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.
The first No. 2 seed has been eliminated, as Dallas Baptist fell 9-5 to Illinois-Chicago. The Patriots were a very shaky second seed, anyway, and they lost to a team with more postseason experience than they have.
Finally, I discovered the perils of having two regionals within a 30-minute drive today. I left Raleigh with Charlotte leading James Madison 10-2 in the sixth. The game had begun to feel like batting practice for the 49ers, who strung together a bunch of hard line drives in a five-run sixth. It seemed like Charlotte had things well in hand, so I made the decision to head over to Cary, where North Carolina and UNC Wilmington were set to start at 5 p.m.
It turns out, I might have walked out of the best game of the weekend. James Madison stormed back with two runs in the bottom of the sixth, then six more in the seventh to tie it at 10-10. Charlotte answered with a run in the eighth, but JMU responded with three in the bottom half of the inning. The Dukes lead it 13-11 in the eighth. I should have known better than to count James Madison out after blogging yesterday about how loose coach Spanky McFarland and his team seemed.
At least UNC starter Alex White is making this one worthwhile in the early going. White has struck out five of the game’s first six batters, sitting at 93 mph with his fastball and locating it very well on the outside. He used a plus-plus slider to freeze UNCW slugger Mark Carver to start the second. The Tar Heels lead 1-0 heading into the third.
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