Here’s a quick rundown of teams that have gone two-and-’cue at regionals. We’ll have a full Saturday recap and a look ahead to Sunday later.
Georgia State (Atlanta Regional)
Texas State (Austin Regional)
Southern (Baton Rouge Regional)
Dartmouth (Chapel Hill Regional)
Alabama (Clemson Regional)
Wright State (Fort Worth Regional)
Georgia Southern (Fullerton Regional) [...] Continue Reading »
By far the game of the NCAA tournament so far is the never-ending battle between Boston College and Texas in the Austin Regional. Boston College tied the game at 2-2 in the fifth, and the score remains 2-2 heading into the bottom of the 18th. Boston College junior lefthander Mike Belfiore, a likely top-two-rounds pick in the upcoming draft, has surely boosted his stock today, allowing just three hits and no walks while striking out 11 over 9 2/3 shutout innings (and counting). On the other side, Texas senior lefthander Austin Wood has been even better; he’s already thrown 10 scoreless, hitless innings, walking three while striking out 11. What a game for the ages!
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—Dustin Ackley led No. 1 seed North Carolina to a second win in the Chapel Hill Regional, as the Tar Heels downed Coastal Carolina, 14-5.
Ackley reached base six times on four hits and two intentional walks and batted in three runs on the day. At this point, Ackley’s extraordinary hitting (7-for-9 in the two regional games) is starting to become routine. He’s hitting .500 this month (30-for-60) to raise his season average to .414, and now has hit safely in 16 straight NCAA tournament games, dating back to the fourth game of the 2007 College World Series.
He wasn’t even called to the post-game press conference, and his coach, Mike Fox, could only throw up his hands and say that he didn’t know what else to say.
"He is the best player in the country. Without a doubt," Fox said. "He has to be."
FULLERTON, Calif.—I wasn’t in Irvine to see it with my own eyes, so I’m not sure I completely believe it. But GameTracker doesn’t lie: Fresno State’s reign atop the college baseball universe is over.
The Bulldogs were eliminated from the Irvine Regional by San Diego State today. The Aztecs got a sterling effort from junior righty Tyler Lavigne (7.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) and two home runs from Brandon Meredith to win 4-1. The Wonderdogs finally ran out of magic.
I’m planning to head over to Anteater Ballpark shortly to see the Virginia-UC Irvine game, but I hate to leave Goodwin Field, where Cal State Fullerton and Gonzaga have a good one going. The Zags got to Daniel Renken for two runs in the first inning, but the Titans responded with three in the top of the second and added another run in the fourth to build a 4-2 lead. In the third, we finally saw the first scoreless full inning of this regional, after 29 consecutive innings with at least one run (not counting the ninth of last night’s late game, when the Titans did not get to bat). [...] Continue Reading »
FULLERTON, Calif.—Utah has been the other side of games like this all season long. Utes coach Bill Kinneberg smiled in the post-game press conference today when a reporter described his team as "schizophrenic."
"There’s no doubt about that," Kinneberg said. "We play lights-out for seven innings, then in the eighth inning we give up five or six, boot some balls or somehow make a mistake and other teams have capitalized."
Today, the Utes were the team that capitalized. Utah erased a five-run deficit against Georgia Southern with six runs in the eighth to take the lead, only to see the Eagles tie the game in the top of the ninth. But the Utes responded with a run of their own in the bottom of the frame to steal an 11-10 win. [...] Continue Reading »
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Dick Howser Stadium was packed and rowdy for today’s game between Georgia and Florida State. A near-capacity crowd of 5,127 was on hand to see the Seminoles break open a close game in the late innings to win 8-2.
What set up on paper as a very good pitching matchup between Georgia and Florida State got off to a rough start for the Bulldogs. Righthander Trevor Holder suffered through a 35-pitch first inning that saw him walk two batters and hit a third. The good news for Georgia was that Holder allowed only one run. [...] Continue Reading »
FULLERTON, Calif.—Since yesterday, 24 full innings have been completed here at the Fullerton Regional. In all 24, at least one run has been scored. No runs were scored in the ninth of yesterday’s late game, but that’s probably because Cal State Fullerton didn’t get to bat in the bottom of the frame, having already won the game.
Georgia Southern scored 10 in a loss yesterday against Gonzaga, and the Eagles are at it again today. They lead Utah 9-4 after seven innings, having produced 15 hits already. The ball is flying out of Goodwin Field today, especially to right-center field. Even Utah, down by five runs, has three solo homers to right.
Tonight’s winners’ bracket game between Fullerton and Gonzaga could be a very offensive affair; after all, those two teams combined to score 37 runs yesterday. I’ve gotten reports from people who saw the Titans yesterday that the offense is running on all cylinders, playing a hyper-aggressive, super-confident style just like it did during its 8-1 road trip in March. That’s bad news for the rest of the teams in this regional, and maybe for the rest of the field of 64.
CARY, N.C.—Lynn (Fla.) has been crowned the D-II College World Series champion after defeating Emporia State (Kansas) 2-1 in a classic pitchers’ duel.
Lynn ace Dan Wright, a junior who transferred from Palm Beach (Fla.) CC before this season, was staked to a 2-1 lead in the third inning, and that was all the support he needed. Wright fired seven innings and allowed only one run on six hits. He fanned four batters and walked three.
The ace, coming off a fantastic season in which he posted a 2.35 ERA and struck out 115 batters in 115 innings, cruised after a shaky first inning, when Emporia plated its only run. [...] Continue Reading »
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—Facing elimination Saturday afternoon against Dartmouth, and with their bullpen having had to work hard in Friday’s loss to Coastal Carolina, the Kansas Jayhawks needed a big effort from their starter, junior lefty Shaeffer Hall, and Hall more than delivered.
Hall has had big games before. He threw a no-hitter against Air Force in the Jayhawks’ season opener. But that wasn’t with KU’s season on the line.
"I think after we got beat up yesterday on the mound, especially when you need to turn your team around, you start with the starting pitcher," Kansas coach Ritch Price said. "And he was really special today."
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—No. 4 seed Marist came into the elimination game of the Tallahassee Regional as the heavy underdog to No. 3 seed Ohio State. The game was sparcely attended with a listed crowd of 2,519 that had at most 500 fans in actual attendance. Marist put up a valiant effort, but fell behind late, eventually falling 6-4.
The Red Foxes came out early and put up two runs in the top of the second to jump out 2-0. The Buckeyes were unable to get the big hit yesterday, but in the bottom of the third today they put a four-spot on the board. The big blow came from OSU’s best hitter of the regional to this point, DH Ryan Dew. [...] Continue Reading »
Top seeds went undefeated in the first day of regional action—a reversal from last year, when four top seeds fell to No. 4 seeds on the first day. In all, nine lower seeds won on Friday last year, compared to seven this year (all No. 3 seeds). In case you’re wondering, the only No. 3 or No. 4 to win a regional last year was Fresno State, and we know how that ended. We blogged a number of notable tidbits Friday, but here’s a quick recap of Friday’s scores, as well as a look ahead to Saturday’s schedule (all times Eastern).
(3) Southern Mississippi over (2) Elon, 17-15
(1) Georgia Tech over (4) Georgia State, 9-3
3 p.m.: Elon vs. Georgia State
7 p.m.: Georgia Tech vs. Southern Mississippi [...] Continue Reading »
IRVINE, Calif.—UC Irvine coach Mike Gillespie was nonplussed when asked how Daniel Bibona’s performance Friday night stacked up with other Bibona outings over the last two years.
"I think it was pretty generic Bibona, which is good," Gillespie said. "I really don’t mean it to sound like it’s in anyway negative—it’s not. But what we saw tonight is what we typically see from him. He’s hard to get a lot of hits against, hard to have big innings against; he refuses to give in. He pitches off the plate, below the zone, and sometimes above the zone. For college hitters, sometimes it’s hard to lay off that.
"I’ve seen him throw close to 30 starts in two years, and I think this ranks among his good ones. He hasn’t had many games in two years where he hasn’t been good. He’s been very, very consistent, and we are spoiled by that, because we’ve come to expect him to be good everytime he’s out there. If he doesn’t like it, that’s tough—that’s just the way it is."
Bibona’s "generic" start, which ranks "among his good ones," was more than enough to lead the Anteaters to a 4-2 win against Fresno State. [...] Continue Reading »
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Marist was the small fish in a very large pond at the Tallahassee Regional. The Red Foxes boast an enrollment of 4,256, or roughly one-tenth the enrollment of their opening game opponent, Florida State.
In front of a surprising crowd of 3,565 that came to Dick Howser Stadium for the late 9:30 p.m. start, the Red Foxes came out strong against the Seminoles before falling behind in the middle innings and eventually falling 16-4.
Marist went to a 5-foot-11, 170-pound senior lefty named Josh Rickards to take on a very strong Florida State offense, and for 4 1/3 innings he held the Seminoles in check, allowing just one run and five hits. [...] Continue Reading »
IRVINE, Calif.—UC Irvine wasted no time responding to Fresno State’s run in the top of the fourth, constructing a classic Anteaters four-run rally in the bottom of the frame. Two UCI batters were hit by pitches, and a third was called back to the batter’s box after leaning into a pitch. The Anteaters scored their first run on a bases-loaded walk, then got another on a sacrifice fly before freshman Jordan Fox drove in two with a double to right-center field.
Starting Fox looks like a brilliant gut call by Irvine coach Mike Gillespie. He has made just four starts this season, but he played well in a pair of starts last week, including Friday against UC Santa Barbara, when he collected three hits. Gillespie’s great at riding the hot hand—he’s already done it this year with upstarts D.J. Crumlich and Ronnie Shaeffer.
IRVINE, Calif.—Daniel Bibona looked magnificent through 3 1/3 innings of the nightcap here at the Irvine Regional. Bibona racked up five strikeouts and had a perfect game going, until BA’s Dave Perkin leaned over to me and said, "I don’t want to jinx him, but he’s got a pretty good game going here."
I’ll bet you can guess what happened on the very next pitch. Yup—Fresno State’s Dusty Robinson launched a solo homer over the scoreboard in left field to put the Bulldogs ahead 1-0. Home runs at night in this park are extremely rare, and that was a no-doubter.
UPDATE: Bibona on Robinson’s homer, after the game: "I made a bad pitch and he hit it very far. Watching it go over the scoreboard, I was impressed. I didn’t think anybody could hit it over the scoreboard at night."
Bibona quickly got back on track, striking out the next two hitters, giving him seven whiffs through four. That changeup is darting like crazy, and Fresno can’t touch it. But Bulldogs freshman righty Derek Benny has held the Anteaters to just one hit through three innings, striking out two.
Maryland coach Terry Rupp has resigned after leading the Terrapins to a 227-271 record in nine seasons. Maryland went 27-27 this year, 10-20 in the Atlantic Coast Conference.
“I thank coach Rupp for his nine years of hard-working and tireless service to the University,” associate athletics director for compliance/baseball sport supervisor Dan Trump said in a statement. “Terry has conducted himself in a first-class manner throughout his tenure in College Park and I have appreciated his dedication to the program. [...] Continue Reading »
IRVINE, Calif.—When Virginia’s coaches found out they’d likely be facing San Diego State flamethrower Stephen Strasburg in their regional opener, they began calling other coaches around the nation to gather scouting reports on Strasburg.
"They told us, ‘You’d better not give them anything, because God isn’t giving you more than one run,’ " UVa. pitching coach Karl Kuhn told me tonight over a delicious press meal (the best spread I’ve ever encountered for an NCAA event, by the way). "Seriously, two different coaches called him ‘God.’"
The Cavaliers prepared for Strasburg’s overpowering velocity by moving closer to their pitching machines this week, getting within 30-40 feet, according to sophomore Phil Gosselin. So Gosselin was ready for the first pitch he saw from Strasburg, a 97 mph fastball that he pulled for a solo homer off the left-field scoreboard in the first inning.
That blow seemed to slightly dent Strasburg’s aura of invincibility. The Cavaliers scrapped out another run in the second, taking advantage of two wild pitches (at least one of which should have been scored a passed ball), an infield single and an error. [...] Continue Reading »
CHAPEL HILL, N.C.—No. 1 seed North Carolina has had trouble all year turning double plays. In fact, coach Mike Fox said his team had been saving them up.
The Tar Heels unleashed the double-play ball Friday night in downing No. 4 seed Dartmouth in the opening-round game of the Chapel Hill Regional, 5-2.
Four times, UNC turned two. That’s a season-high for the Tar Heels, who made sure that six Dartmouth runners were left on base. Three times Dartmouth grounded into inning-ending double plays.
And while a heap of credit has to go to starting pitcher Matt Harvey, the real architect was freshman second baseman Levi Michael. Michael made a pair of spectacular defensive plays, and while he did have the only error of the game, he certainly made up for it.
IRVINE, Calif.—Reports of Stephen Strasburg’s demise are greatly exagerrated.
Strasburg settled down after a rocky first two innings, shutting out Virginia over the next five. His day is likely over after seven strong innings of work, as he untucked his jersey in the dugout after striking out Danny Hultzen to end the seventh, and he has thrown 119 pitches by my count.
Strasburg finished with 15 strikeouts and no walks. He allowed two runs on eight hits, but just three hits came after the second inning. He struck out the final three batters he faced, all on breaking balls. His fastball regained its explosive life in the middle innings, though he worked mostly in the 94-96 range. He had four strikeouts on his fastball over the fifth and sixth innings, two at 96, one at 95 and one at 94. The highest velocity I recorded on the Baseball America Stalker radar gun was 98, which he touched once in the first inning. I saw 97 a few times, including once in the fifth.
Virginia starter Robert Morey might have actually outpitched Strasburg, striking out nine over six scoreless innings. [...] Continue Reading »
TALLAHASSEE, Fla.—Georgia’s bats certainly showed up in the opening game of the Tallahassee Regional on Friday. Following a five-hour, 12-minute delay for rain and lightning, the Bulldogs finished putting up a season high in hits (23) and runs, taking out Ohio State 24-8.
The offense was led by first baseman Rich Poythress (4-for-4, 2 BB, 7 RBI) who belted three home runs on the day, including a grand slam, part of a 10-run eighth inning.
Center fielder Matt Cerione added a second grand slam in the bottom of the eighth. Georgia hit seven homers in the game, pushing the Bulldogs’ total on the season to 105, a new school record. Poythress now has 24 homers on the season, putting him second on Georgia’s single-season list, behind only Gordon Beckham’s 28 last year.
Georgia will get the winner of tonight’s Florida State-Marist tilt. Ohio State will play the loser of the FSU/Marist game tomorrow at 12 p.m.
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