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D1 Digest: ACC showdowns headline Saturday action

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Saturdays are for the Roondogs. Let’s run down the day’s action, Mike Rooney style:

It ain’t over until…

– One night after losing its ACC opener 6-5 at Miami, the Virginia Cavaliers were doing what proud programs often do: taking out their frustration on their opponent. The Cavs led the Hurricanes 12-3 entering the bottom of the seventh. And then Miami made history. The ‘Canes scored 13 runs in the next two frames to complete their largest comeback since the 1992 season. Blake Cyr’s eighth-inning grand slam gave Miami the lead. Daniel Cuvet’s eighth home run of the season, and his second of the series, put a capper on it. The 16-12 victory gives JD Arteaga’s club a 2-0 start in ACC play after an up-and-down beginning to the season. And certainly, a series win over Virginia is an exceptional data point for a postseason resumé.

Saturdays are for the Road Dogs

Kennesaw State secured a road series win over Kentucky with a 10-2 rout of the Wildcats. The Owls have outscored UK 23-3 through the first two games of this series. KSU also owns an 18-1 boat-racing of Clemson on a Friday night. The 9-6 Owls are led by their pitching (3.93 team ERA) and starter Blake Aita was excellent in this one (6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER).

Florida needed three runs in the bottom of the 10th to win the lid lifter in its home series with Saint Mary’s, but the Gators were not so fortunate in game two. The Gaels homered four times on the way to a 9-7 victory. DH Nathan Chong and left fielder Brian Duroff combined for three of those round trippers and five RBIs. 5YR SR Connor Linchey turned in an epic relief appearance, holding Florida to three runs over seven innings. Jac Caglianone went 0-for-5 and highly touted freshmen Liam Peterson and Luke McNeillie surrendered six of the Gaels’ nine runs. So, is this a case of a Saint Mary’s team with six seniors in the lineup being very good, or is it reasonable to be concerned about the Gators? The answer is yes.

– Two weeks after sweeping a midweek series from Mississippi State in Starkville, the Governors of Austin Peay will enter game three with a chance to win a series at Auburn. The Tigers scored one in the bottom of the ninth to secure a 7-6 walk-off win on Friday night. In game two, the Govs’ offense took over in a 15-6 victory. Right fielder Lyle Miller-Green reached base five times and second sacker Ambren Voitik added four knocks and five RBIs. Roland Fanning’s club moves to 11-3 as does Auburn. The Tigers’ seven errors jump off the stat page, with six of them coming on the dirt.

San Diego scored six runs in the ninth to come back and beat No. 20 DBU in Dallas. Trailing 4-2 with three outs to play, the Toreros pieced together a vintage West Coast rally that included three singles, three HBPs, one walk, and one DBU error. USD relievers Conner Thurman, Ivran Romero, and David Frize held the Patriots scoreless over the final 4.1 innings. First baseman Jakob Christian had two doubles and two RBIs.

Early intrigue in the Big 12

– I present to you the first-place Kansas Jayhawks. No. 5 TCU rolled into Lawrence having won all 13 of its games in 2024. The Frogs now sit at 0-2 in the conference, compliments of an 8-4 loss to KU. Freshman righthander Dominic Voegele turned in another very good start (5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 5 K), moving him to 2-0 with a 2.25 ERA through his first four collegiate starts. Star second baseman Kodey Shojinaga paced the 9-4 Jayhawks with three hits, but this is a deep and balanced offense. For TCU, Kole Klecker and the bullpen struggled in the middle of the game, surrendering seven runs in innings five through seven.

– Freshman righthander Mac Heuer (6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 8 K) silenced the Texas bats one night after the Longhorns served Texas Tech a 22-burger. Red Raider slugger Gavin Kash led the way (literally) with four knocks and two RBIs out of the leadoff spot. Catcher Dylan Maxcey added three hits and four RBIs as Tech didn’t allow Texas starter Cody Howard out of the fourth inning.

Working Miscellaneous

Charlie Condon collected four hits and his 12th home run in Georgia’s doubleheader sweep of Northern Colorado. Condon has two or more hits in 13 of the Bulldogs’ 16 games this season. He is now hitting .552 (32-for-58) with 28 runs scored. #OneOne

Hagen Smith smothered McNeese State in game one of a weather-related doubleheader, one-hitting the Cowboys over four innings of work. He punched out nine of the 16 hitters he faced before giving way to Mr. Reliability Will McEntire. The 3-1 final score should note that this contest became quite uncomfortable for Arkansas. Coming into the weekend, the Razorbacks ranked 13th in the SEC in scoring. Despite the return of Peyton Stovall (broken foot) in this one, the Razorbacks’ lineup continues to perplex. On a positive note, the Hogs scored 11 runs in their game two victory. Stovall, who is DH’ing for now, reached base three times including his first home run of the year. Brady Tygart lowered his ERA to 0.90, punching out eight hitters over four innings.

Drew Burress hit his 10th home run of the season as Georgia Tech handled Youngstown State in both ends of a doubleheader (16-6, 16-7). The 5-foot-9, 182-pounder hits everything, but he is especially dangerous on soft stuff up in the zone. Given that he is a true freshman, we’d like to wish ACC pitchers the best of luck in their future endeavors.

Southern Miss defeated Louisiana Tech 11-3 in Ruston to clinch an important nonconference series win. Billy Oldham (6 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 7 K) and Colby Allen (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 K) were brilliant on the mound, and center fielder Dalton McIntrye had four hits. La Tech entered this series with a 12-1 record, and they have been outscored 20-7 by the Golden Eagles.  

Tennessee entered the day ranked third nationally with 36 home runs. Please add five to the Underhills’ bill as the Vols put a 24-1 hurting on Illinois. The five home runs were hit by Christian Moore, Blake Burke, Dylan Dreiling, Dalton Bargo, and Reese Chapman. This is one of the nation’s scariest lineups. Drew Beam (5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K) was his boring and awesomely efficient self in this one.

– Dare I say Bryce Cunningham is Vandy’s best starter? Time will tell but the 6-foot-5, 234-pound junior righthander dominated Illinois State in the Dores’ 7-2 win. Cunningham punched out 11 over eight innings of four-hit ball, yielding just two runs (one earned) and no walks. He is now 2-0 with a 2.61 ERA and he leads Vandy with 31 strikeouts.

Troy beat host Indiana 8-1 compliments of first baseman Will Butcher’s three home runs and six RBIs. Butcher will wake up on Sunday morning leading the nation with 32 RBIs.

Cal held on to defeat UCLA 4-1, clinching their Pac-12 opening series. Caleb Lomavita drove in two runs and first sacker Peyton Schulze added a double and a home run. Transfer righthander Tom Mayer (William & Mary) provided a solid start and Connor Sullivan threw three shutout innings to finish it.

UCSB scored three runs in the final two frames to beat Connecticut 4-3. Mike Gutierrez (6 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 9 K) and Tyler Bremner (3 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K) combined on the complete game gem. The Gauchos have now won seven of their last nine games, including three straight weekend series. More importantly, they played their first two home games this weekend as their new surface is down and playable.

– Props to the Bonnies of St. Bonaventure who won both ends of a doubleheader (12-2, 12-2) at Middle Tennessee on Saturday. This program won just eight games total in 2023, and the 2024 club is up to five dubs and counting.

– Speaking of St. Bonaventure wins, Louisville defeated Northwestern 10-2 in game two of their series. The Cardinals have now won 10 straight since their home loss to the Bonnies.  

LSU lefthander Gage Jump struck out 10 of the 19 batters he faced in five scoreless innings, and the Tigers secured a fairly routine 8-2 win over Xavier. Hayden Travinski stayed hot with two extra-base hits and three RBIs. Keep an eye on mammoth sophomore Ethan Frey, who has worked his way into Jay Johnson’s mix, and he went 2-for-2 with three RBIs in this one.

James Madison moved to 11-3 with a 22-6 win over East Tennessee State. Second baseman Mike Mancini and center fielder Fenwick Trimble combined for five runs and 11 RBIs out of the top two spots in the order. The Dukes scored ten runs in the first. The Fun Belt is giving mosh pit vibes in 2024.

-While we’re on the Fun Belt, ULM had a nice little Saturday.

Rubber Match Makers

Chase Burns (6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 14 K) dominated Duke in Wake Forest’s 6-2 win, punching out 14 of the 22 hitters he faced. Jake Reinisch and Austin Hawke hit a pair of two-run homers in the third inning to lead the offense, as the Deacs broke open a 2-1 game and never looked back. This sets up a delicious game three in Winston-Salem. For the record, deploying Burns as your Saturday starter feels analogous to keeping a Lamborghini as your backup vehicle. #EmbarrasmentOfRiches

Our Aaron Fitt was on hand in Winston-Salem and will have more on Burns in this week’s Golden Spikes Spotlight. But suffice it to say that Burns’ ability to command an elite riding 97-99 fastball that bumped 100-101 as well as an otherworldly slider at 86-91, and even mix in an occasional changeup and curveball, makes him an unfair matchup for any lineup in the country.

Nebraska put a 13-spot on South Alabama to even their series with a lopsided (13-2) win. In fairness, this was a returned favor after the Jags hammered the hosts 11-3 in game one. In this one, the Huskers homered four times and Brett Sears (8 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K) needed just 88 pitches to record 24 outs. Keep an eye on these clubs as both South Alabama (11-3) and Nebraska (8-4) are sitting on strong non-conference resumes to this point.

– Regarding the Big Ten, some of the league’s more obvious at-large candidates had a tough day with Indiana losing to Troy, Iowa losing ace Brody Brecht’s start at Jacksonville State, and Ohio State losing a second straight game at Cal Poly. For the Hawkeyes, Brecht struck out nine through four innings and left the game with a 4-0 lead. Unfortunately, Iowa’s bullpen struggles continued in this 5-4 loss.

Utah evened its series with Washington State, defeating the Cougs 5-4 in Pullman. The Utes now have 10 wins, trailing only Oregon State among Pac-12 teams. Kai Roberts led the offense with a double and a home run, and ace reliever Micah Ashman picked up his third save of the season. Ashman punched out four of the six hitters he faced.

Long Beach State earned a deciding game three with host Wichita State, defeating the Shockers 8-4 in game two of the series. Freshman shortstop Adrian Lopez led the way with four RBIs. Don’t look now, but the Dirtbags own a 10-2-1 record with Big West play right around the corner.

– One night after being no-hit, Cincinnati defeated host Kansas State 11-7. While this feels like a program-building year for the Bearcats, this series is mission critical for the Wildcats’ 2024 postseason hopes.

Mercer (10-5) and Oklahoma State (9-6) split a doubleheader (2-4, 4-1) in Stillwater on Saturday. Both teams are of postseason quality so a series win would be a very nice resumé builder for either club.

Oregon scored three in the ninth to beat Arizona State 6-4, setting up a rubber match in this important Pac-12 series. The Ducks reeled off four hits in the decisive ninth, taking the lead on Jeffery Heard’s two-run homer. This series has been tightly contested and game three should be a dandy.

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