I couldn’t help but notice all the good relief stints that occurred in college baseball tonight, several of which were on the tube. And also several of which had big NCAA Tournament implications. So I hope you don’t mind that I did a little write-up and running commentary below.
I’m never one to put more emphasis on a mid-week game than a weekend game, but there were some biggies tonight. And besides, we ARE getting to that down-to-the-wire time of year after all.
Let’s dive into a few…
Indiana – 3
Kentucky – 5
A day after posting that I wasn’t sure UK deserved an at-large bid, they go out and beat the No. 15 team in the country. A much-needed win indeed. The Cats came from a 3-2 deficit with a pair of runs, keyed by the go-ahead RBI from A.J. Reed in the bottom of the 7th. Fireballing righty Trevor Gott came on to get the save with a perfect 9th inning, his program-record 23rd career save. Also, this marked the 86th straight game where Kentucky has had an 8th-inning lead and went on to win the game.
Kent State – 6
Pittsburgh – 5
The Panthers may have the one-game lead on Louisville in the Big East but even at 40-12 as their overall record, they still sit way down at No. 65 in the RPI. So you have to figure, even with a series win at Louisville, they may be hard-pressed to get into the Top 45 range of the RPI. That’s why every bit of lost traction, like tonight’s loss to the Flashes, is a pain to their hopes.
Presbyterian – 2
South Carolina – 4
The Gamecocks’ big lefty, Tyler Web, tied the school record by making his 102nd appearance in tonight’s 4-2 win vs. Presbyterian. But it came with the help of a real web gem. With a man on 2nd and no outs in the 9th inning, Webb’s first pitch was greeted by PC’s Cam McRae with a rocket shot to right field. Just before the ball could hit terra firma, right fielder Sean Sullivan made a diving stab and caught the ball about two feet off the ground. Turns out, that would be a much-needed out as the Blue Hose (cool name) would plate a run a batter later. But Webb picked up his 15th save of the season to get the W.
Louisville – 6
Ohio State – 3
Louisville’s Coco Johnson went kuckoo for cocoa puffs, hitting a pair of yard calls, including a tone-setter of a 3-run shot in the first inning to pace the Cardinals to a 6-3 win at Ohio State. Nick Burdi kept the big-relief theme going by picking up his 12th save, getting out of a 2-men-on jam he inherited in the 8th inning before closing things down in the 9th. This was L’ville’s eighth straight win over Ohio State and extends their current overall win streak to 13 games as they welcome Big East-leading Pitt to Patterson Stadium this weekend.
STAY CALM AND GIVE UP JUST ONE HIT.
Appalachian State – 0
North Carolina – 2
You do know that North Carolina can pitch its ass off, right? I mean, big time. Well that goes for mid-week games too as the Heels used three pitchers in their win over the Mountaineers – Riley Hovis, Chris McCue and Chris Munnelly – and they combined for 10Ks and just a weak single – a Will Callaway dink into right field in the 1st inning. Yes, this displays their well-heeled depth on the mound, once again.
BIG CROWD, BIG ROUT.
Ole Miss – 3
Southern Miss – 10
The Eagles haven’t had many big out-of-conference wins this season, but tonight they took down No. 18 Ole Miss for the second time this season, and this time by a large margin with a large amount of Eagles fans looking on. A crowd of 4,526 saw the Eagles plate four runs in the 4th and four more in the 6th as they breezed to an easy win. Blake Brown went 3-for-4 with a two-run bomb in that 4th inning and Austin Roussel chimed in with a 4-for-4 day. Too bad USM’s RPI is sitting way down at No. 117, despite their 1st place standing in Conference USA. This also pushes the Rebels’ hopes of hosting a Regional to the back-burner a tad, since they came in with a No. 20 ranking.
ANOTHER BIG CROWD, ANOTHER BIG WIN
Nebraska – 12
Creighton – 9
Some 10,418 fans streamed into the Big Tiddy tonight to see the Cornhuskers keep their post-season hopes alive. The Huskers raced out to a 9-1 lead after four and a half innings before holding on for dear life. Catcher Tanner Lubach did the most damage from his 8-hole spot in the order, going 3-for-4 with a home run and 4RBI. Federico Castagnini led the Bluejays with two hits, two RBI and a home run – presumably not to center field. The Huskers improve to 24-26 as they try to forge their way to a .500+ record so they can ride their No. 32 RPI into the Big Dance.
By the way, the weather in Omaha at first pitch tonight was 95-fuggin-degrees. Yuck!
CHIP OFF THE BLOCK.
Michigan State – 5 10
Centr. Michigan- 4 0
MSU picked up a pair of wins to race past the 30-win plateau on the season, by a 5-4 count in a game that was a continuation of the April 17th game, and by 10-0. Cam Gibson, the son of former Spartan outfielder/wide receiver Kirk Gibson, led the Big Green in game two by going 4-for-6 from his leadoff spot. Sparty is now 31-16 overall and at No. 41 in the RPI.
ANOTHER STRIKE FOR THE NATIONAL SEED.
UCLA – 2
Cal State Fullerton – 5
The Titans sit at No. 9 in the RPI but will get a huge bump from this win tonight over their Southland rivals. Anthony Hutting’s 1st inning, 3-run salvo to the arboretum is all the Titans needed tonight as they secure a big win in their hopes for a national seed. They’ll host UC Irvine in a huge Big West battle this weekend.
MORE NATIONAL SEED TALK.
Gonzaga – 3
Oregon – 4
Poor Gonzo, they lead the West Coast Conference but the Zags entered tonight’s game with an RPI of 100th. But like Fullerton, the Ducks need all the wins they can get as they look to solidify a National Seeding as well. Tonight, they white-knuckled their way to a 9th-inning jog-off win from Ryan Hambright’s game-winning single. It looks to me like the West will get four home Regionals and three National Seeds in Fullerton, Oregon and Oregon State. That is, unless someone goes 0-for between now and announcement Monday.
WE GOT SOME DOGS UP IN HERE.
Oral Roberts – 2
Mississippi State – 3
Tonight’s edging of the Eagles improves MSU’s non-conference record to 24-2, including a perfect 11-0 in mid-week games. The 24 non-conference wins is the most the Dogs have racked up in a season since the 1989 team went 25-5 in non-SEC play. Also in the notes section: Jonathan Holder came on to get his 14th save of the year with 1.1 innings of 4K work and sets the single season saves record for the Maroons in the process. Woof!
San Diego – 11
UC Riverside – 12 (10 inns)
Man, did the Toreros ever need this one… and they ditched it the late innings. USD got out to a 3-0 lead after they batted in the top of the 3rd inning. But the Highlanders scored in every inning the remainder of the game, including coming back from an 11-6 deficit at the singing of Take Me Out to the Ballgame at the stretch. Kris Bryant added to his nation-leading home run total, adding his 29th dinger of the year in the 5th inning. But that two-run homer wouldn’t be enough as UCR scored three in the 7th, one in the 8th, one in the 9th to send the game to extras and then one more in the 10th to seal the deal. San Diego’s No. 50 RPI is still quite tenuous.