Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Liput's offensive barrage leads Gators past the Cardinals

                                                             Photo Credit: Jon Opiela

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter @jonopiela24

OMAHA, NE— The Florida Gators and the Louisville Cardinals squared off in the coveted winners bracket at TD Ameritrade Park Omaha on Tuesday night. The Gators got the last laugh in a 5-1 win behind a 3-RBI effort from Deacon Liput.

“I think the biggest thing is the difference from last year," Liput said. "The wind was actually blowing out rather than in and as Sully and Craig talked to me about staying back and not doing too much trying to find the barrel, and I was able to do that and elevate the ball and the wind kind of helped me out. 

Austin Langworthy got the Gators on the board with a solo shot off the foul pole in left field.  

“Obviously, the home run by Austin Langworthy was big to get us on the board," Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said.  “It was a good thing the wind was blowing across.”

The Gators exploded for three runs in the fourth inning after having the first two batters retired.  Nelson Maldonado drew a 2-out walk and Jonathan India followed with a 2-out single. Liput capped off the inning with a 3-run shot into the Florida bullpen in right field.

Gators starting pitcher Brady Singer was dominant throughout the contest.  In the seventh inning, the Cardinals threatened with a bases-loaded situation, but Singer worked out of the jam allowing one run.  

“If I would have went to the mound to try and get him out of the game, he would not have given me the ball.  It’s that simple," O'Sullivan said. "He had earned the right to get through it.”  

On the evening, Singer recorded nine strikeouts, allowed just one walk, and gave up six hits over seven innings pitched.

Looking Ahead:

Louisville will play next against TCU in an elimination game on June 22 at 7 p.m. CT., while Florida moves on to play on June 23 as it will face the winner of the TCU and Louisville game.

Howard's 12 K's pushes TCU past Texas A&M to advance in the CWS

                                                            Photo Credit: Nati Harnik

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

OMAHA, NE— TCU Horned Frogs starting pitcher Brian Howard looked incredibly dominant as he matched his career-high of 12 strikeouts in a 4-1 win over in-state rivals the Texas A&M Aggies to advance in the College World Series on Tuesday afternoon.

Throughout the game, there were rumors that Howard was developing a blister on the thumb of his throwing hand, but did not seem to be phased at all.  

“It was accurate and it affected me on every hit I gave up. Other than that, it was fine," Howard said.

More impressive would be Howard's first six outs all coming by way of strikeouts and the 12 total punchouts matched the TD Ameritrade Park record. 

Howard also received high praise from TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle after the game as well. 

“Just amazing through especially the great pitching history of our program in the last 14 years," Schlossnagle said. "Had a lot of really good pitchers, big leaguers, that kind of thing, and for Brian to be the only back-to-back 10-game-or-more winner in our program is an awesome statement for him and pitching coach (Kirk) Saarloos and the program in general.” 

Texas A&M coach Rob Childress compared Brian Howard to Michael Wacha of the St. Louis Cardinals.  

“He’s incredibly competitive," Childress said. "I’m not going to apologize for losing to him.  That guy is a really good pitcher.”

Texas A&M starting pitcher Stephen Kolek only lasted 2.2 innings before exiting the game.  TCU managed to get a run in the second to take an early lead, and then extended their lead with a 3-run third inning.  Omaha native Ryan Merrill hit his six home run of the season to boost the Horned Frogs' momentum. 

“Yeah, I don't hit many home runs so I was sprinting," Merrill said. "As soon as I saw it leave, that's when it just hit me how cool that experience is." 

Kaylor Chafin looked phenomenal in relief for the Aggies.  Chafin threw 4.2 innings and did not allow a run while striking out six Horned Frog batters.  Through his 4.2 innings of work, Chafin allowed three hits.  Chafin also threw a career-high 6.1 innings out of the bullpen in Texas A&M’s only other meeting with TCU this season.

Texas Christian will move on to play the loser of the Tuesday night game between the University of Florida and the University of Louisville, while Texas A&M was eliminated from the CWS with Tuesday's loss.

Monday, June 19, 2017

Top-seeded Oregon State shows its dominance in a 13-1 win over LSU at the CWS

                                                                 Photo Credit: Jon Opiela

OMAHA, NE— A sold-out crowd of 24,874 packed TD Ameritrade Park to see the top-seeded Oregon State Beavers annihilate the LSU Tigers by a score of 13-1 to tie their school record of 23 consecutive victories, which they have done for the second time this season.  

Even with its dominance throughout the season, Oregon State coach Pat Casey sees the bigger picture ahead— a potential national championship.

“And the one thing, they keep saying this, and I know it may sound like it's not true, but we really -- there are times when somebody told me, hey, you broke this record or you did that, and nobody thinks about it.” Casey said.  “And I know the record is really good, but that's not how we approach it. And those guys just -- I don't know, there's something about them. So they make you look good when you win games. And they put in a lot of work, and now they're enjoying what they've done.”

Freshman All-American and LSU starting pitcher Eric Walker came into the game with an 8-1 record on the year and a 3.46 ERA.  Walker exited the game in the third inning with an arm injury.

“He was feeling fine. We had a good week of preparation.  Threw his bullpen session, the first two innings, he was great," Tigers head coach Paul Mainieri said. "His third warmup pitch before the third inning, he just felt his forearm tighten up, which was the problem before. It became unbearable so we had to take him out.  I don’t think there’s anything structurally wrong.  I think he’s just got a fatigued muscle.”

In the sixth inning, Oregon State added five runs, highlighted by a grand slam by K.J. Harrison.  Harrison’s ninth home run of the season is the first grand slam in the College World Series since 2010, and the first College World Series in TD Ameritrade Park. 

“That’s the kind of stuff that you dream growing up as a little kid and for it to come true at such a big stage, it’s an amazing feeling,” Harrison said on the grand slam. “But the main thing for me is what it did to help the team out and put some more momentum on the board.  We attribute that to our success as a team this whole season so far.  We’re out there for each other and we pick each other up.  It’s a lot of fun to be a part of.” 

The Oregon State Beavers tacked on three more runs in the seventh to take an 11-0 lead over Louisiana State.

Trevor Larnach and Nick Madrigal both had huge offensive nights for the Beavers. Larnach picked up the teams first three RBIs and added a stolen base while Madrigal added the same amount as well.

The Tigers got on the board with a solo shot to left field off the bat of Zach Watson, but that was all she wrote.

Louisiana State will face Florida State in a rematch on Wednesday at 6 p.m. CT, while Oregon State will move on to play the winner of Louisiana State and Florida State on Friday afternoon.

Social Media:

Follow Jon on Twitter and Instagram @jonopiela24 for more updates throughout the College World Series

Survive and advance: Noles rally in the seventh to stay alive in the CWS


                                                         Photo Credit: Larry Novey

By: Jon Opiela
Twitter: @jonopiela24

OMAHA, NE— In the first elimination game of the 2017 NCAA College World Series, the Florida State Seminoles and the Cal State Fullerton Titans battled at TD Ameritrade Park in Omaha on Monday afternoon.  The afternoon matchup also marked the 1,000th game in College World Series history.

In the landmark game, the Seminoles with their backs against the wall got to work in the seventh inning with a Taylor Walls single and a Dylan Busby double to put runners on second and third bases.  Blake Workman came in to replace Jack Pabich for Cal State Fullerton and intentionally walked Jackson Leuck.  Workman then issued back-to-back walks to Quincy Nieporte and Cal Raleigh to bring in two runs, giving the Seminoles a 5-4 lead.  

Following the walk to Raleigh, Cal State Fullerton went back to the bullpen and brought in sophomore closer Brett Conine to try and stop the bleeding.  After retiring Drew Mendoza via the strikeout, Matt Henderson delivered with an RBI infield single.  The Titans finally escaped the inning with a 5-4-3 double play, but the damage already done.

Adversity is nothing new for Henderson, who fought thru an illness earlier in the season appreciated being on a big stage at the CWS even more.

"I'm just excited to be here. And throughout the season we've all had our adversities and challenges and we kind of persevered through it, and that's been our mentality," Henderson said. "So that's what we're carrying into this tournament."

Chase Haney picked up his third win of the season for the Seminoles, while Drew Carlton picked up his seventh save of the season.  The Seminoles will move on to play the loser of the nightcap between Louisiana State and Oregon State.

Steven Wells got the Seminoles on the board with an RBI single through the left side of the infield in the second inning.

Florida State starting pitcher Drew Parrish walked the first two Cal State Fullerton hitters he faced in the third inning.  Chris Prescott laid a bunt down the first base line that ended up as a base hit thanks to a defensive miscue by the Seminoles.  Scott Hurst got the Titans on the board with a sacrifice fly to left to tie the game at 1.  The Seminoles escaped the jam with a double play to end the inning.

Cal State Fullerton got into the same bases loaded, no out jam to begin the fourth inning. Wells picked up his second RBI of the game with a sac fly to center.  Fullerton starting pitcher John Gavin exited the game after 3.1 innings pitched.  On the day, Gavin allowed 2 runs (1 ER), 3 hits and 4 walks, while striking out one.  Gavin Velasquez recorded the finals two outs of the fourth inning by striking out JC Flowers and Dylan Busby.

Drew Mendoza hit his ninth home run of the season to lead off the sixth for Florida State.  The solo shot by Mendoza gave the Seminoles a 3-1 lead.

In the bottom of the sixth inning, Cal State Fullerton got an RBI double off the bat of Dillon Persinger.  Timmy Richards immediately followed with a 2-run home run deep into the bullpen in left field.  Florida State starting pitcher Drew Parrish gave way to Chase Haney.  Parrish went 5.2 innings while allowing four hits, four runs, three walks, and striking out four.

The Seminoles got back to work in the seventh with a Taylor Walls single and a Dylan Busby double to put runners on second and third.  Blake Workman came in to replace Jack Pabich for Cal State Fullerton and intentionally walked Jackson Leuck.  Workman then issued back-to-back walks to Quincy Nieporte and Cal Raleigh to bring in two runs, giving the Seminoles a 5-4 lead.  

Following the walk to Raleigh, Cal State Fullerton went back to the bullpen and brought in sophomore closer Brett Conine to try and stop the bleeding.  After retiring Drew Mendoza via the strikeout, Matt Henderson delivered with an RBI infield single.  The Titans finally escaped the inning with a 5-4-3 double play.

Follow Jon on Social Media to get more updates throughout the CWS @jonopiela24 on Twitter and Instagram.

Saturday, June 10, 2017

Holton Earns Third ACC Pitcher of the Week Honor

Photo Credit: Larry Novey

Florida State starting pitcher Tyler Holton earned his third ACC Pitcher of the Week award of the season following his stellar game on Saturday.  Holton went seven innings while striking out 8 batters against the #8 North Carolina Tarheels.  In his outing, Holton did not allow a hit or a walk.  Four base runners reached - all on errors - and none made it to second base or beyond.

Holton also won pitcher of the week after games against Samford (2/25) and Oakland (3/4).  Against Samford, Holton set a career high with 11 strikeouts, but he quickly broke that record by recording 13 strikeouts against Oakland.

The sophomore became the first player to win ACC Player of the Week honors in back-to-back weeks since Maryland's Jake Stinnett in 2014.

Holton joins Paul Wilson (1993, 1994), Mike Ziegler (2000), and Sean Gilmartin (2011) as the only players in Florida State history to earn three ACC Pitcher of the Week honors in one season.

The #22 Florida State Seminoles (18-11) are back in action hosting #20 Florida Gulf Coast (24-5) for a two-game midweek series in Tallahassee.  Florida State dropped their first contest to FGCU on March 15th by a score of 5-2.  Andrew Karp (0-2, 4.60 ERA) will get the start for the Seminoles on Tuesday.  FSU has not named a starter for Wednesday yet.

The Eagles lost their first series of the season over the weekend as Jacksonville took two of three games.  Florida Gulf Coast will start Mario Leon (3-1, 2.59 ERA) on Tuesday.  Last week, Leon threw 7 shutout innings against Miami in a 3-0 win.  Leon is also the reigning Atlantic Sun Pitcher of the Week.

Social Media: Follow Jon Opiela on Twitter and Instagram - @jonopiela24

Florida State completes weekend sweep of Notre Dame

Photo Credit: Jonathan Opiela

SOUTH BEND— The Florida State Seminoles (18-7, 6-3 ACC) came into Saturday looking to complete the series sweep over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish (7-15, 2-7 ACC) and managed to do just that in a 5-1 win.

Jackson Leuck got the Seminoles on the board with a first inning 2-run home run off of Notre Dame starter Brad Bass.  The switch-hitting Leuck had two home runs on the weekend, with one coming from each side of the plate. 

"(Jackson) has changed the complexion of our lineup," Florida State head coach Mike Martin said. "When you stick a guy who can do what he does from both sides of the plate back in our lineup, it gives the opposing team something to think about."

The Seminoles added another run in the third inning with a RBI single to right field by Quincy Nieporte.

Notre Dame got their first run of the game after a botched ball on a double play attempt.  Jake Johnson was able to score from second base after the error.

Florida State’s Drew Parrish threw a three-hit complete game; the first complete game of his collegiate career.  Parrish’s previous career-high was seven innings pitched.  Parrish also struck out seven Irish hitters to tie his career high.  

"Parrish gave us a huge lift because we used so many arms yesterday," Martin said. "That was a big life. His emotions were under control. A good life for him after last weekend. I thought I was just getting ahead and staying ahead pretty early.  Locating the fastball because I knew they would be a conservative team.  I feel like I did that pretty well today."  

Notre Dame coach Mik Aoki addressed his teams struggles at the plate after the game.
"I don't know.  I think it's easy to say that I think Parrish pitched well, right?," Aoki said. "The fastball, changeup, curveball he had going on and don't think we were particularly competitive at the plate today." 

Florida State added another run in the eighth inning from a sacrifice fly off the bat of Quincy Nieporte.  Taylor Walls was able to score easily on the deep fly to right-center field.  The Seminoles got an additional insurance run off a home run in the ninth inning.

Florida State’s Taylor Walls drew three walks in the contest (seven on the series).  Coming into the weekend series, Walls and Tyler Daughtry were tied for the national lead in walks with 26 apiece. 

Box Score:

                          R   H    E
Florida State     5    7     1 
Notre Dame      1    3     0

WP: Parrish (3-1)

LP: Bass (1-3)

Social Media: 

Follow Jon Opiela on Twitter and Instagram: @jonopiela24