A new baseball designed to inject more offense into the game produced its share of bombs Friday as the NCAA baseball season officially began, but there were several outstanding pitching performances across the country as well, many aided by chilly temperatures.
Oddities included an 8-RBI game; a relief pitcher who struck out 6 batters in 1.2 innings (we’ll explain the math); the ever-popular walk-off home run; and the ever-anticlimactic walk-off walk. Several ranked teams enjoyed lopsided victories, but a few were surprisingly upended. Let’s swing around the country for the highlights.
Third baseman Ronnie Gideon belted a homer, a double, and a pair of singles in recording eight RBIs to lead Texas A&M to a 19-2 shellacking of Holy Cross. Logan Taylor and Ryne Birk hit home runs to support Gideon’s 4-hit outburst, and reliever Kyle Simonds hurled 4 hitless innings to preserve the win for Aggie starter A. J. Minter, who fanned 7 in 5 frames… Catcher Greg Fettes slammed a pair of homers and drove in 4 runs to pace Kentucky past Ball State 11-7. Dustin Beggs threw 5.1 innings of shutout ball to post the win for the Wildcats.
Mississippi State leadoff man Seth Hack took several of them, collecting 4 hits in 5 trips and driving in a couple of runs as the Bulldogs downed Cincinnati 7-2. Preston Brown picked up the win with outstanding relief help from Zac Houston and Daniel Brown, who each tossed 2 scoreless innings with 3 Ks. Jacob Robson was 2-for-2 with 2 walks for the Bullies, who also received a run-scoring double from Michael Smith… Earlier in the day, Cincinnati had edged Miami (OH) 3-1 behind Ian Happ’s 3 hits.
One (mild) surprise occurred in Phoenix where sophomore shortstop Colby Woodmansee cracked a 10th-inning walk-off homer to give Arizona State 4-3 win over #5 Oklahoma State, which held a 3-2 lead until Jordan Aboites tied it with an RBI double in the bottom of the 8th. That hit scored Johnny Sewald, who was 3-for-4 with a stolen base. Reliever Ryan Burr pitched the 9th and 10th for ASU, fanning 5 to earn the victory… West Virginia also engineered an upset when K.C. Huth scored on a 7th-inning wild pitch and Taylor Munden added an 8th-frame sacrifice fly to give the Mountaineers a 2-0 triumph over Clemson, which wasted a 6-inning, 3-hit, 8-strikeout, scoreless start by Matthew Crownover.
A 6th-inning RBI triple by Tristan Mercadel broke a 2-2 tie and gave Long Beach State a 3-2 win over Michigan… Casey Rodrigue slammed a 7th-frame home run and Indiana had 2 hits each from Brad Hartong, Scott Donley, and Logan Sowers to trip Stanford 4-2… An RBI triple from Dylan Moore and run-scoring doubles by Matt Diorio and Kyle Marsh, all in the 3rd inning, gave Central Florida a 4-1 decision over Siena. Reliever Harrison Hukari whiffed 7 in just 3.1 innings for the Knights.
Top-ranked Vanderbilt rode spectacular pitching from starter Carson Fulmer (5 IP, 2 hits, 7 Ks) and bullpen man Philip Pfeifer (4 IP, 5 Ks) to shut out Santa Clara in Nashville. Dansby Swanson tripled and scored on a wild pitch in the 3rd for the first Commodore run, preceding a 2-run triple by Ro Coleman… 2nd-ranked LSU, playing before a crowd of 11,122 at Alex Box Stadium in Baton Rouge, downed Kansas 4-1 on catcher Kade Scivicque‘s 3-run blast in the 2nd to support a strong start from battery mate Jared Poche’. The Tiger southpaw hurled 6 scoreless frames, fanning 5… Taylor Guilbeau and Ray Castillo combined to shutout Maryland-Eastern Shore 6-0 as Alabama opened with a win. Casey Hughston went 3-for-5 with 2 doubles and 2 RBIs for the Tide, while Mikey White was 2-for-3 with a triple and Kyle Overstreet contributed a run-scoring double.
The strangest stat line of opening day belonged to Florida International relief pitcher Danny Dopico, who picked up the victory as FIU edged Tennessee 4-3. Dopico faced 7 batters, hitting one and striking out the other 6 — but only recording 1.2 innings because one of the whiffs ended on a wild pitch and the hitter reached first base. FIU prevailed in the contest when Jack Schaff, following some Vol fielding errors, scored on a wild pickoff throw in the 7th. Tennessee left the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth without scoring.
North Carolina topped Seton Hall 7-1 on homers by Joe Dudek and Tyler Ramirez and 7th-inning RBI singles from Wood Myers and Skye Bolt, who each had 2 hits for the Tar Heels… Josh Delph blasted an 8th-inning grand slam to lead Florida State past Oakland University 7-3. D.J. Stewart went 3-for-3 with a double and 2 walks for the Seminoles, and John Sansone added a 2-run double… Kennesaw State slipped by Liberty 11-9 as Kal Simmons belted a 3-run homer, Brennan Morgan drove in 3 with 2 hits, and Colin Bennett ripped a solo blast, part of a 2-for-2, 3-run, 2-walk day.
Ohio State nipped George Mason 4-3, scoring twice in the bottom of the 9th on a hit batsman and a wild pitch with the bases loaded. Ronnie Dawson hit a solo shot for the Buckeyes, while Luke Willis had a single, double, and triple for George Mason… Cole Irvin (4 IP) and Conor Harber (5 IP) combined for the shutout as Oregon downed Hawaii 12-0. Matt Eureste and Jakob Goldfarb smashed round-trippers for the Ducks, while Phil Craig-St. Louis had 3 hits and 3 RBIs and Brandon Cuddy collected 3 hits and scored 4 times… Texas defeated Rice 3-1 as Collin Shaw ripped a 2-run double in the 7th to break a 1-1 deadlock.
Logan Shore pitched 5 scoreless frames and Harrison Bader drove in 3 runs with a single and homer as Florida topped Rhode Island 9-1… Nebraska shutout UNLV 2-0 as Chance Sinclair, Jake Hohensee, and Josh Roeder struck out 14 without issuing a walk. Blake Headley‘s sacrifice fly in the 1st and Ryan Boldt‘s RBI single in the 5th provided the Husker offense… Homers by Ian Rice, Connor Wong, and Chris Iriart led Houston over Minnesota, behind the strong starting pitching of Andrew Lantrip… Auburn edged Binghamton 2-0 as Jordan Ebert hit a 1st-inning home run and Keegan Thompson, Cole Lipscomb (8 Ks in 4 IP), and Justin Camp combined for the blanking.
Strong bullpen work by Joe Cavallaro and Tommy Peterson backed an outstanding start (5 IP, 9 Ks) from Jimmy Herget as South Florida surprised Cal State-Fullerton 2-1. Luke Borders decided it with a 2-run single in the 6th after hits by Kevin Merrell and Levi Borders… Carl Wise drove in 2 runs and 6 teammates had 2 hits each as the College of Charleston stunned South Carolina 6-3 behind Taylor Clark, who fanned 5 over 6 frames and allowed just 2 knocks… Ole Miss downed William & Mary 9-4, getting 2 RBIs each from Kyle Watson, Errol Robinson, and J.B. Woodman.
Nathan Kirby tossed 7 shutout innings and Josh Sborz wiggled out of a bases-loaded jam in the 8th to get the save as Virginia opened with a 3-1 triumph over East Carolina. Kenny Towns went 3-for-4 and Danny Pinero clubbed a solo homer for the winners… UCLA clobbered Hofstra 14-2 on 4 hits and 4 runs scored by Brett Stephens, a 2-run homer by Chris Keck, and a 3-run double by Darrell Miller… Round-trippers by Stephen Smith and Tyler Floyd and a bases-clearing double by Tyler Neslony gave Texas Tech a 9-7 victory over San Francisco. Freshman Jacob Patterson picked up the win with 3 strong relief innings… Preston Morrison threw 7 shutout innings and Dane Steinhagen and Connor Wanhanen (in a pinch-hit role) delivered run-scoring singles as TCU bested Southern Illinois 5-0.
A 2-run single in the 8th by Johnny Ruiz broke a 2-2 tie and led Miami (FL) over Rutgers 5-2… Kyle Funkhouser whiffed 12 and yielded just a single hit over 7 frames as Louisville knocked off Alabama State 5-1. Corey Ray had 2 doubles and Nick Solak a 2-run single in the 7th to support Funkhouser, who retired the last 20 batters he faced… Brandon Lowe‘s 2-run homer and a solo shot by Anthony Papio paced Maryland past Western Kentucky 7-3… Clark Eagan was 3-for-5 with a double, triple, 3 runs, and 3 RBIs as Arkansas steamrolled South Dakota 11-4, with Rick Nomura and Brent McAfee adding 3 hits apiece for the Razorbacks.
Sophomore 2nd baseman Mike Bell drilled a couple of long balls and drove in 5 as Georgia pounded Eastern Illinois 18-3. Freshman Keegan McGovern had 3 hits, among them a 3-run bomb; Skyler Weber contributed 3 hits; and Zack Bowers and Daniel Nichols added homers for the Bulldogs… Finally, Missouri took a pair from Iona, winning the first game 4-3 when John Lester drew a bases-loaded walk in the bottom of the 9th and Brett Peel smacked 3 hits. In the nightcap, Reggie McClain twirled 8 brilliant innings, fanning 10 and allowing just 3 hits, as Mizzou won 1-0. Brett Bond‘s RBI single in the 5th provided the lone tally.
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