State of the Ace: Sears Fans 10 in Complete Game Shutout of Ohio State

Nebraska’s Brett Sears struck out 10 in a complete-game shutout of Ohio State.

Brett Sears

Welcome to State of the Ace, a Saturday morning look at the best performances by Friday starters throughout the country.

In 2023, Nebraska righthander Brett Sears was a seldom-used reliever that made 11 appearances to the tune of a 5.29 ERA. Sears flashed potential, fanning 23 in 17 innings, but it wasn’t to the level of his previous stop at Iowa Central CC where he turned in six complete games in 14 starts.

This season, however, Sears has firmly established himself as one of the top Friday night arms in the country.

Against Ohio State last night, Sears racked up a career-high 10 strikeouts and spun a complete-game shutout — allowing just two hits. The senior turned in his seventh straight quality start, no small feat in college baseball, and Nebraska moved to 4-0 in the Big Ten and a sterling 21-6 overall.

The first batter of the game hit a single off Sears but he would go on to retire 25 of the next 26 faced. He set down the last 14 Buckeyes in order, polishing off a gem in which he threw 115 pitches and moved to 6-0 on the year.

On the season, Sears has logged eight starts and boasts a 1.14 ERA with a 57:9 K/BB ratio across 55.1 IP. He’s thrown two-thirds of pitches for strikes and allowed just six extra base hits.

Let’s look at some of the other top pitching performances from Friday:

Michael Ross. (Samford Athletics Photo)

Michael Ross, Samford (vs. The Citadel): 9 IP, H, 2 BB, 9 K

Ross moved to 7-0 in eight starts for Samford with a complete-game shutout of The Citadel. After missing all of 2023 due to injury, Samford has loved having him back — he has 51 strikeouts to just 11 walks in 50-plus innings with seven starts of six-plus innings.

Patrick Gardner, FDU (vs. Delaware St.): 9 IP, 2 H, 4 BB, 11 K

After a tough start against UMES in which he allowed five runs, Gardner bounced back in a big way. The Knights’ lefty fanned 11 in a complete game shutout of Delaware State, scattering two hits and four walks.

Trey Yesavage, East Carolina (vs. Florida Atlantic): 7 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 11 K

Another week, another strong start from Yesavage. Aside from a shaky start against UTSA (5 IP, 4 R), Yesavage has been dominant this season. He scattered three hits and two walks while striking out 11 as the Pirates won their sixth straight game.

Jack Bennett, Western Kentucky (vs. DBU): 8.2 IP, 4 H, R, 3 BB, 11 K

Hosting a top-10 side, Bennett and Western Kentucky pulled off a 4-1 upset win as the sophomore righthander outdueled the top pitcher in the CUSA, No. 8 Dallas Baptist’s Ryan Johnson. Bennett struck out 11 and allowed a lone run, pitching into the ninth inning for the Hilltoppers.

Logan Lunceford, Missouri (vs. Florida): 6 IP, H, BB, 8 K

Another major upset belonged to Lunceford and Missouri, who snapped a SEC losing streak with an extra-innings 2-1 victory over No. 6 Florida. Lunceford took a no-decision but fanned eight of six shutout innings while walking one and allowing a single hit. Shout out to teammate Carter Rustad — he basically made a start in relief, going five innings of one-run ball with five strikeouts.

Sebastian Gongora, Louisville (vs. NC State): 7 IP, 3 H, R, BB, 11 K

A third upset rounds out this trio of starters as Gongora was lights out as the Cardinals routed No. 19 NC State, 11-1. Gongora allowing a single run on three hits and a walk while striking out 11. It was a welcome sight for Cardinals’ faithful after back-to-back rough conference starts.

Chase Burns, Wake Forest (vs. Virginia Tech): 7 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 15 K

Another weekend, another double-digit strikeout total for Burns. For the second weekend in a row, he did get a bit roughed up — North Carolina got six runs on him last week and No. 11 Virginia Tech put five up, punctuated by a grand slam from Eddie Micheletti Jr. — but he still fanned 15 and worked late into the game.