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D1 Digest: Wild Back & Forth Finishes Highlight Friday Action

Roundup

FRIDAY COVERAGE:

• FITT: Late Comeback Lifts ECU Past UNC In Instant Classic
• HEALY: Savacool, Another Grand Slam Lead Maryland Over Ole Miss
• SORENSON: Friday First Takes

• Check out the Extra Bases blog [SEC EXTRA]

Game Of The Day: No. 11 East Carolina 6, No. 12 North Carolina 5

The starters were magnificent as North Carolina ace Max Carlson (7 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 9 K) out-dueled East Carolina righthander Trey Yesavage (6 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 8 K), but their efforts were soon forgotten when things got wild the last two half innings. A walk and back-to-back doubles plated two East Carolina runs to trim into a 3-0 Tar Heels lead. An error by the pitcher allowed the Pirates to tie the game and Jacob Starling hit a two-run single to put ECU ahead. 

It took a 6-3 lead into the ninth only to see an error open the door for North Carolina to swipe the game. Back-to-back RBI doubles to left field made it a one-run game, but East Carolina freshman lefty Zach Root showed ice in his veins, getting a groundout and fly out to strand the tying run 90 feet away.

For more on the instant classic, make sure you check out Aaron Fitt’s report: Late Comeback Lifts ECU Past UNC In Instant Class

Honorable Mention: Monmouth 15, Maine 14

A pair of teams from the Northeast met in North Carolina to play a couple baseball games. They produced an absolutely ridiculous walk-off one-run victory. It looked much more likely to be headed for a run-rule shutout as Maine scored in four of the first five innings, tallying multiple runs in three of those frames. The Black Bears took a 9-0 lead and a no-hitter into the bottom of the sixth inning.

Monmouth got its first hit of the game, a leadoff double by James Harmstead. Phil Stahl singled him home to get the runs category’s goose egg off the board. Maine got two outs before the Hawks got the rally fully started. Casey Caufield tripled home a pair of runs and Ben Winstead followed with a two-run homer to make it 9-5. An inning later, Monmouth’s offense was back at it and by the time Winstead doubled home a pair of runs, the Hawks had taken a 10-9 lead. They added to it the next inning as well and led 13-9 going into the ninth.

After a strikeout to open the frame, Maine hit a homer to make it 13-10. Back-to-back walks and a single made it 13-11. A double plated another run, 13-12. After a pitching change, a walk loaded the bases. The Black Bears got a game-tying sacrifice fly and then took a 14-13 lead when Monmouth made an error. Maine needed three outs for the win, but there were more dramatics to be had. Maine pitched around Winstead, but a pair of fly outs sandwiched his free pass. Down to its final out, Monmouth got a walk-off two-run long ball as Division III transfer Austin Denlinger knocked his first homer at the Division I level.

Denlinger made it almost all the way to home plate before some of the Maine defenders even moved from their spots staring out at where the ball had just cleared the glove of Dylan McNary and the wall in left-center field. Winstead finished with a game-high four RBIs out of the nine hole while McNary also had a big game in the nine hole for Maine, going 3 for 5 with two runs, two doubles and a home run. Maine second baseman Quinn McDaniel reached base in all six plate appearances (2 for 2, 5 R, 4 BB, 2 SB) in the loss.

The two teams soon reconvened for a second game, which was also won by Monmouth, but in a very different manner as the Hawks broke a scoreless tie in the seventh inning and won 4-1. They got eight scoreless innings from pitchers Joey Ventresca and Mason Miller, who struck out a combined 14 batters while allowing three total hits.

Upset Of The Day: Portland 10, No. 5 Texas A&M 3

Nich Klemp entered the weekend, leading the nation in hits. Texas A&M had to see it as a positive when it held Klemp without one in his first three at-bats, including handing him his first two strikeouts of the season. The Aggies should have seen it as a warning that Klemp was due. 

The 6-foot, 185-pound catcher came up clutch in the late innings, helping propel the Pilots to a 10-3 win — their first win against an SEC program in school history — and a 4-1 record on the season. After a pair of walks put the tying and go-ahead runs on base with two outs in the seventh inning, Texas A&M went to the bullpen to bring in Robert Hogan to face Klemp. Hogan got ahead 0-2 with a pair of sliders and tried to come back with a third but left it in the middle of the plate. Klemp lined it over the shortstop for a run-scoring base hit. 

The ball didn’t truly split the outfielders and didn’t make it to the warning track, but it got deep enough that Klemp was able to race to second for a double. With the throw going into second base, Jake Holcroft came all the way around to score from first base as Portland tried to push the envelope. Texas A&M wasn’t prepared for the aggression and the relay from second base to home was too slow, allowing the Pilots to take a 3-2 lead.

Klemp came up again in the ninth inning with Portland still holding the one-run lead. The first two Pilots in the ninth struck out swinging before a single from nine-hole hitter Spencer Scott and a Holcroft walk brought Klemp up with a chance to add an insurance run. Texas A&M brought in one of its best bullpen arms, Will Johnston, to face Klemp. Johnston only presented offspeed offerings and got Klemp to roll over one down and in, but Klemp chopped in through the 5-6 hole, and Portland again being aggressive sent the runner even though an accurate throw easily hoses the runner at the plate. The throw was up the line, and the Pilots added an important insurance run.

Then they added six more. Around five walks and a hit by pitch, Briley Knight and Christian Cooney each hit two-run singles as Portland busted the game wide open.

Klemp finished with two hits and three RBIs while Scott had two hits, two runs and an RBI. Holcroft reached four times, scoring twice. Even more impressive was how the Pilots pitching was able to shut down the Aggie offense. Joey Gartrell was effectively wild, allowing two runs (one earned) on three hits and three walks in 4.1 innings. Jack Folkins took over behind Gartrell and earned the win. Folkins struck out five in three hitless innings.

Player Of The Day: Spencer Nivens, Missouri State

Spencer Nivens became the first Missouri State player since 1998 to collect all the infinity stones of base hits. He opened the scoring in the Bears’ 11-10 win over Central Arkansas with a solo home run in the first inning. He singled on a full-count pitch in the fourth inning. Nivens hit a two-run triple to right-center field in the eighth inning and scored the tying run on a wild pitch, helping send the game to extra innings.

Then in the 13th inning, he doubled down the right field line in his final at-bat, setting up the tying run to score on a sac fly two batters later. Nivens was standing in the on-deck circle when Nick Rodriguez provided the heroics with a walk-off RBI single in the 14th inning.

Nivens finished the game 4 for 5 with four RBIs. He also was hit by a pitch and hit a sacrifice fly.

Pitcher Of The Day: Jackson Baumeister, Florida State

The Florida State sophomore righthander had his coming out party Friday night. Having only thrown 31.1 career innings and making his fourth career start, Baumeister toed the rubber and shoved against a TCU offense that averaged 11.0 runs per game the first week of the season. He was able to move his fastball around the zone while his slider and changeup gave him an offspeed combination that darted in opposite directions and kept the Horned Frogs guessing.

Baumeister retired 16 of the first 17 hitters he faced before being pulled after giving up a double and a walk. The double was the only hit he allowed. He finished with two walks over 5.2 innings and 81 pitches. He struck out eight and earned his first win of the season as Florida State scored three runs in the sixth inning to take the lead and then added seven insurance runs in the eighth and ninth innings.

Home Invasion

For the second time this season, a West Virginia baserunner went for the most exciting play in baseball… the straight steal of home. And for the second time this season, a West Virginia baserunner was successful stealing home.

In the season opener, Landon Wallace beat the Georgia Southern throw home to score the go-ahead run in the fourth inning. JJ Wetherholt chose a slightly bigger moment Friday against Arizona. After the Mountaineers did everything they could to give away the game in the last couple of regularly scheduled innings, Wetherholt led off the 11th inning with a double and stole third with one out. When it got to two outs, he decided to take the issue into his own hands, racing home for the stolen base. 

When Wetherholt took off, the Arizona pitcher rushed his throw home and it was up the line, allowing Wetherholt to dive in with the go-ahead run that proved to be the winning run in the 6-5 victory. 

Double Bidders

Wake Forest continued its early-season dominance with a pair of wins against Mount St. Mary’s and Binghamton, including the 800th career victory for head coach Tom Walter. The Demon Deacons handed Mount St. Mary’s its first loss of the season in emphatic fashion, winning 18-2, as Danny Corona homered twice and drove in five runs while Sean Sullivan struck out 11 and did not allow a hit or a walk in six innings. Wake Forest’s no-hit bid came to an end on a solo home run quickly after Sullivan’s departure. 

But a few hours later, the Demon Deacons had another one as ace Rhett Lowder took a no-hitter into the sixth inning before Binghamton got its first knock. The single was the only hit Lowder gave up as he pitched seven scoreless innings and struck out eight batters. 

Brock Wilken homered in both games while Justin Johnson reached base four times in both games. Johnson finished the day with five runs scored and five runs batted in.

Pace-of-Play Dream

Louisville improved to 5-0 on the season, defeating Bowling Green to drop the Falcons to 1-3 on the season. None of that seems unusual or stands out. What does is looking through the box score and finding the time of game. The Cardinals needed just 106 minutes to complete the Friday afternoon delight.

Eddie King Jr. hit an RBI single through the right side to break a 1-1 tie in the seventh inning to score Jack Payton, who homered in the first inning for the game’s first run. That’s all the offense the Cardinals needed as Ryan Hawks was lights out once again.

The senior righthander allowed an unearned run on four hits and no walks in 7.1 innings. Despite striking out eight, Hawks needed just 88 pitches to pitch into the eighth inning as he improved to 2-0. He handed the ball over to Greg Farone after an error in the eighth inning. Farone struck out three as he collected the final five outs on 23 pitches to pick up his first career save. Hawks and Farone threw a combined 111 pitches while Bowling Green’s duo of Gage Schenk and Rigo Ramos threw just 98 combined pitches over eight innings.

Schenk took the tough-luck loss for the second week in a row. He held Louisville’s offense other than Payton hitless and didn’t issue a single free pass in six innings. Schenk has given up six hits and no walks in 11.2 innings so far this season, but his offense hasn’t helped him out.

Quick Hits

  • Paul Skenes picked up his second win for LSU. The 6’6” righthander gave up his first run on the season but only allowed two hits while striking out 11. The Air Force transfer and my preseason Pitcher of the Year pick now has 23 strikeouts in 12 innings. He has allowed five hits.
  • Alabama, playing at home against High Point rather than on the road at Pepperdine due to weather issues, improved to 6-0 with a 9-4 win. Ed Johnson hit his first two home runs as a member of the Crimson Tide. The former Auburn and Tennessee Tech transfer drove in five runs.
  • Chase Dollander was good but not quite lights out for a second week in a row. He gave up a two-out walk and then a two-run homer in the first inning before settling in against a winless Dayton team. He did finish with 12 strikeouts in 5.2 innings. The Tennessee offense quickly picked up Dollander scoring runs in each of the first four innings, including a five-run third inning. Leadoff hitter Jared Dickey homered and finished with three hits, three runs, three RBIs and a walk. The No. 3 Volunteers were without their head coach as Tony Vitello is serving a university-imposed weekend suspension.
  • Ivan Brethowr continued his hot start for UC Santa Barbara. The Arizona State transfer had two hits, including a grand slam, and stole two bases as the Gauchos got a 6-2 win over No. 25 Oregon. Mike Gutierrez allowed one run in 5.1 innings.
  • Arizona State and Mississippi State each made statements with their play in a matchup between the two. The Sun Devils won 13-4 in Starkville. Florida State transfer Ross Dunn pitched 3.2 scoreless innings throwing 56 pitches as he continues to build up after having surgery on his throwing arm to relieve a blood clot during the fall. Wyatt Crenshaw reached four times and scored three runs. Jacob Tobias drove in four runs.
  • Trailing Indiana by a run in the eighth inning, Texas got a three-run homer from Porter Brown to rally for a 4-2 win in the series opener.
  • Queens University in Charlotte got its first Division I victory even though it blew a first-inning 6-0 lead. The Royals rallied late scoring two runs in the bottom of the eighth inning to take a lead and got a crucial pickoff, sniping the tying run off second base for the penultimate out.
  • Bryant righthander Coleman Picard was electric in an upset of No. 14 Virginia Tech. He was 90-93 with a hammer curveball that the Hokies couldn’t touch. Eleven of the first 12 outs Picard recorded were via strikeout as he mowed through the lineup silencing the home Blacksburg crowd. The offense spotted Picard four runs as Virginia Tech Friday starter Griffin Green was not very sharp with his sinker, leaving two many balls up in the zone. Picard finished the day with 12 strikeouts in five innings of action. He gave up one run on three hits and one walk.

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