Houston Classic Coverage: UH's Garza shines | SHSU's Eppler outduels Finnegan MORE: Weekend preview
TEAM OF THE DAY
If there was ever a day when Clemson looked headed to a victory over rival South Carolina, it was Friday going to the bottom of the fifth inning. There, the Tigers had silenced the Gamecocks crowd of 8,242 by jumping out to a 6-1 lead. However, the Gamecocks battled back in the bottom of the inning, as All-American catcher Grayson Greiner hit a grand slam to trim the lead to 6-5. The Gamecocks scored two more runs in the sixth inning, and single runs in the seventh and eighth innings on their way to an impressive 9-6 come-from-behind victory … Greiner finished the contest 3-for-4 with five RBIs, while Max Schrock, Kyle Martin and Marcus Mooney each added two hits … On the mound, South Carolina left-handed pitcher Jordan Montgomery struck out nine, walked five and allowed six runs in 5 1/3 innings, while Clemson’s Daniel Gossett didn’t fare much significantly better, allowing five runs on seven hits in 4 2/3 innings.
PLAYER OF THE DAY
Austin Robichaux, rhp, Louisiana-Lafayette
The Ragin’ Cajuns are off to a terrific start this season and Robichaux is just one of several talented arms to watch. Robichaux, who has a loose arm with a fastball well into the 90s, was dominant against Alabama on Friday. He struck out 11, walked one and allowed just seven hits in a complete game shutout and 2-0 win over the Crimson Tide. Robichaux threw 128 pitches in the game, 92 of them for strikes. ULL improves to 9-1 with the impressive series-opening victory.
UPSET OF THE DAY
Illinois 6, No. 19 Florida 0
The Florida Gators hope to get things back on track sooner rather than later. The Gators dropped a series at Miami last weekend, while they struggled offensively in the midweek, too. Well, the Gators suffered a tough loss to Illinois, 6-0, on Friday. UF starting pitcher Bobby Poyner allowed two runs in 4 2/3 innings, while the Gators offense simply couldn’t figure out talented Illinois left-handed pitcher Kevin Duchene, who struck out six, walked two and allowed just three hits in a complete game shutout.
MORE NOTABLE UPSETS:
Texas 2, No. 12 Rice 0
Belmont 4, Mercer 3
The Citadel 6, Nebraska 3
Presbyterian 10, Auburn 6
Albany 6, Campbell 3
Seton Hall 9, Arizona 1
DID YOU SEE THIS?
Rice has one of the nation’s best pitching staffs this season, but things could’ve taken a turn for the worse Friday night when right-handed pitcher Jordan Stephens suddenly left the Texas game after striking out three in two shutout innings. Stephens’ velocity was normal for the most part. Though he has the ability to touch some 91-92s on the radar gun with his fastball, he topped out at 90 against the Longhorns. Stephens also had a solid 80-81 mph slider, while he had a looping mid-70s curveball. More will be divulged about Stephens’ status in the coming days, but hopefully it’s not serious.
Cal State Fullerton: Titans head coach Rick Vanderhook said two weeks ago he would find a way to get his team headed the right direction. Fullerton started the Oregon series in very impressive fashion, winning 9-2, with right-handed pitcher Thomas Eshelman striking out seven, walking one and allowing just two hits in eight shutout innings … Also, third baseman Matt Chapman is on a hot streak, smacking a double, home run and knocking in three runs in the process. Fullerton roughed up UO lefty Tommy Thorpe, who allowed seven runs on eight hits in 5 1/3 innings.
Miami beats Florida State: The Hurricanes made a statement last weekend by taking two of three from Florida last weekend. Well, the ‘Canes are now a win away from doing something even bigger after beating Florida State 3-1 on the road. Miami left-handed pitcher Chris Diaz was terrific against the Seminoles, striking out six walking two and allowing just four hits in seven innings … Diaz outdueled FSU right-handed pitcher and elite prospect Luke Weaver, who struck out seven, walked two and allowed three runs in six innings.
Jeff Hoffman, rhp, East Carolina: The Pirates didn’t have a great day at the plate, but Hoffman was outstanding in a 2-1 win over Western Kentucky. The hard-throwing righty struck out 14, walked one and allowed just a run on five hits in eight innings. Hoffman threw 109 pitches, 74 for strikes.
Chase Mallard, rhp, UAB: What a season the senior righty is having thus far for the Blazers. Mallard has yet to allow a run in 21 1/3 innings following Friday’s 5-0 win over Arkansas State. Mallard struck out seven, walked one and allowed just a hit in seven innings.
Kyle Freeland, lhp, Evansville: Freeland had an impressive summer at the Cape Cod League, and entered this spring expected to have a dominant campaign. Well, Freeland couldn’t have been better in the Purple Aces’ 1-0 win over Western Illinois. He struck out nine, walked no one and allowed just two hits in nine shutout innings.
Chris Ellis, rhp, Ole Miss: Ellis has always had a premium arm, and now he’s displaying impressive consistency. The talented righty had yet another solid performance in a 4-3 win over Central Florida. Ellis struck out five, walked four and allowed just a run and hit in seven innings. Surprisingly, Ole Miss is 9-1 with the win.
Aaron Nola, rhp, LSU: Everyone knows all about Nola’s consistency, but we never stop being impressed. Nola struck out 10, walked one and allowed just five hits in six innings in a huge 19-0 win over Yale … Also for the Tigers, designated hitter Kade Scivicque had three hits, one a home run, and four RBIs.
James Kaprielian, rhp, UCLA: The Bruins might be struggling offensively, but Kaprielian continues to get better and better on the mound as a starter. The talented righty struck out 11, walked two and allowed just a hit in eight shutout frames in a 2-1 win over Notre Dame.
Andrew Rohrbach, rhp, Long Beach State: The Dirtbags split a doubleheader with Wichita State on the road, with Rohrbach shining in Game Two. The veteran righty struck out nine, walked four and allowed just four hits in a complete game shutout and 7-0 win over the Shockers.
David Speer, lhp, Columbia: Don’t tell the Lions northern teams typically struggle early in the season. Columbia’s talented lefty struck out eight, walked no one and allowed just five hits in eight shutout innings in a 1-0 road win over sizzling South Florida.
Harrison Musgrave, lhp, West Virginia: The Mountaineers should fight for an NCAA postseason bid in the Big 12 this spring, as long as guys like Musgrave continue to impress. Musgrave struck out 12, walked no one and allowed just two hits in eight innings in a 3-1 win over Duke.
Texas passes biggest test thus far: We've had the idea for a while the Longhorns might just get back to their usual winning ways, but until tonight, there was a lot of skepticism, and for good reason. The Longhorns, though, looked very solid all around in a 2-0 win over in-state foe Rice. 'Horns left-handed pitcher Dillon Peters had excellent command of the zone with an 89-92 fastball and good curveball. He struck out six and allowed just six hits in eight shutout frames.
Auburn: There’s a great chance the Tigers get things going at some point with first-year coach Sunny Golloway leading the way, but that time doesn’t seem to be coming soon. AU continues to mightily struggle, dropping a 10-6 decision to Presbyterian. AU starting pitcher Dillon Ortman allowed seven runs on 11 hits in 4 2/3 innings, while the offense couldn’t produce much against PC starting pitcher Beau Dees, who allowed just a run in seven innings.
Michigan State: The Spartans made a positive impression last weekend with timely hitting and a physical offensive approach. However, that unit apparently didn’t do enough on Saturday as the Spartans dropped contests to Mississippi State, and surprisingly, Eastern Illinois. Spartans right-handed pitcher Justin Alleman allowed three runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings to lead the way.
TCU: One of the biggest concerns about the Horned Frogs coming into the season was the offense. It’s been so far, so-so at times, while the offense had very limited production in a blowout loss to Sam Houston State. Imposing first baseman Kevin Cron had the only notable big-time hit in the game, launching a three-run home run when the game was determines, while shortstop Keaton Jones had three hits and an RBI.
HOW THE PG TOP 25 FARED
Monmouth at No. 1 Virginia – PPD
No. 15 Miami 3, No. 2 Florida State 1
No. 3 Cal State Fullerton 9, No. 7 Oregon 2
No. 4 South Carolina 9, No. 11 Clemson 6
No. 5 Vanderbilt 4, Stanford 1
No. 6 Oregon State 7, Wright State 0
No. 8 North Carolina State 3, Michigan 0
No. 9 Louisiana State 19, Yale 0
No. 10 Mississippi State 4, Michigan State 2
Texas 2, No. 12 Rice 0
No. 13 Cal Poly at Southern California – PPD
No. 14 UCLA 2, Notre Dame 1
No. 16 Louisville 6, Toledo 2
No. 17 North Carolina 3, North Florida 0
No. 18 Texas A&M at Fresno State – PPD
Illinois 6, No. 19 Florida 0
No. 24 Louisiana-Lafayette 2, No. 21 Alabama 0
No. 23 Oklahoma State 10, Manhattan 7
No. 25 Kentucky 8, Eastern Michigan 2