You know it was a magical day in college baseball when the second-longest game in NCAA tournament history might not even be the day's top headline.
That honor has to go to Florida sophomore Jonathon Crawford, who threw the first no-hitter in the NCAA tournament in 21 years. And wouldn't you know it, even Crawford's no-hitter was overshadowed by the first no-hitter in New York Mets history by Johan Santana.
If that's not enough for you, consider this, from ESPN stats and research: the last NCAA tournament no-hitter was also thrown by a Gator (John Burke), on May 23, 1991. That same day, there was also a no-hitter in the big leagues, by Tommy Greene of the Phillies.
Crawford was the model of efficiency in his no-hitter, needing just 98 pitches (70 for strikes) and issuing just one walk in the Gators' 4-0 win against Bethune-Cookman. He struck out five and did a good job pitching to contact, keeping his pitch count down.
"My defense played really well," he said afterward. "I threw one changeup, but it was pretty much fastballs and sliders. When I came in after the eighth, it kind of hit me and I got really excited and nervous all at the same time."
Second baseman Casey Turgeon saved the no-hitter with a leaping catch on a line drive to end the game.
The other game that had Twitter buzzing Friday was the opener at the Gary Regional, where third-seeded Kent State knocked off second-seeded Kentucky 7-6 in 21 innings—the second-longest game in NCAA tournament history.
"An unbelievable baseball game," Kent State coach Scott Stricklin said afterward. "I know that's not the longest game in NCAA history, because Texas and Boston College played a 25-inning game a few years ago, but that has to go down as the best baseball game in college baseball history, just with the twists and the turns, the ups and the downs."
After Kentucky tied the game 5-5 with a run in the bottom of the ninth, both teams were held scoreless until they traded runs in the 18th. Kentucky nearly won the game on Mike Williams' RBI double in the 18th, but A.J. Reed was thrown out at the plate trying to score the winning run.
The Golden Flashes escaped a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the 20th, as Michael Clark (3.2 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K) induced a 1-2-3 double play to end the threat.
Reed, meanwhile, turned in a heroic nine-inning relief effort for the Wildcats, but the Flashes finally scored the winning run against him in the 21st, when Alex Miklos delivered an RBI triple. Clark then struck out Thomas McCarthy with runners on second and third in the bottom of the 21st to end a game that lasted six hours, 37 minutes. The two teams combined for 38 hits and 43 runners left on base, and Kentucky pitchers set a school record by striking out 26 Golden Flashes.
Let's take a quick look at rest of Friday's regional action. Top seeds went 13-2 on the day; the two upsets were Oral Roberts over Baylor and Stony Brook over Miami. No. 2 seeds went 9-6; the No. 3 seeds that won were St. John's, Mississippi, New Mexico, Samford, Louisville and aforementioned Kent State.
Baton Rouge Regional
Aaron Nola (8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 10 K) sparkled in his postseason debut, leading top-seeded LSU to a 4-1 win against Louisiana-Monroe. The Tigers will throw ace Kevin Gausman on Saturday against Oregon State, which won a taught 2-1 pitcher's duel against Belmont. Jace Fry (5 IP, 4 H, 1 ER) was strong in a no-decision for OSU, which got four combined innings of two-hit, shutout relief from Tony Bryant and Matt Boyd. The Beavers broke a 1-1 tie with a run on Ryan Barnes' bunt single in the sixth.
Chapel Hill Regional
No. 3 St. John's opened its postseason with a win against No. 2 East Carolina for the second straight year, cruising to an 11-3 win behind Kyle Hansen (7.1 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 8 K). BA intern Pat Hickey was on hand and filed a report. Intern John Sandberg had the nightcap where Colin Moran had four hits behind Hobbs Johnson (5 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K), leading North Carolina to a 7-4 win against Cornell. Saturday's winner's bracket game will feature a nice matchup between deceptive, fearless lefthanders: UNC's Kent Emanuel and St. John's Sean Hagan.
The opener between Virginia and Army was suspended by rain in the first inning, and the second game between Oklahoma and Appalachian State was postponed. The teams will make up the openers Saturday, and a tripleheader has been scheduled for Sunday.
College Station Regional
Jacob House (3-for-5, R, RBI) led the Texas A&M offense in support of Michael Wacha (7.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 9 K), as the top-seeded Aggies beat Dayton, 4-1. Earlier, No. 3 Ole Miss broke a 2-2 tie with four in the eighth to beat TCU, 6-2. Bobby Wahl (7 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K) earned the win, and R.J. Hively (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K) picked up his fourth save. The Rebels will turn to righty Mike Mayers on Saturday against A&M co-ace Ross Stripling.
Colby Holmes (8 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 9 K) lost his no-hit bid with two outs in the eighth, but he picked up his seventh win of the season in top-seeded South Carolina's 7-0 win against Manhattan. Jaspers starter Taylor Sewitt (6 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 5 BB) had his own no-hitter going into the sixth, when South Carolina broke a scoreless tie with four runs, highlighted by Adam Matthews' two-run single and Tanner English's two-run triple.
The Gamecocks now face rival Clemson in Saturday's winners' bracket game. Phil Pohl's second-inning grand slam put the Tigers in control against Coastal Carolina, and they cruised to an 11-3 win behind Kevin Pohle (5 IP, 4 H, 2 ER) and David Haselden (4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER). Clemson coach Jack Leggett said he was still deciding between Dominic Leone and Daniel Gossett to start Saturday against South Carolina ace Michael Roth.
Coral Gables Regional
Stony Brook showed why we've been hyping it as the most dangerous No. 4 seed in the tournament, shellacking Miami 10-2. Stony Brook's top four hitters—Travis Jankowski, Pat Cantwell, William Carmona and Maxx Tissenbaum—did most of the damage, combining for nine hits, six runs and six RBIs. The Seawolves also capitalized on three Miami errors to score three unearned runs, and they got a strong start from Tyler Johnson (6.1 IP, 8 H, 2 ER), who improved to 10-1.
The Seawolves will face No. 2 seed Central Florida, which won a 2-1 duel against Nick Petree (8 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) and Missouri State. Ben Lively (5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K) was solid in a no-decision for the Knights, who broke a 1-1 tie in the eighth on Chris Taladay's RBI single, scoring Ronnie Richardson.
In the first game, second-seeded Cal State Fullerton slugged its way past Indiana State, 9-5. The Sycamores came back from an early 5-1 deficit to tie the game with three in the sixth, but the Titans took the lead for good with a run in the bottom of the frame, then broke it open with three in the eighth. Ivory Thomas had three RBIs to lead the Fullerton offense, and Koby Gauna (3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R) picked up the win with stellar relief of Grahamm Wiest (5.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER). The Titans elected to save ace Dylan Floro for Saturday, and the gambit worked; now they can throw their ace against top-seeded Oregon, which also saved its ace (Alex Keudell) for Saturday.
The Ducks pulled off an exciting but controversial come-from-behind win against Austin Peay State, 6-5. Oregon trailed by a run heading into the ninth, and with the bases loaded Brett Thomas hit a chopper back to the mound. Closer Tyler Rogers fielded it and swiped his glove at J.J. Altobelli coming down the line from third. The home plate umpire ruled Rogers had missed the tag, but replays confirmed it was the wrong call.
"I don't know how much I can comment," APSU coach Gary McClure said afterward. "It's pretty obvious. You guys saw it. I saw it."
Instead of recording the second out of the inning, that play allowed the tying run to score, and the Ducks won it on third baseman Greg Bachman's error a batter later.
We talked about Florida's no-hitter; in the other game, Georgia Tech's red-hot offense kept rolling, as Jake Davies (2-for-4, 4 RBI) and Brandon Thomas (4-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI) each homered to lead the second-seeded Yellow Jackets to an 8-4 win against College of Charleston. Dusty Isaacs (5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R) earned the win in relief of Cole Pitts (3.2 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 3 ER), leaving ace Buck Farmer fresh for Saturday's game against Florida ace Hudson Randall.
After the Kent State-Kentucky marathon ended, top-seeded Purdue and No. 4 Valparaiso still had to play, and that game didn't start until 10:40 p.m. Joe Haase (7 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) turned in a strong start to improve to 11-1 for the Boilermakers, who beat their in-state foe 7-2 to capture their first NCAA tournament win in school history. Cameron Perkins and Barrett Serrato had two RBIs apiece. After the Golden Flashes were forced to burn through five pitchers in their 21-inning marathon, Purdue finds itself in the catbird seat.
John Simms (7 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 7 K) continued his string of outstanding starts down the stretch, leading top-seeded Rice to a 3-2 win against Prairie View A&M. Michael Fuda delivered a tie-breaking homer in the seventh, and Tyler Duffey closed it out with two scoreless innings; he has allowed just one unearned run in his last 30 innings. The Owls still have ace Matthew Reckling ready to go but will start Austin Kubitza against Arkansas, which beat Sam Houston State 5-4. The Bearkats took a 4-2 lead with four unearned runs in the fifth against D.J. Baxendale (6 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 6 K), but Arkansas answered with three runs in the seventh, highlighted by Tim Carver's two-run single. Brandon Moore (3 IP, 2 H, 0 R) earned the win in relief. Ryne Stanek will start Saturday, but as explosive as his stuff is, he hasn't earned a win since March 24, a span of eight starts.
Los Angeles Regional
No. 3 seed New Mexico knocked off San Diego, 4-0, as D.J. Peterson (4-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) led the offense in support of Austin House (7 IP, 6 H, 0 R). For more, check out my report on the College Blog. In the nightcap, Adam Plutko (9 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 7 K) out-dueled Ty Blach (8 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 6 K), as top-seeded UCLA beat Creighton 4-0. The Lobos will throw Gera Sanchez on Saturday against Nick Vander Tuig.
Palo Alto Regional
Jon Moscot (9 IP, 10 H, 2 ER) went the distance for Pepperdine in a 6-2 in in the opener; Mike Lemaire had more details on the College Blog. In the nightcap, Mark Appel (9 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 11 K) avenged his only loss of the season with a complete-game gem against Fresno State, leading Stanford to a 9-1 win. Appel improved to 10-1, and eight Cardinal players recorded hits behind him. Lemaire's report on this game is now live. Saturday's matchup pits Stanford's Brett Mooneyham against Pepperdine's Scott Frazier.
Two of Friday's most lopsided games were in Raleigh, where second-seeded Vanderbilt ran all over UNC Wilmington in an 8-2 win, and top-seeded North Carolina State overwhelmed Sacred Heart, 16-5. Jim Shonerd was on hand with reports from Vandy's win as well as N.C. State's victory.
One of the day's biggest upsets came in the first game in Tallahassee, where Samford beat SEC pitcher of the year Chris Stratton (7.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) and SEC champion Mississippi State, 5-0. Samford smacked four homers in the game, including a pair from two of their big boppers, national home run leader Brandon Miller and first baseman Saxon Butler. Samford won despite resting ace Josh Martin (who threw twice in the conference tournament), as Charles Basford (8 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 4 K) turned in a gem.
Martin will start in the winners' bracket game against top-seeded Florida State, which edged Alabama-Birmingham, 2-1. Michael Busby (8 IP, 5 H, 2 ER) went the distance in defeat for the Blazers, but James Ramsey's tie-breaking RBI double int he fifth proved decisive, as Gage Smith (3.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R) and Robert Benincasa (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R) shut out UAB after the fifth inning. FSU will turn to ace Brandon Leibrandt on Saturday.
Second-seeded New Mexico State took an early 2-0 lead against Justin Amlung (6 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K), but he settled in and picked up the win, as Lousiville came from behind for a 3-2 win. Nick Ratajczak's RBI double in the fifth provided what proved to be the winning run, as Travis Tingle turned in three perfect innings of relief for the save.
Louisville will face top seed Arizona in the winners' bracket, as the Wildcats pounded fourth-seeded Missouri 15-3. Bobby Brown had four hits to lead Arizona's 20-hit onslaught in support of Kurt Heyer (9 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K). Arizona's first home postseason game since 1992 drew 5,086 fans.
Friday's two winners in Waco were the same teams that met in the Fort Worth Regional final a year ago: Dallas Baptist and Oral Roberts. The Golden Eagles upset No. 4 national seed Baylor, 4-2, behind Drew Bowen (6 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) and Joe Spring (3 IP, 1 H, 0 R). ORU erased a 2-0 deficit with three runs in the sixth against Josh Turley (5.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER), who took his first loss of the season.
The second-seeded Patriots dismantled Texas-Arlington, 10-0. Joel Hutter (3-for-5, 5 RBI) spearheaded DBU's 18-hit barrage in support of Taylor Massey (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K).
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