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D1 Digest: Friday Roundup

Roundup

Friday’s Staff Coverage

Kendall Rogers on LSU’s Luke Holman + Astros Classic Nuggets
Aaron Fitt on Alabama’s Ben Hess + Dallas Baptist/Frisco Nuggets
Eric Sorenson on TCU and Texas A&M victories
Friday’s Top Performers


Louisiana Tech, Creighton stay undefeated in Sugar Land

Two undefeated teams emerged with victories on the first day of the inaugural Battle of the Ballpark in Sugar Land, Texas. Creighton began the day with a 10-6 win over Air Force to improve to 6-0 on the year, while Louisiana Tech moved to 9-0 on the season with a 4-0 shutout of Army.

Starting with the first game, Creighton shortstop Nolan Clifford – one of the top hitters in the nation to open the season – stayed red-hot, hitting an RBI single in the very first inning as part of a three-hit performance at the plate. The biggest blows in this contest came in the sixth inning when Tate Gillen hit a two-run double that broke a 4-4 tie and Cuyler Zukowski hit a three-run homer that effectively put the game out of reach.

In the second game Louisiana Tech and Army were locked in a scoreless tie through the first seven innings of the game before the Bulldogs broke through with a four-run eighth. Cole McConnell had the biggest blow, a two-run homer, his third of the season, and four LA Tech pitchers combined on the shutout.

Big pitching performances for top-ranked teams

Duke ace lefthander Jonathan Santucci enjoyed the best outing of his college career on Friday against Akron in a 6-0 win. Santucci struck out 14 over six innings, allowing just one hit and no walks without allowing a run to cross home plate. In fact, Santucci has yet to allow a run to score a run all year, moving to 3-0 with a 31-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 17 innings of work.

AJ Causey came up big for No. 8 Tennessee in a 11-1 win over Bowling Green. Causey allowed just one run to score on one hit and one walk, striking out nine.

Hagen Smith followed up his epic performance a week ago with another lights-out start. In this game, a 5-1 win for No. 2 Arkansas over Murray State, Smith struck out 12 batters in six innings, allowing one run on one hit (a solo homer) and one walk.

Freshman Folger Boaz continues to miss bats at a high rate for No. 17 North Carolina, fanning nine Princeton hitters in seven innings, allowing a pair of runs on three hits and a pair of walks in the Tar Heels’ 12-2 win.

Matt Ager enjoyed a breakout performance for No. 24 UC Santa Barbara in a 6-1 win against Oregon, providing 6 1/3 strong innings allowing just one unearned run on four hits and a pair of walks. Ager struck out eight Ducks along the way as the Gauchos evened their season record to 4-4.

No. 16 Alabama came up with a huge win over No. 20 Indiana during Day 1 of the Frisco Classic. Staff ace Ben Hess took the mound and dominated for five innings, striking out 10 Hoosier batters and allowing just one base hit and one walk in the impressive shutout performance.

For the second week in a row Ryan Johnson recorded double-digit Ks for now 25th-ranked Dallas Baptist, grabbing a 4-3 win over Arizona at the Frisco Classic. The big righty struck out 14 Wildcats in this game in 6 2/3 innings but did not factor into the decision. Our Aaron Fitt was on hand with more on Hess and Johnson.

After missing the 2023 season due to injury, redshirt sophomore Ryan Prager is enjoying a big season for No. 7 Texas A&M. The lefthander won his third game this year in as many tries, striking out eight Arizona State batters in five innings as part of a 4-0 win at Globe Life Field. Evan Aschenbeck picked up the four-inning save with four punchouts as the two southpaws held ASU to just two base hits.

Transfer Luke Holman has made a big impact for No. 3 LSU, and in his latest outing – a 6-3 win against No. 15 Texas – he was nearly untouchable. Holman struck out 12 in 5 2/3 innings, allowing just three hits and a walk to move to 3-0 on the year. Holman still hasn’t allowed a run to score this year and has a 30-to-2 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 18 innings.

In the unranked-but-still-notable category, Niko Mazza moved to 2-0 on the year tossing the first seven innings of Southern Miss’ 5-1 win over Indiana State. Mazza (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 8 K, 1 BB) and Jacob Pruit (5.1 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 11 K, 5 BB) provided an intriguing duel over the first half of the game before Southern Miss broke it open with a four-run seventh.

And a big tip of the cap to Wichita State ace lefty Caden Favors, who may have had the biggest outing of the day, going the full nine in a 10-0, complete game shutout against Utah Tech. Favors (9 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 10 K, 1 BB) moved to 2-0 on the season with the win for the 5-3 Shockers.

SLU, ECU record Ws at Leclair Classic

Southland Conference representative Southeastern Louisiana and host East Carolina both won their first games at this year’s Keith Leclair Classic in Greenville, N.C. SLU faced Cal State Fullerton from the Big West in the first game of the day and Brennan Stuprich was stellar on the mound, tossing seven scoreless innings, allowing just three hits and a walk with five punchouts on his way to picking up his first win of the season. Stuprich was a D1Baseball Freshman All-American back in 2021 when he went 6-3, 2.31 but missed the very next season due to injury. Through three games this year he appears to be back on track with a 1.13 ERA in 16 innings.

Offensively, third baseman Shea Thomas was the star in this game, going 3-for-3 with a 2-run home run and a run-scoring double.

Dominant pitching was also on hand in the second game as ECU ace Trey Yesavage enjoyed yet another stellar performance on the mound in a 7-1 win against Purdue. Yesavage struck out 11 and allowed two hits and two walks in eight innings as he continues to enjoy yet another All-American caliber season. Carter Cunningham continues to swing a hot stick for the Pirates, going 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and a sac fly.

Dodger Classic kicks off in La-La Land

On the opposite coast UCLA is playing host to Michigan, San Diego and UC Irvine at the annual Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic. The first two days of games will be played at UCLA’s and UC Irvine’s homes, Jackie Robinson Stadium and Anteater Ballpark, and on Friday Michigan and UC Irvine came out on top.

Michigan grinded out a gritty 4-3 win over UCLA on one side of town, and Mitch Voit was the star in this contest. Serving as both the Friday starter and DH for the Wolverines, Voit tossed a complete game, allowing three runs on four hits and a pair of walks with three strikeouts. At the plate Voit went 2-for-5 with a run-scoring single in the first and a triple in the seventh. Michigan’s three-run seventh proved to be the difference in this one with Cole Caruso’s RBI triple proving to be the decisive hit.

In Irvine a classic pitching matchup between USD’s Josh Randall and UCI’s Nick Pinto occurred, with Pinto and the ‘Eaters coming out on top, 3-1. Irvine’s lefty was a little better on this night, moving to 3-0 on the year by striking out nine Toreros batters in seven innings, allowing just a run on four hits and a walk. Pinto’s ERA lowered to 2.08 on the season, with a 19-to-5 strikeout-to-walk ratio over 17 1/3 innings serving as the ace for now 7-0 UC Irvine.

UCI’s three-hole hitter, right fielder Caden Kendle, went 3-for-4 with an RBI double in the win.

Gators bite first in win over Hurricanes

No. 4 Florida delivered the first blow in their annual three-game series against in-state rival Miami on Friday, taking the first game by a score of 7-3. The Gators’ Nos. 1-3 hitters – Cade Kurland, Jac Caglianone and Luke Heyman – all hit solo home runs, with Kurland’s and Caglianone’s coming back-to-back in the seventh inning. That gave Florida some breathing room and allowed reliever Ryan Slater to pick up the win, delivering 3 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen.

Oregon State dodges another bullet

Despite starting their four-game series against North Dakota State 2-0, the Bison are giving No. 6 Oregon State all they can handle this weekend through two games. Thursday’s 19-7 win by the Beavers may look ugly on paper, but it’s important to note NDSU took an early 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning in that game only to rudely awaken the Beaver bats.

On Friday North Dakota State held a 5-1 lead into the bottom of the seventh inning, but Travis Bazzana quickly changed this with one swing of the bat, hitting a three-run home run that ignited a five-run seventh leading to Oregon State’s 6-5 win. Reliever Bridger Holmes is now 2-0 on the year working the final 2 1/3 innings for the Beavers, keeping NDSU off the board while fanning four Bison batters.

Georgia Southern provides Friday upset

Georgia Southern has had a tough early season schedule, playing Maryland, Georgia Tech, Mississippi State and Jacksonville over the first two weeks of the season. With week three upon us the Eagles welcome No. 21 Campbell to Statesboro and secured a 9-4 win to open the three-game series. Georgia Southern did all of its scoring between the second and sixth innings, doing the most damage in the third inning with three runs crossing home plate, two on bases loaded walks and one on a sac fly. The first eight batters in the Georgia Southern lineup had single RBIs.

After Thomas Higgins worked the first five innings Jacob Phillips picked up the four-inning save, allowing just one hit and a walk in his outing with five punchouts.

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