Opening weekend for the 2022 college baseball season offered fans around the country the opportunity to view some unique matchups in some unusual locales.
In Arlington, Texas, the State Farm College Baseball Showdown took place in Globe Life Field, home of the Texas Rangers where Auburn, Oklahoma, Michigan, Arizona, Kansas State, and Texas Tech did battle over three days.
In Surprise, Arizona, three teams—Oregon State, New Mexico, and Gonzaga—competed in the Sanderson Ford College Baseball Classic, with participating schools each playing one double header during the three days of tournament play.
Over in Scottsdale, the MLB4 Tournament played host to TCU, San Diego State, California, and Houston. The event took place at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick, the spring training home of the Colorado Rockies and Arizona Diamondbacks.
Friday Oklahoma beat Auburn 3-0 in a pitching effort led by Jake Bennett who went five complete innings allowing just one hit before three relievers combined to finish off the shutout. A two-run home run was all the offense the Sooners needed.
Texas Tech’s only win of the weekend came on Friday night when they walked-off Michigan to win 7-6 after scoring two runs in the bottom of the ninth. Freshman Owen Washburn went 3-for-4 and drove in the winning run with a single.
Arizona beat Kansas State 8-6 to win head coach Chip Hale’s first game as skipper of the Arizona squad. Arizona catcher Daniel Susac (2-for-5) drove in three runs for the Wildcats while TJ Nichols made the start on the mound and handled the first four innings of work.
Saturday, Auburn won a thriller over Texas Tech 2-1 as five pitchers carried the load for the Tigers. Joseph Gonzalez threw five scoreless innings for Auburn, and Kason Howell delivered a sac fly RBI in the fourth, which held up as the winning run.
Oklahoma fell to Arizona 14-4 on Saturday night. Mac Bingham (2-for-5) and Tanner O'Tremba (3-for-5) drove in half of Arizona’s runs. Quinn Flanagan relieved Garrett Irvin after four innings and earned the win. Arizona only scored in three innings, but the five run third and seven run seventh were the knockout blows.
In the Saturday finale, Michigan and Kansas State played a close game before the Wolverines eventually put the game away and took a 10-2 victory. Left-hander Jacob Denner scattered four hits and five strike outs in six innings of work, and he finished his outing strong as he retired the last eight batters he faced. Leading 3-2 going to the bottom of the seventh, the Wolverines exploded for seven runs to put the game out of reach for the Wildcats.
Sunday started in Arlington with Auburn dominating Kansas State 12-1. Auburn’s Brayton Brown and Nate LaRue, drove in the first four runs for the Tigers and combined for five of the runs scored on Sunday. Trace Bright picked up the win as he pitched five innings and allowed just one unearned run and had five strikeouts.
Arizona throttled Texas Tech 13-2 in Sunday’s middle game. Dawson Netz pitched for the Wildcats and went five innings and struck out six Red Raiders. Left fielder Chase Davis paced the Wildcats offense by going 3-for-4 with a home run and three RBI.
Oklahoma closed out the weekend with a 6-1 victory over Michigan. Chazz Martinez took the hill for the Sooners and set the pace with 4 2/3 innings pitched allowing just one unearned run. Trent Brown went 1-for-2 and his two RBI double in the second inning was all the offense Oklahoma needed.
Auburn allowed only five runs in their three games over the weekend, but they were shutout on opening night and managed to salvage a winning record over the weekend.
Oregon State put on an incredible offensive display in Arizona over the weekend, which they also matched with solid pitching. Cooper Hjerpe worked five strong innings striking out eight. Meanwhile, the Oregon State offense was impressive, led by Travis Bazzana and Mason Guerra who had three RBI each. The Beavers had eight players with a multi hit game in the 21-1 win over New Mexico.
Oregon State's 21 runs is the most on opening day since their 1960 team scored 23.
New Mexico and Gonzaga played a close, low-scoring game Friday before Ezra Samperi drove in the winning run in the bottom of the ninth to give the Bulldogs the 3-2 walk-off victory.
On Saturday, Jake Pfennigs went five scoreless innings for the Beavers on their way to a 13-5 win. The Beavers scored in five of their eight innings and were spurred by Garret Forrester and Jacob Melton who had two hits apiece in the win. Gonzaga did all their scoring in the top half of the ninth getting to the Beavers bullpen when the game was all but decided.
On Saturday against New Mexico, Gonzaga scored four in the first inning to open up the game and added six more in the fourth to lead 10-1 en route to a 12-2 win. Grayson Sterling went 3-for-4 and drove in three runs for the Bulldogs. Left-hander Bradley Mullan went six innings on the mound for the win.
Oregon State took on Gonzaga again on Sunday and walked away with a 9-5 victory. Gonzaga jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the second inning before Oregon State plated 9 unanswered runs.
Sunday night Oregon State beat New Mexico 13-3. New Mexico got on the board with two in the top of the first, and Oregon State immediately answered with three in the bottom frame. TJ Wheeler hit a grand slam for the Beavers in the eighth inning and Gary Fuchs also drove in four runs.
Oregon State left Surprise with a 4-0 record after their dominating performances.
The Cal Golden Bears were the winners of the weekend in Scottsdale. They opened the tournament on Friday with a 4-2 win over Houston in ten innings. Houston got a lights out performance from newcomer Nathan Medrano who went seven strong innings and only allowed one run, but the Houston offense was stymied by a bevy of Cal relief pitchers.
In the Friday nightcap, TCU defeated San Diego State 5-3 to give new head coach and former big leaguer Kirk Saarloos a win in his managing debut. The Horned Frogs took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first and led until the bottom half of the sixth. Trailing in the top of the ninth, David Bishop drove in a run for TCU to put them in front before a wild pitch accounted for the third run of the inning, the Horned Frogs scored three times in the ninth for the win.
In what was likely the most drama filled game of the weekend in Scottsdale, Cal defeated TCU 7-6 in the bottom of the ninth on Saturday afternoon. TCU led the game 4-0 after the second inning. But, in the eighth inning Cal scored four runs to take a 6-4 lead into the ninth. TCU tied the game in the top of the ninth. Cal freshman Rodney Green Jr. ripped a pinch-hit triple and scored on a wild pitch to win the game in regulation.
San Diego State outlasted Houston 4-3 with the potential tying run left at second base for the Cougars in a well pitched game for both squads. Poncho Ruiz drove in two runs for the Aztecs and starting pitcher Kelena Sauer turned in five innings allowing one run and striking out six.
Sunday morning got started with TCU taking advantage of five walks in the first inning against Houston on their way to a 10-0 shutout that ended in the eighth in run-rule fashion.
In the tournament finale, Cal defeated San Diego State 6-3 to finish the tournament a perfect 3-0. Cal catcher Cole Elvis deposited a three-run home run onto the lawn in left-center to break a tie in the fifth inning and the Golden Bears never surrendered the lead.
College baseball is back for 2022 and these three tournaments showcased some of the great stories college baseball fans can all look forward to watching as the season moves along.