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PREMIUM: Vanderbilt better than 2007 team?
PREMIUM: Saturday's RPI report
South Carolina: This time last year left-handed pitcher Michael Roth was a situational reliever. Now he’s a likely All-American that continues to mow down opposing teams. Roth struck out eight and allowed just a run on three hits in 7 2/3 innings as the Gamecocks defeated Vanderbilt 3-1 in Game 1 of a huge SEC series with major national implications. While Roth led the way, reliever Matt Price tossed 1 1/3 innings of shutout relief work.
Florida: After earning an important road series win over Mississippi State last weekend, the Gators wanted to start the Georgia series on the right foot. They did just that in a 5-4 triumph over the Bulldogs. UF starting pitcher Hudson Randall allowed three runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings, while Austin Maddox had a productive night at the plate with three hits and two RBIs. The Gators aim for another important series win in Game 2 on Saturday.
N.C. State: The Wolfpack actually entered Friday’s contest against rival North Carolina with an RPI of 54, but also had a dismal resume in ACC action. Well, the Wolfpack finally took a step forward with a series-opening 5-4 win over the red-hot Tar Heels. N.C. State starting pitcher Cory Mazzoni struck out seven and allowed just four runs on four hits in seven innings, while reliever Chris Overman was huge, striking out three in 1 2/3 shutout innings to end the game.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys appeared to be in rough shape down 7-1 heading to the bottom of the sixth inning against rival Oklahoma. However, the floodgates opened courtesy of a crucial OU defensive miscue and some timely hitting, and the Cowboys captured a solid 8-7 victory. Oklahoma State starting pitcher Mike Strong didn’t have his best stuff, but reliever Chris Marlowe was fantastic, striking out seven in 3 2/3 innings of relief work.
Florida State: The Seminoles simply can’t drop a series, even on the road, to Virginia Tech and stay in the national seed picture. The ‘Noles were silenced by the Hokies in a 2-1 setback. Virginia Tech pitchers Joe Mantiply and Jake Atwell teamed up for the victory, while the Seminoles wasted a solid start by left-hander Sean Gilmartin, who struck out seven and allowed just two runs in eight innings. It’ll be interesting to see how the Seminoles respond on Saturday.
Arkansas: The Razorbacks were down and out a couple of weeks ago, but suddenly have a flair for the dramatic. Tim Carver singled in the game’s winning run in the eighth inning as the Hogs captured an important 6-5 win over Mississippi State. While Carver had the biggest hit of the night, outfielder Kyle Robinson led the way with a pair of home runs, three runs scored and three RBIs. On the mound, reliever Cade Lynch tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings. The Hogs need to close out the Bulldogs.
Oregon State: Beavers junior right-handed pitcher Sam Gaviglio has been one of the best stories so far this season. Gaviglio struck out eight and allowed just four hits in eight shutout innings in a 1-0 win over Stanford. Gaviglio outdueled Stanford righty Mark Appel, who could be the top college pitcher taken in the 2012 MLB draft. Appel, who was fantastic against USC last week, struck out six and allowed just a run on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. The Beavers are doing a great job.
Arizona: The Wildcats recorded a must-win home series win over California last weekend, and appears to have gained some momentum from the series triumph. Arizona started the weekend series against UCLA on the right foot with a 5-4 win. Wildcats starting pitcher Kurt Heyer struck out six and allowed four runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings, while UCLA right-hander and top prospect Gerrit Cole struck out 11 and allowed five runs on nine hits in eight innings.
Auburn/LSU: AU’s road series sweep over Kentucky last weekend might’ve saved its season. The Tigers hit the road on Friday to begin a crucial series against struggling LSU. AU earned a solid 8-7 win in the opener. Starting pitcher Zach Blatt allowed five runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings, while relievers Dillon Ortman and Ethan Wallen tried to hold things together. While the Tigers took a small step forward with the win, LSU took a step back and now has a dismal 3-10 mark in the SEC.
St. John’s: The Johnnies are back in the Big East regular season title picture and are a team to watch the second half of the season. St. John’s earned an impressive 8-2 win over Louisville in a crucial Big East series. St. John’s starting pitcher Kyle Hansen was solid, allowing just two runs on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Louisvlle’s Matt Koch, meanwhile, had a difficult outing, allowing eight runs on 11 hits in four innings. The Cardinals must find a way to rebound on Saturday.
Georgia State: The Panthers are a tough team to figure out this season. They’ve compiled an impressive overall record, but now are 7-6 in CAA play after dropping the series opener to Old Dominion 4-1. GSU starting pitcher Will Campbell allowed four runs in six innings, while ODU starter Kyle Hald had a fantastic start, striking out seven and allowing just a run on eight hits in a complete game performance. The Panthers need to strike back the rest of the weekend.
East Carolina: The Pirates have dealt with a great deal of adversity lately and finally put everything together in an impressive 12-6 home win over Central Florida. ECU starting pitcher Seth Maness struck out three and allowed just a run on four hits in six innings, while leadoff hitter Ben Fultz led the offense with a triple, home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. UCF got a poor start from Lively, who allowed eight runs on five hits in just two innings of work. The Knights are in trouble with a 3-7 league mark.
Rice: The Owls are back to playing the way they’re capable. They took a big road series from East Carolina last weekend and defeated Texas A&M earlier this week in a masterpiece by freshman pitcher John Simms. Now the Owls are up 1-0 on Tulane this weekend after earning a 3-1 victory in the series opener. Rice starting pitcher Austin Kubitza struck out seven and allowed just a run on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Offensively, four Owls finished the night with two hits, and top prospect Anthony Rendon wasn’t one of them.
Kent State/Toledo: The two MAC division leaders entered Friday in great shape, but both head back to the drawing board after suffering tough losses. Kent State dropped a tough 2-1 matchup to Central Michigan, while Toledo dropped a 6-2 bout to Bowling Green. Of note, Kent left-handed pitcher Andrew Chafin struck out 13 and allowed just a run on four hits in eight innings. Chafin, though he has had arm surgery, is a fast rising prospect.
Creighton: The Bluejays haven’t received a great deal of fanfare this season, but they’re doing a great job. The Jays improved to 24-7 overall, 3-1 in conference with a 4-0 road win over Indiana State. Creighton starting pitcher Ty Blach struck out five and allowed no runs and just six hits in 7 1/3 innings. Reliever Kurt Spomer also performed at a high level, tossing 1 2/3 scoreless innings. Offensively, Jays catcher Anthony Bemboom hit a pair of home runs in the winning cause.
Wichita State: It’s pretty safe to say the Shockers won’t be in the NCAA postseason unless they win the Missouri Valley tournament. The Shockers entered the weekend with an RPI of 140 and took another step back on Friday with a 12-11 home setback to Evansville. Wichita State starting pitcher Josh Smith struck out five and allowed five runs in five innings, while the bullpen was unable to hold things together. The season, at least thus far, has been a huge disappointment for the Shockers.
Arizona State: We always find out the most about teams after they face adversity. Well, the Sun Devils certainly didn’t disappoint on Friday in a 3-1 victory over Washington State. ASU starting pitcher Brady Rodgers allowed just a run on five hits in 6 1/3 innings, while relievers Trevor Williams and Mitchell Lambson also did solid jobs. Offensively, Zach Wilson, Austin Barnes and Xorge Carrillo each collected two hits. The Sun Devils need to close out the Cougars this weekend.
Kentucky: It’s hard to fathom how the Wildcats are so bad this season. They showed a wealth of potential when we saw them in the Houston College Classic earlier this season. UK, though, fell to 2-11 in the SEC after dropping a 3-2 contest to Ole Miss on Friday. UK starting pitcher Alex Meyer struck out seven and allowed three runs on seven hits in 7 1/3 innings. Ole Miss starter Matt Crouse allowed just a run on six hits in six innings. The Wildcats need a miracle to make the SEC tournament.
Elon: The Phoenix might have issues taking care of business against big conference opponents in midweek action, but you can’t argue with their production in Southern Conference play. The Phoenix improved to 13-3 in conference play with a 5-1 win over College of Charleston. Elon starting pitcher Ken Ferrer struck out three and allowed just a run on four hits in six innings, while reliever John Brebbia tossed three scoreless innings to close game. The Phoenix appears to be the class of the league.
Georgia Southern: Speaking of the SoCon and bad losses, enter the Eagles into the discussion. Georgia Southern slightly made our NCAA postseason projections this week, and will fall out next week should it drop a series to Western Carolina. The Eagles dropped a 12-4 decision on Friday with starting pitcher Chris Beck getting lifted after allowing 10 runs on 10 hits in 5 2/3 innings. For the Catamounts, infielder Ross Hefley had a hug e night, going 4-for-5 with a double, a run scored and four RBIs.
Southeastern Louisiana: The Lions got back in our postseason projections this week, and for good reason when you consider their resume and non-conference schedule. Well, the Lions are on the verge of making a statement in the Southland Conference against Texas State. The Lions won the series opener 8-5 on Friday. Starting pitcher Brandon Efferson struck out six and allowed just a run on six hits in 6 1/3 innings. Texas State pitcher and top prospect Carson Smith struck out four and allowed three runs on seven hits in seven innings.
Stephen F. Austin: We really haven’t talked much about the Lumberjacks this season, but coach Johnny Cardenas once again is doing a great job. The ‘Jacks hit the road on Friday and dominated Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 14-2. SFA starting pitcher Jared West allowed just two runs on five hits in seven innings, while leadoff hitter Bryson Myles hit a home run and went 3-for-5 with three runs scored and three RBIs. The ‘Jackets have a legitimate chance to win the Southland regular season title.
Louisiana-Lafayette: The Sun Belt has taken a step forward from an RPI standpoint this season, and the Ragin’ Cajuns and Golden Panthers are two teams vying for a select few NCAA postseason bids. The Cajuns got the best of the Golden Panthers in the series opener, taking back to the hotel a 7-3 decision. ULL starting pitcher Taylor Hubbell allowed three runs in six innings while reliever Joey Satriano was fantastic, allowing just two hits in three scoreless innings.
Gonzaga: The Bulldogs are on the road this weekend to face Loyola Marymount in a series that could very well determine the WCC regular season title. The Bulldogs captured an exciting 5-3 victory in the series opener. Bulldogs ace pitcher and prospect Ryan Carpenter allowed three runs on six hits in seven innings, while reliever Cody Martin struck out two of the three batters he faced to end the game. Gonzaga’s win overshadowed a solid start by LMU’s Jason Wheeler, who allowed just two runs on seven hits in seven innings.
San Jose State: Should they not win the WAC regular season title, the Spartans hope to earn an at-large bid to the NCAA postseason. That chance takes a hit this weekend if the Spartans don’t rebound from a series opening 9-5 loss to New Mexico State. SJSU starting pitcher Roberto Padilla had an uncharacteristic outing, allowing six runs on eight hits in six innings, while reliever Drew Brashaw was unable to put out the fire. NMSU entered the series with an RPI of 154.
Texas A&M: The Aggies have had issues lately with midweek games, but are responding in Big 12 play on the weekend. The Aggies dropped a tough contest to Rice earlier this week, but responded Friday with a 5-1 road win over Baylor. A&M starting pitcher John Stilson, a top draft prospect, struck out seven and allowed just five hits in eight innings. The Bears moved ace pitcher Logan Verrett to a reliever/Sunday starter role, and in his place, starting pitcher Josh Turley allowed five runs on nine hits in seven innings. BU’s postseason chances take a big hit with another series loss this weekend.
Texas: Somehow, the perennial power Longhorns are on a roll while flying somewhat under the radar. The Longhorns used more great pitching on Friday to defeat in-state rival Texas Tech 4-1. UT starting pitcher and top prospect Taylor Jungmann struck out eight and allowed just a run on eight hits in seven innings. UT relievers Kendal Carrillo and Corey Knebel also did solid jobs, while outfielder Erich Weiss led the offense with a pair of hits. Texas Tech is in trouble from a postseason standpoint with another series loss this weekend.
Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at email@example.com