The first day of College Baseball is in the books with some interesting results. The season isn’t a sprint but a bad start to the season could always affect your chances at making the NCAA Baseball Tournament in May. All of the top 35 teams were scheduled to be in action but number nine ranked Cal-State Fullerton was rained out at Long Beach State. The only ranked matchup was between the Stanford Cardinal who visited the Rice Owls. Here are some of my thoughts on the first night of action in College Baseball. I will try to do these every night throughout the season especially on weekends. If I missed a great performance or a great storyline please leave your comments below.
- The biggest story heading into the season was whether FIU’s Garrett Wittels would extend his 56 game hitting streak. It wouldn’t be continued as Southeast Louisiana had a solid pitching performance from Brandon Efferson who gave up only three hits in seven innings to get the victory and snap Wittels hitting streak.
- The best two pitching performances of the day came from Texas junior RHP Taylor Jungmann and UCLA junior RHP Gerrit Cole. Jungmann struck out nine Maryland batters in a complete game shutout with the Longhorns walking away with a victory over Maryland 8-0. Cole pitched a complete game shutout against San Francisco as he struck out 11 batters while giving up only four hits.
- The craziest score of the day was James Madison defeating Bucknell 37-7. Yes, that is the correct score as the Dukes scored 15 runs in the first inning off of Bison starter Dylan Seeley and reliever Daniel Hart. JMU catcher Jake Lowery and shortop David Herbek each hit three homers in the game with Lowery driving in eight runs. The full box score from the game is available here.
- Riccio Torrez had a good hitting night going 4-5 with two homers and driving in five runs as Arizona State cruised to a 8-2 victory over New Mexico. Brady Rodgers started for the Sun Devils giving up only two hits in his five innings of work while striking out five batters.
- Jackie Bradley Jr. also had a solid game for the South Carolina Gamecocks as he went 4-4 with a homer and three RBI while scoring three runs. The Gamecocks survived a scare from Santa Clara as they pulled away late with six runs in the eighth to win 12-5.
- Grant Buckner of West Virginia had an outstanding game today as he went 2-4 with two homers and three RBI as the Mountaineers cruised to a 5-0 victory over Iowa. Jonathan Jones went 6.1 innings while giving up two hits and striking out five batters.
- Joe Mantiply pitched seven strong innings as Virginia Tech defeated Indiana 4-2. The big offensive star was sophomore Andrew Rash who hit a two run homer for the Hokies.
- All preseason we heard about the UConn Huskies being the clear cut favorite in the Big East conference. Guess what, that might not be true as they lost 10-2 to Purdue who wasn’t picked to finish in the top six in the conference. Their biggest competitors in Pitt, St. John’s, and Louisville each picked up wins. St. John’s had the most impressive victory as they took it to Big 10 favorite Minnesota by a score of 14-1. Leading the Red Storm was Joe Panik who went 2-4 with two runs scored and driving in two runs. Pitt defeated Illinois by exploding for ten runs in the fifth inning including scoring nine runs with two outs in the inning. The biggest hit in that inning was a three run triple by senior David Chester. Louisville grabbed a 6-3 victory over Michigan with senior Drew Haynes leading the offensive attack by going 3-3 with two runs scored and driving in one to give the Cardinals the victory.
- The other ranked squad to lose on Friday night was the Baylor Bears who dropped a 7-3 decision to a tough Oral Roberts squad. Bears starter Logan Verrett struggled in his start as he only lasted three innings giving up six hits and four runs. Bryce Smolen started for Oral Roberts as he went five innings giving up only one run on five hits.
- In front of a sold out crowd at Claude Smith Field, defending Atlantic Sun champ Mercer picked up a tough 6-4 victory over Liberty in a matchup of two solid mid-major squads. The game was tied heading into the bottom of the eighth inning when Thomas Carroll would hit an RBI single to bring home Jacob Tanis with the eventually winning run. The Bears added another run in the eighth on a groundout by Jason Butts to complete the scoring.
- Cal Poly had one of the toughest days of any team as they lost a tough 2-1 decision to North Carolina to start the day when UNC’s Tommy Coyle beat out a chopper to short in the ninth inning of a tied game allowing the eventual winning run to score. The Mustangs would come back later in the day losing to Missouri 10-9 in a rain shortened six inning game. The Tigers won the game in the bottom of the sixth inning by scoring six runs to turn a 9-4 deficit into a 10-9 win.
- Down the road from Mercer, things haven’t changed in Athens as Georgia dropped a 6-3 decision to Stetson. The pressure is on head coach Dave Perno to produce this season as they went 16-37 last year while struggling in the SEC where they went 5-23.
- Interesting enough, the only team from New England to win on Friday night was the Rhode Island Rams who defeated McNeese State 5-2 to start their season off with a win. Tom Coulombe led the offensive attack as he went 4-5 with an RBI and two runs scored.
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