baseman Garrett Crain finished the night with three hits.
Illinois: Many times during this amazing run, the Fighting Illini have been put in situations where they just needed to seal the deal. That’s where big-time lefthander Tyler Jay enters the equation. The Illini saw their winning streak extend to 26 games in a 10-9 win over Nebraska, with Jay closing things out in wild fashion in the ninth inning. Illini veteran David Kerian extended his hitting streak to 17 games with a double, home run, three hits and three RBIs, while Ryan Nagle and Reid Roper, who each had two hits, also added a home run each in the win. While the Illini keep rolling, the loss by the Cornhuskers likely knocks them out of postseason contention without winning the Big Ten tournament.
Florida: The Gators struggled in the series opener against Auburn, but showed their premium depth again Friday in a 4-3 bounce back win. UF sophomore lefty AJ Puk had been very good the past couple of weeks, but was lifted after allowing three runs on three hits in 3.1 innings. Meanwhile, the UF bullpen went to work with Aaron Rhodes tossing 3.2 shutout frames and Kirby Snead tossing two shutout frames to end the contest. With Auburn needing a win in the series finale, the Tigers will go with righthander Keegan Thompson, who missed last weekend because of soreness.
Florida State: The Seminoles are showing you one way you can lose a national seed against Clemson this weekend. FSU has scored one run in 18 innings after dropping a disappointing 7-0 decision on Friday to lose the home series. Clemson starting pitcher Zack Erwin chopped up FSU’s offense, striking out just three but also allowing just three hits in six shutout innings. Meanwhile, FSU righthander Mike Compton was unable to go the distance after allowing five runs on seven hits in 4.2 innings. With an RPI still in the Top 10, the Seminoles are out of the mix completely, but the weekend definitely did some serious damage to their chances.
Dallas Baptist: The debate on the Patriots is pretty crystal clear on our end, and until the Patriots fall out of the top spot in the RPI, which probably isn’t likely, they will continue to be heavily in the national seed discussion, and in as a top eight. With that said, the Patriots had a rough Friday on the diamond, dropping a 10-3 home decision to Wichita State. DBU starting pitcher Cory Taylor went five innings and allowed three runs, while reliever Drew Smith struggled, allowing six runs on five hits in three innings. The only bad thing about this one?
Vanderbilt: The Commodores have had quite a run over the past couple of seasons, and they added another nice trophy to their resume with a 7-5 road win over Alabama and an SEC East Division title. Vandy second baseman Tyler Campbell hit his first home run of the season and finished the night with two hits, while first baseman Zander Wiel had a triple, two hits and two RBIs. While Vandy got back on track on Friday, the Crimson Tide’s insanely disappointing season is almost coming to an end.
The Winner’s Club
Houston: You want someone who has done a dang good coaching job this spring? How about Todd Whitting and his staff? We’ve chronicled the Cougars’ setbacks throughout the year, but this program and team still managed to capture the American Athletic Conference’s regular-season title with a 3-1 win over Connecticut, improving to 38-17 overall in the process. UH starting pitcher Kyle Dowdy struck out four and allowed just a run on three hits in six innings, while the bullpen did a terrific job with Aaron Fletcher tossing 1.2 shutout frames out of the pen. Houston’s RPI is up to 15 nationally, and it will hit the 40-win mark during the AAC tournament. UH is moving closer to a regional host.
Indiana: Speaking of some of the more impressive runs the past few weeks, how about the Hoosiers? They are in very solid shape to be an at-large bid team in the postseason after doing a clean sweep of Ohio State, including a pair of wins by scores of 9-1 and 6-4 on Friday. In the front end of the doubleheader, IU starting pitcher Kyle Hart struck out five, didn’t walk anyone and allowed just a run on six hits in six innings, while Brian Wilhite had a home run, two overall hits and three RBIs to lead the offense. In the second game of the DH, Ohio State got on the board first and had a 1-0 lead going to the bottom of the third inning. However, IU’s Logan Sowers hit a grand slam in the third and the Hoosiers added two more runs in the bottom of the eighth to capture a huge series sweep. Indiana’s RPI is now into the 30s, and as of now, is in good shape to be in the postseason. As for Ohio State, it still has an RPI in the 30s, but also possesses a 13-11 mark in league play and has lost eight of its last nine Big Ten games.
Oregon State: Pat Casey’s club has quietly continued to get it done over the past few weeks. OSU junior righthander Andrew Moore put together yet another strong start, striking out five and allowing just two hits in 5.2 innings in a 5-2 win over Stanford. The Beavers also got a very good relief performance from Luke Heimlich, who allowed just three hits in two shutout innings.
Bryant: It hasn’t been as dominant of a year for the Bulldogs this spring, but like clockwork, they earned yet another Northeast Conference regular-season title with an 11-4 win over Wagner in the second game of a doubleheader on Friday. The regular-season title is Bryant’s fourth in a row. Bryant catcher Buck McCarthy had a big day at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a home run and five RBIs, while leadoff hitter Jordan Mountford went 3-for-4 with two RBIs.
Central Michigan: The Chippewas won their first Mid-American Conference regular-season title since 2010 with a dominant 12-3 road win over Western Michigan on Friday. Chips starting pitcher Nick Deeg allowed three runs in six innings, while the offense did most of the work in this one with Nick Regnier hitting a home run, collecting two hits and knocking two runs in. Meanwhile, Tyler Huntey went 2-for-6 with four RBIs and Ryan Heeke went 3-for-4 with a double and an RBI. The Chips have an RPI of 95, so will need to win the MAC tournament to get into the NCAA postseason. But this is definitely a step in the right direction.
Southern Miss: We’ve talked a lot about the Golden Eagles for obvious reasons over the past week — they’re red-hot. Well, they extended their winning streak to 13 games with a pair of wins — 13-11 and 8-4 — on the road over Middle Tennessee State. In the first game, shortstop Michael Sterling and outfielder Dylan Burdeaux each had three hits and two RBIs, while in the series finale, leadoff hitter Connor Barron had a game to remember with three hits, one of them a home run, and four RBIs. USM is up to the mid-40s in the RPI, and suddenly things look good for an at-large bid.
UC Santa Barbara: The Big West still has an intriguing title race brewing, and the Gauchos opened up their series at home against UC Irvine with a 10-5 victory. UCSB righthander Dillon Tate struggled with his command at times and allowed five runs on eight hits in seven innings, while the offense picked him up with Peter Maris hitting a home run and leadoff hitter Cameron Newell went 2-for-4 with two runs scored and two RBIs. It was a surprisingly bad day for UC Irvine starting pitcher Elliot Surrey, who allowed nine runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings. Be sure to follow our Aaron Fitt on Twitter, as he’s out in SoCal covering the Big West showdown.
Virginia: The Cavaliers needed a series win over North Carolina this weekend to likely seal the deal to the NCAA postseason, and they’ve done that, going up 2-0 in the series with a 6-2 win on Friday. UVa. lefthander Brandon Waddell pitched like a true veteran, striking out six, walking four and allowing seven hits in seven shutout innings. Meanwhile, Kenny Towns and Pavin Smith each had a double and two hits, as the Cavaliers touched up hard-throwing UNC starting pitcher J.B. Bukauskas for five runs on five hits in 1.1 innings. Interestingly enough, UNC, which was in the mix for a host site a few weeks ago, now is 13-15 in the league.
Saint Louis: The Billikens have had plenty of setbacks this season, but they added a regular-season title in the Atlantic 10 to their resume with a 13-10 win over Saint Joseph’s. Outfielders Danny Murphy (four RBIs) and Michael Bozarth (two RBIs) each hit a home run in the contest, while the leader of the pack was Parker Sniatynski, who had a home run and three RBIs. Interestingly, this could be an interesting team to watch going into the A-10 tournament with ace pitcher Matt Eckelman, who has been injured much of the season, back from arm issues.
In Case You Missed It
• Cal State Fullerton righthander Thomas Eshelman will go down as one of the best pitchers in college baseball history for good reason. His impeccable command his three seasons with the Titans has been pretty unbelievable. Well, he was at it yet again Friday night in a 4-0 win over Hawaii. Eshelman struck out 12, didn’t walk anyone and allowed just five hits in a complete game performance. The righty threw 110 pitches, 87 for strikes.
• Maryland could once again be in trouble from a postseason standpoint. The Terrapins took a step forward last weekend with a road series win over Ohio State. However, they’ve dropped this weekend’s series to lowly Northwestern, losing Friday 3-2. The Terps are now 35-20 overall, 13-10 in the Big Ten, and have an RPI in the 60s. Maryland could be in trouble if not for a very strong showing in the Big Ten tournament.
• Washington State hasn’t had a great season, particularly in Pac-12 play, but it continues to get big-time starts from lefthander Joe Pistorese, who struck out six and allowed just five hits in a complete game shutout performance and 1-0 win over Arizona State on the road. Meanwhile, ASU lefthander Brett Lilek had a strong showing of his own with 11 strikeouts and just one hit allowed in seven innings.
• The SWAC tournament always has some sort of drama, and this season isn’t an exception. The SWAC final will be at least Southern and one of Texas Southern/Grambling (that game was postponed Friday night). Jackson State eliminated automatic bid favorite Alabama State earlier in the day before Southern beat the Tigers 6-5. Well, here’s the skinny, though: Should Southern beat the Grambling/Texas Southern winner, it won’t matter, as either Grambling or TSU will be the automatic qualifier from the SWAC. Why, you ask? Southern is banned from the postseason this year because of underperforming APR results.
• We leave you with a rather funny video and a perfect example of what makes college baseball terrific. Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe were in the midst of a rain delay when the two teams decided to duel it out in a friendly game of rock-paper-scissors. Here’s the result of that bout:
— Cajuns Baseball (@CajunsBaseball) May 16, 2015