The Tigers experienced some growing pains last season, but appear to be in good shape this season. AU recorded a huge win over rival Alabama, 6-3, on Tuesday night. AU starting pitcher Dillon Ortman was lifted after allowing three runs in three innings of work. However, reliever Conner Kendrick was terrific out of the bullpen. The talented left-handed pitcher struck out eight batters and allowed no hits in six shutout innings. Meanwhile, offensively, first baseman Garrett Cooper led the charge with a hit and two RBIs. Auburn now has won five-straight contests.
Player of the day
Trea Turner, SS, So., North Carolina State
The Wolfpack hit the road Tuesday night and dropped an ugly 24-12 decision to Elon. However, Turner was a definite bright spot on the night. He went 4-for-5 with a triple, two homers, three runs scored and five RBIs in the losing cause. For the season, the talented infielder is hitting a whopping .510 with five doubles, two triples, four homers and 16 RBIs. He's also 6-for-6 in stolen bases.
Upset of the day
Arkansas-Pine Bluff over TCU
The Golden Lions certainly weren't expected to beat the Horned Frogs, but pulled off a midweek shocker in impressive fashion. Starting pitcher Stanten Jones allowed four runs on two hits in five innings, but reliever Jaron Gold was terrific in the 6-4 win over the Horned Frogs, allowing just three hits in four shutout frames. For TCU, starting pitcher Stefan Crichton was lifted from the game after allowing three runs on six hits in two innings.
Teams feeling good
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys continue to make progress, now sitting pretty at 10-2 overall after recording a 5-4 win over Missouri State. OSU starting pitcher Mark Robinette was lifted from the game after allowing three runs on three hits in 4 1/3 innings of work, but the bullpen led by Vince Wheeland, Kyle Gehrs and Randy McCurry took care of business.
Furman: Everyone has talked about College of Charleston and some other Southern Conference teams so far this season, but keep close tabs on the Paladins, who recorded a huge 4-1 win over Coastal Carolina on Tuesday. Furman starting pitcher Tyler Wood put together a solid start, striking out a pair of batters and allowing just two hits in five shutout frames, while outfielder Taylor Johnson had two hits and an RBI.
College of Charleston: Fresh off a series win over South Alabama this past weekend, the Cougars recorded yet another solid victory in a 6-5 win over UNC Wilmington. Charleston starting pitcher Blake Ross struck out three and allowed just three hits in four shutout innings, while Ryan West performed well in relief, allowing just a run on four hits in 4 2/3 innings.
Kansas State: Jake Doller and Hayden Nixon each threw well on Tuesday, as the Wildcats captured an easy 10-2 win over Niagara. But even more so than just the victory, the win over Niagara notched career win No. 300 for K-State head coach Brad Hill.
Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets got huge offensive days from outfielder Brandon Thomas and sophomore first baseman A.J. Murray in the 16-9 win over Mercer. Thomas led the way with four hits, while Murray went 2-for-4 with three runs scored and three RBIs. Also noteworthy is the fact shortstop Mott Hyde and catcher Zane Evans each finished the contest with three hits.
San Diego: The Toreros certainly got off to a slow start this season with that tough series against San Diego State to start things, but have been playing better the past couple of weeks. USD All-American third baseman Kris Bryant went 2-for-2 with two homers and four RBIs in an important 7-3 win over Cal State Fullerton. Bryant also walked twice in the game, giving him 15 in just 12 games.
Teams wanting a do-over
Georgia: The Bulldogs just can't seem to get into a groove so far this season. Bulldogs starting pitcher David Gonzalez allowed two runs on one hit in the first inning, not getting out of the frame, as the Bulldogs dropped a disappointing 12-7 home contest to Western Carolina. The UGA bullpen also performed at a rather disappointing level, with Heath Holder the only bright spot, allowing just one hit in 1 1/3 shutout innings of work.
Duke: The Blue Devils are off to an iffy start so far this season, dropping a 6-0 decision to the University of Pennsylvania. Blue Devils starting pitcher James Marvel allowed three runs on six hits in five innings of work, while the offense only recorded four hits against Penn starting pitcher Pat Bet.
Liberty: The Flames have played a very impressive brand of baseball so far this season, but had a minor setback Tuesday night in a 5-3 loss to William and Mary. Liberty was unable to get much going (five hits) against Tribe starting pitcher JT Castner, who allowed just a run on four hits in seven innings of work.
South Florida: The Bulls have really struggled so far this season, with starting pitcher Mike Clarkson allowed six runs (four earned) on seven hits in 3 2/3 innings in a setback against Boston College. While the pitching was iffy against the Owls, the Bulls, for the most part, were silenced by the BC bullpen after starting pitcher Eric Stone was lifted after giving up two runs on seven hits in three innings of work.
Best individual performances
Jack Wynkoop, LHP, Fr., South Carolina: The talented left-handed pitcher continues to make a strong impression on the Gamecocks coaching staff. He tossed a gem in the win over Ball State, striking out five (walking none) and allowing just two hits in six shutout innings of work. He also threw 73 pitches, 51 for strikes.
Josh Laxer, RHP, So., Mississippi: Much like their counterparts over in Starkville, Miss., the Rebels have a strong stable of pitchers this spring. Laxer is another one of those arms, a power arm, too. He struck out just one batter, but also allowed just four hits in 5 1/3 shutout frames in a solid midweek win over Southeastern Louisiana.
Brandon Thomas, OF, Sr., Georgia Tech: The Yellow Jackets are playing a terrific brand of baseball right now, and Thomas is the ringleader from an offensive standpoint. Thomas had a huge night in a 16-9 win over Mercer. He went 4-for-6 with a double, two runs scored and three RBIs. He also recorded a stolen base in the contest.
Stephen McGee, C, Jr., Florida State: It took McGee a couple of seasons to record his first career home run, but it finally happened Tuesday night in a 9-2 win over Presbyterian. McGee had a huge overall game, going 2-for-4 with a run scored and four RBIs to lead the Seminoles.
Thomas Woodrey, LHP, Fr., Miami (Fla.): Sure, the Hurricanes had a tough weekend against in-state rival Florida, but Woodrey helped get them back on track Tuesday with a solid performance in a win over Maine. Woodrey struck out two batters and allowed just a run on three hits in eight innings of work.
Antonio Alvarez, SS, Jr., Elon: Though N.C. State shortstop Trea Turner led the way in terms of all offensive contributors in this game, Alvarez had a huge afternoon for the Phoenix. He went 3-for-5 with a double, a run scored and six RBIs. He also induced a walk.
J.T. Castner, RHP, So., William & Mary: The Tribe knew it would take a great pitching performance to slow down the red-hot Flames. Well, they got exactly what they wanted from Castner in the 5-3 triumph. Castner allowed just one run on four hits in seven innings of work.
Pat Bet, RHP, Jr., Pennsylvania: It's not often the Ivy League hits the road and takes care of an ACC team, but the Quakers did Tuesday against the Blue Devils. Bet struck out two batters and allowed just two hits in six scoreless innings of work. He also threw 88 pitches, 57 for strikes.
Jeff Gold, RHP, Jr., Oregon: In addition to making one of the wildest plays on a line drive we've ever seen, Gold also put together a solid performance in a 4-1 win over Cal State Northridge. Gold struck out six batters and allowed just one run on six hits in seven innings of work. He threw 100 pitches, 67 for strikes.
Cody Poteet, RHP, Fr., UCLA: A former Perfect Game All-American, Poteet put together a solid performance in a 3-2 win over Long Beach State. Poteet struck out four batters and allowed just one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings of work.
* Virginia Tech left-handed pitcher Joe Mantiply has been sidelined the past couple of weeks because of forearm stiffness, but the Hokies coaching staff confirmed to me Tuesday morning that the talented left-handed pitcher would return to the mound this weekend against Georgia Tech. Mantiply won't start this weekend, but is expected to throw Sunday in relief, a maximum, at this point, of three innings.
* California second baseman Derek Campbell is expected to miss the rest of the season because of a fractured left leg, sustained this past weekend at the Astros Foundation Classic. Campbell will have surgery on his leg this week and will start the rehabilitation process.
This past weekend, Cal coach Dave Esquer had this to say:
"It didn't look real good for Derek, but we'll see what happens," Esquer said in Houston. "I'll say this, though, we can't afford to lose him right now. He's pretty important to this team."
It'll be interesting to see how the Golden Bears move forward without Campbell.