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D1 Digest: Saturday Roundup

Roundup

Saturday Staff Coverage

Kendall Rogers on Washington State, Kentucky from Round Rock
Mike Rooney on TCU’s series win over UCLA
Joe Healy on red-hot Auburn, Virginia
Aaron Fitt on Oklahoma State, Oregon State’s wins
Eric Sorenson on Saturday’s West action
STREAM the Round Rock and Jacksonville Classics!


Players of the Day

Jordan Smith hit for the cycle in the first of two games on the day for George Mason, an 11-9 win over Purdue. Batting second for the Patriots, he belted a one-out solo home run in the top of the first inning that gave GMU a lead they would not relinquish. In the second he added a single, a sac fly in the fourth, a triple in the sixth and a double in the seventh. Overall Smith went 4-for-4 with two runs scored and two driven in. In the second game, a 12-5 win by Purdue, Smith was 1-for-3 with two more runs scored.

Although it came in a losing effort, Bowling Green’s Nathan Archer enjoyed a huge day at the plate thanks to two big hits with the bases loaded. After Memphis had taken a 10-0 lead, Archer’s grand slam in the fifth began a furious comeback by the Falcons. Archer’s bases-loaded, bases-clearing double in the sixth inning was the biggest blow of Bowling Green’s seven-run sixth, which allowed them to briefly take an 11-10 lead. Memphis would end up winning the game in walk-off fashion, 14-13, but Archer certainly had a memorable performance, finishing his day by going 2-for-3 with a pair of walks, three runs scored and seven driven in.

Elon had a day at the plate in a 27-8 win over NJIT, banging out 19 base hits while drawing 11 walks and getting hit by pitches seven times. Will Vergantino had the biggest day for the Phoenix, going 5-for-5 with a walk, six runs scored and seven RBIs. He hit a pair of run-scoring singles and a solo home run before blasting a grand slam as part of a 12-run seventh that put an end to Elon’s scoring in the mercy-rule shortened contest.

Virginia’s Henry Ford certainly deserves mention for his late-inning heroics two days in a row. After his two-run double beat Wichita State in extra innings on Friday, 5-4, at the Jax College Classic, he delivered a two-run single in the top of the ninth inning on Saturday that gave the Cavaliers a 12-9 lead, and win, against No. 18 Iowa. Be sure to read Joe Healy’s breakdown of all of Saturday’s action in Jacksonville.


Pitchers of the Day

Austin Peay continued its strong start to the 2024 season, moving to 6-1 by shutting out Maryland-Eastern Shore on Saturday, 10-0. Andrew Devine was the star in this contest, moving to 2-0 with a complete game shutout in a run-rule shortened game. Devine was masterful, allowing just one hit and one walk with 12 punchouts in his seven innings, throwing 67 of his 89 pitches for strikes. Devine, a redshirt senior, now has a 17-to-3 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 12 innings of work with a WHIP of 0.58.

Also deserving of recognition is Rice lefthander JD McCracken, who tossed a complete game the old-fashioned way by going the full nine innings in a 6-1 win over Louisiana. McCracken struck out 11 batters in this game, including all three batters he faced in the ninth and final inning. He also struck out the side in the seventh as he seemed to gain momentum as this game progressed, allowing a run on six hits and a walk. McCracken’s strong junior season continues as he allowed only one earned run over 5 1/3 innings in a loss to Notre Dame a week ago. After being swept by the Irish the Owls have now won three games in a row to even their season record to 3-3, beating Sam Houston earlier this week and taking the first two from the Ragin’ Cajuns.


Back To Even

• One of the biggest series of the weekend between No. 11 East Carolina and No. 15 North Carolina won’t be decided until Sunday as the Pirates evened up the series on Saturday with a 7-4 win. ECU carried a 7-0 lead into the bottom of the eighth inning before UNC was able to get on the board. The Pirates’ Nos. 2 and 3 hitters, Carter Cunningham and Jacob Starling, each had four hits and Zach Root improved to 2-0 on the young season by providing seven strong scoreless innings, allowing just three hits with seven strikeouts.

• One day after being stunned by Stony Brook, No. 3 LSU picked up their second win against Northern Illinois in the past three days with a 5-2 win. Luke Holman was the story in this game, in complete control over the first seven innings, allowing just a pair of hits with eight strikeouts; NIU didn’t get on the board until the top of the ninth inning. LSU’s weekend started on Thursday when they beat NIU 10-2 and they’ll get a second shot at Stony Brook on Sunday for a chance to go 4-1 on the week.

• Kennesaw State certainly has not made things easy for No. 10 Clemson. The Tigers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the eighth to secure the 8-6 win over the Owls, the 3,000th in program history, as Jacob Hinderleider led off the inning with a solo homer that tied the game, his second home run of the contest. A Blake Wright RBI single proved to be the game winner and a sac fly off the bat of Alden Mathes gave Clemson a little extra breathing room. These two teams will play for the series win on Sunday.

• It’s been an interesting season, to say the least, for No. 22 UC Santa Barbara, who recorded their first win on Saturday since their eye-opening 20-8 slug-fest against Campbell on opening night. This win came at Sacramento State, 9-1, which was supposed to be played in Santa Barbara if it weren’t for the lack of a playing surface at Caesar Uesaka Stadium. They’ve also been without catcher Aaron Parker since that first game, and on this day turned to senior lefthander Mike Gutierrez who stepped forward to provide six strong innings. It was a close game leading up to the ninth inning when Brendan Durfee’s two-run double and Reiss Calvin’s three-run double put the game out of reach. UCSB needs another win on Sunday to claim the series and retain their spot in D1Baseball’s Top 25.

• The mighty bats of No. 21 South Carolina were stymied on Saturday by a trio of Belmont pitchers. Starter Jake Timbes moved to 2-0 on the year firing the first five innings of the game, allowing one earned run on five hits. Hank Liss and Bill Duby each struck out four Gamecocks in two innings of relief to secure the win. Two-run homers by Brodey Heaton in the eighth and Landon Godsey in the ninth put an exclamation on Belmont’s 11-2 win, as the Bruins are now 5-2 to open the 2024 season.

• No. 24 Kansas State also suffered an upset on Saturday and will enter Sunday with work to do to retain their spot among the Top 25. The Wildcats loss came against Holy Cross, who beat K-State 13-10 thanks to scoring four runs in the top of the 10th, three of which crossed home plate on Sean Scanlon’s three-run homer. K-State did get one back in the bottom of the 10th, and scored single runs in the seventh and eighth innings to force extra innings.

• No. 7 Oregon State took care of business against Michigan on Saturday, 11-1, at Globe Life Field and are now 1-1 this weekend after losing to No. 2 Arkansas on Friday night. They’ll look to finish their weekend on a high note on Sunday against Oklahoma State. Arkansas, who lost to the Cowboys in 14 innings on Saturday night, will face Michigan on Sunday also looking to pick up their second win this weekend. Aaron Fitt will have more on all of Saturday’s action from the Kubota College Baseball Series.

Series Secured

• Gonzaga nearly gave No. 6 Vanderbilt a scare, taking a 3-2 lead into the bottom of the ninth. Jonathan Vastine led off the final inning with a single, advanced on a wild pitch and scored the game-tying run on a Jack Bulger single. Jacob Humphrey, who was summoned to pinch run for Bulger, advanced to second and then third on a throwing error on a pickoff attempt and scored the game-winning run on yet another single, this one off the bat of Camden Kozeal.

• No. 16 Texas has yet to allow a run this weekend to Cal Poly, securing a second straight shutout win, 6-0, on Saturday. Charlie Hurley went the first six innings in this game with Grant Fontenot and David Shaw bridging the gap, limiting the Mustang to just five hits. Jared Thomas and Max Belyeu provided the big hits on offense, each hitting two-run homers.

• Sophomore righthander Connor Foley has really been impressive early this season for No. 23 Indiana and he pitched the Hoosiers to a series win on Saturday, taking down Baylor 6-1. Foley allowed just one hit and struck out seven over the first six innings with Ty Bothwell picking up the three-inning save. Jake Stadler had a pair of run-scoring singles with Devin Taylor and Morgan Colopy each hitting solo home runs.

No. 1 Wake Forest, No. 4 Florida, No. 5 TCU, No. 8 Texas A&M, No. 9 Tennessee, No. 12 Duke, No. 14 Virginia, No. 17 Alabama, No. 19 Texas Tech and No. 25 Coastal Carolina have also secured weekend series wins.

No. 18 Iowa and No. 20 UCLA have each lost twice and will look to salvage their weekends on Sunday.

Unranked Quick Hits

• The Mike Gambino era is off to a rousing start as Penn State took care of business against Stanford for the second day in a row to win the series and move to 5-1 on the year. The PSU bats broke the game open in the fifth, starting with Adam Cecere’s two-run home run. Bryce Molinaro and Grant Norris also hit home runs in this game, a 13-2 win. Be sure to read Shotgun Spratling’s story on Penn State’s Game 1 win from Friday.

Dallas Baptist is certainly making a case for Top 25 inclusion, moving to 6-0 on the season with a 16-7 clobbering of Central Michigan. Nathan Humphreys went 3-for-5 at the plate with a pair of doubles. Grant Jay had a double and three RBIs. Miguel Santos continued his hot weekend by hitting a three-run homer as part of a four-RBI performance. Chayton Krauss hit a three-run home run of his own. Offensively this team is slashing .330/.427/.606 and is a perfect 15-for-15 on stolen base attempts. The pitching and defense formula (4.66 ERA, .983 fielding percentage) is also plenty good as DBU eyes a Sunday sweep.

• Another mid-major force in Conference USA is Louisiana Tech, who also improved to 6-0 on the young season after a 10-2 win over Kent State on Saturday. Ethan Bates was plenty busy pulling double duty in this one, going 2-for-3 with four RBIs coming on an RBI groundout, a sac fly and a two-run double. He also struck out four of the five batters he faced in 1 1/3 innings to close out the win. Louisiana Tech will participate in the inaugural Battle the Ballpark next weekend in Sugar Land, Texas with some stout opponents: Army, Creighton and Air Force.

• UC Irvine is yet another team clamoring for Top 25 inclusion after they took down Tulane 11-4 on Saturday to win the weekend series and move to 5-0 on the year. The ‘Eaters got on the board early, scoring a single run in the first and two more in the second but truly broke this game open with a six-run seventh. Back-to-back-to-back doubles by Woody Hadeen, Caden Kendle and Anthony Martinez produced four of those six runs with Brandon Luu and Ricky Ojeda combining to provide 5 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen. UCI has a big test ahead of them next weekend when they take part in the Dodger Stadium College Baseball Classic against San Diego, Michigan and UCLA.

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