In the weeks leading up to the opening day of baseball season, there is always a lot of talk. Who’s got the best club? Who can hit, who can pitch? What team will surprise us this season?
Thankfully, last week, Division I baseball teams finally got started on answering these questions as action started Friday. And, while it will be months before we really know any answers, there were quite a few things worth noting from the first weekend of play.
After winning its first two contests against Western Illinois by a combined score of 16-3, No. 1 Arkansas suffered a 7-5 setback to the Leathernecks on Sunday. The Razorbacks were ranked No. 1 in three preseason polls. Western Illinois’ win was the first victory for first-year head coach Ryan Brownlee, and the first time a Leatherneck squad has upended a No. 1 opponent. Western Illinois took advantage of three Razorback errors to score three runs in the top of the fourth inning.
“What a great win for our program, especially after the way Friday and Saturday went,” Brownlee said. “I’m extremely proud of our guys because we actually showed up and expected to win and that something we hadn’t done the previous two games.”
Alabama State’s T.J. Renda is credited with throwing the first no-hitter of the young season as he struck out a career-high 15 batters in a 14-0 defeat of Chicago State on Friday. Renda threw 83 of his 123 pitches for strikes, walked one batter and hit another. He faced only two batters over the minimum in the nine-inning game, and Chicago State never reached second base in the contest. Renda struck out the side twice in the game, first in the fifth inning, and then again in the ninth to close out the no-hitter.
“Throughout the game, I knew it was going pretty well,” Renda said. “As the game progressed, my adrenaline kept pumping more and more and I knew I had it.”
The victory was also Alabama State head coach Mervyl Melendez’ 400th of his career.
NC State’s opening weekend did not live up to the hype. Not only did the Wolfpack play just one game due to inclement weather, No. 9 NC State and their star pitcher were upset 6-3 by Appalachian State in the season-opener on Friday. Sophomore Carlos Rodon, last year’s Atlantic Coast Conference Pitcher and Freshman of the Year, suffered his first collegiate loss after surrendering five runs in six innings. While he struck out eight batters in the outing, it was the first time Rodon left a game with the Pack trailing. App State’s Jaylin Davis, Preston Troutman and Noah Holmes all blasted home runs in the upset.
There was much hub-bub surrounding the University of San Diego’s opening of the brand-new Fowler Park and the No. 20 Toreros sold-out series against crosstown rival San Diego State. Unfortunately, for San Diego fans, while the new park may have stolen the show, it was the Aztecs who ran away with the victories. SDSU set the tone with an 8-1 win on Friday, and then held to a pair of two-run leads in the next two games despite the Toreros’ rally attempts.
Troy’s Danny Collins hit for the cycle and drove in a combined eight runs as the Trojans swept a doubleheader against Florida A&M on Saturday. Collins hit for the cycle in the first contest, finishing the game 5-for-6 with three runs scored and six RBI as Troy won handily 22-5. He then added two RBI in the second contest which the Trojans won 11-1. Collins batted .571 with two doubles, two triples, a homer and nine RBI over the four-game series.
• While Indiana, the No. 1 Division I men’s basketball team in the nation, made it through the week unscathed, No. 2 Duke did not fare as well. The Blue Devils survived a huge rivalry game against North Carolina on Wednesday, beating the Tar Heels 73-68 but were not able to come out on top in Saturday’s match-up at Maryland in Atlantic Coast Conference action. Maryland’s Seth Allen connected on two free throws with 2.8 seconds remaining in game as the Terrapins earned their first victory against Duke under head coach Mark Turgeon.
• The top-ranked Quinnipiac men’s hockey team fell to St. Lawrence 2-1 on Friday, snapping the Bobcats’ 21-game unbeaten streak. It was Quinnipiac’s first loss in ECAC Hockey play this season. Despite the setback, a Yale loss to Union on Friday gave the Bobcats the program’s first Cleary Cup, which goes to the ECAC Hockey regular-season champion. Quinnipiac will be the top seed in the league tournament and earned a bye in the first round. On Saturday, Quinnipiac bounced back with a 2-1 win against Clarkson behind senior goalie Eric Hartzell, who earned his school-record 22nd victory of the season.
• The No. 1 Minnesota women’s hockey team escaped an overtime contest with a 3-2 victory against Bemidji State thanks to a power-play goal by senior Mira Jalosuo as the Golden Gophers remained perfect on the season and stretched their winning streak to 40 games. It was their first overtime game and first one-goal decision of the season. The Gophers finished their home slate with a 16-0-0 mark — the first time the team has gone undefeated at home in program history. Senior defenseman Megan Bozek tallied an assist in the contest, earning her 135th career point — a school record for career points by a defenseman.
• Cornell advanced to the NWCA National Duals finals next weekend in Minnesota after defeating Nebraska and Hofstra on Sunday in Newman Arena. Cornell opened the day by shutting out Hofstra 42-0 before edging the Cornhuskers 19-17. Cornell collected five falls on the day, including two by No. 1 165-pound Kyle Dake. Dake has 16 falls this season, one shy of tying the school’s season record.
Oklahoma State, Virginia Tech and Missouri also advanced out of the regionals on Sunday. They will join four teams that received automatic berths in the finals — Iowa, Minnesota, Illinois and Ohio State — to comprise the eight-team field that will compete for the 2013 NWCA National Duals title at Williams Arena in Minneapolis, Minn., on Feb. 22-23.
• The No. 1 St. Cloud State wrestling team captured its second consecutive Northern Sun Intercollegiate Conference championship with a 29-6 win against runner-up Minnesota State on Thursday, increasing the team’s dual victory streak to 47, which ties the Division II record held by Pittsburgh-Johnstown (1994-96). SCSU improved to 21-0 on the season with a victory that also marked head coach Steve Costanzo’s 100th career win with the Huskies. In addition, senior Shamus O’Grady — the nation’s No. 1 184-pounder — won his 100th career match as a Husky, improving to 32-1 on the year.
• The No. 1 Florida women’s gymnastics team became the first top-ranked team since 1992 to travel to Georgia’s Stegeman Coliseum and leave with a victory as the Gators downed the No. 9 GymDogs 197.30-196,175 in front of 9,971 fans on Saturday. The Gators are the sixth team to come to Georgia’s home arena with a No. 1 ranking. Freshman Bridget Sloan earned her third consecutive all-around title on Saturday with a 39.60 to lead the Gators.
• Michigan sophomore men’s gymnast Stacey Ervin set a school record on the floor exercise with a score of 16.15 in the Wolverine’s 446.150-435.650 victory at No. 5 Ohio State on Saturday. Ervin’s mark is also the top floor score in the nation this season, and helped the Wolverines compile the second-highest team score in the country this season.
• Senior All-American Katie Schwarzmann tallied a career-high seven goals to lead No. 4 Maryland’s lacrosse team to a convincing 19-11 victory at No. 2 Syracuse at the Carrier Dome on Sunday. Freshman Taylor Cummings contributed five goals and a game-high six draw controls. The win avenged the Terrapins’ one-goal loss to the Orange at home last season which snapped a 36-game home winning streak.
• The Southeastern Oklahoma softball team posted a perfect 6-0 mark at the NFCA Division II Leadoff Classic, concluding with a 3-2 defeat of West Texas A&M in the championship game on Sunday in Tucson, Ariz. Southeastern downed three top 10 teams — No. 8 Augustana (S.D.), No. 2 UC San Diego and No. 5 Minnesota State-Mankato — during the tournament. Pitcher Jacee Bennett garnered the tournament’s Most Valuable Pitcher, while Jessica Simmons was tabbed the Most Valuable Player. Southeastern also ran its winning streak to eight games.
• In one of the most heated Division III rivalries in the nation, the No. 3 Hope women’s basketball team avenged its only loss of the season by defeating No. 2 Calvin 65-50 in front of 3,443 fans at DeVos Fieldhouse on Saturday. The schools will share the regular season Michigan Intercollegiate Athletic Association title, both posting 15-1 league marks. Senior guard Liz Ellis scored a career-best 20 points and contributed five steals for the Flying Dutch. Calvin entered the game as the best shooting team in DIII, but the Knights were held to just 30 percent for the game.
|THE DIGIT||THE 4-1-1|
|1||North Carolina junior left-hander Kent Emanuel became the first pitcher in school history to toss a season-opening complete-game shutout as he struck out five batters and did not issue a walk in the Tar Heels’ 1-0 victory against Seton Hall on Friday. He scattered four hits in the nine-inning outing. UNC went on to sweep the rain-shortened series, also winning 17-2 on Sunday.|
|3:52.98||Tulsa senior Chris O’Hare set a new collegiate mile record, clocking a time of 3:52.98 at the 106th Millrose Games at The Armory in New York City on Saturday. O’Hare’s mark of 3:52.98 obliterated the time of 3:54.54 set last year at the Millrose Games by BYU’s Miles Batty. It is also the second-fastest mile time by a British athlete.|
|15||Saint Rose junior center Dominykas Milka notched his 15th double-double of the season as he contributed 17 points and 14 rebounds in a 71-62 victory against Pace in Division II men’s basketball on Saturday. The win helped the Golden Knights raised their record to one game over .500 on the season. Milka’s double-double only trails Garret Kerr’s 17 on the year. Kerr, a sophomore at the University of the Sciences tallied a career-high 34 points with 18 rebounds against Bloomfield.|
|31||Salisbury men’s lacrosse team’s 31-game winning streak ended on Saturday as the No. 1 Sea Gulls were upset by Lynchburg 13-12. The streak dated back to April 16, 2011, with their last loss coming against Stevenson. The two-time defending NCAA Division III champions went 23-0 last season.|
|36||Bentley freshman first baseman Evan Mondor set an NCAA all-divisions record with 36 putouts in the Falcons’ 16-inning 4-3 victory against Rollins on Saturday. Mondor also set the NCAA Division II mark for total chances with 36, while his team set a Division II record for most assists in a game with 36. In addition, Mondor’s RBI-single in the 16th inning lifted the Falcons to the win.|
|917||Ithaca senior Sean Rossi tallied 12 assists in a 76-69 defeat of Nazareth on Saturday, increasing his career assists total to 917 and tying the NCAA Division III all-time record held by Ramapo’s Tennyson Whitted (2000-03).|
• Syracuse’s Kayla Alexander netted a game-high 19 points, and posted eight rebounds and seven blocked shots to spark the No. 23 Orange women’s basketball team to a dominant 80-39 victory against Pittsburgh on Saturday. The victory gave the Orange its’ best overall record through 24 games in program history and improved their Big East mark to 9-2, which is the schools best in 25 years.
• The No. 5 Pepperdine men’s volleyball team upended No. 1 BYU in five sets on Friday as the Waves earned the 17th victory against a top-ranked team in program history. The Waves won the first two sets before the Cougars evened the match at two. Pepperdine got a 15-9 win in the fifth set to remain unbeaten on its home court this season. Maurice Torres paced the Waves with 23 kills and 12 digs.
• The USC women’s lacrosse team recorded the program’s first victory with a 24-4 defeat of Presbyterian on Friday. USC got goals from 10 different players, including four from freshman attack Caroline Cordrey. The Women of Troy improved to 1-2 in their inaugural season.
• Wayne State sophomore Piotr Jachowicz shattered NCAA Division II record in the 200 individual medley with a time of 1:45.92 at the Great Lakes Intercollegiate Athletic Conference Championship on Feb. 9. Jachowicz became the first Division II swimmer to break the 1:46-mark in the 200 IM, and helped sparked WSU to their third consecutive league title. A native of Lodz, Poland, he also set conference, meet and school records in the 100 breaststroke, earning an NCAA “A” cut qualifying time in the event.
• With a 70-50 victory against Southern New Hampshire on Saturday, the No. 2 Bentley women’s basketball team clinched at least a tie for the Northeast-10 regular season title — the program’s 21st in its’ 32-year history. The Falcons also improved their winning streak against NCAA Division II East Region foes to 36 games.
Follow Amy Farnum on Twitter: @NCAA_Amy