Saturday was a thrilling day in college baseball, as numerous conference races came down to the final day of the regular season. We'll get to those momentarily, but let's start the roundup with a look at the Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference, where Bethune-Cookman won it sixth consecutive tournament championship—and 11th in coach Mervyl Melendez's 12 years at the helm—with a 9-3 win against Norfolk State.
Preseason All-American Peter O'Brien (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) led the B-CU offense in support of Patrick Goelz (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). O'Brien went 8-for-14 with eight RBIs in Bethune-Cookman's 3-0 run through the MEAC tournament to capture MVP honors. B-CU's incredible MEAC winning streak now stands at 46 games. Now the Wildcats join Princeton as teams that have secured trips to regionals.
"They're all special," Melendez said of the sixth straight championship. "It doesn't matter how many you win, it doesn't get old."
Here's a look at how the races unfolded in the four power conferences that mostly concluded their regular seasons on Saturday, followed by highlights from the Pac-10 and around the nation. We'll reference pseudo RPIs below—all are according to warrennolan.com, which uses data updated through Saturday.
• North Carolina completed a sweep of No. 1 Virginia with a 3-2 win, allowing Georgia Tech to claim a share of the ACC's regular-season title, though the Cavs will have the top seed in the conference tournament. Colin Moran (4-for-4) hit a two-run double to highlight UNC's three-run fifth inning in support of Chris Munnelly (6 IP, 4 H, 2 ER). The Tar Heels (20-10 in the ACC, the third-best record in the league) likely sewed up a national seed with the sweep, thanks in large part to the nation's No. 1 RPI.
• The Yellow Jackets won the rubber game at Virginia Tech, 5-3 win behind Buck Farmer (7 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K). Georgia Tech matched Virginia with a 22-8 mark in the ACC, though the Cavaliers won the head-to-head series between the two teams. The Jackets (No. 8 in the RPI) are likely competing with Florida State (No. 5) for the ACC's third national seed.
• The Seminoles, who already won the Atlantic Division title, dropped the rubber game against Clemson, 8-5. Each team hit two home runs, as starters Jonathan Meyer (4.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) and Mike McGee (3.1 IP, 2 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 6 BB, 2 K) both struggled. Clemson's late surge has landed it right in the thick of the regional hosting discussion; the Tigers are ninth in the RPI, and they won series down the stretch against Georgia Tech and at FSU to finish with a solid 17-13 ACC record (two games behind FSU).
• North Carolina State gave its at-large resume the padding it needed, completing a sweep with a 6-1 win at Boston College behind Rob Chamra (5.1 IP, 2 H, 1 ER). The Wolfpack climbed to .500 (15-15) in the ACC, and it's time to move them from the bubble to the "safely in" category.
• Texas A&M grabbed a share of the Big 12 regular-season title with a 3-0 win against Texas, which will be the top seed in the conference tournament by virtue of its head-to-head series win this weekend. Ross Stripling (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K) was brilliant in a complete-game shutout, tying him with Texas' Taylor Jungmann for the national lead in wins (12). Sam Stafford (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K) turned in a solid outing, and the Aggies broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the ninth on Andrew Collazo's three-run triple to center field.
• Josh Ludy's walk-off RBI single in the ninth gave Baylor a 3-2 win in the rubber game against Oklahoma. The Bears climbed to 13-14 in the conference and sit at No. 32 in the RPI, and they won their last three weekend series (at Nebraska and Oklahoma State, vs. Oklahoma), putting them in strong at-large position. Dillon Overton (4.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K) was strong in relief for the Sooners, who head to the Big 12 tournament as the No. 4 seed (14-11).
• Oklahoma State is moving in the opposite direction as Baylor. The Cowboys lost their third straight conference series, falling 11-7 in the rubber game at Texas Tech, as Brad Propst (3.2 IP, 8 H, 8 R, 7 ER) struggled again. The Cowboys (14-11) still earned the No. 3 seed in the conference tournament thanks to a weekend series win against Oklahoma. Texas Tech, despite an 11-15 record in the Big 12 and a 6-12 mark against the top 50 in the RPI, still has a shot for an at-large bid thanks to an RPI inside the top 50 (No. 46), but the Red Raiders have significant work to do in the conference tournament.
• Southern Miss salvaged Saturday's series finale against Rice, 7-3, to tie the Owls atop the final regular-season standings (but Rice will be the top seed in the conference tournament thanks to its head-to-head series win this weekend). The Golden Eagles surged ahead with four runs in the fifth to chase John Simms (4 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 0 BB, 7 K), making a winner out of Jonathan Thompson (5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER). The Golden Eagles needed to avoid getting swept to keep their regional hosting hopes alive, and they did so.
• East Carolina completed a sweep at Tulane with a 7-6 win in 11 innings. Kevin Brandt (7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER) was strong in a no-decision for the Pirates, who won on Cory Thompson's RBI single in the 11th. The Pirates (14-10 in C-USA) finished third in the league, two games back, and they look like a safe bet to be a No. 2 seed in a regional. Tulane, meanwhile, saw its at-large chances dashed this weekend.
• Central Florida won its rubber game against Marshall, 8-1, to climb to .500 (12-12) in the league and capture the No. 4 seed in the C-USA tourney. In recent weeks, the Knights have climbed from the bubble to looking like a lock to be a No. 2 seed in a regional.
• Fittingly, after months of leapfrog, the three juggernauts of the SEC East will have to share the regular-season title. Vanderbilt, South Carolina and Florida all won rubber games Saturday to finish in a three-way tie (22-8) atop the conference—though South Carolina earned the top seed in the conference tournament by virtue of head-to-head series wins against the other two teams. In the West, Arkansas (15-15) swept a doubleheader against Mississippi to storm past Auburn, Alabama and Mississippi State and win the division outright. MSU, 'Bama and Auburn all entered the day tied for the division lead, a half-game ahead of the Razorbacks, but all three of those teams lost Saturday. Ole Miss and LSU found themselves outside the SEC tournament field.
• Evan Marzilli (4-for-4, 2 2B) led South Carolina's 12-hit attack in support of Colby Holmes (6.2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K), as the Gamecocks won a road series at Alabama with a 3-2 win.
• Florida rebounded from a blowout loss Friday by dismantling Kentucky, 19-3. Good luck choosing an offensive MVP in this one for the Gators; Preston Tucker (5-for-6, 5 R, 2 RBI, 2 2B), Austin Maddox (3-for-6, 2 HR, 6 RBI), Brian Johnson (3-for-4, HR, 4 RBI), Josh Adams (3-for-6, 4 RBI) and Mike Zunino (4-for-4, 4 R, RBI) all went bonkers. Karsten Whitson (5 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) improved to 7-0.
• All nine Vanderbilt starters got into the hit column—led by leadoff man Tony Kemp (4-for-6, 3 R, RBI, 2B)—in the Commodores' 17-7 win in the rubber game at Georgia. The Bulldogs actually led 7-6 after seven innings, but the 'Dores broke it open with 11 runs over the next two innings, capped by Aaron Westlake's two-run homer. Georgia fell back to .500 overall (28-28), so it will have to win at least three games in the SEC tournament to finish above .500 and be eligible for an at-large berth to the NCAA tournament.
• Auburn must win at least one game in Hoover to finish above .500 overall, as the Tigers dropped a series at last-place Tennessee. The Volunteers came from behind with two in the ninth to win Saturday's rubber game, 4-3.
• After losing the series opener on Thursday, Arkansas was in danger of missing the SEC tournament. After sweeping a pair of seven-inning games against Ole Miss on Saturday, the Hogs found themselves heading to Hoover as the No. 2 seed. Randall Fant (6.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R) led Arkansas to a 2-0 win in the opener. Ryne Stanek (0.1 IP, 2 H, 2 ER) started the nightcap but did not last long, and Barret Astin (4 IP, 2 H, 0 R) wound up getting the win in relief, as the Hogs erased a 3-2 deficit with three runs in the sixth. Ole Miss is in serious danger of missing the NCAA tournament as well as the conference tournament. The Rebels are 13-17 in league play, tied for last in the West with LSU (which won the head-to-head series between the two teams), and their RPI is just No. 41.
• By contrast, LSU is 21st in the RPI, and it finished the season on a high note, winning three of its last four series. LSU's season might have been riding on Saturday's rubber game at Mississippi State, and the Tigers came through with a 6-3 win, as Austin Nola (3-for-5, 3 RBI) led a 13-hit attack behind Ryan Eades (6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER).
• A day after Brady Rodgers threw complete-game shutout, Kramer Champlin (9 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K) followed suit in Arizona State's 12-0 shellacking of Washington, clinching the series. The Sun Devils climbed within a game of first-place Oregon State.
• The Beavers were upset by Southern California, 8-3, as Austin Wood (8 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) shut down the Oregon State offense. The Trojans jumped on Bet Wetzler (0.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 4 ER) in an eight-run first inning. James Nygren (7.2 IP, 9 H, 1 ER) kept USC off the board thereafter, but the damage was done.
• UCLA evened its series against Cal with a 2-1 win behind Trevor Bauer (9 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 8 K), who threw his seventh consecutive complete game and failed to record double digits in strikeouts for just the second time this season. Bauer, the national strikeout leader by a wide margin and one of the top contenders for national Player of the Year honors, improved to 11-2, 1.37 with 175 strikeouts and 33 walks in 119 innings. Dixon Anderson (5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) was solid in defeat for Cal. The Bruins (No. 43 in the RPI) could really use another win Sunday to create some distance between themselves and the bubble.
• Arizona knotted up its series at Stanford with a 7-3 win behind Kyle Simon (7.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K).
AROUND THE NATION
• Dallas Baptist and Charlotte split the final two games of their series, as DBU held on to win 12-8 in the resumption of Friday's suspended game, but Charlotte salvaged an 8-2 win in the finale. DBU fell to No. 57 in the Warren Nolan RPI, but it remains No. 46 in the updated Boyd's World RPI. Either way, the Patriots are squarely on the bubble.
• Belmont upset Stetson for the second straight day, 11-5, dealing the Hatters' fading hosting ambitions a serious blow. Stetson has lost six of its last nine games, including big midweek showdowns against Florida State, Florida International and Central Florida.
• Bubble-dwellers East Tennessee State and Jacksonville avoided getting swept, as the Bucs beat Mercer 4-1 and the Dolphins topped Kennesaw State 11-7. ETSU (No. 34) is in considerably better RPI shape than Jacksonville (No. 48).
• Northwestern upset Michigan State, 6-5, and Illinois completed a sweep of Indiana, 7-5, leaving the Spartans and Illini tied atop the Big Ten's final regular-season standings. Matt Dittman hit a walk-off, two-run homer in the ninth to give Illinois its first Big Ten title since 2005. Illinois earned the No. 1 seed in the conference tournament by virtue of its head-to-head series win against Michigan State. After starting 4-5 in conference play, the Illini won their last five Big Ten series to finish 15-9.
• UC Irvine climbed inside the top 40 of the RPI with a 3-2 win at UC Riverside. The Anteaters have won seven straight games and 11 of their last 12 to surge to 37-13 overall—and likely off the bubble into the "safely in" category for an at-large bid. Irvine can pull within a game of idle Fullerton in the Big West with another win Sunday.
• James Madison beat Northeastern, 4-2, and won the CAA regular-season title outright, finishing two games ahead of Old Dominion.
• Creighton completed a sweep of Missouri State with a 3-1 win, giving the Bluejays the outright regular-season championship in the Missouri Valley Conference. At No. 37 in the RPI, Creighton is also sitting pretty for an at-large spot if it fails to win the MVC's automatic bid.
• Texas Christian completed a sweep and reached the 40-win plateau with a 12-8 win at New Mexico, as Jason Coats and Josh Elander combined for four hits and seven RBIs.
• In the Northeast Conference tournament, Sacred Heart beat Monmouth, 6-1, and Central Connecticut State eliminated Long Island, 2-1. CCSU and Monmouth will meet in an elimination game Sunday, with the winner facing Sacred Heart for the title later in the day. If the Pioneers lose Sunday, a decisive rematch would be played Monday to determine the champion.
• Cross College of Charleston off the list of at-large candidates. The Cougars were already on the wrong side of the bubble, but they lost to Samford again Saturday, 6-5, to drop the series. The series was a must-win for CofC to have a realistic shot at an at-large.
• Texas State's at-large hopes sustained a major blow, as the Bobcats split a doubleheader at Texas-Arlington to lose the series. The poor finish, coupled with a 3-10 record against the top 50, means Texas State probably needs to win the Southland Conference tournament to get an at-large spot.
• Oral Roberts won the Summit League regular-season title outright with an 18-4 bludgeoning of Southern Utah.
• Florida International won the rubber game against Florida Atlantic, 7-3. But Troy topped South Alabama, 10-7, to win the Sun Belt regular-season title by a half-game over FIU. That mantle helps Troy's at-large case. The Trojans also reached the 40-win mark and stayed inside the top 45 in the RPI.
• Hawaii grabbed a share of the WAC title for the first time since 1992 with a 24-3 massacre of New Mexico State. The Rainbows tied a program record for most runs in an inning with a 15-run outburst in the sixth. WAC co-champion Fresno State lost a nonconference game to Cal State Bakersfield, 5-2, despite a solid start from Tyler Linehan (6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER).
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