Iowa's Robert Neustjom looks in anticipation of the umpire's call, hoping he agrees with him.


3-Up, 3-Down & The DQ Classic

At The Ballpark

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Interesting day in college baseball, to say the least. What kid of results did you expect from all these great matchups and all these tasty tournaments that are going on around the country? Before I dive into everything that went on around D1 baseball, let me start with the tournament I was at up in Mary Tyler Moore-town.

(Bonus points to you geezers who know that reference)

It was the triumphant return of an old standard, after a six-year hiatus the Dairy Queen Classic in Minneapolis is back. Today’s first day of action was just that… full of action. And I’m talking both games being white-knucklers here. Let’s dive into the goings-ons at U.S. Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings.

Iowa jumped out to an early lead, allowed Hawaii to tie it, then pulled away for another big lead late in the game. But that 7-3 lead nearly went to pot as the Rainbows put up a furious rally in the ninth inning, before the Hawkeyes relaxed just enough to pull out a one-run win.

Hawai’i – 100 020 003 – 6  11  2
U. Iowa – 201 011 11x – 7  17  1

WP: Nick Gallagher, 2-0
LP: Brendan Hornung, 0-2
Save: None

– Dylan Vchulek, 3-for-4, RBI, 2runs scored
– Dustin Demeter, 3-for-5, RBI, HR

– Jake Adams, 3-for-4, 3RBI, HR, 2B
– Chris Whelan, 3-for-5, 2RBI, HR

Power hitting Jake Adams had three RBI in his first two at-bats for the Hawkeyes.

– Hawaii, 4-5
– Iowa, 5-3

If you like a good drama, this was your kind of game. Iowa seemed to have the game in hand heading into the ninth inning with a 7-3 lead. They got a great start from Nick Gallagher on the mound, who allowed three runs on seven hits, but was clutch when he needed to be, striking out eight UofH batters.

But the best part of Gallagher’s outing? No walks, no wild pitches, no hit batsmen and no balks. The dude was just solid, if not spectacular. And yes, he was hitting the low-90s on his burner and used some really effective off-speed stuff to keep Hawaii off-balance. The junior right-hander, who is projected to go in the 10-to-15 round range in June, threw 107 pitches in all.

Nick Gallagher will be a large amount of trouble as Iowa’s Friday night ace this season.

… and a handful of scouts were on hand to concur with that assessment of Gallagher. (BTW, there were more, just not in this picture)

After Hawaii started the game with back-to-back singles, an RBI ground out from Josh Rojas put the Rainbows up 1-0.

But Iowa would score the next three runs, thanks to cleanup man Jake Adams, who connected on a first-inning two-run tater and followed that up with a two-out RBI single in the third inning.

Give Hawaii credit though, the boys from the Island never gave up at any point in the game. In the fifth inning, Alex Fitchett connected on a shot to deep left-center field, clearing the 370 sign to pull UofH within 3-2. A couple batters later leadoff man Dylan Vchulek slapped an RBI single into left field to lock things up 3-3. That was the only time all game you could see Gallagher get a little flustered on the mound.

After a mound meeting, Gallagher stayed in the game and so did his Hawkeye teammates as they proceeded to put up a picket fence of single runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth innings, including a leadoff home run from Chris Whelan in the seventh inning, welcoming Hawaii reliever Chris Ashworth into the game in a rude manner.

The Hawkeyes would need the cushion.

Don’t let the beard fool you, Alex Fitchett was a force in all areas today, hitting a home run early in the game and making this circus catch in left field.

With Gallagher pulled, the UofI brought in Zach Daniels to close things out and it nearly got out of hand. Daniels was a little bit wild and a whole lot figured out by the Warriors’ bats.

Rojas worked a leadoff walk, followed by a Kekai Rios single, then a Logan Pouelsen single, which loaded the bases. Fitchett, who hit the home run back in the fifth inning, could’ve tied the game with another long salvo here, but instead went down looking for the first out. But things got interesting when Jacob Sniffing, Johnny Weeks and Dylan Vchulek went RBI single, RBI flyout and RBI single in thenhext three at-bats. So with men on first and third, Thursday night Hawaii hero Dustin Demeter strode to the plate. Daniels had composed himself enough to get two quick strikes on Demeter, then threw a ball out of the zone looking for Demeter to chase it. And finally, induced a harmless grounder third that UI infielder Matt Hoeg handled cleanly and fired across for the final out.

Iowa congratulates itself after a hard-fought, nerve-wracking win.

Caught up with Iowa head coach Rick Heller after the game

On the win:
“Not the way you want to end a game but up until the ninth inning I thought we played a really good game. We really got some clutch hits when we needed them, especially from Jake Adams who was seeing the ball really well. It was a really good way to start the weekend off. We’ve got a lot of new guys on this team and we played pretty decent the first weekend (at South Florida, 1-2) and played decent last weekend (2-1 at Hoover Classic at Alabama State), hopefully by the time we get to conference play we are clicking a little bit.”

On starting pitcher Nick Gallagher:
“That’s his third quality start in a row because he didn’t give up a run in seven innings vs. South Florida, then he only gave up one run last week, then he came out today and was really good again. That’s what you want from your Friday night guy. You know you’re going to have a chance to win if you play well behind him and that was certainly the story today.”

On the oddity of playing in U.S. Bank Stadium:

You know, it’s not a whole lot different from playing in the MetroDome. I think having the windows where the sun shines in is a completely different dynamic when you play in the day time, but when you’re down here on the field it is very similar to playing in the MetroDome. Our guys did a good job of adjusting to the pop flies in here and that was the thing you worry about the most as a team playing in this atmosphere.”

It was a night for the catchers. In a game that wouldn’t seem to end, Oral Roberts got a game-tying home run from catcher Matt Whatley in the ninth inning and then, four innings later, Gopher catcher Cole McDevitt knocked in Alex Boxwell with a deep sac fly to center field to end the night. Ballgame.

Oral Roberts – 020 000 001 000 0 – 3  3  0
U. Minnesota – 000 210 000 000 1 – 4  11  2

WP: Nick Lackney, 1-0
LP: Ryan McCollough, 0-1
Save: None

Golden Eagles:
– Matt Whatley, 1-for-5, RBI, HR
– Sam Grellner, 1-for-2, RBI, 2B

– Cole McDevitt, 2-for-4, 2RBI
– Jordan Smith, 2-for-5, RBI

– Oral Roberts:  7-2
– Minnesota: 5-3

Oral Roberts infielders take to the field at US Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

… meanwhile, Minnesota freshmen pitchers Nolan Burchill and Jack Wassel were splitting duties of juggling three baseballs and transitioning between the two with amazing ease.

The Gophers had a one-hitter – along with a 3-2 lead – going into the ninth inning and looked like it was a foregone conclusion with Brian Glowicki striding up to the mound. And to be honest, it looked like Minnesota really deserved to win this one. I mean, one hit? Through eight innings? And it’s not like the Golden Eagles aren’t a good-hitting team. These guys can rake. Yet there was Logan Gilbreath and Jackson Ross keeping them at bay for 24 outs.

But two pitches into Glowicki’s stint, ORU catcher Matt Whatley uncorked a solo shot to left field that easily reached about 10 rows into the stands and gave the Eagles a 3-3 tie. Of course, the players for St. Olaf and Cannon College who were waiting in the wings to play their double header let out an audible groan. But the ORU bench erupted.

Matt Whatley gets his props from hitting a solo home run to tie the nightcap in the 9th inning.

Again, the shocking part of Whatley’s salvo is the fact that Glowicki had come into the game without having given up an earned run in his three saves. Hell, he hadn’t even given up but one hit so far all season. But Whatley found Glowicki’s fast ball in his wheel house and launched it into the night.

Once in extra innings, ORU went four-up, three-down twice and three-up, three-down twice. Minnesota, on the other hand, had a pair of threats going in the 10th and 11th innings, but had a momentum-killing double-play knock them out.

But in the 13th inning, while facing off with ORU’s Ryan McCullough, Alex Boxwell walked, Jordan Smith singled and Riley Smith walked to set the Gophers up with the bases loaded and no outs. Then, nine-hole hitter Cole McDevitt, who had reached base three times on the night, lofted a shot to center field that was deep enough to score Boxwell from third and account for the final marker of the night.

Nine-hole hitter Cole McDevitt had a pair of hits on the night but his most important swing was this one in the 13th inning to center field.

…. that led to Alex Boxwell’s sprint from 3rd base to swipe the plate with the winning run.

… which led to this mob scene of Boxwell once his teammates reached him.

The only bummer to the day was Minnesota’s Luke Petterson going just 1-for-5. He came into the game as the nation’s top hitter with a .667 average.

Now a quick look of who did good and who did bad on the national scene…

The best of the day in college baseball.

1- David Peterson, Oregon pitcher.
The dude finished his starting duty with 17 strikeouts in the Ducks’ 1-0 win over Mississippi State tonight in Eugene. Peterson went 8.0 innings, allowing three hits and no walks while getting an inning of relief from Kenyon Yovan to secure the win. Peterson allowed zero walks, balks or hit batsmen in his stellar outing.

2- Baylor.
I think we were all wondering what would happen when the bright spotlight fell on the Bears this weekend after they raced out to a 9-0 start. Well make that 10-0 now after today’s 4-0 shutout of Ole Miss. BU starter Nick Lewis struck out five of the first 11 batters he faced and did not allow a runner to reach third base in his 7.0 innings of work. Kyle Hill got the save by throwing the final two innings as the two Bear flingers combined on a two-hitter.

3- Cal State Northridge.
I said at the beginning of the season that I had a sneaky suspicion that CSUN was going to be the next out-of-nowhere Big West team to jump up and bite people in the butt. Does today’s 6-4 win over No. 17 Vanderbilt, in Nashville, mean I’m right? Hmmmm, not yet hot shot. But it’s a step in the right direction. Strong win for the boys from the San Fernando Valley. After starting pitcher Andrew Weston gave up 10 hits and three runs in the first six innings, three relievers combined to hold VU to one hit in the last three frames to secure the W.

Honorable Mentions
– Dartmouth
We’ve heard about Miami’s troubles with finding their bats in this early season – especially last week in getting swept at Florida – but Beau Sulser got a great start (7.0 innings, two hits allowed 10 Ks) and Chris Burkholder got a great finish (2.0 innings, no hits, two Ks) as the Big Green stunned Miami 1-0 in Coral Gables. Very strong work DC. Get this, Dartmouth got their lone run just two pitches into the game as leadoff hitter Trevor Johnson ripped a double and Matt Feinstein took the second pitch into an RBI double.

– J.C. Cloney, Arizona pitcher
Remember last June when Cloney put on a masterful performance in holding Coastal Carolina to three hits in a win in the Championship series? We may be seeing shades of that from Cloney again here, holding Arkansas to three hits and one walk in 7.2 innings of work as Arizona took down Arkansas 3-0.

– Brigham Hill, Texas A&M pitcher
Just like Cloney above, the Aggie ace had a crazy good performance against a very offensive Texas Tech team in a 9-0 skunking. The Red Raiders came into today’s game with a .310 team average, but Hill held them in check, giving up just three hits and two walks in 7.0 innings of work.

– Missouri State’s pitching and defense.
With today’s 5-0 win over Central Arkansas, the Bears have pitched back-to-back-to-back shutouts for the first time in their 54-year history of the program. In addition to that, MSU pitchers Jordan Knutson, Jake Fromson and Bryan Young combined for 14 strikeouts to give the Bears double-digit punch outs in six straight games, one shy of a school record.

– Long Beach State.
The Dirtbags and starter Darren McCaughan were a little shaky at the start, allowing North Carolina to jump out to a 2-0 lead after two innings, but they finished strong, scoring a run in the eighth inning to tie the game and then getting three more in the ninth inning to pull out a 5-2 win. Though they could thank the Tar Heels for some of that since one of the runs was scored on a throwing error and another was due to a wild pitch.

– Louisiana and Russo Park
I’m not just giving the Cajuns props here due to their 3-1 win over Southern Miss, but to their fans for filling up reworked Russo Park with 5,250 butts in seats. Very nice. Gunner Leger, Wyatt Marks and Dylan Moore combined for a six-hitter with 15 strikeouts.

– Seth Romero, Houston pitcher
The Cougar starter threw his third straight game of double-digit strikeouts in today’s 7-4 win over Cal State Fullerton, which improved his mark to 2-1. His counterpart, Titan starter Connor Seabold, allowed five earned runs on six hits to fall to 1-2 on the year.

– The LSU-TCU crowd at Minute Maid Park.
The announced attendance for the Friday night night-cap in Houston was 17,145. It was rumored that anyone NOT wearing purple was not allowed in the stadium.

The very sizable LSU-TCU crowd at Minute Maid Park, as seen through the lens of my good bud, the Doctor of College Baseball.

The worst of the day in college baseball.

1- North Carolina State.
Alright Wolfpack, we’ve given you plenty of chances, even having you still hang out at No. 6 in the rankings. But you can’t keep losing weekend games to what is supposed to be inferior opponents. Today, Rhode Island shook the snow off their shoulders and put a 5-2 loss on the Pack, putting them at 5-4 on the season now.

2- Clemson
It’s no disgrace to lose to South Carolina, mind you, but the Tigers can’t say they didn’t have their chances in a 2-0 loss at Kingsmore Stadium. Not only did the Tigers out-hit the Gamecocks (5-to-3) but they also stranded 11 baserunners, including seven in the first four innings alone.

3- Rice’s defense
The Owls dropped a 7-5 decision to Pepperdine today, allowing six runs to cross the dish in the seventh and eighth innings combined. But here is the even more painful part… six of the seven runs allowed were unearned due to errors. Yes, the Owls historically sound defense committed seven errors in all, allowing the Waves to take them down in game one in Houston. Wayne ain’t gonna cotton to that.

Dishonorable Mentions
– Alex Lange, LSU pitcher
The big hoss didn’t fare so well in his first appearance away from Alex Box. Keep in mind, this is a guy who could be the first pitcher taken in this upcoming June’s MLB and yet Lange did not have a very fortuitous outing against the top-ranked TCU Horned Frogs. Lange lasted just 1.2 innings and got battered for five hits, six runs and allowed three walks to pick up his first loss of the year. Luken Baker’s two-run bomb in the second inning was the final blow against the Tigers ace. TCU went on to win 9-6.

– Western Carolina 
The Catamounts came back to tie their game with East Carolina at 4-4 with a run in the top of the ninth inning, only to see that negated by a game-ending bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the ninth. With the 5-4 loss, WCU drops to 4-4 on the season. ECU improves to 6-3 with its sixth straight win.

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