Jurrangelo Cijntje is one of the most fascinating novelties in college baseball so far this season.
The Mississippi State freshman is a rare ambidextrous pitcher, the most notable since Pat Venditte appeared in 61 major league games from 2015-20.
Cijntje already throws harder than Venditte did. His fastball was clocked at 97 mph right-handed and 92 mph left-handed when he pitched four shutout innings and gave up one hit in a 14-3 win over Louisiana-Monroe last Wednesday. Cijntje struck out six with his right arm and one with his left in his first start.
”He’s as chill as you’ll find in everything he does,” coach Chris Lemonis said. ”He left his country, came to Starkville, Mississippi. Nothing fazes him. He’s just a competitor. He’s going to get hit at times. You’re going to see a kid who gets a lot better.”
Cijntje, who was not made available for an interview Monday, said in a recent story for the MSU athletics website that he is a natural lefty. He grew up on the Dutch Caribbean island of Curacao and started throwing with his right arm because he wanted to imitate his father, Mechangelo, who played professionally in the Netherlands. Eventually his right arm became stronger than his left.
Cijntje lived with his cousin while attending high school in Florida. The Milwaukee Brewers selected him as a shortstop in the 18th round of the MLB amateur draft last year, but Cijntje didn’t want to give up pitching and went to college instead.
Cijntje uses a specially made glove worn on either hand. He must indicate which arm he’ll use to pitch before the batter steps into the box, and he must use the same arm throughout the at-bat.
”It’s probably the coolest thing,” catcher Ross Highfill said of being Cijntje’s battery mate. ”It’s a little weird trying to get used to his lefty and righty. You have to prepare in advance and catch a lot of his bullpens.”
IN THE POLLS
Iowa handed LSU its first loss Saturday in Round Rock, Texas, but the Tigers (6-1) remain the consensus No. 1 team in the polls.
The top three in the D1Baseball rankings were unchanged, with Stanford (5-2) and Tennessee (6-2) following LSU.
Baseball America kept its top three the same, as well, with Florida (7-1) second and Stanford third.
Wake Forest (9-0) earned a big promotion in the Collegiate Baseball newspaper poll, rising from No. 6 to No. 2 after outscoring opponents 122-14. Florida slipped to No. 3 to make room for the Demon Deacons.
THAT’S JUST GRAND
Northern Kentucky’s Liam McFadden-Ackman didn’t just hit for the cycle Sunday. He did it by starting his big day with two grand slams in the first inning.
McFadden-Ackman doubled in the second inning, tripled and lined out in the fourth and singled in the sixth. He finished 5 for 6 with eight RBIs in the 27-4 win over Western Michigan.
”You don’t realize what’s going on in the moment until you get to reflect on the day,” he told ESPN. ”Probably the best day I’ve ever had on the baseball field, for sure.”
Oklahoma State pitchers combined to throw back-to-back no-hitters in Stillwater.
Janzen Keisel struck out 11 over 5 1/3 innings against Cal Baptist last Tuesday. Isaac Stebens, Drew Blake, Evan O’Toole and Nolan McLean finished the 2-0 win.
Juaron Watts-Brown, O’Toole and McLean combined on the no-hitter in a 1-0 win over Loyola Marymount on Saturday. Watts-Brown struck out eight and walked two in six innings.
Jac Caglianone connected three times and Florida finished with a program-record eight home runs in a 13-7 win over Cincinnati on Sunday.
Josh Rivera went deep twice and Cade Kurland, Luke Heyman and Colby Halter each homered once.
HE’D RUN THROUGH A FENCE
Houston center fielder Drew Bianco made college baseball’s play of the week when he stole a home run from Incarnate Word’s Alec Carr on Sunday.
Bianco gave chase when Carr sent a deep fly to left center in the sixth inning and, never slowing down, flipped over the fence after catching the ball.
Bianco, the son of Mississippi coach Mike Bianco and a graduate transfer from LSU, also made an electric play a week ago when he perfectly timed his jump at the wall to take away a homer from California’s Caleb Lomavita.
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