Spring-like weather and record-setting crowds greeted teams across the country on the opening weekend of the 2017 college baseball season.
UC Santa Barbara and Loyola Marymount played the first game of the season on Thursday, Feb. 16 at Page Stadium in Los Angeles. UCSB second baseman Casey Fisher homered on the second pitch of the college baseball season in the Gauchos 6-3 win over the Lions.
Here is this week’s edition of Bats and Blogs!
RECORD-SETTING CROWDS: LSU (33,137), Ole Miss (33,070), Miss. State (31.764), Arkansas (29,354) and South Carolina (24,501) drew 151,826 fans on opening weekend. The five SEC teams averaged 10,122 fans per game. Ole Miss set the all-time three-game series attendance record with 33,070 fans for the Top 10 showdown with East Carolina. The Rebels drew a school-record 12,117 on opening day at Swayze Field. Miss. State set an opening weekend attendance record with 31,764 fans against Texas Tech and Western Illinois. LSU had three crowns in excess of 10,000 fans, including a weekend best 11,174 for the second game of the series against Army. Arkansas had 10,891 fans for game two of its series with Miami-Ohio. South Carolina posted sellouts (8,242) in the first two games against UNC Greensboro, and narrowly missed a third sellout (8,017) in Sunday’s finale.
NO-HITTERS: The first weekend of the college baseball season featured a pair of no-hitters. Elon junior right-hander Robbie Welhaf threw the first no-hitter of the season in a 7-0 win over Longwood College. A little over two hours later, LSU senior left-hander Jared Poche’ fired a 7-inning no-hitter in the Tigers’ 6-0 win over Army. Welhaf (9 IP, 0 H 0, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K) tossed the first no-hitter for the Phoenix at the Division I level. He threw 100 pitches and faced just two batters over the minimum in the win. Poche’ allowed only one base runner (fourth inning error) in the sixth no-hitter in LSU and first since 1979. Poche’ retired the first nine batters before Army’s Josh White reached on an error by LSU right fielder Greg Deichmann to lead off the fourth inning. Poche’ then retired the final 12 hitters to complete no-hitter.
RECORD-SETTING NIGHT: McNeese State set three school records in its 32-4 win at ULM on Tuesday, Feb. 21. The Cowboys set school single-game records with 32 runs scored and 29 hits in the blowout win over the Warhawks. The McNeese State football team scored less than 32 points in four games last season. McNeese also set the school record by scoring 15 runs in the top of the fifth inning to extend its lead to 29-2. McNeese State collected 15 runs and 12 hits and sent 18 batters to the plate. Third baseman Matt Gallier capped the inning with a grand slam. Will Fox also had three RBIs in the record-setting frame.
HOOVER BASEBALL CLASSIC: Morehead State, Iowa and Alabama State will make up the field at the inaugural Hoover Baseball Classic this weekend at the Hoover Met. The three-day event begins Friday when Alabama State and Iowa meet at Noon, followed by Morehead State and Alabama State at 4 p.m. On Saturday, Alabama State and Morehead State meet at Noon, followed by Alabama State and Iowa at 4 p.m. The round-robin event wraps up on Sunday when Iowa faces Morehead State at 1 p.m.
THIS WEEK’S TOP 25 SCHEDULE:
Arizona State at (1) TCU
(21) Miami at (2) Florida
Samford at (3) Florida State
Wright State at (4) South Carolina
Maryland at (5) LSU
Austin Peay at (6) NC State
Illinois-Chicago at (7) Vanderbilt
(8) Oregon State at Big 10/Pac 12 Challenge (Surprise, Arizona)
Radford at (9) North Carolina
Omaha at (10) Louisville
Cal at (11) Texas Tech
(12) Cal State Fullerton at UNLV
(13) UL Lafayette at Sam Houston State
Rutgers at (14) Virginia
McNeese State at (15) Arizona
Pepperdine at (16) Texas A&M
UNC Wilmington at (17) Ole Miss
LaSalle at (18) East Carolina
(19) Coastal Carolina at Caravelle Resort Tournament (Conway, SC)
Kansas at (20) Stanford
Elon at (22) Clemson
SE Louisiana at (23) Rice
(25) Houston at Kelberg Bank Classic (Corpus Christi, Texas)
COLLEGE BASEBALL NOTEBOOK:
- UC Santa Barbara second baseman Casey Fisher homered on the second pitch of the college baseball season in the Gauchos 6-3 win at Loyola-Marymount in the first game of the 2017 season on Thursday, Feb. 16.
- VCU posted a 3-0 win at Florida State in the 2017 season opener for both teams. Junior RHP Sean Thompson (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K), senior LHP Matt Jamer (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K) and senior RHP Sam Donko (1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 K) combined on the one-hit shutout for the Rams. Thompson was named the Atlantic 10 Conference Pitcher of the Week. Donko, a preseason All-American, led the NCAA with 20 saves in 2016.
- Florida State had its 18-game season-opening winning streak snapped in the 3-0 loss to VCU. Prior to last weekend, FSU had not lost on opening days since a 10-1 setback to Notre Dame in 1998. Florida State had not been shutout in its season opener since a 10-0 loss at Miami on Feb. 22, 1980.
- Defending national champion Coastal Carolina is 2-3 to begin the 2017 season. Coastal Carolina the season with an 8-5 win over Richmond, before losing three straight games to Western Carolina, James Madison and St. John’s. Coastal Carolina got back on the winning track with a 16-7 win over the College of Charleston on Wednesday. The Chanticleers will host Ball State, West Virginia and George Mason in the Caravelle Resort Tournament this weekend.
- Wright State, who won the 2016 Horizon League championship and played in the finals of the NCAA Louisville Regional, opened the 2017 season with a series win at No. 10 Clemson. The Raiders opened the season with a 6-4 win over the Tigers. Clemson rebounded for a 6-2 win in game two of the series to set up the rubber game on Sunday. Wright State took the series with a 9-2 win in the finale. Freshman third baseman Seth Gray (.500, HR, 5 RBI) and sophomore left fielder J.D. Orr (.357, 0 HR, 4 RBI) combined for nine RBIs in the series win. Wright State faces South Carolina this weekend in Columbia.
- Morehead State scored 10 runs in the ninth inning for a 13-8 win at Miss. State on Tuesday.
Barry Allen has been covering SEC Baseball for more than three decades. He currently works as researcher and statistician for ESPN, SEC Network and FOX Sports. Allen is a member of the National Collegiate Baseball Writers Association (NCBWA) and served as the organization’s President in 2002. He was honored with the NCBWA’s Wilbur Snypp Award in 2007 for his contributions to college baseball.