College | Story | 3/25/2011

27 takes: South Carolina's big night

Kendall Rogers        

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PREMIUM: Friday's best/worst plus in-depth RPI analysis

Kent State’s Andrew Chafin: Chafin has been through a lot in his career with Tommy John surgery, but he’s having a campaign to remember this spring. The great left-handed pitcher struck out 15 and allowed just four hits in a complete game as the Flashes defeated Toledo 1-0. One has to believe Chafin is greatly increasing his MLB draft stock with an incredible season.

Connecticut’s Matt Barnes: After a relatively poor showing in non-conference play, the Huskies desperately needed to start Big East play on a positive note. They did that Friday with a 7-0 win over Pittsburgh with ace pitcher and top prospect Matt Barnes leading the way. The talented right-hander struck out six and allowed just four hits in a complete game performance.

South Carolina: It seems the Gamecocks got tired of hearing about how great Florida was the entire week. The Gamecocks got strong pitching by Michael Roth and fantastic hitting on the way to a dominant 9-2 win over the Gators. Roth struck out six and allowed just two runs in 8 1/3 innings. Offensively, Jake Williams had a home run and three hits while Pete Mooney collected three hits, scored three runs and knocked in two runs.

Alabama: Remember when we thought the Crimson Tide might be in for a difficult campaign? Suddenly the Tide is 3-1 in the SEC and winners of five-straight games after a 4-0 triumph over Kentucky. Alabama starting pitcher Nathan Kilcrease had a solid performance, striking out six and allowing just seven hits in the complete game. A series win over the Wildcats this weekend would put the Tide in great shape moving forward.

Arkansas: Vanderbilt usually wins when ace pitcher and top prospect Sonny Gray strikes out 12 in eight innings, but the Razorbacks had an answer Friday in a 2-1 victory over the Commodores. Arkansas pitchers Cade Lynch and DJ Baxendale teamed up to shut down the ‘Dores with outstanding performances. Lynch struck out six and allowed just a run on three hits in 6 2/3 innings while Baxendale allowed just three hits in 2 1/3 shutout innings. This series was on our upset watch list for a reason.

Southern Mississippi: The Golden Eagles earned plenty of recognition last weekend when they went 3-0 at the College of Charleston tournament. Well, they could be on their way to another statement weekend after crushing Tulane 16-4 to begin Conference USA action. USM starting pitcher Todd McInnis allowed just two runs in seven innings while leading hitter Tyler Koelling hit a home run and B.A. Vollmuth, Adam Doleac, Mark Ellis and Chase Fowler each had two hits in the game.

College of Charleston: The Cougars simply have nothing going their way right now. They went 0-3 in their own tournament last weekend and now are losers of five-straight after dropping an 11-7 decision to Georgia Southern. Charleston starting pitcher David Peterson allowed five runs in just four innings while reliever Drew Watts allowed six runs in just an inning. The Cougars, especially at home this weekend, must find a way to get out of their rut.

California: The Golden Bears are playing a great brand of baseball. They captured an important 7-0 victory over Washington State in their Pac-10 opener. Cal right-handed pitcher Erik Johnson struck out six and allowed just a hit in eight innings, while Logan Scott closed the game with a perfect inning. Tony Renda led the Cal offense with three hits and two RBIs. In terms of prospects, Washington State left-handed pitcher Adam Conley allowed seven runs on 11 hits in six innings.

N.C. State’s Cory Mazzoni: The Wolfpack entered the weekend knowing they desperately needed to win the home series against Clemson. They took the first step Friday night with a 6-0 win over the Tigers. N.C. State starting pitcher Cory Mazzoni, a talented right-hander, struck out 10 and allowed just four hits in a complete game performance. Now we’ll see if the Wolfpack can close out a series. We’ll also see if Clemson catcher Spencer Kieboom, who suffered a concussion before Friday’s game, returns the rest of the weekend.

Georgia Tech: It’s getting to the point where we expect the Yellow Jackets to win every time they take the field. Georgia Tech picked up an 8-3 win over Miami in the opener of a crucial road series. Tech starting pitcher Mark Pope, who has been great this season, struck out nine and allowed just two earned runs on eight hits in seven innings, while Matt Skole and Sam Dove each had three hits in the game.

Mississippi State: Maybe coming back and beating Vanderbilt in the series finale last weekend got the Bulldogs going for the season. State improved to 2-2 in the SEC on Friday with a 7-6 win over Auburn. State starting pitcher Devin Jones didn’t have a good start, but the offense picked him up with catcher Wes Thigpen going 3-for-3 with a home run, two runs scored and two RBIs. The Bulldogs desperately could use a series win over the Tigers.

Stetson: The Hatters appear to be in total control of the Atlantic Sun. They earned a huge midweek win over Florida State earlier this week, and dominated East Tennessee State on the way to a 15-4 triumph on Friday. Stetson starting pitcher Lindsey Caughel allowed four runs in six innings, while the offense had a huge day with Jeff Simpson, Ben Carhart, Mark Jones, Ryan Lashley and Spencer Theisen leading the way. The Hatters are an impressive 19-4 with the win.

Houston: UH first-year coach Todd Whitting returned to his old stomping grounds of TCU on Friday, and ended the night with a thrilling 7-6 victory. The Cougars trailed the Horned Frogs 6-0 in the top of the eighth inning, but UH scored seven runs the final two frames to beat the Frogs 7-6. UH relievers Luke Moran and Dakota Dill did great jobs while Landon Appling, Chase Jensen and Ryan Still each had three hits. The Cougars could earn a huge series win over the Horned Frogs on Saturday.

LSU: After getting swept by Florida last weekend at home and dropping a midweek affair to in-state rival Louisiana-Lafayette earlier this week, the Tigers needed to start the Georgia series with a victory. LSU freshman right-handed pitcher Kurt McCune made that happen in a 7-3 victory. McCune struck out seven and allowed just three runs on six hits in a complete game performance. It’s also worth noting that outfielder Mike Mahtook hit his seventh home run in the contest.

Central Florida: The Knights squandered an opportunity for a marquee win earlier this week against Miami, but knew all week they had an even bigger set of games coming up against Rice to begin conference play. The Knights didn’t disappoint in their conference opener, beating the Owls 7-2 behind a bizarre performance from starting pitcher Ben Lively. Lively only allowed two runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings but walked eight batters and struck out none. D.J. Hicks led the Knights at the plate with three hits.

Nebraska: Texas Tech suffered a tough break earlier this week when it lost starting pitcher Daniel Coulombe for the season with an arm injury. Well, the Red Raiders played like a bruised club on Friday as the Huskers captured a 15-5 victory. Nebraska third baseman Cody Asche led the way at the plate with a home run, three hits, three runs scored and five RBIs. Kale Kiser and Kash Kalkowski each had four hits in the game while Kurt Farmer and Cory Burleson each had two hits.

Texas A&M’s John Stilson: The Aggies continue to get fantastic starts from the rising right-handed pitcher. Stilson struck out seven and allowed just seven hits in eight shutout innings on the way to a 2-1 victory over Kansas. Stilson threw 118 pitches in the contest and topped out at 94 mph with his fastball in the eighth innings. There’s a good chance Stilson is a first-round pick in June.

Kansas State: The Wildcats aren’t on this list for a good reason. Wildcats starting pitcher Kyle Hunter allowed just three runs on seven hits in seven innings and set the tone late into the game with a lead. However, K-State reliever Evan Marshall allowed two runs in the ninth inning as Baylor came back to defeat the Wildcats 5-4. The Wildcats now are 0-4 in Big 12 play and need to find a way to win the next two games on the road.

Louisville: The Cardinals took a step forward last weekend with a home series loss to Xavier, but showed signs of life in a dominant midweek win over Kent State. Perhaps the Cards are back in business after crushing Rutgers 11-2 on the road. UL starting pitcher Matt Koch got back on track by striking out three and allowing just a run on six hits in 7 1/3 innings, while the offense exploded with Stewart Ijames leading the way with a home run, three hits, three runs scored and five RBIs.

James Madison: The Dukes played an incredibly weak non-conference schedule and have little room for error in conference play, especially at home. They dropped the opening game of a home series against Old Dominion, 5-4. JMU starting pitcher Evan Scott allowed five runs in eight innings, while ODU starter Kyle Hald struck out 10 Dukes and allowed just four run on six hits in seven innings. The Dukes need to win the next two games this weekend.

Western Kentucky: Much of the Sun Belt hype before the season centered around Florida International and Florida Atlantic, but Western Kentucky might now be the frontrunner. The Hilltoppers are red-hot and captured a 3-2 road win over FIU on Friday. WKU starting pitcher Tanner Perkins struck out seven and allowed just two runs on six hits in seven innings, while reliever Ross Hammonds struck out four in two shutout innings. The Hilltoppers have won seven-straight contests and still are perfect in conference play.

Fresno State’s Greg Gonzalez: The Bulldogs have been great this season and the trend continued on Friday with a 6-0 win over San Diego. Fresno senior right-handed pitcher Greg Gonzalez put together another fabulous start, striking out 10 and allowing just a hit in seven innings. The Bulldogs also received some solid offensive performances from Danny Muno, Dusty Robinson and Austin Wynns, who each tallied two hits in the game.

Oregon State’s Sam Gaviglio: Gaviglio had yet to allow a run entering Friday’s bout with UC Santa Barbara, and was hoping to continue the trend. However, the star right-handed pitcher allowed two runs, but put together another great start with 11 strikeouts in 7 2/3 innings on the way to a 6-3 Beavers victory. Jared Norris and Carter Bell led the way at the plate with two hits each. The Beavers are playing a solid brand of baseball at the right time.

Texas: The series between the Longhorns and Cowboys was expected to be heavy on pitching and not so much on offense. But we’re not sure anyone expected the two to fight through a 0-0 tie in 15 innings, with the ‘Horns capturing a 1-0 victory by stealing home. UT starting pitcher Taylor Jungmann, a top prospect, was great again, striking out seven and allowing just four hits in a nine-inning performance. Relievers Corey Knebel, Kirby Bellow and Kendal Carrillo also did great jobs. UT’s win overshadowed great performances by Oklahoma State's Mike Strong and Chris Marlowe.

Long Beach State: Dirtbags starting pitcher Andrew Gagnon was better in what was expected to be an epic pitcher’s duel between he and Stanford right-hander Mark Appel, one of the top prospects for the 2012 MLB draft. Gagnon led the Dirtbags to a 6-3 road victory in the series opener. The righty struck out eight and allowed just two runs on six hits in six innings. Appel, meanwhile, struck out five and allowed six runs on 10 hits in 6 2/3 innings.

Arizona: The Wildcats couldn’t have started Pac-10 play in more impressive fashion with sophomore right-handed pitcher Kurt Heyer on the mound. Heyer struck out eight Sun Devils and allowed just two runs on six hits in 7 1/3 innings as the Wildcats defeated the Devils 5-2. Jett Bandy and Seth Mejias-Brean each had three hits, while Joey Rickard had a two-hit performance. The Wildcats could earn their first marquee series win with another victory this weekend.

UCLA: It was a night of the reverse for UCLA. Bruins starting pitcher Gerrit Cole, arguably the top prospect in the MLB draft, didn’t have a great start against rival USC. The right-hander allowed four runs on seven hits in 6 2/3 innings. However, the Bruins offense rose to the occasion for once with Dean Espy collecting three hits on the way to an 8-4 win over the Trojans. The Bruins desperately need a series win over USC this weekend. Friday was a step forward.

Kendall Rogers is the managing editor of college baseball for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at kendall@perfectgame.org

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