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MOBILE, Ala. — Washington State cornerback Chau Smith-Wade returned an interception 83 yards in the final two minutes to set up a decisive score and secure the National team’s 16-7 victory over the American team in the Senior Bowl on Saturday.

In a game dominated by the defenses, Smith-Wade sprawled out to pick off a deep ball from Tennessee’s Joe Milton III. He hesitated momentarily before realizing he wasn’t officially down under NFL rules.

Then he shook off one tackle attempt on the right sideline and cut back across the field before TCU running back Emani Bailey stopped him at the 1 with 1:38 left.

“I got up and it’s not college anymore where you’re down,” said Smith-Wade, who was named the National’s player of the game. “You’ve got to be down by contact now. So I got up, I started to celebrate a little bit and my teammates were like, ‘Go, go, go.'”

The offense couldn’t punch it in, but Joshua Karty of Stanford made his third field goal, scoring on kicks of 19, 37 and 52 yards.

Smith-Wade got his second pick on a Hail Mary pass into the end zone by Tulane’s Michael Pratt.

It wasn’t a big game for the quarterbacks, with the top-rated passers seeing only limited action.

Washington quarterback Michael Penix Jr. opted not to play. The Heisman Trophy runner-up did participate in practices this week after leading the Huskies to the national championship game.

Fellow Pac-12 conference star Oregon’s Bo Nix, who was third in the Heisman voting, played only two series. So did South Carolina’s Spencer Rattler for the American team.

Nix, who started his career a few hours away at Auburn, completed 4 of 5 passes for 21 yards in two series. His final play was a 2-yard touchdown to Minnesota tight end Brevyn Spann-Ford when he rolled out before firing up the middle. It was the team’s only TD.

“He’s just absolutely a winner,” said National coach Jeff Ulbrich, the New York Jets defensive coordinator.

Rattler completed all four of his attempts for 65 yards. He capped his first drive with a 29-yard touchdown pass to Georgia’s Marcus Rosemy-Jacksaint.

“I felt like I wanted to come out here, create relationships and have fun,” Rattler said. “This was just the cherry on top.”

None of the other quarterbacks were as effective.

Milton was 9-of-13 passing for 80 yards for the American team but was intercepted twice.

Notre Dame’s Sam Hartman played most of the way for the National team. He went 7-of-25 for 69 yards with an interception.

TCU’s Bailey had four runs and a catch totaling 35 yards on the American team’s first five plays. He finished with 53 yards on 10 carries and four catches for another 34 yards.

Florida State defensive tackle Braden Fiske switched sides Saturday morning to the National team because of roster attrition. He had four tackles and 1½ tackles for loss, and was in on a sack.

It was the game’s first sellout since 2010, when Florida quarterback Tim Tebow was on the roster. Players wore helmets with stickers featuring a parrot drinking a margarita to honor the late Mobile native Jimmy Buffett.

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Vogelbach’s slow HR trot draws ire of Yanks’ Cole

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Vogelbach's slow HR trot draws ire of Yanks' Cole

TAMPA — Having Gerrit Cole walk off the mound mid at-bat in the first inning would usually mean disaster for the New York Yankees. But spring training is different.

Cole, making his spring debut Friday night, gave up a two-run home run and a triple before manager Aaron Boone pulled him during a 1-2 count six batters into the Yankees’ 8-4 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.

But the Yankees’ ace reappeared in the second inning — that’s allowed in spring training — to smoothly complete his workday, retiring the side in order and facing two more hitters in the third inning. In all, he allowed two earned runs on four hits across the two-plus innings. He threw 39 pitches.

“I’m executing the way I want to execute there,” Cole said.

The only issue Cole had Friday had nothing to do with his own performance. It was with Blue Jays designated hitter Daniel Vogelbach, who punctuated his two-run blast off Cole in the first inning with a bat flip and trot that bothered the right-hander.

“What’s the day?” Cole said. “Are we still in February? March 1st? Yeah, he enjoyed that homer.”

Asked if he would remember Vogelbach’s enjoyment, Cole replied: “I don’t forget a lot of things.”

Cole, 33, was one of the few bright spots during the Yankees’ disappointing 2023 season. The right-hander went 15-4 with a 2.63 ERA in 209 innings across 33 starts. The performance earned him his first Cy Young Award.

This year, he tops a starting rotation with a few question marks. Friday was a solid start even if he didn’t finish the first inning.

“It was good to be out there again,” Cole said, “and yeah, the stuff was pretty good.”

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Sources: Giants, 3B Chapman agree on $54M deal

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Sources: Giants, 3B Chapman agree on M deal

Matt Chapman, regarded as one of the best defensive infielders in baseball, agreed to a three-year, $54 million contract with the San Francisco Giants, sources confirmed to ESPN on Saturday.

The deal also includes opt-outs after the first and second year of the agreement.

Chapman’s deal is very similar in structure to that of Cody Bellinger, who re-signed with the Chicago Cubs last week, with his highest salaries at the outset of the contract. Like Bellinger, Chapman also has the built-in opportunity to test the market again if he has a better season offensively than in 2023.

Chapman, who turns 31 in April, won his fourth Gold Glove Award in 2023 with the Toronto Blue Jays. Since the start of the 2018 season, he ranks first among all players at that position in defensive runs saved and he is third in outs above average.

As Chapman moved into free agency this fall, however, some talent evaluators privately expressed doubts about their interest in him because of his offensive performance — 71 homers over the past three seasons, but with a .226 batting average and 537 strikeouts in 446 games.

His 2023 season was a microcosm of the good and bad he’s generated at the plate: After starting very well and batting .384 in April, he flatlined, generating a .205/.298/.361 slash line the rest of the way. Evaluators noted his trouble against fastballs.

The Giants have had difficulty signing high-end free agents in recent winters, with their overtures to Aaron Judge and others turned down. The addition of Chapman should complement what is expected to be a good pitching staff — including sinkerballer Logan Webb.

The New York Post first reported Chapman’s deal with the Giants.

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Rodon allows 4 HRs vs. prospects in sim game

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Rodon allows 4 HRs vs. prospects in sim game

New York Yankees left-hander Carlos Rodon allowed four homers to minor leaguers over three innings during a simulated game with the wind blowing out in Florida on Friday.

“I don’t want to give up homers, but I’m glad I give it up to our guys,” Rodon said. “Makes them feel good about themselves.”

Josh Breaux, Agustin Ramirez, Ben Rice and Jose Rojas went deep. After Rojas’ homer in the final inning, Rodon struck out three of his final four batters, including top prospect Spencer Jones twice.

“I had some sequences there at the end,” Rodon said. “Got some work on curveballs and work on the cutter, so it’s good.”

While the outing wasn’t great, Rodon feels healthy and that’s most important after an injury-marred 2023 where he went 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA in 14 starts.

Rodon, 31, is in the second year of a six-year, $162 million contract he signed with the Yankees last winter.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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