We had a plethora of game threes played on Easter Saturday due to the holiday weekend. Of course, Mother Nature deprived us of an epic rubber game between LSU and South Carolina. Regardless of that disappointment, we had an outstanding day of college baseball. Grab your morning beverage and let’s dive in.
Déjà vu All Over Again
Tennessee dominated game three of a series for the second consecutive week. The challenge is that both victories, while emphatic, merely held off a sweep for the Vols. After beating LSU 14-7 in last week’s series finale, Tennessee jumped all over Florida’s Jac Caglianone on their way to a 14-2 blowout win.
Caglianone walked six of the eight batters he faced in this one, and he was not able to get out of the first inning. The big lefthander has logged just 12.2 innings in his last four starts, surrendering 14 runs and 19 walks. It seems that a change in the Florida rotation could be imminent. In a related matter, Caglionone still leads the nation with 19 home runs.
For Tennessee, Drew Beam remains their most consistent starter. He was excellent again today, punching out 10 over seven innings. The Vols sit at 5-7 in SEC play and if we were to get ahead of ourselves, their hosting resume is off to a wobbly start.
The Big 12 Royal Rumble
If you know who the best team in the Big 12 is, please let us know. It seems to be a week-to-week proposition, and this could be the most entertaining regular season in the sport this year.
TCU beat Oklahoma State to win one of the most hotly contested series of the weekend. The rubber match was a 5-5 game in the eighth before the Horned Frogs scored seven runs to pull away. Ace Juaron Watts-Brown started for OSU, adding to the significance of the victory for TCU.
TCU got six innings of scoreless relief from Sam Stoutenborough and Garrett Wright, and that was the difference in the game. Freshman shortstop Anthony Silva backed up a two-home run game on Friday with two more hits, and he looks like the best player on the field at times. For Oklahoma State, Nolan McLean remains out with injury, and that is like losing two players. Catcher Ian Daugherty’s return appears imminent and that could be a huge boost given that Chase Adkinson has caught 27 of OSU’s last 28 games.
Kansas State evened its series with Texas, beating the Longhorns 6-5 in a repeat score of the UT victory in game one. Wildcat reliever Tyson Neighbors dominated the final three innings of this game, punching out eight of the 11 hitters he faced. Texas led 5-2 headed into the sixth, and this has been a heck of a series.
In Morgantown, Kansas clinched the series with a 10-7 win over host West Virginia. The Jayhawks defeated WVU star righthander Blaine Traxel, and Traxel was unable to pitch into the sixth inning for just the second time this season (eight starts). Jayhawk first sacker Cole Elvis reached base four times, and he led KU with a home run and three RBIs. Don’t look now, but Kansas and Texas are tied for first place in the Big 12 with 5-3 records. The league now has seven teams within one-and-a-half games of each other.
Concerns Swept Away
Louisville entered the weekend with question marks. The Cardinals finished the weekend with a sweep of upstart Boston College. Righthander Carson Liggett improved to 7-0, tossing seven shutout innings in the 4-2 victory. This was the first series loss of the season for Mike Gambino’s Eagles, and Louisville improved to 7-5 in the ACC.
Virginia defeated Miami 6-5, clinching their fourth straight ACC series. The Cavaliers currently own the nation’s longest home winning streak, and their 20 consecutive home wins (dating back to last season) is a program record. Griff O’Ferral, Jake Gelof, and Kyle Teel had three hits apiece for Virginia. Nick Parker returned to the mound for the first time since getting hit in the head by a line drive in the Florida State series. Parker went four innings before turning things over to the bullpen.
Due to some tricky weather in the Southeast, it was a lighter docket for the SEC. Arkansas defeated Ole Miss 6-4, winning a road series and moving to 8-4 in league play. This is remarkable: the Hogs have now started 8-4 or better in SEC play in six consecutive seasons. How is that even possible?
Arkansas displayed its well-rounded offense, with two hits each coming from Peyton Stovall, Jace Bohrofen, and Caleb Cali. Gage Wood finished the game, yielding just three hits and one run over the final three innings. For Ole Miss, Jacob Gonzalez hit his sixth home run of the year and the Rebels slipped to 2-10 in the league.
Vandy shut out Missouri 5-0, and the Commodores sit at 11-1 in SEC play. Devin Futrell logged 7.1 shutout innings, and the lefthander has not allowed a run in his last 15.1 innings of work. RJ Austin chipped in with three RBIs and RJ Schreck hit his team-leading eighth home run in the top of the first.
Mississippi State scored five runs in the final three frames to defeat host Alabama 8-4. The SEC series win for the Bulldogs was their first in eight tries dating back to last season. Hunter Hines, Kellum Clark, and Ross Highfill all homered for MSU. Reliever Nate Dohm threw four shutout innings to finish the ballgame. For Alabama, this marks a fourth consecutive SEC series loss to begin the 2023 season.
Pac-12 Seventies’ Party
Historic powers USC and Arizona State continue to wrack up victories in 2023. The Trojans shut out San Diego State 7-0, and Andy Stankiewicz’ club has won 15 of their last 18. Eric Hammond started and threw five shutout innings while center fielder Austin Overn scored three times.
Arizona State completed a home sweep of Washington State behind an outstanding start by Khristian Curtis. Curtis retired 16 of the first 18 batters he faced. The Sun Devil offense was buoyed by home runs from Ryan Campos, Nu’u Contrades, and Will Rogers. ASU has won 17 of its last 19 games, and the Sun Devils remain at the top of the Pac-12 standings with USC and Stanford. The Cardinal were down to their last strike in Berkeley but Cole Hinkelman’s three-run homer in the top of the ninth propelled them to a sweep of California.
Oregon State defeated host Oregon 4-2 and that sets up a spicy rubber game on Sunday. Micah McDowell’s three-run home run in the seventh was the deciding blow for the Beavers. Ian Lawson and Ryan Brown combined for four shutout innings in relief of Jacob Kmatz, and the duo surrendered just one hit.
After losing ten consecutive Pac-12 games, Arizona rebounded to win an important series over Washington. The Wildcats outscored the Huskies 25-4 in the final two games of the series. Right fielder Tyler Casagrande registered a career-high four hits and DH Emilio Corona drove in five runs in this one. Righthander Aidan May held Washington to one run over five innings. The Arizona offense knocked out 17 hits on the day.
Around The Horn
Samford redefined the entertainment value of a 4-2 win with this masterpiece over UNCG. Catcher Kaden Dreier drove in all four runs courtesy of his two runs, including the walk-off dinger.
On the way to the victory, Samford chucker Will Lynch turned a double play that may cause me to re-evaluate my opinion on pitchers’ athleticism.
Maine defeated Albany 12-1 to move to 8-0 in the America East. Second baseman Quinn McDaniel and right fielder Colin Plante chipped in with four hits apiece. The Black Bears have won 11 of their last 12 ballgames.
Houston’s 17-3 victory over Wichita State clinched four straight weekend series wins for the Cougars. Left fielder Malachi Lott and catcher Anthony Tulimero combined for seven hits and eight RBIs. UH has won 12 of its last 16 games after getting off to a slower start this season.
Indiana evened its series against Iowa with a 2-0 win in Bloomington. Morgan Colopy’s two-run walk-off home run accounted for the only scoring in the game. Sophomores Luke Sinnard and Ryan Kraft combined to throw 10 shutout innings with 17 punchouts.
Maryland clinched a series win over Rutgers with a 4-3 victory. Nick Dean gave up just two runs over six innings, while the offense was led by homers from third baseman Nick Lorusso and center fielder Elijah Lambros.
DBU and Middle Tennessee both extended their winning streaks to six with wins over Western Kentucky (5-4) and UAB (7-2) respectively. For DBU, Kodie Kolden reached base four times and starter Zach Heaton lowered his ERA to 2.12 compliments of six innings of one-run baseball.
Oral Roberts improved to 23-10 overall and 9-0 in the Summit League with an 8-5 win over host Omaha. Shortstop Mac McCroskey led the way with two home runs, two walks, and 3 RBIs.
Southern Miss split a doubleheader with Old Dominion (7-8, 11-8), but that was good enough to secure an important road series win in the #FunBelt. The Golden Eagles’ now own series wins over Liberty, DBU, Georgia Southern, Troy, and the Monarchs.
Sam Houston swept a doubleheader with Abilene Christian (5-1, 4-3), moving to 12-2 in the WAC. Jake Tatom hit a two-run double to walk-off ACU in game two. Carlos Contreras started the rally with a two-out solo home run in the ninth. The Bearkats have won five straight league series to open the season.
Cal State Fullerton vanquished UCSB 5-0 in the deciding game three of the series. Evan Yates and Trevor Hinkle combined on the shutout, with Yates striking out eight against zero walks in his six innings of work. Catcher Cole Urman was 2-for-3 with 2 RBIs. The Titans sit at 9-3 in the Big West, just 1.5 games back of first place UC San Diego.