State of the Ace: Tolle Silences Cowboys With Complete Game Shutout

Payton Tolle spun a complete-game shutout of Oklahoma State with 15 strikeouts.

Payton Tolle

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

Entering the 2024 season, the eighth-best transfer per D1 Baseball was Wichita State’s Payton Tolle, a two-way player that made the move to the Big 12 and joined TCU. On Friday night, we saw the best of Tolle on the mound: The southpaw went on the road and hurled a complete game shutout against Oklahoma State, racking up a career-high 15 strikeouts in the process.

It was a much-needed performance as TCU could only scratch across a single run against Cowboys’ ace Sam Garcia and reliever Robert Cranz.

Tolle hasn’t factored in as much offensively with the Horned Frogs, hitting .216/.341/.405 across 44 plate appearances, but his outing against the Cowboys reinforced how big of a part he’ll be if TCU is to make a deep run.

The lefthander scattered five hits and three walks and escaped any trouble he faced with relative ease. He left a runner on second in the second with a strikeout, then stranded another two in the third with a three-pitch strikeout. A double play erased a leadoff single in the fourth, while a double and walk in the sixth were quickly taken away with a 5-4 fielder’s choice.

In the bottom of the ninth, after walking Avery Ortiz with one out, Tolle came back and fanned the next two batters to run his total to 15 and end the shutout in emphatic fashion. After two shaky starts against USC and Kansas, Tolle has been excellent. He fanned 10 against Oklahoma last week over six innings of two-run ball, then turned in a season-high 89 game Score.

On the year, Tolle is 1-1 with a 5.24 ERA and 40:13 K/BB ratio across 22.1 IP.

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

Dominic Pieto (LIU Photo)

Dominic Pieto (LIU) vs. Norfolk St. — 8 IP, 2 H, BB, 17 K

Three straight starts of seven-plus innings for Pieto, who racked up a program-record 17 strikeouts in a win over Norfolk State. The redshirt-junior righthander turned in eight shutout innings in a 14-6 win and struck out seven straight at one point.

Ryan Johnson (Dallas Baptist) at Sam Houston — 9 IP, 4 H, R, BB, 15 K

A recurring feature on this list, Johnson rolled in a big series opener against Sam Houston State. A shutout was spoiled by a Walker Janek double in the ninth inning, but Johnson still turned in the Patriots first complete-game effort since 2012 and set a career-high in strikeouts.

Justin Sinibaldi (Rutgers) vs. UConn — 9 IP, 4 H, BB, 9 K

Another complete game belonged to Sinibaldi, who impressed against UConn in non-conference action. On a night where runs were at a premium, Sinbaldi turned in the first complete-game shutout for Rutgers since 2016. He can consistently give you length: This was his third start of 8+ innings.

Brett Sears (Nebraska) vs. New Mexico St. — 8 IP, 2 H, 9 K

Nebraska has, somewhat quietly, cruised to a 16-5 record and Sears has been a big part of that. He spun a gem against New Mexico State, fanning nine of eight innings of two-hit, scoreless ball. Sears has six above-average starts by Game Score and a 1.14 ERA and just seven walks in 39 innings.

Braden Davis (Oklahoma) vs. West Virginia — 7 IP, 2 BB, 12 K

It was a historic night for the Sooners, who moved to a perfect 7-0 in Big 12 play with a decisive 13-0 win over West Virginia — in which Davis teamed up with Reid Hensley to hurl a no-hitter. Davis struck out the last eight batters he faced as he piled up 12 strikeouts. It was a great outing after a shorter start against TCU.

Chase Burns (Wake Forest) vs. Louisville — 7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 12 K

Another week, another fantastic start from Burns. Through six starts, Burns is 5-0 with a 1.93 ERA (37.1 IP) and a remarkable 68 strikeouts. He has double-digit strikeouts in five of those starts, including four in a row (and three with more than 12).

Luke Holman (LSU) vs. Florida — 6 IP, H, R, 3 BB, 13 K

For those wondering how Holman would respond after giving up five runs on 10 hits to Mississippi State last weekend, he answered that emphatically in a Top-10 matchup with Florida. Holman piled up 13 strikeouts and gave up a lone run on a home run, turning in six quality innings. Like Burns, he has double-digit strikeouts on multiple occasions (four of six starts) and a 0.78 ERA.

Top Game Scores (Friday, March 22)
PlayerTeamOppDecIPHRERBBSOGame Score
Dominic PietoLIUNorfolk St.W8.020011794
Payton TolleTCU@ Oklahoma St.W9.050031589
Ryan JohnsonDBU@ Sam HoustonW9.041111589
Justin SinibaldiRutgersUConnW9.04001987
Brett SearsNebraskaNew Mexico St.W8.02000987
Braden DavisOklahomaWest VirginiaW7.000021287
Tanner BoccabelloBethune-CookmanFlorida A&MW9.04000685
Hoss BrewerLittle RockMorehead St.W7.010021184
Cole ZaffiroPennBrownW7.020011183
Chase BurnsWake ForestLouisvilleW7.031101279
Nathan LawsonEastern Ky.North Ala.W7.02001678
Reid EasterlyYaleDartmouthW9.062211177
Sam GarciaOklahoma St.TCUL7.02104976
Luke HolmanLSUFloridaW6.011131376
Brennan StuprichSoutheastern La.@ Northwestern St.W7.02002576
Myles PattonLong Beach St.Cal St. FullertonW7.05000774
Jordan MoralesPurdueIowaW7.04112972
Colton MercerNew Orleans@ NichollsW7.04110772
Jack KartsonasKent St.Saint Joseph’sW6.03003972
Konner EatonGeorge MasonVillanovaW7.03211771