Rice and Matt Canterino will need to have a big weekend at the Shriners tourney. (Aaron Fitt)

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D1 Digest, Friday March 23

Roundup

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Friday’s Coverage

Aaron Fitt notebook on North Carolina-Florida State doubleheader split
Kendall Rogers notebook on Texas A&M-Ole Miss


I don’t know about you, but with college baseball on the SEC Network and ESPNU and also having the Big Dance going on AND also the NCAA hockey tournament starting today (Yeah I know, you baseballers probably don’t realize that the road to the Frozen Four also takes place at this time of year). Anyway, just know that my thumb ligaments and my remote control were a frayed mess by the end of the night. I mean, smoldering from all the fast-paced action.

Don’t worry, I spent most of my night scouring the D1baseball scoreboard and my Emails to see who had the best performances of the day in our sport. And holy Toledo was it ever a crazy day in college baseball. I don’t remember the last time this many games were decided by wild pitches. It’s like March Madness has taken over baseball too.

Here is our best-of and worst-of the day.

THREE UP
The best of the day in college baseball.

1- Rice steams back
It hasn’t been one of the better starts to the season for Wayne Graham’s charges. But today took a little bit of the sting off a 10-14 start as starting pitcher Matt Canterino was solid as granite leading the Owls to a 4-0 shutout win. The Owl ace went eight innings, giving up just one hit and striking out 11 Hilltoppers along the way. He also only walked one and plunked one as well. Reliever Jackson Parthasarathy added three more punchouts in the ninth inning giving the Owls 14 Ks for the night. Trei Cruz led the offense blazing a two-run triple in the sixth inning and gathering three RBI in all.

2- Hogging the spotlight
In the biggest showdown in college baseball this weekend, Arkansas played a great game at Florida to pull out a solid 6-3 win in Gainesville. Ace Blaine Knight had a decent outing, though nothing to stop the presses about, pitching into the seventh inning and giving up three runs on five hits and four walks. But he also collected 10 punchouts and left the game with his team ahead 6-3. Heston Kjerstad paced the offense, going a perfect 3-for-3 including a double and a home run. The Razorbacks also managed to saddle Brady Singer with his first loss of the season as they posted all six runs and seven hits off the Gators ace.

3- – Big win for UConn
Husky leadoff man Anthony Prato set the tone early in their 6-4 win at South Florida, by crushing a second inning grand slam as part of a six-run frame. Even more impressive, they did it all against All American Shane McClanahan, who hadn’t allowed a run all-season until Friday night. Giving a pitcher like Tim Cate that kind of lead was more than enough for UConn as Cate pitched more like himself this week, pitching just five innings, but collecting 11 strikeouts and giving up just a single earned run to pick up the W. The Huskies are now 11-7 as the Bulls fall to 16-7.

HONORABLE MENTIONS
A few more great performances from around the country…

– Englemann, as coach Schembechler would say, “A Michigan Man”
What a day Jonathan Engelmann for the Wolverines against their rival Michigan State Spartans in a 10-3 rout. The three-hole hitter for Michigan came up a single short of hitting for the cycle as part of a 4-for-5 day with five RBI. Don’t weep for the poor boy because he didn’t get the cycle, Engelmann blasted a pair of home runs and also sliced a double and a triple along the way.

– That’s Xzavion, with an X.
Man alive, what is going on in the ACC? Georgia Tech’s 13-1 landslide win over homestanding N.C. State was just another dubious head scratcher in this early season of the east coast monster conference. Starting pitcher Xzavion Curry went crazy on the mound again for Tech, striking out 11 Pack batters and holding them to four hits and one run. The Tech batting order just beat the Pack with a thousand little cuts, gathering 15 hits with 12 of them being singles and three doubles. They also drew six walks. Worry not Pack fans, you guys won game two of the DH, 5-2.

– Busch League
The last time North Carolina took on a ranked opponent, the Heels lost two of three to Louisville. Well this time, taking on No. 7 Florida State, they took out their anger on the Seminoles by way of a resounding 16-8 win in the opener of this ACC series. Michael Busch provided the heroics by busting up a 6-6 tie in the fifth inning with a two-run blast, giving the Tar Heels the lead for good. Busch ended up going 4-for-5 in the game including a second two-run yard call in the seventh to make this game a boat race. FSU came back to win game two 6-3 in 10 innings.

– Ray Ray gets a double-double for UCF
Knights leadoff man Ray Alejo had a stellar day in their 9-1 whitewashing of No. 18 East Carolina. Proving he was a difference-maker, Alejo sliced a pair of two-run singles as part of a 3-for-5 day that saw him collect four RBI. But he wasn’t alone as three-hole hitter Rylan Thomas added three hits and two RBI to help UCF to the breezy win in their AAC opener this weekend.

– Hawkeye precision
Iowa dropped game one of a doubleheader to No. 11 Indiana 4-2. But Brady Schanuel wasn’t going to let the Hawkeyes get swept, by golly no. The Hawkeye starting pitcher threw seven innings of one-hit/no-run ball and tossed in 11 Ks as well as UI beat IU 5-1 in the nightcap. After the split Indiana sits at 16-5, while Iowa is now 13-8.

– Holy Billikins!
In a battle of the Saints, St. Louis took down St. Joseph’s in the opening day of Atlantic 10 play by a 4-1 score in Philadelphia today. The hero was Billiken pitcher Miller Hogan, who tossed a complete game five-hitter with 11 strikeouts, put the clamps on the Hawks hopes. Hogan had six of the nine innings go three-up, three-down.

Miller Hogan got the win for St. Louis today and also wins the award for most impressive muttonchops facial hair.

– Ware-ing out the Mountaineers
Oklahoma third baseman Brylie Ware got the best of West Virginia today as he posted a 3-for-4 day and hit for the “short cycle”, collecting a single, a double and a triple to account for six RBI to pace the 22-hit attack for the Big Red. In addition to all that, pitchers Jake Irvin, Jake Terry and Ryan Madden combined for 10 strikeouts, which is the 13th game this year that the Sooner arms have posted double-digit strikeout totals.

– Ever seen a Paladin get Shock’d?
Furman went into Wichita with high hopes but it was as if they forgot to bring their bats. Well, you can thank Codi Heuer for that as the Shockers Friday ace collected 11 strikeouts and gave up just one hit in six innings of work to improve to 4-0 on the season. Wichita State broke things open with a seven-run seventh inning as Jordan Boyer led off the frame with a solo home run and then hit a two-run double later on in that same inning.

– A great first career complete game.
Keep an eye on Rutgers, as the Jersey Knights have been one of the better off-the-beaten-path teams in this early season. Today they took down Penn State 4-1 in their Big 10 season opener and got a complete game effort from John O’Reilly, who allowed just five hits and two walks to go with six punch outs. Despite making 40 career starts on the mound, this marked the first complete game for the senior righty.

And check out this game-ending circus catch by RU second baseman Dan DiGeorgio:

THREE DOWN
The worst of the day in college baseball. Here’s a hint: there were a lot of games decided by wild pitches. Read on…

1- The Auburn bullpen.
Oh mercy mercy me. This was not good. All-American flinger Casey Mize went out and dominated once again for the Tigers as they look a 4-2 lead over the Kentucky Wildcats in the seventh inning. Mize was pulled after the bottom of the frame, having struck out 12 UK batters and given up two hits and no walks. Then, in the ninth inning, Calvin Coker came in and the Bat Cats blew the game up. Luke Heyer came up and blasted a two-run homer to tie the game at four apiece. Then, after another pitching change to Elliot Anderson, a wild pitch scored Zeke Lewis from third with the game-winning run for Kentucky, 5-4.

By the way, in Casey Mize’s last three starts he’s got 38 strikeouts and zero walks. He’s no man… he’s a MONSTAH!

2- So. Miss just soooo missed
The Eagles were chugging along on their way to a Friday win over FAU down in Boca Raton, taking a 4-1 lead into the seventh inning. But a three-run dinger by the Owls’ Tyler Frank tied things up just after the singing of Take Me Out To The Ballgame. Then, in the ninth inning, FAU’s Cody Wilson tripled to start the inning and then was given a free pass home on a J.C. Keys wild pitch. Ack!

3- Musketeers choke away a pair.
Xavier managed to blow leads in both ends of a two-game set at Indiana State today, losing 6-4 and 4-3. But it gets more painful than that, in game two, the Sycamores scored the winning run thanks to a wild pitch in the bottom of the ninth inning. Worse yet, XU took a 3-1 lead going into that final frame. But Max Wright drove in a pair of runs on a single up the middle and also put Hunter Lewis on third base. A batter later, Conor Grammes uncorked a wild pitch that allowed for Lewis to score from third and lock up the DH sweep.

DISHONORABLE MENTIONS
A few more bummers from around the country…

– Northeastern
Dang. I was really keeping a close eye on the Huskies going into this weekend, since they entered the day as the No. 8 ranked team in the RPI and were facing the No. 2-ranked RPI team in Texas Tech. Now, I don’t REALLY think NU was going to win this series or anything, but I was not expecting today’s 22-3 loss to the Red Raiders. Double-T scored in each inning except the eighth as Josh Jung, Grant Little and Cameron Warren each collected three RBI and Zach Rheams knocked in four, helped by a home run.

– Worst. Eighth. Inning. Ever.
Poor Nate Schweers. The Oakland U. reliever entered today’s game with Illinois-Chicago in the eighth inning trying to protect a 3-3 tie. But the first batter he faced, Alex Dee, he struck out but allowed Dee to reach base by striking him out with a wild pitch that went to the backstop. Then, a batter later Schweers tried to get the lead runner out of second but threw wildly, allowing both runners to reach. Schweers gave up the winning run two batters later when Dominic Smith stroked an RBI single into right field to supply the winning run for the Flames. UIC also won the second game of the DH 8-1, led by Smith’s three-run homer.

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