Ole Miss lefty Ryan Rolison (Joshua McCoy/Ole Miss Athletics)


D1 Digest: Friday, Feb. 17


Friday’s Coverage

Kendall Rogers on OSU’s Luke Heimlich
Aaron Fitt on Rice, UNC and South Florida
Kendall Rogers on Grand Canyon’s Jake Wong, TCU
Shotgun Spratling on GCU-TCU
Mark Etheridge on USM’s Nick Sandlin, big win
Eric Sorenson on UT’s Nolan Kingman, observations

Aaron Fitt’s Quick Hits

• Like Southern Miss, Stanford started the process of avenging its 2017 regional loss by beating Cal State Fullerton 5-1. Tristan Beck was outstanding in his return to action after missing last season with a back injury; he threw 6 innings of one-run ball, allowing just four hits and a walk while striking out five to best preseason All-American Colton Eastman (4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 4 ER). Preseason All-America shortstop Nico Hoerner had three hits out of the leadoff spot to pace the Stanford offense.

• In a matchup between preseason Top 25 clubs, No. 14 Vanderbilt thrashed No. 25 Duke 9-1, as the Commodores out-hit the Blue Devils 15-3. The game was actually a scoreless tie until the fifth, but the Vandy offense erupted to chase Adam Laskey in a five-run fifth inning. Freshman Pat DeMarco had three hits atop the Vanderbilt lineup, and fellow freshman Philip Clarke went 2-for-5 with three RBIs, while Ethan Paul also had two hits and three RBIs as part of the balanced VU attack. The Commodores got strong work out of both Drake Fellows (4.1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER) and Jackson Gillis (3.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R).

• Preseason All-American Steele Walker (3-for-5, HR, 2 RBI) helped power Oklahoma to a 6-3 over No. 23 Indiana in Myrtle Beach. Jake Irvin (5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) turned in a solid start to earn the victory for the Sooners, who got four combined innings of shutout relief from Austin Hansen and Connor Berry.

• Opening Day was bittersweet for Florida State, which pounded Xavier 11-1 in front of 5,036 fans at Dick Howser Stadium — but watched first-team All-America ace Tyler Holton exit after 4.2 shutout innings with what he later described as “tightness.” FSU coach Mike Martin told media that Holton will undergo an MRI for further evaluation. But some good news for the Seminoles: Cobi Johnson turned in two scoreless innings and fanned four in his return from Tommy John surgery.

LSU trailed Notre Dame 6-0 after five innings but stormed back for a 7-6 win. Bryce Jordan’s grand slam in the sixth narrowed the gap, and the Tigers took the lead on Josh Smith’s three-run shot in the eighth. LSU got sterling relief work out of Matthew Beck and Austin Bain, who combined for 4.2 scoreless innings of one-hit ball, striking out nine.

Holy Cross snapped a 2-2 tie with a run in the eighth to upset No. 24 Houston, 3-2. The Crusaders used seven pitchers to hold the Cougars to six hits. Leadoff man Thomas Russo had two hits and Alex Volpi added two RBIs to pace the Cross offense. Trey Cumbie (5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K) was outstanding in a tough-luck no-decision for Houston.

• Jordan Kozicky hit a pair of home runs on his birthday for Minnesota, but Georgia Tech still edged the Gophers 3-2 in Atlanta. Lefty Connor Thomas (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K) was stellar in relief of Xzavion Curry (5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 3 K) for the Yellow Jackets, who got three hits out of shortstop Austin Wilhite.

• Dallas Beaver and Rylan Thomas combined for five hits and five RBIs to power UCF to a 6-3 win against No. 19 Virginia. The Knights got superb relief from JJ Montgomery (4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 6 K) and a solid start from Chris Williams (5 IP, 6 H, 3 ER), who bested Virginia’s Daniel Lynch (5 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 7 K).

Kendall Rogers’ Quick Hits

• Ole Miss sophomore lefthander earned high praise last summer for his showing at the Cape Cod League. Well, the 6-foot-3, 205-pounder, lived up to his billing Friday in a 7-3 win over Big South favorite Winthrop. Rolison struck out 12, walked just two and allowed one hit in five shutout innings. Statement indeed. Oh, and, the Rebels had 8,797 on Opening Day. Solid crowd, Rebs.

• In a battle between a pair of brand new coaches, Maryland gave Rob Vaughn a 4-0 win over Tony Vitello and Tennessee. Terps starting pitcher Taylor Bloom put together quite the performance in the winning cause, tallying nine strikeouts, not walking any batters and allowing six hits in seven shutout innings. Meanwhile, Vols highly touted starter Zach Linginfelter struck out six and allowed two runs on six hits in four innings.

• South Carolina wanted to get the Mark Kingston started on the right foot, but VMI had something else in mind. VMI’s Nathan Eaton hit a three-run home run in the fourth inning to help lead the Keydets to a 7-6 win over the Gamecocks. VMI heralded Friday ace Josh Winder actually allowed five runs on eight hits in 3.2 innings, while Gamecocks starter Adam Hill was touched up for seven runs on five hits in four innings. Not the Opening Day the Gamecocks wanted, gang.

• I know we’re not supposed to root for specific teams, but I have to admit, I was rooting for California starter Jared Horn to have a strong start on Opening Day given the tragedy he went through during the offseason. Horn struck out six and allowed just four hits in five shutout innings in a 6-1 win over San Diego. Oddly enough, USD starter Paul Richan actually struck out 12 and didn’t walk anyone in 6.2 innings in the losing cause. It was a night for Horn to remember.

• Coastal Carolina came out of the gate like a bunch of wild animals in a crushing 17-2 home win over Virginia Tech. The Chanticleers received several impressive performances, but none more notable as Kevin Woodall, who smacked a home run, tallied three hits and knocked in six runs. It was an Opening Day to forget for Hokies head coach John Sfecz.

• Texas A&M head coach Rob Childress earned his 500th career victory in a 4-1 home win over Rhode Island. A&M righthander Stephen Kolek struck out 10, walked one and allowed just a run on five hits in 5.2 innings. Meanwhile, URI starter Tyler Wilson, who finally entered a season healthy, struck out three, walked two and allowed four runs on six hits in four innings. It was a night to remember for Childress and the Ags.

• Long Beach State got bad news earlier this week when Friday night starter John Sheaks went down with a season-ending injury. Bad news, sure. But it was no issue on Opening Day at 6-foot, 165-pound, lefthander Zak Baayoun stymied Saint Mary’s in a 4-1 win. Baayoun struck out 12, walked two and allowed a run on four hits in seven innings.

In Case You Missed It …

• Wichita State’s Alec Bohm is one of the nation’s buzziest prospects for a good reason. Check out this insane homer he hit against McNeese State tonight.

• Grand Canyon might’ve come up short against TCU, but the Lopers unveiled a beautiful new ballpark and a festive atmosphere.

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