I was able to attend four games this weekend at the USD Tournament, held at Tony Gwynn Stadium at San Diego State. I got to see Oklahoma, Cal, UCONN, and San Diego State all in action twice. Here’s some news and notes on some key players from each team, including George Springer, Matt Barnes, Garrett Buechele, Tony Renda, Brandon Meredith, Brad Haynal, and more, with video included.
Oklahoma continues to stay hot. They built on their record start with their 14th straight win of the season today against San Diego State. Max White and Evan Mistich each homered while Garrett Buechele hit a 2 RBI double to the right-center gap in the 6th to blow the game wide open, winning the game 13-5 after a 20-hit barrage. Dillon Overton was solid on the mound giving up two earned runs over five innings pitched, giving up six hits to improve to 3-0 on the season. On Saturday they held on to beat Cal by a score of 5-3. Burch Smith went 7.1 innings giving up eight hits while only striking out two. Buechele was a force over the weekend with multi RBI performances in the final 3 games of the weekend. Still yet to find a flaw in his game. He made a backhand stab and throw to first to end the San Diego State game on Sunday. Has to he right up there with Rendon and Esposito as far as top third basemen. San Diego area native senior RHP Bobby Shore threw a complete game Friday night against USD, giving up eight hits and only one earned run that came with one out left in the ball game.
Cal started off the weekend on the right foot with a 6-2 victory over Dylan Covey and USD, powered by a 2nd inning Marcus Semien grand slam. Dixon Anderson threw six strong, giving up two earned runs, and handed the game off to Kyle Porter and Matt Flemer who are both yet to still give up a run. The bats remained hot, but the Bears left 17 men on base over the next two games, twice leaving the bases juiced, losing consecutive games to San Diego State 2-1 and to Oklahoma 5-3, part of a three game slide that ended in a 3-1 loss to UCONN on Sunday. Erik Johnson gave up eight hits over six innings pitched, surrendering two earned runs and picking up the loss against SDSU. Justin Jones threw eight strong against Oklahoma but picked up his first loss on the season. The lefty gave up four earned as the Bears were unable to get it together at the plate.
Tony Renda’s box score from Sunday doesn’t tell the whole story, as he went 1-3 with a run and HBP. This guy seemed to hit the ball on the screws every time he was at the plate. He led off the game against UCONN be hitting a ball directly up the box against Barnes, and proceeded to hit hard line drives in his following at bats and looked like he could have gone 4 for 4 with a few doubles had he found the gaps. The comparisons to Pedroia are starting to come to fruition.
Kevin Miller gave up five hits over six innings pitched for Cal in the loss. He has bounced back after struggling somewhat the last two years after being Honorable Mention All-Pac 10 and a Collegiate Baseball Freshman All-American in 2008. Has started off the season in grand fashion after throwing 7.1 innings of one-hit baseball against Coastal Carolina last friday, striking out ten.
San Diego State can build on quite a bit from this weekend. CF Pat Colwell broke out Sunday with a 4-5 game to increase his batting average from .133 to .228. Freshman C Brad Hanyal was also impressive with a 3-5 game with a 2 RBI single in the first. The freshman catcher looks like he is going to be legit. He is 6 foot 3 and looks like he can fill out to be a solid 220 to 225 and is at 205 now. He is a leader out there on the diamond already as a freshman and has the potential in my eyes to be a top catcher in college baseball in his junior year. Highly impressed by the kid. Brandon Meredith hit his 8th XBH of the year with a double down the right field line. After taking down Cal on Friday night in a 2-1 game, they got up early on UCONN Saturday night 3-0 before being held to only one hit after the third. UCONN broke a 3-3 tie in the eighth with a barrage of hits, including a bases clearing triple by George Springer. The Aztecs young lineup has started to put it together at the plate, but their pitching staff took a step backwards after the big win against Cal on Friday.
UCONN is starting to get it together after their rough start. Nick Ahmed made a blunder on the basepaths Saturday night to reverse a run in the first inning against SDSU, but made up for it with his first homer of the season to left. George Springer came into the game struggling a bit, only hitting .138, but broke the game open in the 8th with a triple to right center. Just before the at-bat during a pitching change, he was talking to a few players taking notes next to the dugout and told them he was swinging first pitch. He called his shot and crushed it, legging out the triple. He’s back up to hitting .257.
On top of having 5 tool skills, Springer has the intensity of a linebacker. He fires up his teammates before games, and is the catalyst of this ball club. I would say they can go as far as Springer is willing to take them, but players like Ahmed and Nemeth can carry the load when he is off his game. After working deep into at bats early in the game against San Diego state, he made his proclamation and took the first pitch he saw oppo for a triple.
Matt Barnes was hitting 95 on the gun in the 6th inning of Sunday’s game. He picked up his first win of the season after striking out six over 7.1 innings, He got some major help defensively as Nick Ahmed threw out Chad Bunting on 6-2 groundout after Bunting tripled to start the 2nd inning. Renda was thrown out at home the inning before on a double steal attempt to end the first.