State of the Ace: Holton Spins Gem in SEC Opener

Carter Holton fanned nine across seven innings of one-run ball against No. 18 Auburn.

carter holton

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

The Opening Weekend of SEC play was marked by a variety of high-end ranked matchups, including No. 9 Vanderbilt hosting No. 18 Auburn. The visiting Tigers entered the weekend with seven of their starting nine boasting three-plus home runs and had gone deep in each of their first 16 games.

That run of offensive production quickly screeched to a halt against the Commodores and ace Carter Holton. The junior southpaw gave up a run in the first inning — on a double, groundout, and wild pitch — but quickly settled in.

Holton went seven innings of an eight-inning, 11-1 run-rule victory and allowed just four hits and one walk while striking out nine. After allowing back-to-back singles in the third inning with one out, he responded by setting down the next 13 batters he faced.

It was Holton’s best start of the year by Game Score (73) and followed up an 11-strikeout, five-inning outing against Illinois State. He’s got a 3.96 ERA and 14 K/9 across 25 innings to start the season.

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

Coltin Atkinson (Sam Houston) vs. New Mexico State — 8 IP, 2 H, 3 BB, 9 K

That’s three straight quality starts for Atkinson, with the latest effort his best of the year. The CUSA opener against the Aggies went smoothly as he allowed just two hits and walked three while striking out nine. Atkinson has a 1.76 ERA over 30.2 IP.

Hagen Smith (Arkansas) vs. Missouri — 6 IP, 2 H, BB, 10 K

Smith just continues to make it look easy out there. Another double-digit strikeout performance, this time scattering two hits and a walk over six scoreless against Missouri. He’s up to a gaudy 50 strikeouts in 23 innings with a 1.57 ERA and just eight walks allowed.

Nick Pinto (UC Irvine) vs. UC Davis — 8 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 7 K

Pinto took his first loss of the season last week against Fresno State — he gave up three runs over five innings in what became a 13-1 loss — and responded well. He went eight innings against the Aggies, dueling with Bryan Green (7 IP, 0 R) before UC Irvine ultimately walked it off. Pinto fanned seven and allowed five baserunners.

Jake Brink (Charleston) vs. Wofford — 8 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 4 K

Like Pinto above, Brink bounced back from a rough start by his standards. The sophomore righthander had given up five runs to Penn last week but went eight shutout against Wofford. Brink worked around three hits and two walks while striking out four. He has a 2.03 ERA and 1.16 WHIP through 31 innings.

Kyle Robinson (Texas Tech) vs. Baylor — 7 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 8 K

We continue our “bounce-back” efforts with perhaps the biggest one yet: Robinson gave up 11 hits and 11 runs to Texas last weekend in three-plus innings. Against Baylor? He worked seven shutout innings, allowing three hits and walking two while striking out eight.

Top Game Scores (Friday, March 15)
PlayerTeamOppDecIPHRERBBSOGame Score
Coltin AtkinsonSam Houston@ New Mexico St.W8.02003984
Randy ReyesGrambling@ AlcornW7.030001283
Jesse BarkerCentral Ark.Eastern Ky.ND8.042101482
Nick PintoUC IrvineUC DavisND8.03002781
Jake BrinkCol. of CharlestonWoffordW8.03002478
Tyler GrennNavy@ BucknellW7.22000477
Kyle RobinsonTexas Tech@ BaylorW7.03002877
Hagen SmithArkansasMissouriW6.020011077
Adam MrakitschCentral Mich.@ MiamiND8.070021177
Brooks CapleLamar UniversityPacificND7.041011076
Luke HeltonMorehead St.Eastern Mich.W8.03221976
Bradley WilsonApp State@ Texas St.ND6.01002674
Bryan GreenUC Davis@ UC IrvineND7.02004574
Ryan JohnsonDBUA&M-Corpus ChristiW7.03201773
Peyton ConsigliCanisius@ LibertyW6.01003673
Carter HoltonVanderbiltAuburnW7.04111973
Nick BrinkPortlandMarylandW7.042201172
Nic McCaySouth Dakota St.@ Oral RobertsW7.052121372
Trey YesavageEast CarolinaColumbiaW6.021121072
Michael O’HanlonHofstraManhattanW8.16111772