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CB TICKET: Friday's RPI report
With Friday's college baseball action in the books, here's our inside look back at the highlights and lowlights from around the country.
TEAM OF THE DAY: Auburn
The Tigers weren't particularly impressive in non-conference play, but have stepped it up so far in Southeastern Conference action. AU improved to 3-1 in the SEC with an impressive 4-3 win over LSU in the series opener. AU starting pitcher Derek Varnadore was fantastic against the Tigers, striking out five and allowing just three runs (one earned) on six hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, relievers Slade Smith and Justin Bryant both pitched at a high level to preserve the victory.
PLAYER OF THE DAY: Pierce Johnson, rhp, Missouri State
Johnson was a rising prospect well before today, but he took another step forward with a tremendous performance in a 3-0 win over Creighton. Johnson struck out 16 and allowed just five hits in a complete game shutout of the Bluejays. He threw 124 pitches, 92 of them for strikes.
UPSET OF THE DAY: New Mexico over TCU
The Lobos were expected to compete for the Mountain West regular season title entering the spring, but that seemed in doubt when they started 2012 in such horrible fashion. However, what a corner the Lobos have turned over the past couple of weeks. UNM improved to 4-0 in the MWC with a come-from-behind 9-8 win over TCU. First baseman DJ Peterson led the way at the plate with three hits and two RBIs, while Ben Woodchick, Ryan Padilla, Mitchell Garver and Alex Real each had two hits.
Indiana State (18-4): The Sycamores have been fantastic the past couple of weeks. They won their 12th-straight game on Friday, capturing a 2-0 road decision over Evansville. ISU starting pitcher Dakota Bacus was fantastic in the win, striking out 13 and allowing just four hits in a complete-game performance. Bacus threw 128 pitches in the game, 85 of them for strikes.
Florida (21-4): The Gators responded in impressive fashion Friday with an 8-2 win over South Carolina. Brian Johnson and Daniel Gibson were fantastic on the mound, while Johnson also helped his cause at the plate. UF also was pleased with Mike Zunino and Preston Tucker, who each collected big-time hits.
Texas A&M (17-5): The Aggies have now received three-straight fantastic starts from their pitchers after top prospect and right-hander Michael Wacha twirled a gem in a 4-0 win over Pepperdine. Wacha struck out eight batters and allowed just two hits in a complete game performance.
Mississippi State (16-7): The Bulldogs recorded arguably their most impressive win of the season with an 11-2 triumph over Arkansas. State's offense scored eight runs in three innings off Arkansas ace pitcher DJ Baxendale, outfielder Hunter Renfroe doing the most damage with two home runs and four RBIs. On the mound, right-hander Chris Stratton struck out nine and allowed just two runs on five hits in seven innings.
Central Florida (18-5): The Knights definitely need an important series win over East Carolina this weekend, and they started the weekend on a positive note with a 2-1 triumph over the Pirates. UCF starting pitcher Brian Adkins was terrific, striking out two and allowing just a run on five hits in seven innings. Also, left-handed reliever Joe Rogers tossed two scoreless frames to finish the contest.
Georgia Tech (14-8): The Yellow Jackets are going through some injury woes and couldn't have started the weekend in worse fashion. Usually reliable Jackets starting pitcher Buck Farmer allowed 11 runs on 14 hits in just 4 1/3 innings of work, while reliever Clay Dalton allowed four runs on five hits in 3 2/3 innings.
Vanderbilt (7-15): What an unbelievable rash of bad luck the Commodores have had this season. Vandy starting pitcher Kevin Ziomek struck out six and allowed just a run and a hit in five innings, while reliever Drew Verhagen tossed 3 2/3 scoreless innings. However, the 'Dores still managed to lose to Georgia, 1-0, despite the Bulldogs only recording three hits in the game.
Oklahoma (13-10): The Sooners must find a way to get out of their rut before they get into a massive hole in the Big 12 title race. OU starting pitcher Jordan John struck out six Texas Tech hitters, but also allowed five runs and 10 hits in 7 1/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, the offense only mustered one run on six hits against Tech starting pitcher Duke von Schamann.
Long Beach State (6-14): Speaking of bad rashes of bad luck, how about the Dirtbags? LBSU starting pitcher Matt Anderson struck out seven and allowed just two runs on seven hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. However, reliever Josh Frye was unable to preserve a 6-2 lead, as the Shockers scored six runs off him in the ninth inning to capture an 8-7 victory.
Virginia Tech (17-7): The Hokies certainly started the season on a positive note, but are struggling in ACC play. VT dropped to 2-5 in ACC action with a tough 5-3 loss on Friday. Virginia Tech starting pitcher Joe Mantiply allowed four runs on nine hits in six innings of work, while the offense was unable to get much going off Duke stud starting pitcher Marcus Stroman.
Southern Mississippi junior right-handed pitcher Andrew Pierce put together an absolute gem in an 8-0 win over Houston. Pierce struck out 15 hitters and allowed just seven hits in seven shutout innings of work. Pierce threw 112 pitches, 80 of them for strikes.
Georgia Tech is going through some serious injury issues right now. GT coach Danny Hall told me via text on Friday that right-handed pitchers DeAndre Smelter and Matt Grimes will miss time with injuries. Smelter has a shoulder injury and will miss at least a month of action. Meanwhile, Grimes, who was a weekend starter, will miss at least 10 days because of some elbow tendonitis. Also worth noting, left-handed pitcher Devin Stanton will miss the rest of the season because of Tommy John surgery.
Florida third baseman Josh Tobias could miss a significant amount of time with an injury. Though the Gators aren't yet sure of the results stemming from a post-game CAT scan, the immediate observations on Tobias weren't good. He injured his hand/wrist at the plate, and was in serious pain in the area around his hamate bone. The Gators got some bad news earlier in the week when they announced outfielder Tyler Thompson was gone for the season.
Kentucky had an amazing run to start the season, but suffered its first loss of the season Friday in a 4-1 setback to Tennessee. Vols starting pitcher Zack Godley, who impressed me at the Houston College Classic, was fantastic against the Wildcats. He only struck out four hitters, but allowed just a run on three hits in eight innings of work. The Vols also got a solid relief performance from Nick Blount, who has started at times this season.
Kendall Rogers is the college baseball managing editor for Perfect Game and can be reached at email@example.com