The battle for control of the ACC’s Atlantic Division will come down to a Sunday rubber match. A day after Florida State roughed up Brendan McKay, Louisville responded with a resounding 7-1 win on Saturday behind a dominant performance from lefty Drew Harrington.
Now getting the ball on Saturday after the Cardinals shuffled their rotation for this weekend, Harrington has been in lockstep with McKay as their most dominant arm. He came into the weekend with a 1.23 ERA, the fourth best in the ACC, and didn’t blink going into Dick Howser Stadium, a place where the Seminoles are always tailored to win. Harrington made one mistake on Saturday, giving up a solo homer to FSU star freshman Cal Raleigh in the fourth, but he was otherwise in total control. FSU only had one other base hit, while Harrington worked 7 2/3 innings and struck out five—the sixth time in eight starts he’s allowed one earned run or less. His ERA shrunk to 1.21, while it was his sixth straight winning start.
HOW THE TOP 25 FARED
(1) Florida: lost, 10-4, vs. (5) Mississippi State
(2) Miami: postponed at Notre Dame
(3) Texas A&M: won, 15-1, vs. Georgia
(4) Louisville: won, 7-1, at (11) Florida State
(5) Mississippi State: won, 10-4, at (1) Florida
(6) Vanderbilt: won, 9-7, at (15) Louisiana State
(7) Texas Christian: won, 8-0, at Kansas
(8) South Carolina: won, 7-4, vs. Tennessee
(9) California: lost, 4-3, at Oregon
(10) Oregon State: won, 6-2, vs. Central Arkansas
(11) Florida State: lost, 7-1, vs. (4) Louisville
(12) UC Santa Barbara: lost, 10-3, at College of Charleston
(13) North Carolina: won, 4-1, vs. Virginia Tech
(14) Mississippi: won, 14-9, vs. Arkansas
(15) Louisiana State: lost, 9-7, vs. (6) Vanderbilt
(16) Oklahoma State: lost, 8-2, vs. (23) Texas Tech
(17) Michigan: off
(18) Florida Atlantic: won, 17-8, vs. Charlotte
(19) Kentucky: won, 6-2, vs. Alabama
(20) Long Beach State: postponed at Cal State Northridge
(21) Clemson: won, 3-2, at Duke
(22) East Carolina: lost, 3-0, at Tulane
(23) Texas Tech: won, 8-2, at (16) Oklahoma State
(24) Houston: won, 4-3, vs. Central Florida
(25) Rice: lost, 6-2, vs. Alabama-Birmingham
“Baseball will humble you and Harrington did just that,” FSU head coach Mike Martin told Seminoles.com. “That was a beautifully pitched ballgame and he spotted all of his pitches and put on a dominating performance. If you put your team in that position (allowing only two hits), they have a very good chance.”
The Louisville offense got to FSU starter Drew Carlton for three runs in the top of the fourth, helped by a pair of walks, a hit-by-pitch and an error, and UofL led the rest of the way. Danny Rosenbaum’s two-run double in the 8th made it 5-1, and two more runs in the ninth stretched the lead to the final margin of 7-1.
The teams are in a virtual tie atop the Atlantic after Saturday, with Louisville at 10-4 and FSU at 8-2—recall the Seminoles have had four ACC games cancelled by weather. Sunday would certainly be an opportune time for Kyle Funkhouser (3-2, 4.29) to get on track after being displaced from his normal Friday slot, while the Seminoles will be looking for the same from talented freshman Cole Sands (3-3, 4.56).
Strike Two: Bulldogs Trounce Gators
Sticking in the Sunshine State, Florida’s 29-game home winning streak ended with a thud, as No. 5 Mississippi State opened up a 9-0 lead in the third inning and went on to drill the top-ranked Gators 10-4, leveling the SEC’s marquee series of the weekend at a game apiece.
Dakota Hudson and MSU’s arms might be the first thing that gets brought up when someone talks about how good that team is, but their offense averages over seven runs a game itself, and they jumped all over the normally reliable Alex Faedo on Saturday. The first five MSU hitters all reached to start the top of the first inning, capped off by Reid Humphreys’ two-run double. Two innings later, Bulldogs right fielder Cody Brown mashed a grand slam off Faedo that made it 8-0, and a Jake Mangum RBI triple later in the frame added another run to build the lead to 9-0.
MSU starter Austin Sexton wasn’t at his best, giving up a three-run shot to Buddy Reed in the bottom of the third and needing 75 pitches to navigate four innings before being pulled, but reliever Ryan Rigby come on in the fifth and went on to finish out the game, allowing one run on four hits over five innings.
The Bulldogs tacked on one more run in the top of the ninth, with Saturday’s 10 runs the most Florida has given up in a game all season. Brown’s grand slam was also the first against Florida pitching since 2014. The Gators do get to give the ball to A.J. Puk on Sunday, trying to bounce back from last week’s truncated outing, as they look to avoid their second series loss in three weeks.
“The kids came out and had some nice, short, efficient swings early in the game,” MSU head coach John Cohen told hailstate.com. “Austin (Sexton) gave up hits because we were asking him to throw strikes with the big lead. Can’t say enough about Ryan Rigby. He just kept pouring strikes into the zone. . . . This is a great win for our club. We have a chance to win a series against the No. 1 team in the nation.”
Strike Three: New Mexico Tops Fresno In Wild One
The two best teams in the Mountain West Conference have played a pair of white-knuckle games Friday and Saturday, and they couldn’t have been any different. After New Mexico beat Fresno State 2-1 on Friday in Albuquerque—a place known for favoring big offense—the teams spent Saturday trading haymakers before the Lobos landed the final blow, winning 14-13 in 12 memorable innings to seal the series.
The first half of the game went orderly enough, with New Mexico leading 4-2 after six. It was in the top of the seventh when things started going off the rails as Fresno scored five runs on four hits and two walks to take a 7-4 lead. New Mexico answered immediately, getting a pair of homers from Dalton Bowers and Chris DeVito in the bottom half to knot things back up at 7-7. Fresno scored twice in the eighth to retake the lead, only to see UNM come back again in the bottom of the ninth, re-tying the game on Carl Stajduhar’s two-run bomb.
DeVito and Stajduhar were the Lobos’ biggest stars, with Stajduhar going 6-for-7 and hitting for the cycle, while DeVito went 5-for-7 and belted three home runs.
Fresno looked like it finally had UNM subdued in the 10th, putting together a four-run rally in the top of the inning to take a 13-9 lead. The Lobos were down to their final out in the bottom of the inning when Luis Gonzalez drilled a two-run shot to cut the lead in half. After a walk kept the game going again, DeVito hit his third and final homer of the game, another two-run job to make it 13-13. The conclusion came two innings later, when a pair of singles set up Andrew Vigil to be the hero, singling through the left side to bring home the winning run.
In all, New Mexico hit six home runs in the game (Fresno hit one), and the teams combined for 39 hits. Even UNM reliever Christian Tripp got in on the action, recording an infield hit in his first career plate appearance—UNM had previously lost its DH—to go along with his being the winning pitcher with two scoreless innings of work on the mound.
The LineupCory Raley, dh, Texas Tech: Raley’s 4-for-5, 4 RBI game led the way as the Red Raiders piled up 17 hits in an 8-2 drubbing of Oklahoma State. The win clinches the series for TTU, which improves to 10-1 in the Big 12, the best start to conference play in program history.
Riley Mahan, ss, Kentucky: Mahan hit Kentucky’s first walk-off grand slam since 2008, taking the first pitch he saw from Alabama’s Jon Keller deep over the right field wall to power the Wildcats to a 6-2 win. The victory clinches the series for UK, which has now won all four of its SEC series—most notably to one against Florida two weeks ago—to begin league play.
Bradley Jones, 1b, College of Charleston: Jones hit a three-run homer as part of the Cougars’ decisive six-run fifth inning and went 2-for-4 with four RBIs on the game as Charleston pounded UC Santa Barbara 10-3, setting up a rubber game Sunday in the cross-country series between two of the nation’s best mid-majors.
Chris Okey, c, Clemson: The Tigers were an out away from their second straight loss to Duke when Okey laced a two-run triple into the right-center field gap, turning a 2-1 deficit into a 3-2 lead. Clemson held on in the bottom of the ninth to tie the series heading into Sunday.
A.J. Puckett, rhp, Pepperdine: The Waves’ junior extended his streak of innings without allowing an earned run to 38 2/3 by authoring eight innings of three-hit shutout ball on Saturday against Santa Clara. He struck out seven and walked three, lowering his ERA to 1.31 in the process.
Travis Swaggerty, rf, South Alabama: Swaggerty reached base five times, four via walks, as the Jaguars scored six runs over the final three innings to beat Arkansas State 12-7 and remain perfect in Sun Belt Conference play at 14-0. The Jaguars’ leadoff hitter, Swaggerty officially went 1-for-2 on the game but he made the one knock count as well, hitting a two-run single in the bottom of the eighth.
J.B. Bukauskas, rhp, North Carolina: The Tar Heels’ star sophomore struck out 13 over 7 1/3 innings against Virginia Tech to improve to 5-1, 2.89 on the year. Bukauskas carried a no-hitter into the sixth and at one point struck out nine consecutive hitters. He ended the evening allowing a run on two hits in the 4-1 win.
C.J. Chatham, ss, Florida Atlantic: The centerpiece of FAU’s offense, Chatham had the game of his career Saturday, going 5-for-6 with a homer and seven RBIs as the Owls pulled away for a 17-8 win against Charlotte, leveling that series going into Sunday. His average crossed the .400 threshold in the process, Chatham now hitting .403 after 119 at-bats on the year.
Billy Love, rhp, Lamar:
The nation’s longest active winning streak extended to 14 as Lamar downed Texas A&M-Corpus Christi 5-1 behind a strong effort from the senior Love (7.1 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K), who improved to 3-1, 2.70 in 40 innings for the season.