D1 Digest: Friday, March 2Roundup
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• Kendall Rogers on Kentucky’s Johnson, MSU’s Pilkington/UL’s Lee, plus SHSU-Vandy Takes
• Aaron Fitt on Adam Hill’s brilliant performance and emergence as an ace for South Carolina
• Branson Nelson on Matt Miller’s big-time performance for Louisiana Tech and Cal’s continued strong play against Baylor
Aaron Fitt’s Five
1. Texas Tech Wins Top 25 Showdown
One of the more intriguing series of Week Three pitted No. 3 Texas Tech against No. 15 South Alabama in Lubbock, and the Red Raiders struck the first blow with a convincing 8-1 victory on Friday. Davis Martin (5 IP, 2 H, 1, R, 0 ER) cruised to his third victory of the season, and the Raiders got four combined innings of no-hit relief from Dane Haveman and Connor Queen, as South Alabama’s explosive offense mustered just two hits in the game. Gabe Holt, Michael Davis, Cameron Warren, Clay Koelzer and Cody Farhat had two hits as part of a balanced 12-hit onslaught for Tech, which improved to a perfect 10-0. This team hasn’t skipped a beat since the loss of All-America ace Steven Gingery.
2. Stanford Pitching Continues To Dominate
Like Texas Tech, Stanford remained unbeaten with a 7-0 win against Michigan — the second straight shutout for Cardinal pitching, which owns a sparkling 1.89 ERA on the season. Tristan Beck (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K) was dominant, improving to 2-0, 1.50 with a 20-4 K-BB mark in 18 innings this year. That’s a heck of a way to bounce back from a lost season due to a back injury. Kyle Stowers gave Beck some breathing room with a two-run single in the fifth, and Andrew Daschbach followed with a two-run homer in the seventh. Stanford is 9-0.
3. Hoosiers Keep Rolling
San Diego was one of college baseball’s big movers after going 5-0 last week with quality wins over San Diego State, Arkansas and Arizona as part of a 4-0 run at the Tony Gwynn Legacy event. But Indiana stopped USD’s momentum in its tracks, thrashing the Toreros 10-4 at Fowler Park on Friday. Ryan Fineman (3-for-4, HR, 4 RBI) and Elijah Dunham (3-for-5, 3 R) led the Indiana offense in support of Jonathan Stiever (5.2 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K), and Kade Kryzsko followed with 3.1 innings of shutout relief. Everyone we talk to who sees the Hoosiers walks away with glowing reports about how complete they are; they have now won seven straight games since dropping their season opener to Oklahoma. That stretch includes quality wins over South Alabama, Coastal Carolina and now USD. Indiana is building a very nice resume leading up to Big Ten play.
4. UNC Blasts Liberty
It turns out, reports of North Carolina’s demise were greatly exaggerated. The Tar Heels were hit in the mouth during a 1-4 showing last week, and their offense was a major culprit, managing just five hits and one run total during a pair of losses to ECU. But UNC has bounced back from that series loss in emphatic fashion, getting the bats going in back-to-back wins against Big South foes High Point and Liberty. The Tar Heels ripped the Panthers 1-0 in midweek play, then opened up their series against a 6-2 Liberty team with a 17-2 thrashing of the Flames. Plate discipline is always a big part of North Carolina’s offense, and the Tar Heels have drawn 19 walks in their last two games, including 13 against the Flames. Brandon Riley, Michael Busch, Ashton McGee and Zack Gahagan all had multi-hit, multi-RBI games for UNC in support of Tyler Baum (6 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K), who turned in a strong start after moving up to the Friday starter spot.
5. Upsets Abound
Five Top 25 teams were knocked off by unranked teams Friday, and D1Baseball had writers at three of them: Illinois over UCLA, Sam Houston State over Vanderbilt and Louisiana Tech over Texas A&M. You can read our reports on the action in Minneapolis, Houston and Frisco for more details on those games.
The other two upsets featured a team with a losing record cruising past a Top 25 club. At the Keith Leclair Classic, Pepperdine (which entered the day 3-6) broke open a close game with eight runs in the ninth to blast host East Carolina 12-2. Mike Malinchak and Aharon Modlin had three hits apiece to pace the Pepperdine offense, which got two RBIs apiece from Malinchak, Quincy McAfee, Jordan Qsar, Duncan McKinnon and Joe Caparis as part of a balanced attack in support of Will Jensen (6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER). Prior to that outburst, the Waves were averaging just two runs per game over their first nine games, so it’s safe to say Friday’s onslaught was a significant surprise, especially against ace Trey Benton (6 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 ER) on the mound for the Pirates. This game featured some extra-curricular fireworks, as a collision at first base resulted in a benches-clearing ruckus.
— Zach Maskavich (@ZachMaskavich) March 3, 2018
Northwestern’s problem during its 2-4 start was its pitching, rather than its offense. The Wildcats had allowed 10 or more runs in four of their first six games, which included series losses to Omaha and Kansas. So Northwestern’s 6-2 win against Texas also falls into the “significant surprise” category. Richard Fordon and Tommy Bordignon combined to work 4.2 scoreless innings in relief of Northwestern starter Quinn Lavelle, with Bodignon striking out five over three hitless frames. David Dunn went 4-for-4 with two RBIs to lead the Wildcats’ attack against Chase Shugart (6 IP, 6 H, 5 ER).
Kendall Rogers’ Five
1. Another no-hitter recorded. This time it’s Missouri
It’s safe to say that the no-hitters in college baseball are getting a little out of control, and add Missouri to the list of teams who have accomplished that feat. Earlier this week, Virginia allowed three runs in a no-hitter against William & Mary. Friday night, Missouri allowed a run in a combined no-hitter in a 7-1 win over Maryland-Baltimore County.
Missouri heralded righthander Bryce Montes de Oca set the tone in the game, striking out 12 and walking two in seven shutout innings, while Giovanni Lopez and Nolan Gromacki closed out the contest. Offensively, Kameron Misner went bonkers with a single, double and a home run to lead the Mizzou charge. It was a historic night in Columbia.
— Mizzou Baseball (@MizzouBaseball) March 3, 2018
2. Elon’s insane pitching against Georgia Southern
The Phoenix has one of the better power arms in the country in righthander George Kirby, and he, along with the rest of the pitching staff, shined in a 4-2 win over Georgia Southern. Kirby set the tone in this one, striking out 11, walking one and allowing two runs on five hits in six innings. Meanwhile, how about Elon reliever Robbie Welhaf? He struck out nine of the 10 batters he faced in three shutout innings. As a duo, Kirby and Welhaf combined to record 11 of the final 12 outs of the game via strikeouts.
3. Florida’s Wil Dalton goes wild
As fall workouts progressed in Gainesville a few months ago, UF coach Kevin O’Sullivan was cautiously optimistic about one of his players — Dalton, a junior college transfer. He thought Dalton would be an immediate impact guy for the Gators. But then again, would he be unable make a quick transition to the big-time, as so many seem to do? That was the question then. But now Dalton is more than proving he’s ready for anything that’s put in front of him after hitting three, yes, three, home runs in a 12-5 win over Stony Brook. For the season, Dalton is now hitting .429 with four homers and 15 RBIs.
Ladies and Gentlemen…the Wil Dalton show!
— Florida Gators Baseball (@GatorsBB) March 3, 2018
Speaking of the Gators, righthander Brady Singer had some rough moments against the Seawolves, but struck out five, didn’t walk anyone and allowed five runs (three earned) on nine hits in seven innings. Meanwhile, we were informed Friday afternoon that UF second baseman Deacon Liput, who was suspended infinitely before the season, will return and be available to play Wednesday night against UCF. His return is certainly welcomed by the Gators, but his replacement, Blake Reese, had another big night and is hitting .357.
4. Cal State Fullerton finally gets off the mat
It’s safe to say we were starting to worry about the Titans after the past couple of weeks. The Titans were crushed by UCLA in midweek action and headed to the Big Easy with their backs against a wall and an ugly 1-7 record. Well, coach Rick Vanderhook’s club showed signs of life in the series opener against Tulane, beating the Green Wave 9-1 with righthander Colton Eastman leading the way. Eastman struck out eight, walked one and allowed three runs (two earned) on six hits in seven inning. The offense putting up nine runs is a big story, too, as Daniel Cope hit a home run and had two RBIs and Ruben Cardenas and Sahid Valenzuela each finished the night with three hits. Tulane’s Kaleb Roper, who had gotten off to a solid start this season, allowed six runs on four hits and was lifted after just two innings. It’ll be intriguing to see if this win turns things around for the Titans.
5. Wichita State remains undefeated. Crushes Nebraska.
Don’t look now, but the Shockers might just finally be back. Todd Butler’s club ran their record to a perfect 7-0 on Friday night with a dominant 9-1 win over the Cornhuskers. Power-armed righthander Codi Heuer, who has a big arm but had been inconsistent his previous two starts, struck out five and allowed four hits in six shutout innings. Meanwhile, the offense got the job done with Mason O’Brien going 3-for-3 with a home run and five RBIs, while hard-hitting Alec Bohm capped off the night with a majestic grand slam in the seventh inning to put the game out of reach. Bohm, one of the premier players and prospects in college baseball, is now hitting .522 with four doubles, three homers and 12 RBIs. We’ll see if this all lasts, but it’s sure fun to think about Wichita’s potential return to glory.
— Wichita State Baseball (@GoShockersBSB) March 3, 2018