With the first weekend of NCAA baseball now officially in the books, one of last year’s competitors in the 2014 College World Series in Omaha — even with several veterans — is staring at an 0-3 record, courtesy of the Fresno State Bulldogs.
Coach Mike Batesole‘s squad swept a hard-fought series from UC-Irvine over the weekend, winning the Friday night opener 5-4 on a Kevin Viers’ walk off single and then securing a pair of come-from-behind 7-5 triumphs Saturday and Sunday.
Batesole, whose team posted a 28-29 record in 2014, was extremely proud of his Bulldogs’ achievement.
“I think what validates the weekend is the team we played,” Batesole said. “This was a team that was in Omaha last season and returned 20 outstanding players.”
Saturday’s win featured a 6-run 7th inning to erase a 5-1 deficit, highlighted by 7 straight hits. Ryan Dobson knocked in 2 runs for Fresno to pace the comeback.
That only set the tone for Sunday’s finale, in which UC-Irvine jumped to an early 5-2 advantage until Fresno came to bat in the 8th. Suddenly, Viers hit a 2-run homer; Brody Russell, who batted .583 in the series, added another 2-run shot to take the lead; and Taylor Ward smashed a solo shot to seal the deal for the Bulldogs.
There were sweeps galore throughout the country as several ranked teams feasted on less-talented squads, but the weekend’s highlights also included a few series that were highly competitive, beginning with…
Vanderbilt (2-1) edging Santa Clara (1-2): In the first game of a Saturday doubleheader, the top-ranked Commodores wasted a 4-for-4 effort by Dansby Swanson, which included a 2-run single that had given Vandy an 8th-inning lead. But Santa Clara scored twice in the 9th on a walk, a wild pitch, and an apparently foiled suicide squeeze play on which the ball eluded catcher Jason Delay, providing the eventual winning tally. Vanderbilt rallied for a game and series win in the nightcap, however, when a 10th-inning grounder by Ro Coleman could not be fielded cleanly enough to prevent the deciding run from scoring. Singles by Delay and Swanson set up the game-winner. Penn Murfee went 3-for-4 with 2 walks for the ‘Dores, who also had 2 hits (one a homer) and 2 RBIs from Rhett Wiseman.
Texas (2-2) splitting with Rice (2-2): Rice swept a Saturday doubleheader, winning Game 1 10-9 as John Clay Reeves keyed a 6-run 1st inning with a 2-run homer. The Owls took Game 2 5-2 as Kirby Taylor went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs and Ricardo Salinas hurled 7.1 strong frames, allowing just 5 hits and 2 runs. But Texas struck back Sunday with a 4-3 10-inning triumph, overcoming 17 strikeouts when Michael McCann delivered a run-scoring double in the extra frame.
Arizona State (2-1) slipping past Oklahoma State (1-2): The Sun Devils clinched the series with a 5-3 win on Saturday as Jordan Aboites recorded 2 hits and 2 RBIs and Ryan Burr earned his 25th career save, tying the school record set in 1967. The Cowboys avoided a series sweep Sunday, however, edging ASU 9-8 as Kevin Bradley went 2-for-3 with 3 RBIs.
West Virginia (2-1) getting by Clemson (1-2): Clemson won 4-2 in Saturday’s game behind the solid pitching of Zack Erwin, who yielded just 1 earned run in 6 innings and struck out 5. But West Virginia rebounded Sunday, defeating the Tigers 6-1 as Shaun Corso drove in 2 runs with a pair of hits, including a homer.
Florida International (2-1) edging Tennessee (1-2): Drake Owenby‘s strong start (6 scoreless IP, 3 hits, 7 Ks) paced the Vols’ 9-2 Saturday win, with Vincent Jackson and Nathaniel Maggio driving in 2 runs apiece. But FIU took the series by winning Sunday’s game 3-0 as Christopher Mourelle tossed 5 scoreless frames of 1-hit ball. J.C. Escarra provided the only run he’d need with a run-scoring double in the 2nd.
Oregon (2-1) defeating Hawaii (1-2): The Ducks claimed the series win Saturday when Nick Catalano slammed an 8th-inning, 2-run HR to clinch a 3-2 victory. Hawaii avoided the series sweep Sunday with a 10-1 pounding as Alex Sawelson went 3-for-4 and drove in 3 and Jordan Richartz went 3-for-4 with a double and 2 RBIs.
UNLV (2-1) getting past Nebraska (1-2): The Runnin’ Rebels evened this series Saturday with a 5-3 win when Justin Jones raked a 2-run single in the 8th to break a 3-3 deadlock. UNLV then clinched it on Sunday with 3-0 shutout, paced by a 7.1-IP start from D.J. Mayers, who allowed just 3 hits and whiffed 5. Payton Squier drove in 2 runs with a double and sacrifice fly.
Duke (2-1) nipping California (1-2): Cal won Saturday 3-2 as Ryan Mason and Dylan Nelson combined for 18 strikeouts and the winning run scored on a squeeze play following an errant pick-off throw. But the Blue Devils triumphed Sunday 12-7 to claim the series by scoring 5 runs in the 8th. Andy Perez was 3-for-4 with a walk, 2 runs scored, and 2 RBIs, and Chris Perez knocked in 3 more with 2 hits.
Long Beach State (2-1) slipping by Michigan (1-2): Garrett Hampson‘s 3 RBIs and a strong start by Tanner Brown (6 IP, 8 Ks, 2 hits, 1 run) clinched the series for Long Beach on Saturday. The Wolverines avoided the sweep Sunday by winning 5-3 on Jacob Cronenworth‘s 2-run single in the 10th inning, breaking a 3-3 tie.
Georgia Tech (2-1) edging Fordham (1-2): Luke Stampfl drove in 5 runs with a pair of doubles as the Rams won 9-4 Saturday, but Georgia Tech roared back for the series edge Sunday when Keenan Innis went 3-for-3 and Kel Johnson belted a single, double, and homer as the Jackets prevailed 7-5.
South Carolina (2-1) bouncing College of Charleston (1-2): The Gamecocks rebounded from an opening day loss to sweep Saturday’s doubleheader, winning Game 1 7-1 as Jordan Gore delivered a 2-run double and Wil Crowe fanned 10 men in a 6.1-inning start. In Game 2, Alex Destino and Connor Bright each homered and had 2 hits to pace the 8-3 decision.
Auburn (2-1) outlasting Binghamton (1-2): Binghamton gained only its 2nd win against an SEC school in Saturday’s 11-5 triumph as Jake Thomas went 4-for-5 and drove in 5, with 3 coming home on his 5th-inning HR that broke a 2-2 tie. But Auburn earned the series win with a 13-2 pounding on Sunday as Jordan Ebert was 3-for-3 with 3 RBIs and Bo Decker also plated 3 tallies.
Indiana (2-1) besting Stanford (1-2): The Hoosiers clinched the series with a 10-inning Saturday win, triumphing 4-3 by scoring twice on sacrifice bunt throwing errors in the extra frame. The Cardinal prevented the sweep Sunday with a 4-3 win of their own, getting the deciding run in the 7th on an Indiana throwing error. Stanford’s Logan James pitched 2 perfect innings with 3 Ks to earn the save.
Ole Miss (2-1) defeating William & Mary (1-2): Ryder Miconi‘s 3-run HR and 4 RBIs led the Pride to an 8-1 upset in the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader. But Ole Miss triumphed in the nightcap 16-2 for the series edge as Colby Bortles hit a 3-run bomb and Errol Robinson went 4-for-5 with a couple of doubles and 3 RBIs.
Virginia Tech (2-1) topping Mercer (1-2): Erik Payne‘s 3 RBIs led the Hokies to an 11-4 win Saturday, and Payne added a 3-run HR in the 1st on Sunday to get Tech headed toward a 5-4 victory. Saige Jenco was 3-for-5, scored twice, and hammered a solo blast.
In series that ended in sweeps…
Elon (3-0) surprising Penn State (0-3): In a Saturday twin bill, Elon won 7-2 as Casey Jones went 3-for-4 and drove in 2, followed by an 11-6 victory in which Chris King homered and went 3-for-5 with 2 doubles and 3 RBIs.
Missouri (4-0) handling Iona (0-4): Zach Lavy had 3 hits and scored twice as Mizzou won 6-3 in Saturday’s 1st game. In the nightcap, the Tigers prevailed 14-2 as Lavy added 4 more hits, Jake Ring went 3-for-4, drove in 2, and scored 4, and Josh Lester was 3-for-3 with 4 RBIs. Mizzou is 4-0 for the first time since 2004.
Mississippi State (4-0) gained 3 wins over Cincinnati and another vs. Miami (OH). The Bullies topped Miami 7-1 as Wes Rea drove in 4 and Ross Mitchell twirled 5.2 innings of scoreless relief for the win. MSU downed Cincinnati Saturday afternoon 19-5 as Jacob Robson had 3 hits, Reid Humphreys drove 3 runs home, and Vance Tatum earned the win with 4.2 strong relief frames. On Sunday, the Bulldogs downed the Bearcats 16-7 as Seth Heck, Humphreys, and John Holland all had 3 hits, with Holland contributing 4 RBIs.
North Carolina (3-0) besting Seton Hall (0-3): The Heels won both ends of a double dip on Saturday, rolling 10-4 in Game 1 as Landon Lassiter and Adrian Chacon each posted 3 hits. UNC used a 7-run 3rd inning in that one. Game 2’s 9-5 victory was highlighted by Joe Dudek‘s 2-run double and a 2-run single by Tyler Ramirez.
Virginia (3-0) powering past East Carolina (0-3): Charlie Cody‘s 3-for-3, 2-run performance backed a strong start by Connor Jones (6 IP, 3 hits, 8 Ks, 1 unearned run) as the Cavaliers won a 9-2 decision in Saturday’s 1st game. In the second tilt, Virginia won 4-2 as Ernie Clement went 3-for-5 and Jack Roberts earned the victory with 4 scoreless relief frames. Matt Thaiss was 4-for-8 in the doubleheader with a home run in each game.
Texas Tech (4-0) downing San Francisco (0-4): In a Saturday DH, the Red Raiders triumphed 15-6 as William Hairston delivered 3 hits and 2 RBIs and Stephen Smith had 2 hits and 3 RBIs. Then, Tech prevailed 13-5 as Bryant Burleson drilled a 3-run HR and Smith had a single and 4 walks. In Sunday’s 9-7 victory, Eric Gutierrez was 4-for-4 with 3 RBIs and Smith — who seemed to be on base all weekend — was 2-for-4 with 2 RBI.
LSU (3-0) topping Kansas (0-3): Alex Lange threw 5 scoreless innings (7 Ks, 2 hits) and Jared Foster and Danny Zardon had 2 hits and 2 RBIs each as the Tigers won 8-5 on Saturday. Sunday LSU triumphed 7-4 as Mark Laird‘s RBI single broke a 4-4 tie in the 6th and Conner Hale went 3-for-4 with 3 RBIs.
Florida (3-0) manhandling Rhode Island (0-3): Harrison Bader compiled 11 RBIs over the weekend, hitting a pair of 3-run jacks in a 22-3 win Saturday. Sunday the Gators prevailed 6-1 as Dalton Guthrie went 4-for-5 with 2 doubles and 3 runs scored.
Alabama (3-0) clobbering Maryland-Eastern Shore (0-3): The Tide rolled 11-0 Saturday and 19-0 Sunday as Casey Hughston was 4-for-4 in each contest, driving home 5 runs in the latter game. Will Carter tossed an outstanding 7 innings in the 1st win, allowing just 2 hits and fanning 6.
Some other weekend results: Kentucky (2-0) after topping Richmond; Arkansas (3-0) after sweeping North Dakota; Georgia (3-0), topping Eastern Illinois; Kennesaw State (2-1) after splitting a DH with St. Johns (1-2); Louisville (2-1) after losing Sunday to Cal State-Fullerton (1-2); South Florida (2-1) after downing Alabama State (1-2); New Mexico (2-1) after besting Oregon State (2-1) Sunday; Arizona (3-0) after downing Eastern Michigan; Notre Dame (3-1) after 2 wins over Oklahoma (2-2) in which Cavan Biggio collected 6 total hits; Baylor (3-0) after sweeping Cal Poly; Ohio State (3-0) after beating Pittsburgh (1-2); Texas A&M (3-0) after trouncing Holy Cross; Houston (3-0) after a sweep of Minnesota; Florida State (3-0) after walloping Oakland; Miami FL (3-0) after topping Rutgers; Maryland (3-0) after downing Canisius and Old Dominion on Saturday; Southern Cal (3-0) after a series with Towson; UCLA (3-0) after defeating Hofstra; and TCU (3-0) after hammering Southern Illinois.