Inaugural College Baseball Classic seen as major success among Power-5 teams

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Pittsburgh Panthers No. 29 Ryan Andrade pitches against Oklahoma. (Scarlet & Gray Free Press/DJ Cabanlong.)

Las Vegas Ballpark, home to the Las Vegas Aviators, played host to the Inaugural College Baseball Classic from March 1-3.

The attraction was put on by Peak Sports, who have been responsible for four other Baseball Classics in cities such as Jacksonville FL, Frisco TX, Sugar Land TX, and Round Rock TX.

This Classic featured four Power-5 Conference squads, including the Ohio State Buckeyes, California “Cal” Golden Bears, Pittsburgh “Pitt” Panthers, and the Oklahoma Sooners. 

Each team was initially scheduled to play three games over three days, but the weather in Las Vegas canceled the second day of games.  

After the games concluded, all four head coaches from each team had nothing but praise for how Las Vegas ran the event and how hospitable the city was for allowing these matchups to take place. 

“What a great venue we had here, and Peak does such an amazing job with these tournaments,” Ohio State Head Coach Bill Mosiello said. Part of our program is that we want to play a really daunting schedule against great teams in great venues.”

“It was a great venue all weekend and our guys really enjoyed playing in this environment and the competition was second to none,” Pitt Head Coach Mike Bell said.

As the teams began play on March 1, it was clear that offensively, the Panthers had brought the power into the Triple-A stadium as they took down the Oklahoma Sooners by a final score of 19-9 through seven innings of play due to the mercy rule. 

The Panthers totaled seven extra-base hits in that matchup, including two home runs from Jake Kendro and Ryan Zuckermann. 

The second game on Friday night was between the Buckeyes and the Golden Bears, which resulted in another lopsided 9-4 win for Ohio State. 

After jumping out to an 8-0 lead, the Buckeyes held on strong, assisted by its Friday-night ace, Landon Beidelschies, who hurled six innings of two-run baseball to help seal the victory. 

With both of Saturday’s games canceled, the event was geared up for an exciting finish. With each team having only played in two games, a tie-breaker scenario was possible. 

The Buckeyes and Sooners kicked off Sunday’s action as the day’s first game.

The matchup was also the closest contest of the weekend, as the Buckeyes clinched a 2-0 record with a come-from-behind win against Oklahoma. 

In the dying moments of the ninth inning, a two-out rally by Ohio State helped bring home both the tying and eventual game-winning runs before recording the final three outs of the game in the bottom half of the inning.

With the win, the Buckeyes did all they could to win the Baseball Classic trophy, but due to the run differential, Ohio State needed the Golden Bears to defeat the Panthers in the second game of the day. 

This, however, did not happen as the Panthers once again had an offensive explosion at the plate, recording its second win of the tournament by a score of 19-7.

While the Golden Bears fought to stay within striking distance of the victory and pushed the game the entire distance, they could not overcome the deficit. 

The Panthers were led offensively by the eventual Inaugural Las Vegas Baseball Classic MVP, catcher Jayden Melendez 

With the tournament win, the Panthers moved to an overall record of 8-1 after scoring a total of 38 runs over 16 innings of play while their confidence remained at an all-time high. 

“You know the term what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas but I’d like to take this offense with us,” Panther Head Coach Mike Bell said.  

With the Classic officially in the rear-view mirror, Peak Sports will once again bring an event to the Las Vegas Ballpark after the recent success and high praise surrounding the event.

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