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Friday D1 Digest: Arkansas Diggs Deep, Irish Rise, Vandy’s Noland Goes Bonkers


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Friday’s Staff Coverage:

Game Of The Day: No. 5 Arkansas 9, No. 1 LSU 3

If all you did was look at the final score of Friday’s marquee matchup between Arkansas and LSU you wouldn’t think it was game-of-the-day material. This contest, however, entered extra innings in a 1-1 tie before seeing the visiting Razorbacks explode for eight runs in the top of the 10th. Freshman Reese Robinett hit a pinch-hit, three-run home run that broke the tie. After a pair of singles, a walk, a sac fly and a hit by pitch, Kendall Diggs stepped to the plate for the second time in the inning – drawing a walk to open the 10th – and delivered a grand slam that put the game out of reach. LSU star center fielder Dylan Crews hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the inning before this game ended.

Hagen Smith moved to 4-0 on the year with 4 2/3 strong innings, striking out eight LSU batters, after fellow lefthander Hunter Hollan worked the first 5 1/3 innings of the game without allowing a run to score. LSU ace Paul Skenes continued to do Paul Skenes things, allowing a run on two hits and three walks with 12 strikeouts in seven innings.

Upset Of The Day: Notre Dame 4, No. 6 Louisville 3

It’s hard to call this one an upset considering Notre Dame participated in the College World Series last summer, but sixth-ranked Louisville entered their series in South Bend as one of the most dominant teams in the nation, sporting an 18-2 record with their ace, Ryan Hawks, on the mound. Hawks appeared to be cruising, opening the game with four scoreless frames before running into trouble in the fifth inning.

Notre Dame plated three runs in the fifth to take a 3-2 lead, seeing Zack Prajzner and Jack Zyska hit back-to-back doubles. After Louisville got a run back in the top of the sixth, freshman second baseman Estevan Moreno hit the second home run of his collegiate career in the bottom of the inning, which proved to be the eventual game winner. Irish lefthander Aidan Tyrell provided 3 1/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen to preserve the win.

Player Of The Day: Parker Noland and RJ Schreck, Vanderbilt

It’s hard to find a nice way to say it, but No. 4 Vanderbilt absolutely destroyed Mississippi State in Starkville on Friday, 26-3, to open their three-game series. Usually when you see a game like this you expect to see big numbers up and down the lineup, but in this one the bulk of the damage was done by two key sluggers.

Right fielder RJ Schreck went 3-for-3 with a double, a pair of homers, eight RBIs and four runs scored. But even those numbers don’t compare to what first baseman Parker Noland did at the plate, going 5-for-6 with a pair of home runs, three runs scored and 11 driven in. After Enrique Bradfield led off the game with a home run, Schreck followed – two batters later – with a two-run home run. Schreck added a two-run double, a three-run homer, and a bases-loaded hit by pitch. Noland hit a two-run single as part of Vanderbilt’s seven-run third and added another RBI base knock in the fourth. His real heavy lifting started in the sixth when he hit grand slams in consecutive innings.

Pitcher Of The Day: Ryan Johnson, Dallas Baptist

After making his previous five starts on Saturdays, Johnson was moved up to Friday in Dallas Baptist’s opening series contest at Charlotte. Johnson – a 6-foot-6, 212-pounded righthander that is one of the top prospects eligible for the 2024 draft – responded with his best outing of the season, out-dueling Charlotte ace Wyatt Hudepohl over seven innings. During that time Johnson allowed a pair of runs on two base hits without allowing a walk while fanning 12. The runs came off an opening-inning home run off the bat of Charlotte’s Cam Fisher, but Johnson quickly settled down and was perfect the rest of his outing, responding in the second inning by striking out the side.

D1Baseball’s Aaron Fitt was in Charlotte to watch Johnson’s performance as you can learn more about DBU’s 6-2 win here: Masterful Johnson Leads Surging DBU Past Charlotte.

Gamecocks, Volunteers Emerge Victorious In Ranked SEC Matchups

No. 11 South Carolina scored four runs in the bottom of the ninth to survive a scare and walk off newly ranked No. 22 Missouri while No. 12 Tennessee bounced back from their series sweep to Mizzou a week ago with a convincing 10-4 win over No. 21 Texas A&M on Friday.

The Gamecocks and Tigers exchanged home runs in the early innings of this game, including three off the bat of Missouri third baseman Luke Mann in a 4-for-5, six-RBI performance. South Carolina’s leadoff man, Will McGillis, also had a big day at the plate, going 2-for-2 with a grand slam to kick off the game’s scoring in the bottom of the second inning. The winning run came around to score on a throwing error as the Gamecocks moved to 21-2 on the still-young season.

Tennessee answered Texas A&M’s two-run first with five runs in the bottom of the frame and never looked back. Kavares Tears and Hunter Ensley hit back-to-back doubles to close out the scoring in the first inning and Tears added a sac fly later in the game giving him a 2-for-2, three-RBI performance at the plate. The Vols jumped all over Aggies ace Nathan Dettmer while Chase Dollander settled in nicely after giving up three runs in the first two innings to go 6 2/3 strong, striking out eight in the series-opening victory.

Duke’s Pollard Reaches Milestone In Comeback Win

Duke Head Coach Chris Pollard recorded his 700th career coaching win on Friday in a comeback 8-5 win over No. 15 North Carolina to even their series. Of those wins, 315 of them have occurred at the helm of the Blue Devils in his 11th year as skipper of the program.

Duke carried a 3-1 lead into the bottom of the sixth when UNC scored four runs to take a 5-3 lead. Duke pulled within one the next half inning on a homer run by Damon Lux and moved ahead in the eighth inning with four more runs, three coming on a home run by Alex Mooney. The two ACC rivals will play the rubber match on Saturday.

Quick Hits

• No. 8 Virginia and Florida State took a 1-1 tie into the ninth inning before things got interesting, and not necessarily in a good way. FSU scored a run, on a fielding error, in the top of the ninth to temporarily take a 2-1 lead. UVA then scored a single run of their own, on a wild pitch, in the bottom of the ninth to force extra innings. The winning run for Virginia scored on another fielding error to win in walk-off fashion, claiming the first game of the series in Charlottesville.

• In other ACC action, newly ranked (again) Miami held the powerful Wake Forest offense off the board for the first two innings before the Demon Deacons woke up with back-to-back four-run innings in the third and fourth as part of an 11-0 victory. Justin Johnson’s two-run single in the third and Marek Houston’s two-run homer in the fourth proved to be the biggest blows of the game. Wake Forest ace Rhett Lowder moved to 5-0 on the year with seven shutout innings, allowing just three hits and a pair of walks with nine punchouts.

• New Top 25 entrant West Virginia and Xavier exchanged blows in what turned out to be a win for the 24th-ranked Mountaineers. Xavier answered WVU’s run in the bottom of the second with a Jared Cushing solo home run in the top of the third. In the bottom of the fourth, West Virginia re-took the lead thanks to a two-run homer by Landon Wallace. Xavier answered once again, this time seeing former Mountaineer Matt McCormick hit a laser of a two-run home run that tied the game 3-3 in the top of the sixth. Single tallies were exchanged once again in the bottom of the seventh and top of the eighth before JJ Wetherholt walked it off with an RBI single, his third hit of the game.

• Also in the Big 12, Texas received strong pitching from the duo of Lucas Gordon and Zane Morehouse that helped the Longhorns to a 6-2 win over the Red Raiders. Gordon worked the first 5 1/3 innings, striking out eight, with Morehouse fanning four over the final 3 2/3 spotless frames. Porter Brown’s two-run home run in the sixth inning gave Texas the lead for good, adding three more in the eighth, two of which came on a double by Jack O’Dowd.

• Boston College continued their winning ways in their Top 25 debut, beating a strong NC State squad 4-1. Travis Honeyman’s three-run home run in the third inning would prove to be all of the runs BC would need, despite tacking one more on in the fourth inning for good measure. Henry Leake did a nice job shutting down the Wolfpack offense over six strong innings.

• Big Ten play opened up on Friday for nearly half (6) of the teams in the league, with the most notable matchup occurring in Lincoln between Illinois and Nebraska. Huskers second baseman Max Anderson continued his torrid start of the 2023 season by belting his fourth home run of the year in the first inning, a three-run shot. Cole Evans added a two-run double later in the inning that gave Nebraska an early 5-0 lead. Emmett Olson moved to 4-1 on the year by striking out 10 Illini batters in seven solid innings of work.

• Instead of starting Big Ten play Rutgers had a tough assignment facing UConn in Storrs this weekend and expected bad weather in the Northeast on Saturday made for a doubleheader on Friday between the two teams. The Huskies got the best of the Scarlet Knights in both contests, getting a walk-off single from Dominic Freeberger in the first game as part of a 9-8 win and squeezing out another one-run win in the second game, 6-5. UConn moved to 15-5 with the two wins while a previously red-hot Rutgers squad fell to 12-10.

• As Iowa moved to 17-3 on the season with a 9-3 win over Western Michigan on Friday, their fireballing ace, righthander Brody Brecht, had some big news to share after the win. Brecht, as shown in the tweet below, announced that he will no longer play football and instead will focus on baseball moving forward. A sophomore armed with a triple-digit fastball and a wicked breaking ball; Brecht isn’t draft eligible until next season. Through six starts this season, including the last two as Iowa’s Friday ace, Brecht is 2-1, 2.20 with 46 strikeouts in 28 2/3 innings and a .146 opponent’s batting average.

• No. 19 Florida Gulf Coast hit seven home runs in a 28-7 thumping of North Alabama, including a pair by leadoff hitter Brian Ellis. Second baseman Edrick Felix hit a grand slam with seven total RBIs and Jake Mummau had a pair of doubles in a 4-for-6, four-RBI performance. FGCU scored a run in every inning of the run-shortened contest and hit a home run in every inning except the sixth.

• UCF continues to make a strong push for Top 25 consideration with a 4-2 win over Maryland on Friday in Orlando. In a battle between two strong offenses, it was the pitching that ruled this day, seeing Ruddy Gomez move to 4-0 on the year with eight strong innings. Kyle Kramer picked up his sixth save of the season with a clean ninth inning. UCF now has wins over Clemson (a road sweep), Georgia Southern, Troy and Florida State as they move to 16-6 on the season.

• Auburn already claimed their series against visiting Georgia with back-to-back wins on Thursday and Friday. The Tigers used a four-run sixth inning to pull ahead of the Bulldogs, the biggest blow being Justin Kirby’s three-run home run.

• Coastal Carolina dominated Texas State to open their series in Conway, S.C. with a 19-0 win. The Chants scored four in the first – kicking things off with a grand slam off the bat of Zack Beach – four more in the second and five in the third to take a commanding, early lead and scored in each of every inning. As the offense proved to be nearly unstoppable, collecting 16 base hits and 11 walks, Jacob Morrison moved to 3-0 on the year by striking out eight batters over five shutout innings.

• After winning their first two Pac-12 series, USC’s upstart season continues with a strong start to their third in-conference series, beating Washington State on Friday 13-3. Tyler Stromsborg had an impressive start on the mound, striking out 10 Cougar batters in seven innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk. Offensively Nick Lopez went 4-for-5 with three RBIs, Austin Overn, and Cole Gabrielson each enjoyed three-hit performances and Ethan Hedges went 2-for-3 with four RBIs.

• Both of the Los Angeles-based Pac-12 teams collected wins over the Washington-based teams as UCLA shut out the Huskies 5-1. Jake Brooks impressive season continues, striking out nine batters in 6 2/3 scoreless innings allowing him to lower his ERA from 4.91 to 3.90. UCLA’s runs came in a two-run fourth and a three-run seventh with the biggest hits being Jack Holman’s two-run home run and Duce Gourson’s two-run double.