D1 Digest: Saturday, Feb. 20Roundup
There were four games on the schedule Saturday between Top 25 teams, and D1Baseball had writers at all of them. In Gainesville, I wrote about Miami winning the crucial battle of the bullpens against Florida, which couldn’t protect a five-run lead after six innings and a three-run lead after eight, resulting in Miami’s 10-9 victory in 13 innings.
The other three matchups occurred at the State Farm College Baseball Showdown in Arlington. Kendall Rogers wrote about Mississippi State’s brilliant showing in an 8-3 win against Texas and Ole Miss’ 7-3 victory over TCU, and he capped it off with an in-depth look at Arkansas’ wild victory over Texas Tech.
There were plenty of other intriguing storylines across the nation Saturday. Let’s hit some highlights:
Player of the day: FAU’s Caleb Pendleton
And the ESPY for “best college debut of all time” goes to… Florida Atlantic’s Caleb Pendleton. Making his first career start Saturday against UCF, the true freshman catcher smacked grand slams in each of his first two at-bats — in the same inning.
Both of Pendleton’s blasts came in a 12-run second-inning for the Owls, who clinched a quality season-opening series win over the Knights with a 20-15 victory. FAU also got homers from B.J. Murray and Nolan Schanuel along with four hits from Bobby Morgensen in the slugfest.
Georgia State sweeps twin bill vs. WVU
Year Two of the Brad Stomdahl era at Georgia State is off to a smashing start. After dropping Friday’s season opener against No. 14 West Virginia in 10 innings, Georgia State bounced back in a big way Saturday, sweeping a doubleheader to take a 2-1 lead in the four-game set. It marked the first time GSU has ever won back-to-back games against a ranked opponent. The Mountaineers came from behind in the opener to score three runs in the ninth and force extras, but Elian Merejo delivered a walk-off single in the 10th to life Georgia State to a 7-6 victory.
The Panthers went bananas in the nightcap, plating 11 runs in the first inning (10 of them charged to WVU starter Jake Carr, owner of a cool 135.00 ERA) en route to a 20-4 blowout. Merejo and Ashby Smith had two hits and four RBIs apiece to pace the GSU attack in Game Two.
UConn grinds out series-leveling win at Virginia
The Huskies must have felt right at home Saturday in Charlottesville, with a “real feel” temperature of 27 degrees. It was a perfect afternoon for a back-and-forth slog that lasted four hours, 21 minutes to play nine innings. Fourth-year junior second baseman Christian Fedko posted his first career four-hit game and delivered a two-out, go-ahead RBI single to break a 7-7 tie in the eighth, propelling Connecticut to a 10-9 win over No. 16 Virginia. Preseason All-American Caleb Wurster worked the final 2.2 innings to earn the win in relief for UConn, the preseason pick to win the Big East. Virginia’s staff struggled with the strike zone, issuing 11 walks and hitting two batters.
Ospreys knock off Seminoles in opener
North Florida opened its season with a bang Saturday, taking down No. 24 Florida State in Tallahassee. The Ospreys hung a six-spot in the third to chase FSU ace Parker Messick, capped by Robbie Scott’s two-run double, en route to a 7-4 win. Max McKinley earned the win with three innings of one-run relief for UNF.
But the play of the day belongs to UNF left fielder Blake Marabell, who is currently the subject of a federal larceny probe, according to sources. Check it out:
Eastern Kentucky stings Georgia Tech
EKU used a balanced 11-hit, 11-walk attack to knock off No. 15 Georgia Tech, 9-6. Eight different Colonials got into the hit column, and Brent Lovell delivered a three-run homer to put EKU in command with a 6-1 lead in the fifth. Andy Archer started for Georgia Tech and allowed two runs (one earned) in three innings, while Cort Roedig — originally projected for a weekend rotation spot — struggled with his command in a relief role, issuing three walks in two-thirds of an inning. Something to keep an eye on.
Wes Clarke: force of nature
South Carolina smacked five home runs in a 12-5 win against Dayton to clinch the series. Wes Clarke, who slugged eight homers in the shortened season last spring, has picked up this spring right where he left off. Clarke had two homers and five RBIs Saturday and is now 6-for-7 with three homers, six runs and nine RBIs through two games.
Wake Forest clinched a quality series win against CAA contender Northeastern with a convincing 9-0 win Saturday. William Fleming turned in six shutout innings to earn the win, while Bobby Seymour and Michael Ludowig combined for six hits and seven RBIs to lead the Wake offense. Northeastern is a good club, and this series win will look nice on Wake’s resumé as the year progresses.
Ball State rallies to top Arizona
The Cardinals trailed 7-3 after seven innings but stormed back with three runs in the seventh to tie the game, then won it 8-7 on a bases-loaded walk in the 11th. The Cardinals also drew two bases-loaded walks in that fateful seventh inning, as Arizona pitchers issued 11 walks and two hit batsmen in the game. John Baker, Ball State’s longtime ace, came out of the bullpen to earn the win with four innings of two-hit, shutout relief.
Bruins bounce back
After falling flat in a season-opening loss to San Francisco on Friday night, UCLA responded with a strong team performance in Saturday’s 8-2 win, evening the series. Jesse Bergin turned in one of the day’s best pitching performances, allowing just one hit over 6.2 scoreless innings, walking one and fanning six. Leadoff man Kevin Kendall led the UCLA offense with three hits and two RBIs.
Toreros score 18 runs… and lose
Saturday’s wildest game took place at Tony Gwynn Stadium, where San Diego State pulled out a ridiculous 19-18 win over crosstown rival San Diego to clinch the series. Both teams put up crooked numbers early, as SDSU scored eight runs in the second to take a 10-5 lead — only to see USD answer with nine runs in the third to go up 14-10. The two teams kept on trading blows, and the score was tied 18-18 after nine innings. Finally, Mike Jarvis scored the winning run on a wild pitch in the 10th. Jaden Fein (3-for-4, 4 RBI) led a balanced 15-hit barrage for the Aztecs, who also scored 14 runs in Friday’s opener.
Of course, this being a West Coast affair, a failed squeeze attempt naturally played a crucial role, even in a 19-18 slugfest. The Toreros tried to squeeze with Shane McGuire on third base in the top of the 10th, but McGuire was tagged out at the plate after a rundown.
Our friends at @CespedesBBQ summed up the feeling for USD appropriately:
• Xavier swept a doubleheader at Texas A&M, 10-6 and 2-0. Luke Franzoni had two hits and three RBIs to lead the Musketeers in the opener. Nick Zwack turned in five hitless innings to earn the victory in game two, as four Musketeer pitchers combined to hold the Aggies to three hits. Expectations might be a bit lower than usual for Texas A&M this year — after all, we picked the Aggies to finish 11th in the SEC — but this was still one of the weekend’s most surprising results. We pegged Xavier to finish sixth in the eight-team Big East.
• Louisiana evened up its series at Tulane with a 9-8 win in 10 innings. CJ Willis had three hits to lead the Cajuns.
• Richard Fitts worked five innings of one-hit ball in his season debut for Auburn, which beat Presbyterian 6-1.
• Peter Matt and Chris Crabtree went deep, and RJ Schreck went 3-for-4 with three RBIs to help power Duke to a 12-4 win at Coastal Carolina in the series opener. Cooper Stinson went five strong innings to earn the win.
• Campbell blitzed Liberty 17-3 to even up a series between strong regional contenders. Colin Wolf and Zach Williams had four RBIs apiece to lead the Camels.