D1 Digest: Old Dominion’s Surge, Tennessee’s Loss Headlines SaturdayRoundup
Did you see that?
— Cal Baptist righthanded pitcher CJ Culpepper put on a show in an 11-0 win over New Mexico State. Culpepper struck out 12 and didn’t walk anyone in seven shutout innings.
— Texas State hurler Levi Wells had a terrific performance in a series-clinching win over UL Monroe. Wells struck out 10, walked just one and allowed one hit in six shutout innings of work. The Bobcats remain two games ahead of Georgia Southern entering the series finale.
— Southeastern Louisiana’s Shea Thomas hit a three-run home run and a two-run double as the Lions took down Houston Baptist, 18-15, on Saturday. Thomas finished the afternoon with a whopping seven RBIs, along with a walk.
— Murray State lefthanded pitcher Hayden Wynja put together a terrific start in a 7-0 road win over Austin Peay. Wynja struck out seven and allowed just two hits in a complete game performance.
— Ball State improved to 24-4 in the MAC with a dominant 12-0 win over Kent State. Ball State lefthanded pitcher Tyler Schweitzer was dominant, striking out nine and allowing two hits in seven shutout innings.
— Davidson demolished Massachusetts 28-0 with Jacob Hinderleider leading the way. Hinderleider went 4-for-5 with a pair of homers and six RBIs to lead the way.
Notable Series Wins
• Connecticut confirmed its supremacy over the Big East Conference Saturday afternoon with a narrow 6-5 win over Creighton. Erik Stock had a productive day at the plate for the Huskies, hitting a home run and walking twice, while Ben Huber and Korey Morton tallied two-hit performances as well. Interestingly, UConn’s RPI is up to 36, which is a +13 increase over the past week.
• Kentucky shocked the country this weekend by handing No. 1 Tennessee its first series loss, taking the first game (a continuation) on Saturday, 5-2. Zack Lee was terrific out of the bullpen for the Wildcats. After taking the series earlier in the day, Tennessee did salvage a game with a 7-2 win in the nightcap. Vols freshman righthander Drew Beam allowed two runs on six hits in four innings, while Redmond Walsh tossed three no-hit innings to close it out. Jordan Beck and Cortland Lawson each hit home runs for the Vols. With the series win, UK is up to 62 in the RPI (+10), albeit the conference mark of 9-15 is still a ways off from making the NCAA tournament.
• Is Mercer putting itself on the postseason bubble this weekend? The Bears dropped yet another game to Western Carolina, 15-5, to drop the series. With the loss, the Bears are down a whopping 22 spots in the RPI into the mid 30s. As for WCU, Zach Ketterman and Cody Rech each hit homers, while Pascanel Ferreras each tallied three hits and knocked in three runs.
• UCLA entered the weekend in a rather interesting situation. The Bruins were just a couple of games out of first place in the Pac-12 and had some strong metrics. However, its RPI wasn’t in hosting range. Well, the Bruins’ hosting chances certainly took a massive hit on Saturday by getting swept in a doubleheader by Washington. UW won the first game 7-1 with Jared Engman striking out six and allowing just one run in seven innings, while the Huskies won the second game, 5-4, with reliever Ryan Velazquez tossing three shutout frames to close it out. UCLA’s RPI is down to 60 with the DH sweep.
• Old Dominion suffered a setback at home last weekend with a series loss to Louisiana Tech, but it is more than making up for that this weekend, clinching a series win over Southern Miss with a 4-3 triumph. Matt Coutney and Andy Garriola each had two hits in the win. ODU is up to 43 in the RPI (+19) with a 13-10 league record. In other words, it’s very much back in the at-large hunt. As for USM, it is down to 18 in the RPI and is squarely out of the top eight mix for now.
• It was only a week ago that Texas appeared to be in some serious trouble. Well, perhaps that demise was exaggerated as the Longhorns captured a series win over West Virginia with a doubleheader sweep — 5-2 and 11-10. In the first game, Ivan Melendez started a massive day with a home run, while lefthanded pitcher Pete Hansen struck out eight and allowed two runs on six hits in 8.2 innings. Meanwhile, in the second game, Melendez went bonkers yet again with a pair of homers, while on the mound, lefty Lucas Gordon was terrific for a second-straight week, striking out five in seven shutout innings. UT is right back in the thick of the hosting discussion.
• Clemson is keeping its postseason hopes alive with a series win over Georgia Tech at home this weekend. The Tigers cruised in the first game before withstanding a ferocious late-inning rally on Saturday in a series-clinching 12-9 win. Caden Grice had a massive day at the plate with a pair of homers, a double, three hits and six RBIs, while Bryar Hawkins and Jonathan French each knocked in two runs. As for Clemson’s postseason hopes, the RPI is sitting pretty at 24, but that 8-14 mark in the ACC is still problematic. It needs further work.
• Aaron Fitt will have much more from Corvallis later tonight, but Oregon State clinched a series win over rival Oregon with an 8-7 triumph. Jacob Melton, who is having a terrific All-American season, led the way offensively with a home run, double, four hits and five RBIs, while leadoff hitter Wade Meckler chipped in a two-hit, two-RBI performance for the Beavs. UO moves four games behind OSU in the Pac-12 standings and needs to salvage a game in the series finale.
Rubber Matchups To Watch
• After dropping the series opener in heartbreaking fashion, Auburn responded on Saturday with a 5-3 win over Arkansas. Sonny DiChiara, Brooks Carlson, and Blake Rambusch each hit home runs to lead the Tigers, while the pitching staff got a strong relief performance from Carson Swilling, who tossed two shutout frames to end the game. The win sets up an intriguing Sunday showdown.
• If you’re a fan of offense, you’ve enjoyed the showdown between Georgia and Vanderbilt in Athens. The Commodores took the series opener on Friday before the Bulldogs responded Saturday with a 13-7 victory. Connor Tate had a huge day at the plate with a home run, two hits and five RBIs, while Fernando Gonzalez had a banner day with a pair of homers.
• Oklahoma staged a late rally on Friday night but was unable to capture the win. Well, the Sooners left zero doubt Saturday in an 11-7 win over TCU. Oklahoma’s Peyton Graham had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a triple and three RBIs, while Diego Muniz and Wallace Clark knocked in two runs and Tanner Tredaway tallied a two-hit performance. The series finale is huge for both teams, who sit in the same vicinity from an RPI standpoint — 28 for TCU and 34 for Oklahoma.
• Florida State dropped the series opener from Boston College on Friday but responded on Saturday with a 10-4 triumph. Brett Roberts and Alex Toral each hit a home run and knocked in three runs, while Jamie Ferrer also had a big day with two hits and three RBIs. Meanwhile, Wyatt Crowell was terrific out of the pen for the Seminoles, striking out six in four shutout frames. FSU’s RPI is down more than 10 spots so far this weekend to 22, so losing another game to BC this weekend would certainly hurt its hosting case.
• Louisville split a pair of games against Wake Forest on Saturday to set up an important series finale on Sunday. The Cards lost the first game 14-3 after Brock Wilken hit three home runs for Wake Forest and won the nightcap, 6-2. In the nightcap, Louisville reliever Tate Kuehner was terrific, striking out six and allowing just two hits in four shutout innings.
• Alabama scored five runs the first two innings on Saturday and didn’t look back in an 8-3 win over LSU to even the series. Jacob McNairy put together a solid start for the Tide, striking out seven and allowing just one run on four hits in 5.2 innings, while Dom Tamez finished the night with two hits. LSU’s defense, which tallied three errors, also aided the Tide. The Tide is now sitting +2 RPI-wise this week at 51 with a 9-13 league record. There’s still work to be done, but the Tide could take a step forward with a win on Sunday.
• This is more some analysis on the regional hosting ‘bubble’. Georgia Southern was shy of a host in our latest projections earlier in the week, but how about its performance Saturday in a doubleheader sweep of a solid Troy club? The Eagles took the first game 24-1 with Christian Avant knocking in four runs, while they won the nightcap 8-4 to clinch a series win. Southern is up two spots to 5 in the RPI.
• Florida and Mississippi State both entered the weekend in must-win situations — especially the Bulldogs. Well, the Gators scored six runs in the ninth inning to clinch the series in Starkville, 9-3. Ty Evans hit a home run and knocked in three runs for the Gators, while Jac Caglianone hit two doubles and finished with the night with three RBIs. But let’s not bury the lede. State is officially in serious trouble and is very likely to miss the NCAA tournament with an RPI dropping to 92 along with a 9-14 league record. It’s difficult to see the pathway to the tourney. As for UF, it should feel OK now with a 10-13 league record to go with an impressive RPI of 13.
• For four innings on Saturday, South Carolina was feeling pretty good about itself against Texas A&M, leading 9-0. However, the Aggies scored five runs in the bottom of the fifth, one in the seventh and five more in the eighth inning to take a 12-11 lead going to the ninth. Amazingly, the Gamecocks responded with two runs in the top of the ninth to take a one-run lead before A&M’s Brett Minnich hit a walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth. The Aggies won 13-12 to take the series. With the loss, the Gamecocks are now 9-14 in the SEC with an RPI of 70. That’s not going to cut it.
• UTSA entered the weekend on the wrong side of the bubble, and it isn’t helping its case so far this weekend, splitting the first two games against Marshall — 9-6 on Saturday. UTSA’s RPI is down 14 spots so far this weekend to 58. Kyle Schaefer had a big day at the plate for the Thundering Herd, hitting a home run and knocking in three runs.