Wednesday, March 25
Howard, Ruf homer for Phillies in 6-3 win over Braves
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — Ryan Howard hit his third home run of the spring and Darin Ruff also connected, helping the Philadelphia Phillies beat the Atlanta Braves 6-3 on Tuesday.
Howard, who arrived at spring training in excellent shape after slumping to a .223 with 23 homers last year, went 1 for 4 and is hitting .217.
Ruff followed Howard in the third inning with another homer off Atlanta starter Mike Foltynewicz, who allowed three runs in 2 2-3 innings.
Foltynewicz is fighting for one of the final spots in the Braves' rotation but has allowed runs in each of his four starts. He has a 7.04 ERA this spring.
Severino Gonzalez started for the Phillies and allowed four hits in three scoreless innings. He hasn't pitched at the major league level, but he is considered one of Philadelphia's best prospects.
Dalton State (Ga.) College wins NAIA DI championship
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Jordan Bowling had 18 points and seven rebounds, Anthony Hilliard added 14 points and Dalton State (Ga.) College cruised to a 71-53 victory over Westmont (Calif.) College in the NAIA national championship game on Tuesday.
Hilliard hit a deep 3-pointer as time expired in the first half to give Dalton State a 16-point lead.
Sean Tate drilled a 3-pointer with six minutes left in the game to put Dalton State up 53-44 and the Roadrunners never looked back.
Preston Earle contributed 13 points for Dalton State (32-4) and LaDaris Green grabbed 11 rebounds.
Cory Blau had 17 points for Westmont (25-11), eight coming in the first five minutes of the game. Nate Marsing and David Gunn added eight points apiece.
The game was played at Kansas City's Municipal Auditorium for the 51st time in the 78-year history of the NAIA national championship.
Falcons' free-agent plan may include keeping Julio Jones
ATLANTA (AP) — The Falcons' financially conservative approach to this year's free-agent signings may have been influenced by hopes of keeping star wide receiver Julio Jones from leaving next year.
Jones can be a free agent following the 2015 season. Even while signing 12 free agents, the Falcons have protected salary cap space to deal with Jones, who set a franchise record for yards receiving last season.
The Falcons have added at least four possible starters in free agency: linebackers Justin Durant and Brooks Reed, defensive end Adrian Clayborn and wide receiver Leonard Hankerson — as the third or fourth receiver. Tight end Jacob Tamme could start.
Even so, Atlanta didn't land any of the biggest names on the market. Some newcomers may struggle to make the team.
Pitino: Kentucky's Calipari his choice for coach of the year
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) — Count Louisville coach Rick Pitino among those who believes Kentucky's John Calipari deserves national coach of the year honors.
Asked Tuesday about the U.S. Basketball Writers Association voting Virginia's Tony Bennett ahead of the coach of top-ranked and unbeaten Kentucky (36-0), Pitino said he would've selected his in-state archrival.
Calipari has won seven of eight meetings with Pitino, including this season.
Pitino, who has never won the award himself, praised Bennett and others for coaching jobs they have done this year. But the Louisville coach says, "I think John Calipari has done a brilliant job, so I'd put him at the top" of the list of candidates.
Pitino added, "When you're undefeated and nobody's beaten you, it's clear cut who the coach of the year is right now."
CiCi Bellis earns 6-2, 6-2 win at Miami Open
KEY BISCAYNE, Fla. (AP) — CiCi Bellis defeated Indy De Vroome of the Netherlands 6-2, 6-2 for her second career WTA main draw match win on Tuesday at the Miami Open.
The 15-year-old Bellis defeated the 227th-ranked De Vroome in one of 12 women's main draw matches played on the opening day.
The 211th-ranked Bellis made news at the 2014 U.S. Open when she upset 12th-seeded Dominika Cibulkova of Slovakia, the 2014 Australian Open finalist, in three sets in the first round.
In the Miami Open second round, Bellis will face 29th-seeded Zarina Diyas of Kazakhstan.
The 44th-ranked Madison Brengle of the U.S. also advanced on Tuesday posting a 6-0 6-2 win against Aleksandra Krunic of Serbia. Brengle will next face fourth-seeded Caroline Wozniacki of Denmark.
Monica Niculescu of Romania outlasted American Shelby Rogers 7-6 (1), 6-1 to secure a second consecutive, second-round match against top-seeded Serena Williams.
The two played at Indian Wells with Williams prevailing 7-5, 7-5 in a match that spanned just over two hours.
In other matches on Tuesday, Kaia Kanepi defeated Canadian wild-card Francoise Abanda 6-2, 6-3, Anna Schmiedlova of Slovakia defeated Polona Hercog of Slovenia 6-3, 6-2, and Karin Knapp of Italy defeated Katerina Siniakova of the Czech Republic 6-2, 6-0.