RALEIGH, N.C.–Friday’s win was big for North Carolina State. Saturday’s was huge. And a win Sunday would be monumental, because it would propel the Wolfpack to a super-regional.
N.C. State won a terrific, competitive, back-and-forth affair against South Carolina by a 5-4 score Saturday night to improve to 2-0 in the Raleigh regional. As expected, it was a matchup between two teams with contrasting styles, and the Wolfpack executed its game plan better.
Junior righthander Clayton Shunick was outstanding, limiting the heavy-hitting Gamecocks to four runs–two earned–on eight hits over 6 1/3 innings, striking out eight and walking two. Shunick struck out South Carolina slugger James Darnell swinging three times using his plus 78-80 mph split-finger. He made big pitches to get out of jams with runners on base, and most importantly, he competed hard and kept N.C. State in the game.
"(Shunick is) one of the best competitors I’ve ever had the pleasure of being around," Wolfpack coach Elliot Avent said. [...] Continue Reading »
Not even a comebacker off his right arm could slow down North Carolina righty Alex White. Coaches and trainers emerged from the dugout after a chopper appeared to hit White near his right hand in the third, but he remained in the game and maintained his 93 mph fastball velocity. Through four shutout innings, he has allowed just two hits while striking out six, and most importantly for White, he hasn’t issued any walks. As the game has progressed, White has turned more and more to a devastating mid-80s split-finger that drops off the table. White just started throwing the pitch this year, and it has become a major weapon for him against lefthanded hitters.
The Tar Heels extended their lead to 4-0 with a pair of homers in the fourth. Kyle Seager hit a two-run screamer to right field, and Tim Federowicz followed with a solo shot to left one batter later.
It’s cooled down significantly here in the last 15 minutes, and heavy clouds have rolled over the ballpark. A tornado warning has been issued for Wake County, and it appears rain is only minutes away. I just saw a bolt of lightning over the left-field wall, and I heard thunder rumbling a minute later.
With UNC in control, I’m heading back to Raleigh for the 7 p.m. start of the N.C. State-South Carolina game. Let’s hope the impending storm doesn’t affect that part of Wake County. To update an earlier item, James Madison held on for a 13-12 win over Charlotte. Wow.
CARY, N.C.–Missouri coach Tim Jamieson is one of the smartest guys in college baseball, but I think he made the wrong decision today to start lefthander Rick Zagone against Miami instead of righty Kyle Gibson. Eventually, the Tigers would have to win a game started by somebody other than Aaron Crow and Gibson, and Zagone’s a solid pitcher, but the Tigers had a chance to jump out to a critical 2-0 start in a regional; I think they should have gone with their best remaining gun. Miami has hit Zagone hard early, putting up five runs on seven hits through three innings to build a 5-0 lead. Blake Tekotte and Ryan Jackson have gone deep for the Hurricanes.
Elsewhere, Florida State outslugged Florida 17-11 in a wild, back-and-forth affair in the Tallahassee elimination game. East Carolina staved off elimination with a 9-0 win against Columbia, as righty T.J. Hose threw a complete-game, four-hit shutout. Texas Christian eliminated Western Kentucky, 10-5, in the Stillwater Regional. Kentucky edged Western Illinois, 4-3, to stay alive in the Ann Arbor regional. [...] Continue Reading »
The first two teams have been eliminated from the 2008 NCAA tournament. In Coral Gables, Mississippi scored 10 runs in the sixth to break open a 3-1 game against Bethune-Cookman. The Rebels cruised to a 14-1 victory. Freshman lefty Drew Pomeranz threw just 4 1/3 innings, raising the possibility he could be available Monday if Ole Miss gets that far. But Cody Satterwhite and Nathan Baker will be the next two starters in line for Ole Miss.
In Cary, third-seeded Elon eliminated fourth-seeded Mount St. Mary’s 6-3. The Phoenix will face the loser of this afternoon’s North Carolina-UNC Wilmington game.
Here in Raleigh, third-seeded Charlotte has begun to pull away from James Madison. The 49ers got four runs in the fourth and have broken it open here in the fifth, scoring four more runs–and counting. Right now it’s 9-2 Charlotte. This is a very, very good offensive team.
Michigan just can’t catch a break this weekend. After rain suspended the Wolverines’ opener Friday, interrupting a fine start from Zach Putnam and forcing Michigan to dip into its bullpen earlier than planned when play resumed Saturday morning, the Wolverines lost their best hitter for the remainder of the regional. First baseman Nate Recknagel left with an arm injury in the sixth inning on a play at first base and later returned in a sling. The early word is that Recknagel suffered a dislocated elbow, though Michigan has not confirmed that. The Wolverines reeled after Recknagel left, allowing four runs in the eighth, but they still held on for a 7-5 win. They’ll throw Chris Fetter against Arizona’s David Coulon in a fine matchup later today.
Friday was one of the most memorable opening days of the NCAA tournament since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1999, and it sets up plenty of intriguing storylines for Saturday. We blogged about many of yesterday’s notable outcomes, but here’s a complete scoreboard, with a region-by-region look at what’s on the docket today. All times are Eastern. [...] Continue Reading »
Another very attractive head coaching job opened up today, as Evansville coach David Seifert resigned after a 14-42 season. The Purple Aces underachieved with a talented, senior-laden team in Seifert’s first season in 2007, going 35-23 and missing out on regionals. This year was simply a disaster; the Aces were ravaged by injuries and inexperience, but a program of that caliber should never go 14-42.
Seifert is a wonderful person and a great baseball man, and he’ll land on his feet somewhere. In the meantime, Evansville begins a national search for a replacement, and the school rightfully expects plenty of interest. A natural fit would be one of the outstanding recruiting coordinators at some of the private school powers out there: Baylor’s Mitch Thompson, Tulane’s Mark Kingston, Vanderbilt’s Erik Bakich or an off-the-board West Coast choice like San Diego’s Eric Valenzuela. Those guys know how to get players to attend academic-minded private schools like Evansville and have proven their player-evaluation mettle.
RALEIGH, N.C.–It was a landmark night for North Carolina State, which played its first-ever regional game in Raleigh. If that wasn’t enough reason for jitters, the Wolfpack called upon a true freshman to start against James Madison, but Jake Buchanan pitched like a seasoned veteran, and North Carolina State got timely hitting late to pull out a 6-2 win.
"I know our players were extremely excited to be hosting a regional," N.C. State coach Elliot Avent said. "I know they weren’t nervous tonight, but I think they’re really proud of what they accomplished this year. Seeing such a large crown in red and white, our fans are quite vocal, so I don’t t think we were nervous, I think tried a little too much."
Buchanan said he was a little bit nervous early, "but after the first batter it pretty much went away." He spotted his mid-to-upper-80s fastball well and used an excellent curveball to hold a good-hitting JMU club to two runs on three hits over 5 2/3 innings, striking out five and walking just one.
The Wolfpack has plenty of veteran players who have a knack for coming up big in pressure situations, and they didn’t panic after James Madison tied the score against Buchanan with a run in the sixth inning. With the go-ahead run on third base, Avent summoned junior righty Joey Cutler out of the bullpen, and Cutler got the dangerous Brett Sellers to pop up and end the threat. Cutler went on to work three more perfect innings of relief to pick up the win and improve to 5-0. [...] Continue Reading »
No. 4 seeds toppled No. 1 seeds in four different regionals Friday, but no upset was more shocking than Patriot League champion Bucknell’s domination of No. 4 national seed Florida State.
The Bison held the fearsome FSU offense to just six hits in a 7-0 shutout–and Bucknell didn’t even need bullpen ace Jason Buursma. That’s because senior righthander Mathew Wilson went the distance, using 153 pitches. Wilson improved to 6-1, 3.67 with his second shutout of the year.
"Well, obviously, I don’t have a whole lot to say except that was as fine a pitched baseball game as I’ve seen," said FSU coach Mike Martin, who has seen an awful lot of fine pitching performances in his 28 years in Tallahassee. "Wilson was just a thing of beauty; he kept us off balance all night long and threw the ball over the plate all night long with three pitches . . .I think all you can do is just tip your hat to Bucknell. They just did a tremendous job."
Florida State lost its regional opener for the first time since 1992, and Bucknell won its first regional game in program history. Simply unbelievable. [...] Continue Reading »
Before this year, Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) had never even qualified for the College World Series. But after beating second-ranked Sonoma State (Calif.) for the second time in as many days, the Tigers made sure to get the most out of their first trip to the national tournament. The 2-1 victory secured the upstart Tigers a berth to Saturday’s championship game, where they will face a Mount Olive (N.C.) that dealt them their only loss in the tournament. The game will be shown live on CBS College Sports at 1 p.m. Saturday. [...] Continue Reading »
Lewis-Clark State (Idaho) needed all nine innings on Thursday to keep its drive for a three-peat alive, scoring three runs in the final frame to defeat Lee (Tenn.) and force a deciding championship game in the Avista NAIA World Series. The schools will take Harris Field for the final time tonight to play the rematch, which is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. (PST). Down by two runs heading into the top of the ninth, Chris Valencia and Bernard Pena led off the inning with two base knocks for LCSC before Kyle Greene hit a two-run single to shallow left-center. The tie was broken when Brian Ward found a gap in the outfield to double home Greene, making the score 7-6 in favor of the Warriors. [...] Continue Reading »
It’s already been a remarkable first day of the NCAA tournament, and there are a lot of games left to be decided. Here’s a quick roundup of some of the day’s memorable upsets instant classics:
After a shaky start, righthanders Bradley Holt and Steven Hensley settled down, and the UNC Wilmington-Elon pitcher’s duel developed after all. Holt got the better of it, allowing just two hits after the second inning en route to 8 2/3 innings of two-run ball in UNCW’s 5-2 win.
"It makes it a whole lot easier when you get that type of pitching game," Seahawks coach Mark Scalf said.
It was a matchup of contrasting styles, both on the mound and in the lineups. As one scout put it, Holt and Hensley "couldn’t be more different." Holt relied almost exclusively on his 93 mph fastball, while Hensley mixed four pitches but struggled with his command. Matt Blood will have more on the pitching showdown later on the Draft Blog.
The Seahawks and Phoenix also play very different styles, with Elon relying on its speed and patient approach, and the Wilmington leaning on its power and aggressiveness at the plate. UNCW coach Mark Scalf said the plan was to lay off Hensley’s breaking ball down out of the zone and wait for fastballs, and they did a good job pouncing when he came inside. Freshman DH Alex Hill set the tone for the offense, going 4-for-4 out of the leadoff spot in his first career postseason game. [...] Continue Reading »
Just got a report from BA’s Dave Perkin, who is watching the Brian Matusz-Tyson Ross duel at the Long Beach regional.
"This is shaping up to be the best college game I’ve seen in many, many years through three innings," Perkin said. "Matusz has been sensational."
Through 3 1/2 innings, neither pitcher has allowed a run, and each has yielded just one hit. Matusz has six strikeouts through four innings, getting Cal slugger David Cooper twice–once on a slider and once on a changeup. He’s sat in the 89-92 mph range with his fastball and shown excellent command of all four pitches.
Ross has worked in the 90-92 range and thrown an excellent slider to righthanded hitters. He has two strikeouts through three frames.
Missouri ace righthander Aaron Crow turned in a vintage performance today in a 7-0 win over Mississippi and Lance Lynn in the Coral Gables regional. Crow struck out 10 while walking five in a three-hit, complete-game shutout. Lynn, meanwhile, allowed six earned runs on nine hits over 6 1/3 innings to take the loss.
All of a sudden, you’ve got to really like Missouri’s chances to stun top-seeded Miami. Crow’s complete game spared the bullpen and allows the Tigers to start a fully rested Kyle Gibson tomorrow, in all likelihood. Gibson has the second-best arm in that regional, after Crow, and gives the Tigers a real chance. And Missouri got very encouraging afternoons from outfielder Ryan Lollis (4-for-4) and catcher Trevor Coleman (2-for-3 with a homer and three RBIs)–two key hitters for them who have had somewhat disappointing years. If those guys keep it going, Missouri’s offense can be very, very good.
One other note on Crow: sources in Coral Gables say there were at least 30 scouts on hand to see Crow work in the mid-90s. It was the sharpest Crow has looked since his dominating scoreless streak earlier this year, and it came in almost certainly his final start before the draft. A scout in attendance said there’s no way Crow drops out of the top 10 picks now–not that he was ever really in danger of doing so.
CARY, N.C.–The NCAA tournament has begun around the nation, including here at the Cary regional. One of the weekend’s most anticipated pitching matchups has gotten off to a bit of an offensive start, as UNC Wilmington righthander Bradley Holt and Elon righty Steven Hensley have been hittable early. UNCW leads 3-2 after two innings.
Holt looks like the more explosive of the two in the early going, working in the 91-93 mph range and touching 94. He has thrown just three offspeed pitches, but his fastball comes out of his hand so easily and he hasn’t been afraid to challenge hitters inside.
Hensley, meanwhile, sat at 90-91 in the first inning with some arm-side run, then settled into the 88-89 range in the second. He has flashed a good mid-70s breaking ball but hasn’t commanded it consistently. [...] Continue Reading »
The nation’s top-ranked team punched its ticket to the national championship game, as No. 1 Mount Olive (N.C.) held off a late rally by No. 7 Central Missouri to move within one win of the title for the first time in school history. Its opponent, however, remained up in the air after No. 4 Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) forced a decisive second semifinal game.
After leading 5-1 in the seventh, Mount Olive–now the only unbeaten team left in the tournament–nearly let this one slip away. The Trojans (57-6) gave up a run in the seventh and another in the eighth, then allowed two Mule baserunners in the ninth before Patrick Ball slammed the door shut to earn his third save in the 5-3 final. Kyle Jones notched the win in just his second start of the season. After not playing baseball for three years, he has come on strong for the Trojans in the postseason. He allowed two runs on five hits against Central Missouri. Rich Racobaldo was 2-for-5 with two runs and two RBIs, and Erik Lovett and Josh Harrison added two hits apiece. Central Missouri’s season ends at 47-17. [...] Continue Reading »
For the ninth consecutive year, a new Division I JUCO World Series champion will be crowned. With Hagerstown (Md.) CC taking care of defending champion Chipola (Fla.) JC 10-7 on Tuesday, the Hawks will spar with Shelton State (Ala.) CC, Grayson County (Texas) CC and Central Arizona JC for supremacy in Grand Junction, Colo.
Hagerstown will take on Shelton State in the afternoon matchup at Suplizio Field. Both schools suffered their only tournament losses to Grayson, so a loss for either would send them packing.
In their defeat of Chipola, Hagerstown used an offensive explosion in the fourth inning to bid the Indians an early farewell. Three Hawks homered in the inning, capped off by a three-run shot from Charles Johnson with two outs that gave Hagerstown a 10-5 lead that it would not relinquish. [...] Continue Reading »
After another day’s action at GCS Ballpark in Sauget, Ill., the national semifinals are set. With wins on Wednesday, Ouachita Baptist (Ark.) and Central Missouri (Mo.) survive and advance to join unbeaten Mount Olive (N.C.) and Sonoma State (Calif.) in the final foursome.
No. 4 Ouachita Baptist trailed No. 16 Ashland (Ohio) 5-3 before ripping off nine straight runs in the sixth and seventh innings. The Tigers (49-15) would go on to win 12-5, sending Ashland (40-18) home for the summer. Ouachita Baptist’s Blake Lockwood picked a good time to smash his first home run of the season—a three run shot that was part of a three-run, three-RBI performance. Jim Streicher also added a home run and knocked in five runs. Trent Lingle pitched four innings and allowed one run on two hits to earn the win.
In the nightcap, Central Missouri used a gem by pitcher Danny Potje to stave off elimination and oust No. 21 Shippensburg (Pa.). Potje threw his first complete game of the year and didn’t allow a run until the ninth inning to help the Mules to the 5-1 win. But it was the lefthander’s ability to work out of jams that distinguished the performance. Potje scattered 11 hits and walked three, but stranded 12 batters and struck out eight to give the Central Missouri bullpen a rest. Potje also received more than enough run support, as the Mules knocked around 10 hits to manufacture five runs. Will Feil led the charge with two hits, two runs and an RBI. Shippensburg (39-26) saw its season end Wednesday, while the Mules (47-16) draw top-ranked Mount Olive in the semis.
As the tournament continues, the double-elimination format will come into play. If Mount Olive and Sonoma State keep rolling today, there will be no Friday games, and the two unbeaten squads will square off in the title game Saturday. If either team with a loss on its resume comes away with a win, they will need to play again on Friday to determine the championship matchup.
Many of the top baseball talents play for high school or college teams. Some even make it to play in the major leagues. Very few, though, have the opportunity to represent their country on the baseball diamond.
Fourteen college underclassmen got one step closer to that opportunity Tuesday, as USA Baseball announced its second round of invitations for the 2008 National Team Trials. Nine sophomores and five freshmen made the list and now join the 12 invitees from the first round. In all, 32 players will try out for 22 roster spots.
"This second wave of accepted invitations to the 2008 National Team Trials only further illustrates the high level of talent that will join USA Baseball this summer," national team general manager Eric Campbell said in a statement. "We once again thank both the athletes and their universities for their commitment."
Two members from the 2007 National Team were invited back to try out this year–Rice righthander Ryan Berry and Santa Clara catcher Tommy Medica. Berry is 7-4 as the Owls’ Friday starter this season and leads CUSA in ERA (3.10) and strikeouts (80). Medica hit .342 with 44 RBIs and six homers. [...] Continue Reading »
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