D1 Digest: Saturday’s Statement Makers


Saturday Coverage

Kendall Rogers on Oklahoma, Texas Tech’s pitching + more nuggets
Aaron Fitt on Indiana’s arms, Duke’s offensive onslaught
Burke Granger on Chase Burns’ Wake Forest debut
Eric Sorenson on Oregon State winning again, Minnesota showing grit
Joe Healy on Kentucky’s Dominic Niman
Mark Etheridge on Mississippi State’s improvement/misfortunes

Indiana State isn’t going anywhere, it appears. The Sycamores made history last season by reaching the NCAA Super Regional round against TCU. Now, even after losing some key arms from last year’s club, the Sycs are off to an impressive 2-0 start after a win over Louisville on Opening Day followed by a 2-1 win over UCONN on Saturday. ISU head coach Mitch Hannahs said during fall workouts that he thought righthanded pitcher Jacob Pruitt was primed to take a step forward. He looked the part on Saturday, striking out nine and walking two in six shutout innings of work.

Oklahoma appears to have some serious riches when it comes to its pitching staff this season. OU put its arms on display in a 5-1 win over Tennessee at Globe Life Field. Texas Tech kickback and righthanded pitcher Brendan Girton was up to 96 mph with his fastball and struck out nine while allowing a run in four innings of work. Hard-nosed righty Kyson Witherspoon came out of the bullpen and gave the Sooners length. He struck out four and allowed just three hits in 4.1 innings of work. Then, righty Ryan Lambert, who has a huge arm, threw a steady diet of 86-87 mph sliders to go with a low-90s cutter to close out the contest. Not a bad way to spend your 57th birthday, Skip Johnson.

Sam Houston’s pitching staff is putting on a show this weekend against a hard-hitting Oklahoma State club. The Bearkats silenced the Cowboys 7-2 in the series opener on Friday before winning 2-1 on Saturday to clinch the series. Marshall Wales struck out four and allowed just one run on two hits in four innings, while Wyatt Tucker was terrific out of the pen with just two hits allowed in four shutout frames.

Florida Atlantic gave Vanderbilt all it could handle in the series opener on Friday before falling short. Well, the Owls finished the job on Saturday with a 5-4 win over the Commodores. FAU reliever Bryan Boully was terrific out of the bullpen, striking out six and allowing one hit in 3.2 scoreless innings of work.

Duke is off to an impressive 2-0 start this weekend, demolishing George Mason 23-5 on Saturday while also making history with a whopping 11 home runs hit, including AJ Gracia hitting three of those homers and Zac Morris hitting two more. Duke’s offensive barrage comes just a day after Jonathan Santucci was masterful on the mound. Duke certainly has passed the eyeball test through two days.

Indiana’s pitching staff made a bold statement in a 7-2 win over a hard-hitting Coastal Carolina club. After dropping their season opener on Friday, righthanded pitcher Connor Foley set the tone in the win over the Chanticleers. Foley, who was up to 96-97 mph with his fastball, struck out seven, walked two and allowed two hits in four shutout innings. Ty Bothwell was impressive out of the pen with just four hits allowed in five innings. It’s not easy to shut down Coastal’s potent lineup like that.

Northeastern entered the season ranked in our Top 25 rankings and was on the verge of dropping a road series to Arizona down late in the game. However, the Huskies scored two runs, two runs and one run — five runs total — in the final three frames to beat the Wildcats, 8-7. Alex Lane led the Huskies with a home run, two hits and two RBIs. Mike Glavine’s club was tested in a big way on Saturday, and they passed it with flying colors.

Wichita State’s Brian Green era could not be off to a better start so far this weekend. After shellacking Little Rock, 18-5, on opening day with Seth Stroh reportedly hitting a home run around 490 feet, the Shockers continued their barrage in a 14-0 win on Saturday to take the series. What’s amazing about this win is WSU did it without a single home run as Camden Johnson had a four-hit day with five RBIs and Alex Birge knocked in three runs.

UC San Diego is on the warpath this season after not being eligible for the NCAA tournament last year despite a 21-9 Big West record. UCSD took down Mountain West favorite San Jose State 3-1 on opening day before bringing out the bats in a big way on Saturday with a series-clinching 15-0 victory. Brock Kleszcz led the offense with a home run and three RBIs, while Matt Halbach had a big day with two hits and three RBIs.

Kent State’s Eric Chalus put together a strong start in an 8-2 win over UNC Wilmington. The Flashes dropped the series opener on Friday, but Chalus returned the favor on Saturday in the victory. He struck out nine and allowed just one run on three hits in five innings of work.

Longwood brought out the bats in a big way in a doubleheader sweep of Siena, winning 27-13 and 12-2. Overall, the Lancers finished the afternoon with a whopping 10 doubles as a team, while ironically hitting just one home run in the two games. Willie Havens led the way for Longwood with seven RBIs.

Long Beach State is off to a nice start in the Bryan Peters era. Peters took over for Eric Valenzuela during the offseason, and his Dirtbags are 2-0 after beating Washington 3-2. LBSU righthanded pitcher Myles Patton put together a solid start with 10 strikeouts and two runs allowed in 4.2 innings, while Jonathan Largaespada was strong out of the bullpen with 2.1 shutout innings of work.

Wake Forest righthanded pitcher Chase Burns appears to have much warranted hype. Burns, who was outstanding at times during his two-year career at Tennessee, transferred to Winston-Salem during the offseason and was putting up video game numbers in early spring scrimmages. Well, he put up those same type of numbers in a 5-2 win over Illinois. Burns, who was up to 101 mph with his fastball and had a spin rate on his slider around 3000 RPM, struck out 10, walked one and allowed three hits in six shutout innings.

TCU’s Lupton Magic has been something special to watch already, and we’re just two days into the season. The Frogs were down to FGCU 9-3 on Friday night before rallying to win. They found themselves in a similar situation on Saturday, down 10-4 heading into the latter innings. Well, TCU scored two runs in the sixth and seven in the eighth to win the series with a 13-10 victory. Peyton Chatagnier led the TCU offense with a pair of homers.

Virginia Tech looks like a team on a mission, particularly from an offensive standpoint. The Hokies scored 10 runs in the series-opening win over Charlotte before scoring 10 more in a 10-5 series-clinching win over the 49ers. Chris Cannizzaro had a massive afternoon at the plate for the Hokies, going 4-for-4 with a pair of homers and five RBIs. Could the Hokies, for the second time in three seasons, be a huge surprise in the ACC?

LSU junior righthanded pitcher Luke Holman had a strong debut for the purple and gold in a 2-0 win over Central Arkansas. Holman struck out 10, walked one and allowed just three hits in 5.1 shutout innings in the win.


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