South Carolina, Kent State and Arkansas completed the College World Series field by winning their super regionals Monday. The exciting final day of the super regional round featured a pair of walk-off wins in the night games. Here's a quick recap:
Columbia Super Regional
The Gamecocks completed a dominating two-game sweep of Oklahoma with a 5-1 win Monday, in the makeup of a game that was pushed back from Sunday by rain. Colby Holmes (5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 3 K) was strong in a no-decision for the Gamecocks, and three relievers joined him in a combined three-hitter, capped by a vintage performance from closer Matt Price (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K). Jonathan Gray (6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 9 K) held the Gamecocks scoreless through six, but an error and a wild pitch helped South Carolina score two runs in the seventh against Steven Okert. The Gamecocks extended the lead with three more in the eighth, highlighted by Chase Vergason's two-run double.
South Carolina heads to Omaha riding an unfathomable 21-game winning streak in NCAA tournament action, including 11 straight in Omaha. The two-time defending national champions have won 24 consecutive postseason games at home. [...] Continue Reading »
Oklahoma State made another splash Monday, hiring Rob Walton away from Oral Roberts to serve as pitching coach under Josh Holliday.
This move represents the best of all worlds for the Cowboys, as Walton and Holliday were regarded as two of the top candidates for the head coaching job. To land both on the same coaching staff is a huge coup for OSU.
Walton has spent the last nine seasons as head coach at ORU, leading the Golden Eagles to nine straight regionals and a 365-167 record. He was named Summit League coach of the year five times, and he has served as head coach for Team USA, a sign of the great respect he has earned in coaching circles for his pitching acumen and his leadership skills. A pitcher at Oklahoma State from 1983-86, Walton couldn't resist the lure of Stillwater.
"This is a really special opportunity for me and my family," Walton said in a release. "My wife and I went to school there, and it's a chance to come back to our alma mater and help Coach Holliday get the program going in the right direction. Hopefully we can bring it back to prominence.
"I've known Josh for a long time. He has a passion for OSU baseball and so do I, and so we're going to team up and do the best job that we can do to put the program back where it needs to be."
Ryan Folmer, who has been ORU's hitting coach under Walton for the past nine seasons, would seemingly be a strong candidate to succeed Walton as Golden Eagles head coach. Other potential targets include Arkansas assistant Todd Butler and former Baylor assistant Mitch Thompson.
Ohio University has hired former Creighton associate head coach Rob Smith as its new head coach, replacing the retired Joe Carbone.
Smith has spent the last six years as the recruiting coordinator on Ed Servais' staff, helping to build three NCAA tournament teams (2007, 2011 and 2012). The Bluejays reached the Los Angeles Regional final this year before losing to UCLA. Smith has also overseen Creighton's pitching staff, which annually ranks among the best in the Missouri Valley Conference. Before arriving at Creighton, Smith spent five years as an assistant at Purdue
"He has had a dynamic impact at every stop during his 16-year coaching career," Ohio athletics director Jim Schaus said. "He has a renowned reputation in building a successful pitching staff, which has consistently led their conference and has regularly ranked in the top 20 in ERA nationally. Rob is also known for his recruiting prowess as well as his ability to develop players. He has tremendous energy and passion that is infectious."
EUGENE, Ore.—After Oregon turned in an uncharacteristically sloppy loss in Saturday's super regional opener against Kent State, Ducks coach George Horton promised that his team would come back Sunday and play a better game. If he knew his team as well as he thought he did, Horton insisted, the Ducks would respond with their backs against the wall.
And Horton knows his team.
Oregon found itself eight outs from elimination Sunday night, facing a two-run deficit with the bases empty in the seventh inning. But this group of plucky Ducks has made a habit of finding ways to win, even when victory seems like a daunting prospect.
Golden Flashes righthander Ryan Bores had held Oregon scoreless on two hits up until that point, but with one out in the seventh, the Ducks abruptly came to life. Ryon Healy's single up the middle got things started, and each of the next four batters reached safely, leading to three runs and propelling Oregon to a spirited 3-2 win.
Horton never expected anything less from this particular team.
"I've never told a team I love them as much as this group," Horton said. "That's what we talked about before the game—I cried. I'm getting old, and like (former NFL coach) Dick Vermeil used to do, I cry a lot more than I used to. But I cried and looked them in the eye and said, 'Hey, I realize that we're trying to go to the College World Series, which is a big deal. But I don't want to take the uniforms off.' I want to compete with these guys in June as long as I possibly can, that's how special this group is. [...] Continue Reading »
Five of the eight spots in the College World Series are set, but it's easy to predict which team will be the darling of Omaha.
Stony Brook completed one of the most stunning upsets in college baseball history Sunday, thoroughly dominating Louisiana State 7-2 to win the Baton Rouge Super Regional. Stony Brook, an America East Conference school from Long Island, went into college baseball's most intimidating environment and won a decisive third game in front of 11,976 fans—larger than Stony Brook's home attendance for the entire season. On his way into the postgame press conference, coach Matt Senk received a congratulatory handshake from former LSU coach Skip Bertman, winner of five national titles. The moment was surreal for Senk, who arrived at Stony Brook in 1991 and shepherded the program through its transition from Division III to D-II in 1995, then from D-II to D-I in 2000.
"I'm a little overwhelmed, quite frankly, because I think I do know the magnitude of this," Senk said afterward. "To make it to Omaha is every college baseball team's dream, every college baseball coach's dream, and it's come to fruition. And to do against LSU, Alex Box Stadium . . . to shake Coach Bertman's hand on the way in. Oh my God. Having that man congratulate me for going to the College World Series, it's just unbelievable."
Frankie Vanderka, who spent most of the season as Stony Brook's closer, held LSU to just three hits in a complete game, while the Seawolves pounded out 15 hits against LSU's vaunted pitching staff. First-team preseason All-American Travis Jankowski went 4-for-6 to lead the Seawolves, who took control of the game with three runs in the third and two more in the fourth. The only time Stony Brook trailed in the three-game super regional was after Mason Katz hit a walk-off RBI single to end the first game in the 12th inning. It was a dominating performance by the Seawolves, who went through perennial powerhouses Miami and LSU on their way to Omaha. [...] Continue Reading »
By Peter Wardell
LOS ANGELES—UCLA has yet to lose a game this postseason. As a matter of fact, the Bruins have lost just once in the past month.
With a 4-1 victory over Texas Christian on Saturday night in front of a packed crowd at Jackie Robinson Stadium, UCLA clinched its spot in the College World Series, marking the program’s second trip to Omaha in three years.
Over the past month, the Bruins have become one of the toughest teams to beat in the country due to their consistent ability to manufacture runs. Saturday night was no different, as timely hitting, solid baserunning and a little luck made the difference.
“Our game plan is to just grind pitchers down,” said sophomore shortstop Pat Valaika. “We see a lot of pitches. We work really hard to pass the baton and get the next guy to the plate. It worked tonight and it’s been working all season.”
After setting down the UCLA lineup on just five pitches in the first inning, TCU freshman righthander Preston Morrison gave up a one-out triple to junior first baseman Trevor Brown in the top of the second. On the next pitch, Valaika lofted a deep sacrifice fly into right field to score the run. [...] Continue Reading »
EUGENE, Ore.—What it lacked in grace—and it lacked anything resembling grace—Saturday's super regional opener between Kent State and Oregon made up for with ninth-inning drama.
The Ducks cut Kent State's three-run lead down to one in the ninth and had the bases loaded with two outs for J.J. Altobelli. With a raucous crowd of 4,177 in a frenzy, Altobelli drove a Josh Pierce offering into the right-center-field gap, and Kent State junior center fielder Evan Campbell raced backward, reached up and made a full-extension catch over his left shoulder, then tumbled to the ground. The crowd held its collective breath for an anxious second, waiting to see if Campbell held onto the ball, but when he held up his glove, it contained the final out in Kent State's 7-6 win.
"Right off the bat, I thought it was just a routine play, honestly, because the ball wasn't traveling too well tonight," Campbell said. "As I kept running, it kept carrying, and it was pretty close. Right at the tail end, it was close—50/50."
Oregon's ninth-inning surge started with a leadoff walk to Aaron Jones and reached a crescendo with back-to-back walks later in the frame, forcing in the Ducks' final run. Kent State pitchers combined to issue 11 walks in the game, including seven by ace David Starn, who minimized the damage and allowed just four runs in 6 1/3 innings of work. [...] Continue Reading »
A pair of Pac-12 teams punched their tickets to Omaha by completing sweeps of their home super regionals on Saturday. First, in Tucson, Arizona used a balanced 12-hit attack in support of Konner Wade (9 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 2 K) to beat St. John's 7-4. The Wildcats took control with three runs in the first and never looked back, completing an unbeaten run through regionals and supers to reach the College World Series for the first time since 2004. The Wildcats will face the winner of the Tallahassee Super Regional in their first game in Omaha.
Later, in Los Angeles, UCLA got another strong start from Nick Vander Tuig (6 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) and another sparkling relief outing from David Berg (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K) to beat Texas Christian, 4-1. The Bruins also waltzed unbeaten through regionals and supers, outscoring their opponents 33-9 in five games. UCLA heads back to Omaha for the second time in three seasons and awaits the winner of the Baton Rouge Super Regional.
On to the rest of Saturday's action:
Baton Rouge Super Regional
In the resumption of Friday's suspended game, LSU got a walk-off RBI single from Mason Katz to beat Stony Brook 5-4 in 12 innings. Kevin Gausman threw 12 pitches in a scoreless inning of work to earn the win, then started the second game 50 minutes later, pitching well in defeat (7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K). The Seawolves did not wilt even after letting the first game slip through their fingers in heart-breaking fashion, as RBI singles by Sal Intagliata and Willie Carmona gave Stony Brook a 2-0 lead in the third inning against the No. 4 overall pick in the draft, and Tyler Johnson (9 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 1 K) did the rest, leading SBU to a 3-1 win. Johnson, who threw 229 pitches over two starts in regionals last week, collapsed into teammates' arms after his 127-pitch three-hitter against LSU. The two teams meet again Sunday with a trip to Omaha on the line. [...] Continue Reading »
By Peter Wardell
LOS ANGELES – After last weekend’s strong showing, No. 2 national seed UCLA looked to be a strong favorite heading into its super regional showdown with Texas Christian. While the Bruins came away with a 6-2 victory in Friday's opener, knocking off the Horned Frogs was no easy task.
Coming off a run through the losers' bracket to win the College Station Regional last weekend, TCU stormed out of the gate fearless and confident, unfazed by the scorching Bruins. Freshman lefthander Brandon Finnegan attacked hitters early, touching 95 mph in the first. Juniors Josh Elander and Kyle von Tungeln gave the Horned Frogs a 2-1 lead with solo home runs in the first and third, and things started to get very quiet at Jackie Robinson Stadium.
Then in the bottom of the sixth, it all unraveled for the Frogs.
Hanging onto a 2-1 lead, TCU coach Jim Schlossnagle called in junior submariner Justin Scharf from the bullpen after Finnegan walked UCLA catcher Tyler Heineman on four pitches and hit Cody Keefer to start the inning. Scharf loaded the bases with another hit batsman before allowing a game-tying single to UCLA junior second baseman Trevor Brown. Sophomore shortstop Pat Valaika put the Bruins ahead for good with a run-scoring groundout to first base, and after freshman pinch-hitter Brenton Allen was walked intentionally, junior first baseman Cody Regis came to plate.
After looking overmatched in his first two plate appearances, Regis again fell behind in the count but found a fastball outside with two strikes and crushed it into the left field gap for a bases-clearing double, extending the lead to four. [...] Continue Reading »
Two more mid-major coaches resigned late this week: Morehead State's Jay Sorg and William & Mary's Frank Leoni.
Sorg led the Eagles to a 100-156-1 record in five seasons, including a 28-27 campaign this spring. Morehead State reached the Ohio Valley Conference tournament in 2009 and 2012 but did not make a regional.
"I feel like I am leaving the program in a good place," Sorg said in a release. "The future is very promising. Many great things have been accomplished. The program has improved every year with the exception of one. We are close to 90 RPI spots better than when we started. We have also seen several players break single-season and career records over the past five years."
The Tribe went 196-178 in seven seasons under Leoni. Ten former William & Mary players signed professional contracts under Leoni, but he could not guide the Tribe to regionals. One possible candidate to replace Leoni might be Nate Goulet, who won the Colonial Athletic Association coach of the year award after leading Old Dominion to the CAA championship game as the interim head coach in 2011. But the Monarchs elected to hire Chris Finwood as head coach after that season.
Another name to keep in mind for the William & Mary job is Kansas State associate head coach John Szefc, a native Northeasterner who guided Marist to three regionals during his tenure from 1996-2002. Since then, Szefc has done fantastic work as an assistant at Louisiana-Lafayette, Kansas and Kansas State.
Here's a quick recap of Friday's super regional action:
Baton Rouge Super Regional
Friday's most dramatic game has yet to reach a conclusion. Upstart Stony Brook carried a 2-1 lead into the ninth inning in Baton Rouge, but JaCoby Jones led off the bottom of the ninth with a game-tying solo homer—and that was just the beginning of the drama. Stony Brook regained the lead with a run in the top of the 10th—and LSU answered again with a solo homer by Tyler Moore to tie the game in the bottom of the frame. The Seawolves took the lead yet again in the top of the 11th—and LSU answered yet again with a third solo homer, this time off the bat of Mason Katz to lead off the frame. The game was halted by rain in the top of the 12th and will be resumed at 11:05 ET on Saturday. Game Two will start 50 minutes after the conclusion of the first game.
Los Angeles Super Regional
UCLA erased a 2-1 deficit with five runs in the sixth to beat Texas Christian 6-2. After TCU elected to intentionally walk Brenton Allen (who has just 14 at-bats on the season) to load the bases in the sixth, Cody Regis hit a three-run double to highlight UCLA's rally. Adam Plutko (7 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) allowed just a pair of solo homers and improved to 11-3 on the season. [...] Continue Reading »
Oklahoma State announced Josh Holliday as its new head coach today in what was an obvious move for the university.
Holliday grew up in Stillwater, Okla., as his father Tom was a longtime Cowboys assistant. Josh, whose younger brother Matt is an all-star outfielder for the St. Louis Cardinals, played at OK State and was on the team when his father, since elevated to head coach, led the Cowboys to the 1999 College World Series.
When Josh Holliday's playing career ended, he began a successful assistant coaching career that led him back to his alma mater as an assistant to his father, then to North Carolina State, Georgia Tech, Arizona State and most recently Vanderbilt. Holliday is well-regarded in the industry for his ability to evaluate talent, close a recruiting deal and work with hitters. [...] Continue Reading »
As anticipated, Texas Tech removed the "interim" tag and named Tim Tadlock head baseball coach Thursday.
The Red Raiders had initially lured Tadlock away from Oklahoma to serve as an assistant under Dan Spencer this winter. When Spencer was fired at the end of the season, Tadlock was elevated to interim head coach while the school conducted a national search. But coaches in the region have regarded that process as a mere formality over the last two weeks, declaring Tadlock a lock to get the job.
Tadlock is a Texas Tech alumnus who has built a reputation as an elite recruiter during his time at Oklahoma and before that in the junior-college ranks. He is a proven winner as a head coach in the juco ranks, leading Grayson County (Texas) JC to back-to-back national titles in 1999-2000. As Oklahoma's recruiting coordinator from 2006-11, he helped build the Sooners back into a national power. The Sooners excelled at running his high-octane offense, batting over .300 during all six of his seasons and leading the Big 12 in homers in 2009-10.
"Tim has prepared himself for this tremendous opportunity and honor to lead our baseball program," Texas Tech director of athletics Kirby Hocutt said in a release. "As one of the nation's most respected recruiters and coaches he has demonstrated the ability to attract, teach and win at the highest level. There are great days ahead for Texas Tech baseball."
Baseball America has confirmed a tweet by Stefan Stevenson of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram that Texas Christian associate head coach Randy Mazey will be the new head coach at West Virginia.
In six years at TCU, Mazey has done an outstanding job handling a Horned Frogs pitching staff that annually ranks among the nation's best. He has been a big part of TCU's rise to national prominence—a rise that has included three trips to super regionals in the last four years. But he also has experience as successful head coach. Before arriving in Fort Worth, Mazey spent three years as the head coach at East Carolina, leading the Pirates to a 120-66-1 record and three straight regionals. The Pirates won a school-record 51 games under Mazey in 2004.
Mazey's first stint as a head coach came at Charleston Southern, where he was hired at age 27 in 1994. In 1996, he led the Buccaneers to regionals for the first time in school history. He departed the following year to serve as recruiting coordinator and pitching coach at Georgia, then headed to ECU as an assistant. He started his coaching career at his alma mater, Clemson, in 1990.
Mazey faces plenty an uphill battle at West Virginia, which moves to the Big 12 next season but lacks Big 12-caliber facilities. If the Mountaineers are serious about increasing their commitment to the program—and indications suggest they are serious—this could be a very good job.
Previous coach Greg Van Zant had to make due with fewer than nine scholarships for most of his tenure, but the program now funds the full 11.7 scholarships, which was a critical first step.
RALEIGH, N.C.—The Raleigh Regional essentially boiled down to a three-game series between North Carolina State and Vanderbilt. But that was all it needed to be. If you were looking for emotion, drama and some unlikely heroes, it was all there.
The Wolfpack and Commodores played their third straight classic in the decisive seventh game of the regional on Monday, as the Wolfpack rallied from a 7-3 deficit with six runs in the last two innings to take a 9-7 win and earn a trip to Gainesville for a super regional with Florida. All three games saw a team overcome a deficit of at least four runs, and all three were decided in the winning team’s final at-bat.
“Every time you win a game like this, it makes you a little bit tougher,” N.C. State head coach Elliot Avent said. “It makes you believe you can do anything.”
After an exciting Monday that saw five teams complete triumphant runs through losers' brackets, champions have been crowned in all 16 regionals. We'll recap Monday's action shortly, but first let's cut to the chase. Here are the matchups and schedules for next weekend's super regionals:
Friday Through Sunday
The following four best-of-three super regionals will be played Friday, Saturday and Sunday (if necessary). All times are Eastern. National seeds indicated.
Stony Brook (50-12) at No. 7 Louisiana State (46-16)
Noon (ESPN2HD), Noon (ESPN2HD), 1 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
St. John’s (40-21) at Arizona (41-17)
3 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 3 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 4 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
Stanford (41-16) at No. 3 Florida State (46-15)
7 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 6 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 7 p.m. (ESPN2HD)
Texas Christian (40-20) at No. 2 UCLA (45-14)
9 p.m. (ESPNHD), 9 p.m. (ESPN2HD), 10 p.m. (ESPN2HD) [...] Continue Reading »
CARY, N.C.—After finishing in last place in the Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference East a year ago, first-year Coach Jad Prachniak led West Chester to its first Division II World Series title on Saturday night, pummeling Delta State 9-0 on an exclamation point to culminate a 12-game winning-streak.
When Prachniak, who had previously been the pitching coach at William & Mary, was asked how he planned on following up such a remarkable feat in his first season at the helm, the 30-year-old facetiously said, “I’m going to retire. It was a good run and there’s not much left.”
Winners of 15 of its last 16 postseason games, the Golden Rams (46-10) came to the USA Baseball Complex with plenty of momentum. From the first pitch of their opening round game, they were the best team in the tournament. Led by sophomore righthander Joe Gunkle (10-1, 2.07), the Rams went a perfect 4-0 with wins over Chico (Calif.) State, Southern New Hampshire, Catawba (N.C.) and Delta (Miss.) State. [...] Continue Reading »
LOS ANGELES—Creighton earned a lot of admirers over the last two weeks for its resilience and heart. The Bluejays also won over observers by simply playing very well in the Los Angeles Regional, knocking out San Diego and New Mexico to reach the championship round.
But Creighton ran into a buzzsaw Sunday night.
UCLA steamrolled its way through the regional, completing a 3-0 run with an overpowering 13-5 win Sunday against the Bluejays. The Bruins won their second regional in three years and will host Texas Christian or Mississippi in a super regional next week. If they play like they did this weekend, they'll be a very difficult out in supers, and in Omaha.
"I think we are playing pretty good baseball," Bruins second baseman Trevor Brown said. "This is the time of year we want to be playing our best baseball. We pitched pretty well, we swung the bats pretty good and ended on a pretty good note."
Regional MVP Jeff Gelalich led the UCLA offense, going 3-for-3 with three runs, two homers and four RBIs. His first homer came in the bottom of the first inning after the Bluejays had jumped on UCLA starter Zack Weiss for two runs in the top of the frame. Gelalich's two-run shot into the hitting structure behind the right-field fence tied the game at 2-2 and seemed to help the Bruins find their groove.
"I think the momentum definitely shifted in their favor a little bit after the bottom half of that first inning," said Creighton cleanup man Anthony Bemboom, who led the Bluejays by going 5-for-5 in the finale. [...] Continue Reading »
Eleven of the 16 regionals were decided Sunday, and the final five will be settled Monday. Just three super regional matchups are set: Kent State will head west to face Oregon, Florida State will host Stanford in Tallahassee, and St. John's will make the cross-country trip to Tucson to face Arizona.
A quick breakdown of the 11 teams that have already clinched spots in super regionals:
• Six national seeds have advanced (Florida, UCLA, Florida State, Oregon, LSU, South Carolina). One national seed was eliminated (North Carolina) and the final one will play a decisive seventh game Monday (Baylor).
• Two other hosts completed 3-0 runs through regionals (Stanford and Arizona).
• Arkansas is the lone No. 2 seed that won a regional Sunday.
• Two No. 3 seeds won regionals to secure their first trips to super regionals (Kent State and St. John's).
• Four of the five Pac-12 teams in the tournament have already won regionals (UCLA, Oregon, Stanford, Arizona). Oregon State lost in the regional final at LSU. The Pac-12 finished 14-2 in regionals.
• Four SEC teams have advanced (Florida, South Carolina, LSU, Arkansas), and two more will play decisive games Monday (Vanderbilt, Mississippi). Kentucky lost in a regional final; Mississippi State was the lone SEC team that failed to reach its regional finale. Overall, the SEC is 19-6.
• Florida State is the lone ACC team that has won a regional, and North Carolina State is the only other ACC team left standing, out of the seven that made regionals. Three other ACC teams lost in regional finals (Georgia Tech, Clemson, North Carolina), while Miami and Virginia fell short of regional finals. The ACC is 13-11. [...] Continue Reading »
RALEIGH, N.C.—For the second straight night, North Carolina State opened up a lead on Vanderbilt. And for the second straight night, the Commodores stormed back. The story had a different ending this time, though.
After Vanderbilt had rallied from a 5-1 deficit to tie the game, Wolfpack second baseman Matt Bergquist’s RBI single in the bottom of the eighth put N.C. State back in front and reliever Ryan Wilkins made it stand up for a 6-5 win, forcing a decisive seventh game in the Raleigh Regional on Monday night.
Vanderbilt’s resilience has been on full display the last two nights—the resilience that helped it recover from a 7-15 start to make regionals and then pull out a stirring 9-8 win against the Wolfpack on Saturday after falling behind by five runs. But the Wolfpack showed plenty of fortitude of its own on Sunday, putting the emotion of Saturday’s loss behind it by first pounding out 17 runs in the afternoon elimination game against UNC Wilmington and then by pulling out a pulse-pounding win of its own against Vandy in the nightcap.
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