D1 Digest: Mountaineers Keep ClimbingRoundup
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Saturday’s D1Baseball Coverage:
• Aaron Fitt on Louisville unleashing its inner juggernaut in a twin bill sweep at NC State
• Kendall Rogers on a familiar clutch performance from Oregon State’s offense
• Eric Sorenson on another marquee series win for UCLA, which swept ECU
Kendall Rogers’ Five
Saint Louis throws no-hitter against Bonnies
The Billikens are one of the more consistent mid-major programs in college baseball but have had a tough campaign thus far. Well, the Billikens had something to cheer about Saturday afternoon as they threw their first nine-inning no-hitter since 1961 in a 5-0 win over St. Bonaventure.
Saint Louis junior righthander Cody Luther put together an outstanding start. He struck out 11 and walked two in the complete game performance. Luther threw 108 pitches in the no-hitter, 74 of them for strikes. For the season, Luther now has a 2.30 ERA in 54.2 innings, along with 55 strikeouts and 15 walks.
CODY LUTHER NO-HITTER! pic.twitter.com/aldwhgvisy
— Billiken Baseball (@SLUBaseball) April 13, 2019
West Virginia wins third straight Big 12 series
The Mountaineers looked like a team destined to struggle in Big 12 Conference play after opening weekend, as they were swept on the road by Baylor. But Randy Mazey’s club has turned the corner over the past three weeks, taking a home series from Oklahoma before hitting the road last weekend and winning a series over Oklahoma State.
WVU took yet another step forward this weekend, clinching a huge home series win over Texas Tech with a walk-off walk and a 4-3 victory.
WVU starting pitcher Jackson Wolf allowed three runs in 4.1 innings of work, but the bullpen did a terrific job against the hard-hitting Red Raiders, putting up zeroes the rest of the way with Zach Ottinger tossing 2.2 shutout innings and Dillon Meadows and Sam Kessler each tossing an inning of shutout work.
Offensively, WVU leadoff hitter Tyler Doanes had two hits atop the lineup, while Marques Inman and Ivan Gonzalez each had productive afternoons with two hits and two RBIs. As for the Red Raiders, Cole Stilwell had a strong day at the plate with three hits and two RBIs.
— WVU Baseball (@WVUBaseball) April 13, 2019
Vanderbilt crushes Arkansas to win crucial SEC series
The Commodores hit the road last weekend and dropped a tough series to Georgia but responded in impressive fashion this weekend. They won a close game in the series opener with both starting pitchers performing at a high level, while on Saturday, they scored all 12 of their runs in the first three innings in a 12-2 series-clinching win over Arkansas.
Stephen Scott hit a grand slam to pace the Vanderbilt offense, while JJ Bleday hit yet another home run, while also finishing the night with two hits and four RBIs. Meanwhile, Ethan Paul had a double, two hits and two RBIs, while Isaiah Thomas and Austin Martin each had two hits.
While the offense led the charge, heralded Vandy freshman righthander Kumar Rocker had a strong afternoon as well. Rocker struck out seven, didn’t walk anyone and allowed just four hits in seven shutout innings.
Arkansas’ starting pitching outside of Campbell continues to be a mystery. Hogs starting pitcher Connor Noland allowed five runs and didn’t record an out, while Kole Ramage allowed seven runs in just three innings of work.
— Vanderbilt Baseball (@VandyBoys) April 13, 2019
UC Santa Barbara clinches key Big West series
UCSB has been one of the better stories in college baseball this season. The Gauchos were in Omaha just a few seasons ago but stumbled mightily last season. Well, the folks in Santa Barbara might want to start talking about Chomaha again, as this team has the makings of a special club that could go a long way in the postseason.
UCSB continued its impressive ways Saturday afternoon with a dominant 10-1 win over UC Irvine in a crucial Big West series.
Gauchos starting pitcher Jack Dashwood put together a strong outing, striking out seven, walking two and allowing a run and four hits in eight innings. Meanwhile, offensively, the Gauchos got a strong performance from Eric Yang, who hit a home run and finished the afternoon with two hits, while Andrew Martinez also hit a home run. Connor McClain had two hits and two RBIs and Thomas Rowan added three hits and two RBIs.
UCSB is now into the top five of the RPI and in terrific shape in the Big West heading down the final stretch.
With Head Coach Andrew Checketts at the helm, anything is possible for the Gauchos. @alldaykelt got the words of wisdom as UCSB improves to 26-5! #CHOmaha @UCSB_Baseball @BigWestBaseball pic.twitter.com/EP81Dkt3nC
— KCSB Sports Radio (@KCSBSports) April 14, 2019
Florida State crushes Clemson in must-win series
It’s safe to say the Seminoles entered the weekend in a must-win situation against Clemson. With an RPI in the 90s and not a ton of RPI opportunities left on the schedule, the series against the Tigers, especially at home, was a big one.
Well, the Seminoles have played like a team possessed so far this weekend. Drew Parrish tossed an absolute gem in the series opener on Friday, while the Seminoles brought out the bats in a big way in a 16-2 win on Saturday to clinch the series.
CJ Van Eyk paced the pitching staff for FSU, striking out four and allowing just two runs and four hits in eight innings, while also holding his velocity much of the way. Meanwhile, Clemson starter Mat Clark was lifted after allowing five runs and four hits in 3.1 innings, and the Clemson bullpen only fared worse.
FSU was led at the plate by JC Flowers, who hit two home runs and knocked in five runs, while Mike Salvatore and Cooper Swanson also hit homers in the win, with Salvatore going 4-for-5 with three RBIs. Elijah Cabell also had a nice day at the plate with a hit and two RBIs, while every starter but one collected a hit.
With the win, the Seminoles still have work to do, but are trending up with an RPI of 75. They began the week with an RPI in the triple digits.
👀 @JCFlowers_3 goes deep and Noles are up 7.
T6 | CU 1, FSU 8 pic.twitter.com/NvFaYwzGfu
— FSU Baseball (@FSUBaseball) April 13, 2019
Aaron Fitt’s Five
Auburn hands Lacy his first loss
After dropping the series opener with Tanner Burns on the mound, Auburn was behind the eight ball in its tough road series at Texas A&M, especially with undefeated power lefty Asa Lacy set to take the mound Saturday. But Auburn freshman southpaw Brooks Fuller (6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K) was outstanding in his first career start, out-pitching Lacy (4.2 IP, 7 H, 3 ER) and leading the Tigers to a big series-leveling 7-0 win. Cody Greenhill turned in 2.1 hitless innings to notch his eighth save and complete the three-man combined shutout. Conor Davis hit a two-run homer to cap a three-run first against Lacy, who fell to 6-1 on the season. The Tigers broke open a 3-0 game with four runs in the ninth, highlighted by Judd Ward’s two-run double.
Louisiana Tech clinches big C-USA road set
Louisiana Tech extended the nation’s longest winning streak to 10 games with a 2-1 win at Florida Atlantic, clinching a series against an FAU team that entered the weekend atop the Conference USA standings at 11-1. Logan Robbins (5.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R) was terrific for the Bulldogs, who 3.1 combined innings of strong relief from David Leal and Braxton Smith. Seth White’s two-run triple in the second proved all the offense La Tech would need. The Bulldogs are now sitting pretty in the at-large race, with a No. 33 RPI, a 24-10 overall mark and a 10-4 record in C-USA. If they can win their 11th straight and complete the sweep on Sunday, they’ll really be in great shape.
Dangerous Mizzou levels series vs. LSU
The SEC’s darkhorse regional contender might just be Missouri, which has held its own against high-end competition repeatedly over the last month. First the Tigers took two of three from Ole Miss. Then they went 1-1-1 in a road series at Texas A&M. After a home series win against struggling Kentucky, Mizzou returned home this weekend to take on surging LSU — and came from behind to force extra innings in Friday’s opener, only to lose 12-11.
On Saturday, Missouri shut down LSU’s dangerous offense in a 4-1 win, evening up the series. Lefthander TJ Sikkema (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K) was characteristically excellent for Mizzou, which made the most of its seven hits and handed flame-throwing freshman Cole Henry (6.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER) his second loss. At 24-12-1 overall, 6-7-1 in the SEC and No. 26 in the RPI, Missouri is in pretty good at-large position (assuming its appeal of a one-year postseason ban doesn’t get resolved until the summer, as we expect).
What the Dickens? Baylor bites back
Baylor bounced back strong from Friday’s series-opening loss to Oklahoma. Paul Dickens (5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K) shut down Oklahoma’s offense into the middle innings, and Baylor supported him with five runs in the first, courtesy of Davis Wendzel’s two-run homer and Cole Haring’s three-run shot. Ryan Lekich and Kyle Hill provided strong bullpen work to nail down a 7-3 win for the Bears.
Miami sweeps twin bill at Virginia
A few weeks ago, Miami was facing an uphill battle in the ACC, with a 3-6 conference record. But the Hurricanes have played well since then and chipped away at that hole in conference play. On Saturday, they swept a huge doubleheader on the road at Virginia to climb above .500 in the league at 9-8. At 24-12 overall with a No. 23 RPI, Miami has put itself in outstanding position to end its two-year postseason drought — and maybe even make a run at hosting with a strong stretch run.
In the opener, Adrian Del Castillo delivered a three-run homer to highlight a five-run third, then hit an RBI single to help spark a crucial three-run sixth, which was capped by Raymond Gil’s two-run homer. Daniel Federman (2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R) was outstanding in relief of Evan McKendry (6.1 IP, 10 H, 6 R, 4 ER), as the Canes held on for a 9-6 win. Game two had a completely different flavor, as Miami won a low-scoring 2-1 affair. Once again, the bullpen came up big, as Bailey Mantilla, Mark Mixon and Greg Veliz (2 IP, 0 H, 0 R) nailed down the win for Chris McMahon (4.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K). Gil delivered a solo homer in the sixth that provided what proved to be the winning margin.
Notable rubber games to watch
Oregon State at Arizona State
Auburn at Texas A&M
LSU at Missouri
Oklahoma at Baylor
Kansas State at Texas
Dallas Baptist at College of Charleston
Georgia Tech at Boston College