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Championship Day Recap - Las Vegas College Baseball Classic

Game 5 - Ohio State vs. Oklahoma - Sunday, March 3, 11 a.m. - George

Ohio State’s (6-4) ninth-inning heroics pushed them to a come-from-behind 4-3 victory over the Oklahoma Sooners (5-5) in Sunday’s opener at Las Vegas Ballpark. Trailing by two for most of the contest, the Buckeyes pieced together a two-out rally with three hits, a timely error and Mitchell Okuley’s go-ahead bases-loaded walk. Justin Eckhardt came in to close the game, working around a two-out walk to grab the save. 

Things started fast for the Buckeyes, as their first four hitters reached safely. Ohio State would only score once in the opening frame to notch the early 1-0 lead. Oklahoma countered an inning later as Kendall Pettis left the yard for the second time this season with a 368-foot blast to left field to knot up the score. 

The Sooners would take the lead in the third inning, capitalizing on a dropped fly ball in left field to score twice for a 3-1 lead. Their two-run advantage would remain through the middle innings, as both teams’ bullpens matched zeroes on the scoreboard. Left-hander James Hitt was brilliant for the Sooners, going 3.1 innings of shutout relief and four strikeouts. His counterpart in scarlet and gray, righty Colin Purcell, also threw 3.1 scoreless frames and four punchouts. 

“We pitched fantastic throughout the game with the relievers coming in and they did the exact same so it was two bullpens doing their job,” said Buckeyes head coach Bill Mosiello. 

Ohio State finished 2-0 on the shortened weekend, while the Sooners went 0-2 and now have their eyes set on the Big 12 Conference slate starting next week. 

Game 6 - Cal vs Oklahoma - Sunday, March 3, 3 p.m. - Sarah

The final game of the inaugural Las Vegas College Baseball Classic was a showdown between two squads in Pittsburgh and California that had started the season a combined 14-3 entering the contest, but it was Panthers who came out ahead with the 19-7 win at Las Vegas Ballpark. 

Behind a brilliant performance by starter Jack Sokol and an explosive offense that collected 19 runs in each game for a total of 38 over its two wins this weekend, Pitt improved to 8-1 on the year to mark its best start since going 10-1 to begin 2020. 

The Panthers joined Ohio State with a 2-0 on the weekend and were crowned the 2024 Las Vegas College Baseball Classic Champions with the advantage in run differential over the Buckeyes after the head-to-head contest between the squads was canceled on Saturday due to weather.

“It was a great weekend for Pitt,” said head coach Mike Bell. “These guys were really excited to play here and they were really excited to walk away with the championship belt.” 

California jumped on the board first after a two-out double by Peyton Schulze scored catcher Caleb Lomavita in the bottom half of the first, but Pitt responded in the top half of the next frame when Ryan Zuckerman's RBI groundout plated Turner Grau from third to knot it at one. 

It didn't stay that way for long. After Sokol set down the Bears in order to end the second, the Pittsburgh offense gave him the lead for good with catcher Jayden Melendez blasting a two-run home run to left field and Grau dropping an RBI double in no-man's land in center to make it 4-1. Pitt remained relentless at the plate after that with a four-run fifth capped by a Zuckerman three-run dinger to right field and a second Melendez home run, this time a solo shot to right, made it 9-1 after six. The Panthers didn't let off the gas, adding four more in the seventh, one in the eighth, and three in the ninth.

After that shaky first inning that saw California score the run's first game, Sokol settled in nicely, retiring the next 12 of 14 from the second through the fifth inning. In all, the senior went 6.0 innings allowing just one run on three hits with eight strikeouts to improve to 2-0 on the year. 

Melendez had a monster game Sunday, going 2-for-4 with a pair of home runs, three runs scored, and three RBI. Over the two victories, the junior hit .429 with two home runs, one double, 3 RBI, 6 runs scored, and four walks on his way to being named the Las Vegas Baseball College Classic Tournament MVP. 

While Melendez was a standout, the entire Pitt offensive was on fire in Las Vegas and its power was on full display with seven total home runs over the two contests. 

On the offensive output this week, “They say what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but I hope this offense comes back with us.”

Cal's Schulze led the way offensively for the Bears, going 3-for-4 with 3 RBI and a double while shortstop PJ Moutzouridis drilled a three-run home run in the eighth to cap the Cal scoring.

Overall Bell was impressed with the weekend and the level of competition to tournament offered.

“When you look around the country and see what Peak Events are doing with Round Rock, Frisco, Jacksonville, Las Vegas, they are providing great competition before stepping into conference play.”

2024 Las Vegas College Baseball Classic All-Tournament Team

OF: Turner Grau, Pittsburgh

OF: Trey Lipsey, Ohio State

OF: Rodney Green Jr., California

INF: Luke Cantwell, Pittsburgh

INF: Henry Kaczmar, Ohio State

INF: Tyler Bischke, Pittsburgh

INF: Ryan Zuckerman, Pittsburgh

C: Jayden Melendez, Pittsburgh

DH: Easton Carmichael, Oklahoma

SP: Landon Beidelschies, Ohio State

RP: Colin Purcell, Ohio State

Tournament MVP: Melendez, Pittsburgh


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