NCAA

Nationals finalize NLDS rotation, roster

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Nationals finalize NLDS rotation, roster

ST. LOUIS -- The Nationals won a major-league best 98 games this season with a roster and starting rotation that didn't change very much along the way, so they're not going to change much heading into their first-ever postseason series.

Manager Davey Johnson said today his rotation for the National League Division Series against the Cardinals will stand pat. Gio Gonzalez starts Game 1 tomorrow, with Jordan Zimmermann following him on Monday at Busch Stadium. Edwin Jackson will then start Game 3 in Washington on Wednesday, with Ross Detwiler pitching Game 4 on Thursday.

Johnson didn't formally reveal his 25-man roster for the series, but he said there would be no surprises and made it all but clear rookie Christian Garcia would be in the bullpen with John Lannan left off the roster.

In the end, the Nationals felt it best to dance with the guys who got there here in the first place.

"The preparation that you have for a ballclub comes in 162 games in a regular season," Johnson said before his team took the field for a late-afternoon workout. "You really don't do anything different. I don't want to act any different. It's going to be business as usual. We've got no trick plays we're running out there."

In other words, don't expect a surprise appearance by Stephen Strasburg. The right-hander, who was shut down four weeks ago after pitching 159 13 innings for the season, did make the trip with the Nationals and will continue to work out with the club and watch games from the dugout, but he will not be included on the active roster.

The only real decision Johnson and general manager Mike Rizzo had to make involved the final spot on the roster. The club could have gone with Lannan, making the lefty a long reliever. It could have kept an extra bench player like rookie Eury Perez or veteran Mark DeRosa.

Ultimately, Johnson and Rizzo decided to go with another power arm, keeping Garcia, the 27-year-old right-hander who in his first 13 big-league appearances posted a 2.13 ERA, 15 strikeouts and only two walks.

"This is what you dream of," said Garcia, who twice had Tommy John surgery and opened this season at Class AA Harrisburg. "When I was rehabbing, the things that helped me get through days when I didn't want to work out was days like this. Being able to pitch in a postseason game, and not just pitch in it, but be somebody in the postseason and make a name for myself."

Rizzo said the pitchers who didn't make the postseason roster -- Lannan, Strasburg, Zach Duke and Chien-Ming Wang -- will remain with the team and continue to stay fresh just in case. Teams are allowed to make roster changes during a series in the event of an injury.

DeRosa, an immensely popular veteran and pseudo-coach at times, also is staying with the club through the postseason. Other position players who didn't make the roster, though, have been sent to Viera, Fla., to keep getting at-bats with the Nationals' fall instructional league team: Perez, catcher Sandy Leon and outfielder Corey Brown.

The decision to start Jackson in Game 3 and Detwiler in Game 4, meanwhile, appeared obvious once the Cardinals -- with a lineup heavy with right-handed hitters -- beat the lefty-loaded Braves in last night's NL Wild Card Game. Johnson had hinted earlier in the week he might consider adding Lannan to the rotation for a series against Atlanta but made it sound today like he planned the Jackson-Detwiler combo all along.

"I kind of like the experience that Edwin Jackson brings," Johnson said of the 28-year-old, who was a member of St. Louis' World Series winning rotation last fall. "So even if it had been Atlanta, I would have probably gone with Jackson."

Johnson, by the way, said he's feeling considerably better after having to depart Wednesday's regular-season finale in the seventh inning after his left leg went numb. Doctors diagnosed the issue originating in his lower vertebrae, and he received a cortisone shot and treatment yesterday. The 69-year-old manager was moving around well today and even played catch with third base coach Bo Porter before the Nationals' workout.

"I feel a heck of a lot better," Johnson said. "I have no pain, just a little stiff back."

Here, then, is what the Nationals' roster for the NLDS will look like...

STARTING PITCHERS (4)
1. LHP Gio Gonzalez
2. RHP Jordan Zimmermann
3. RHP Edwin Jackson
4. LHP Ross Detwiler

RELIEF PITCHERS (8)
1. RHP Drew Storen
2. RHP Tyler Clippard
3. LHP Sean Burnett
4. RHP Craig Stammen
5. RHP Ryan Mattheus
6. LHP Michael Gonzalez
7. LHP Tom Gorzelanny
8. RHP Christian Garcia

STARTING LINEUP (8)
1. RF Jayson Werth
2. CF Bryce Harper
3. 3B Ryan Zimmerman
4. 1B Adam LaRoche
5. LF Michael Morse
6. SS Ian Desmond
7. 2B Danny Espinosa
8. C Kurt Suzuki

BENCH (5)
1. C Jesus Flores
2. IF Steve Lombardozzi
3. IF Chad Tracy
4. OF Roger Bernadina
5. OF Tyler Moore

Jackson, Peoples lead No. 13 Hokies past ODU, 38-0

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Jackson, Peoples lead No. 13 Hokies past ODU, 38-0

BLACKSBURG, Va. -- Steven Peoples had scored three career touchdowns for No. 13 Virginia Tech heading into Saturday's game against Old Dominion.

Now he's scored six, including a right-place-at-the-right-time deflection that turned his good day into a career day.

On the play, Peoples ran a wheel route and was a few steps behind Hokies start receiver Cam Phillips. Both were well covered, but quarterback Josh Jackson let fly from near midfield as the four players approached the end zone. The ball went to Phillips, but in the scramble with the defender, it bounced away, right into Peoples' arms for a 43-yard touchdown.

"I sat back and was waiting for Cam to catch it," Peoples said, noting Phillips' reputation for catching the ball in traffic. "As soon as it bounced off him, I caught the ball and I was like, `Man, that was a big-time catch.'"

On the sideline, while teammates celebrated, Jackson got a talking-to from coach Justin Fuente.

"Not for public consumption," Fuente said what asked what he told the redshirt freshman. "Not happy. We got lucky on that one so I made sure he knew about it. He's smart. He's tough. He understands stuff and he's still young."

Said Jackson: "That was the first touchdown I've ever felt bad after throwing."

Jackson threw for two more scores -- a 17-yard screen pass to Peoples and a diving 5-yarder to C.J. Carroll -- as the Hokies (4-0) finished their non-conference schedule unbeaten for the first time since 2011. Peoples also scored on a 1-yard run.

Virginia Tech started slowly for the second consecutive game, leading just 3-0 after the first quarter, but scored on four consecutive drives after getting untracked. The Hokies have scored 95 consecutive points since falling behind 17-7 at East Carolina last week.

The Monarchs (2-2), playing an Atlantic Coast Conference opponent for the second week in a row, fell to 0-9 against Power Five schools.

The game was the first meeting between the schools and featured the first career start for 17-year-old Old Dominion quarterback Steven Williams Jr. He showed a nifty ability to escape the Hokies' pass rush, getting sacked just once, but completed just 8 of 26 for 85 yards. Monarchs receivers didn't help by dropping several balls, including one that Travis Fulgham could have taken 75 yards for a touchdown.

"He didn't get a lot of help out there today," coach Bobby Wilder said after his team barely made it across midfield all game. "There were four of five times where we needed to make a catch, we needed to make a play, and we didn't."

Williams took it in stride.

"It's just part of the game. We know we need to clean that up," he said. "We have to be more aggressive. If we find our run game, we're going to be fine."

Jackson was 20 for 30 for 298 yards and has now thrown for 11 touchdowns. He did throw his first interception of the season against the Monarchs, but the Hokies took the ball away three plays later, leading to their first touchdown midway through the second quarter.

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Central Florida breezes past QB-depleted Maryland 38-10

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Central Florida breezes past QB-depleted Maryland 38-10

COLLEGE PARK, Md. -- Taj McGowan scored two touchdowns, quarterback McKenzie Milton ran for 94 yards and Central Florida capitalized on an early injury to Maryland quarterback Kasim Hill in a 38-10 upset Saturday.

Coming off a three-week layoff because of Hurricane Irma, the Knights (2-0) used a 21-point run over the second and third quarters to take control against a team trying to adjust to its third different quarterback in three games.

Maryland (2-1) lost starter Tyrrell Pigrome in its season-opening win over Texas before turning to Hill, a true freshman with seemingly enough poise and talent to sufficiently fill the void. Hill finished off the Longhorns and helped beat Towson 63-17 before leaving this game in the first quarter with an apparent leg injury.

He was replaced by sophomore Max Bortenschlager, who went 15 for 26 for 132 yards and two interceptions, one of which was returned for a 57-yard touchdown by Mike Hughes with 5:11 left.

Bortenschlager was also sacked five times.

Hill was scrambling on a third-down play when hit by Jamiyus Pittman and Chequan Burkett. The quarterback remained on the ground for several minutes before being helped off the field.

Maryland did not give an immediate report on his condition.

The Terrapins kicked a field goal on the next play but went nearly 32 minutes before scoring again late in the third quarter. By that time, UCF was well on its way to victory and the majority of fans had already made their way to the exits.

It was the second victory for the Knights against a Big Ten school. The previous win -- against nine defeats -- came at Penn State in 2013.

McGowan finished with 33 yards on 12 carries, including touchdown runs of 1 and 3 yards. The junior saw extensive action after starter Jawon Hamilton was injured on the Knights' opening possession.

It was 14-3 in the third quarter when Miller ran 55 yards to the Maryland 20. Not long after that, the sophomore tossed a 6-yard touchdown pass to Jordan Akins.

Milton went 18 for 30 for 178 yards.

Maryland's DJ Moore caught a 20-yard touchdown throw from Bortenschlager to make it 21-10, but the Terps simply didn't have the firepower to complete the comeback.