Friday Roundup: ESPN Helps College Baseball Come Of Age

LOS ANGELES—Shortly after I took my seat on press row and fired up ESPN’s new Bases Loaded channel on my laptop for the first time, the PA system at Jackie Robinson Stadium blared out Hall & Oates singing, “You make my dreams come true.” The tune captured my mood perfectly.

For years, college baseball fans have dreamed of professional broadcasts of every game from all 16 regional sites available for online streaming, like the coverage basketball fans enjoy during March Madness. As recently as two months ago, it seemed like a pipe dream.

But on Friday, ESPN not only delivered broadcasts from every regional site (available for free on ESPN3), but it exceeded our wildest hopes by launching the Bases Loaded channel, a “whip-around” broadcast that toggled from game to game as the action dictated. While covering games at the Los Angeles Regional, I kept the Bases Loaded channel running on my computer all day, so I got to watch thrilling walk-off wins in Bloomington and Corvallis in real time. Anytime I missed some compelling action, the Bases Loaded channel caught me up with well-timed highlight packages of games that were completed earlier in the day.

I thought the on-air commentary was strong, from the top-notch studio work turned in by the indefatigable Anish Shroff and Kyle Peterson to the often-insightful analysis provided by broadcast teams calling the action at sites around the country.

To top it off, ESPN implemented its clean, intuitive GameCast system for every game. That means no more of CSTV’s GameTracker with its odious Captial One blimps flying across the screen accompanied by jarringly loud advertising voiceovers and obnoxious sound effects.

All of this is an emphatic sign that college baseball has finally made the big time. So thank you, ESPN, for making our dreams come true.

The Bases Loaded channel was the perfect way to immerse ourselves in the action during a thrilling first day of the NCAA Tournament, which featured nine No. 3 seeds knocking off No. 2s, one No. 4 seed beating a No. 1, and a pair of top seeds rallying from behind in the ninth inning to win in walk-off fashion.

The day’s other major storyline was the lackluster performance of the Southeastern Conference. The SEC’s four regional hosts won Friday, but all five of its teams that went on the road lost. And it should be noted that all five lost to teams from mid-major conferences (CAA, NEC, Big West, Sun Belt, OVC). All season long on the BA College Podcast, John Manuel and I have called the SEC top-heavy, with two elite teams, a few very good teams, and a bunch of average teams. It’s too early to write off the teams that lost Friday, but the early returns suggest that “top-heavy” label fits perfectly.

As for the other conferences that produced multiple winners Friday, all four Pac-12 teams won, as did all three Big West teams in the field. Five of the eight ACC teams won. The Big Ten and Big East both went 2-0, while the Big 12 and CAA went 2-1, and the Sun Belt went 2-2.

Let’s round up the action. BA had staffers on hand at four regional sites, so we’ll include link to our reports from those locations.

CHAPEL HILL REGIONAL

Hosted by North Carolina (No. 1 national seed) • Boshamer Stadium • Chapel Hill, N.C.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31

Game 1: No. 3 Towson 7, No. 2 Florida Atlantic 2 | Towson Upsets Florida Atlantic
Game 2: No. 1 North Carolina 6, No. 4 Canisius 3 | Tar Heels Hold Off Canisius

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Florida Atlantic vs. Canisius 1 p.m.
Game 4: Towson vs. North Carolina, 6 p.m.

Benton Moss (4.1 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) labored against the scrappy Griffs, but Chris McCue and Trent Thornton worked a combined 4.2 innings of four-hit, shutout relief to lead the Tar Heels to victory. Ace Kent Emanuel is lined up for Saturday’s winners’ bracket game against Towson, which got an outstanding start from Mike Volpe (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) and broke open a 1-0 game with five runs in the sixth to win its first NCAA tournament game in 22 years. All nine Towson starters registered hits as part of a balanced 11-hit attack. FAU’s decision to save ace lefty Austin Gomber for Saturday backfired, but Owls coach John McCormack said this week that he is determined to save Gomber for UNC even if his team lost its opener, even if that means Gomber doesn’t pitch in the regional and FAU goes 0-2. He changed his mind after Friday’s loss, opting to give Gomber the ball Saturday.

COLUMBIA REGIONAL

Hosted by South Carolina • Carolina Stadium • Columbia, S.C.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 3 Liberty 8, No. 2 Clemson 3
Game 2: No. 1 South Carolina 7, No. 4 Saint Louis 3

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Clemson vs. Saint Louis, 2 p.m.
Game 4: Liberty vs. South Carolina, 8 p.m.

Trey Wimmer (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 6 RBI) spearheaded Liberty’s 13-hit attack in support of Josh Richardson (9 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER), leading the Flames past Clemson. The Tigers opted to start freshman lefty Zack Erwin (2.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 2 ER) rather than ace Daniel Gossett or No. 2 starter Matthew Crownover, and they got burned. In the second game, Saint Louis overcame a 3-0 deficit to in the seventh and eighth innings to tie it, but South Carolina answered with four in the bottom of the eighth to win. Graham Saiko (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) was one of five Gamecocks to notch two hits in support of Nolan Belcher (6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K), and Tyler Webb stranded the go-ahead run at second base in the eighth with a big strikeout, then worked a 1-2-3 ninth. He struck out five in two hitless innings of relief to earn the win.

NASHVILLE REGIONAL

Hosted by Vanderbilt (No. 2 national seed) • Hawkins Field • Nashville
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 3 Illinois 6, No. 2 Georgia Tech 4
Game 2: No. 1 Vanderbilt 9, No. 4 East Tennessee State 1

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Georgia Tech vs. East Tennessee State, 3 p.m.
Game 4: Illinois vs. Vanderbilt, 8 p.m.

Brothers Justin Parr (2-for-5, R, RBI) and Jordan Parr (2-for-5, 2 HR, 3 RBI) powered the Illini offense in support of Kevin Duchene (7 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) in the first game. Georgia Tech held ace Buck Farmer for Saturday, and No. 2 starter Dusty Isaacs (5.1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER) took the loss, as Illinois broke a scoreless tie with three runs in the fourth and led the rest of the way. In the second game, Connor Harrell (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI) and Conrad Gregor (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI) led the Vanderbilt offense behind ace Kevin Ziomek (7 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), as the Commodores took control with five runs in the first and never looked back.

LOUISVILLE REGIONAL

Hosted by Louisville • Jim Patterson Stadium • Louisville
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 2 Miami 7, No. 3 Oklahoma State 0
Game 2: No. 1 Louisville 8, No. 4 Bowling Green 3

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Oklahoma State vs. Bowling Green, noon
Game 4: Miami vs. Louisville, 5 p.m.

Garrett Kennedy (3-for-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR) led Miami’s 12-hit attack against flame-thrower Jason Hursh (4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER) and the Oklahoma State bullpen, and Chris Diaz (7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 5 BB, 10 K) was strong for the Hurricanes, who continued to play without coach Jim Morris, recovering from pneumonia. The Hurricanes will face Louisville, which cruised to an 8-3 win against Bowling Green. Coco Johnson (3-for-4, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR) and Jeff Gardner (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B, 3B) led Louisville’s 10-hit attack in support of Chad Green (7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K).

CORVALLIS REGIONAL

Hosted by Oregon State (No. 3 national seed) • Goss Stadium • Corvallis, Ore.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31

Game 1: No. 3 UC Santa Barbara 6, No. 2 Texas A&M 4
Game 2: No. 1 Oregon State 5, No. 4 UT San Antonio 4

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Texas A&M vs. UT San Antonio, 3 p.m.
Game 4: UC Santa Barbara vs. Oregon State, 8 p.m.

The Gauchos took a 5-1 lead through four innings against A&M ace Daniel Mengden (3.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER), and Austin Pettibone (7.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) turned in a strong start to improve to 10-3. The Aggies rallied for two runs in the ninth, but UCSB freshman closer Dylan Hecht froze Blake Allemand on a 2-and-2 curveball to strand runners at second and third and preserve Santa Barbara’s first NCAA tournament win since 2001. In the nightcap, UTSA carried a 4-3 lead into the ninth, but a walk and a hit batsman in the bottom of the ninth set the stage for Dylan Davis’ walk-off two-run double into the right-center gap. Davis finished 3-for-5 with two runs and those two RBIs to lead the Oregon State offense.

MANHATTAN REGIONAL

Hosted by Kansas State • Tointon Family Stadium • Manhattan, Kan.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 1 Kansas State 20, No. 4 Wichita State 11
Game 2: No. 3 Bryant 4, No. 2 Arkansas 1

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Wichita State vs. Arkansas 1, 3 p.m.
Game 4: Kansas State vs. Bryant, 8 p.m.

In what Kansas State coach Brad Hill called “kind of an ugly game,” the Wildcats jumped out to a 9-0 lead in the first inning en route to a 20-11 thrashing of Wichita State. K-State, which scored in every inning except the second, pounded out 19 hits, drew six walks and benefited from six hit batsmen. Ross Kivett (4-for-5, 4 R, 4 RBI, 2 HR) led the Kansas State onslaught. In the nightcap, Bryant made its first-ever Division I regional game a memorable one, shutting down Arkansas 4-1. John Mullen (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI) led the Bryant offense in support of Peter Kelich (5 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K), and the Bulldogs got four hitless, scoreless innings of relief from closer Salvatore Lisanti. Bryant broke a 1-1 tie with three runs in the ninth against Jalen Beeks. Barrett Astin (7 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K) was strong in a no-decision for Arkansas.

BATON ROUGE REGIONAL

Hosted by Louisiana State • Alex Box Stadium • Baton Rouge, La.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 1 LSU 11, No. 4 Jackson State 7
Game 2: No. 3 Sam Houston State 4, No. 2 Louisiana-Lafayette 2

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Jackson State vs. Louisiana-Lafayette, 3 p.m.
Game 4: LSU vs. Sam Houston State, 8 p.m.

Mason Katz (2-for-2, 3 R, 4 RBI) and Jared Foster (1-for-1, 3 RBI) each homered to lead LSU to victory, but it was a painful win for the Tigers. Left fielder Raph Rhymes collided with shortstop Alex Bregman while chasing a fly ball in the fourth, causing both players to leave the game. Rhymes suffered a cut on his lip and received stitches, while Bregman was knocked woozy, but he passed concussion tests after the game and did not suffer a fracture in his face. He will be examined by doctors again Saturday morning, and his status will be determined sometime before first pitch. The Tigers will face Sam Houston State, which got a big day from Luke Plucheck (3-for-4, HR, 3 RBI), a solid start from Cody Dickson (5.2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K) and sterling relief from Alan Scott (3.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R) in a win against Louisiana-Lafayette. The Cajuns started Ryan Wilson (5 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER), so ace Austin Robichaux is still fresh.

BLACKSBURG REGIONAL

Hosted by Virginia Tech • English Field • Blacksburg, Va.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 2 Oklahoma 7, No. 3 Coastal Carolina 3
Game 2: No. 4 Connecticut 5, No. 1 Virginia Tech 2

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Coastal Carolina vs. Virginia Tech
Game 4: Oklahoma vs. Connecticut

Coastal Carolina jumped out to an early 3-0 lead through two innings against Jonathan Gray (9 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 11 K), but the nation’s top-ranked prospect settled down to throw a gritty 130-pitch complete game, and the Sooners stormed ahead in the middle innings. Max White (4-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B) led OU’s 12-hit attack. In the second game, Virginia Tech became the only top seed to lose Friday, as UConn took control with three runs in the fifth against ace Joe Mantiply (4.2 IP, 10 H, 4 R, 1 ER), and Carson Cross (6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 ER) turned in a strong start for the Huskies. Bobby Melley (4-for-5, R, RBI) led Connecticut’s 16-hit barrage.

FULLERTON REGIONAL

Hosted by Cal State Fullerton (No. 5 national seed) • Goodwin Field • Fullerton, Calif.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 2 Arizona State 4, No. 3 New Mexico 3
Game 2: No. 1 Cal State Fullerton 4, No. 4 Columbia 1

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: New Mexico vs. Columbia, 7 p.m.
Game 4: Arizona State vs. Cal State Fullerton, 11 p.m.

James McDonald (1-for-2, 3 RBI) hit a two-run homer in the fifth to break a 2-2 tie, and Trevor Williams (7.2 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) turned in a strong start to lead the Sun Devils past the Lobos. ASU will face Cal State Fullerton in Saturday’s winners’ bracket game, as the Titans got a complete-game gem from Grahamm Wiest (9 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K) in a 4-1 win against plucky Columbia. So Fullerton’s top two starters, Thomas Eshelman and Justin Garza, are lined up for the next two days, while ASU will turn to its own stellar freshman Saturday, Ryan Kellogg. Matt Chapman (2-for-3, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR) led the Fullerton offense.

LOS ANGELES REGIONAL

Hosted by UCLA • Jackie Robinson Stadium • Los Angeles
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31

Game 1: No. 2 Cal Poly 9, No. 3 San Diego 2 | Watershed Day For Cal Poly
Game 2: No. 1 UCLA 5, No. 4 San Diego State 3

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: San Diego vs. San Diego State, 5 p.m.
Game 4: Cal Poly vs. UCLA, 9 p.m.

Cal Poly picked up its first-ever NCAA tournament victory Friday, as Joey Wagman (8 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) picked up his school-record 13th victory of the season. Brian Mundell (2-for-4, 2 R, 4 RBI, HR) and Jimmy Allen (4-for-5, 2 RBI, 2B) led the offense for Cal Poly, which broke open a 3-2 game with six runs in the sixth to chase P.J. Conlon (5.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 6 ER). In the nightcap, Pat Gallagher (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI) led UCLA’s balanced 12-hit attack in support of Adam Plutko (7 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K), who picked up his school-record fifth NCAA tournament victory.

CHARLOTTESVILLE REGIONAL

Hosted by Virginia (No. 6 national seed) • Davenport Field • Charlottesville, Va.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31

Game 1: No. 1 Virginia 2, No. 4 Army 1
Game 2: No. 3 Elon 10, No. 2 UNC Wilmington 7

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Army vs. UNC Wilmington 1 p.m.
Game 4: Virginia vs. Elon, 6 p.m.

Brandon Waddell (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K) out-dueled Chris Rowley (7 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K) in Virginia’s 2-1 win against Army. Mike Papi and Joe McCarthy (3-for-3) delivered RBI singles in UVa.’s crucial two-run fifth. In the second game, Elon overcame a 5-2 deficit with five runs in the sixth, and UNC Wilmington answered with two in the bottom of the frame to tie it, but the Phoenix added three more runs over the next two innings to win. Antonio Alvarez (2-for-3, 3 R, 4 RBI, 2 2B) led the Elon offense, and Andrew MacDonald (3.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R) picked up the win with strong relief work.

STARKVILLE REGIONAL

Hosted by Mississippi State • Dudy Noble Field • Starkville, Miss.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 2 South Alabama 9, No. 3 Mercer 4
Game 2: No. 1 Mississippi State 5, No. 4 Central Arkansas 3

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Mercer vs. Central Arkansas, 3 p.m.
Game 4: South Alabama vs. Mississippi State, 8 p.m.

Dustin Dalken and Nick Zaharion combined for four hits and seven RBIs to lead South Alabama’s 14-hit attack in support of Anthony Izzio (6 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K), leading the Jaguars to a convincing win against Mercer. In the nightcap, Alex Detz (3-for-3, 2 R, RBI) and Wes Rea (2-for-4, 2 RBI) led Mississippi State’s offense behind Kendall Graveman (6.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). The Bulldogs broke a 2-2 tie with three runs in the sixth. The game drew 11,102 fans.

TALLAHASSEE REGIONAL

Hosted by Florida State (No. 7 national seed) • Dick Howser Stadium • Tallahassee, Fla.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 3 Troy 5, No. 2 Alabama 2
Game 2: No. 1 Florida State 10, No. 4 Savannah State 0

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Alabama vs. Savannah State, noon
Game 4: Troy vs. Florida State, 5 p.m.

Trae Santos’ three-run homer highlighted Troy’s five-run fourth inning in support of Shane McClain (6.2 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K), and the Trojans got 2.1 hitless innings of relief from Nate Hill and Tanner Hicks to preserve the win. In the second game, Florida State hammered Savannah State ace Kyle McGowin (5 IP, 9 H, 10 ER, 6 BB, 6 K), jumping out to a 10-0 lead through three innings and cruising to the blowout win. D.J. Stewart (3-for-4, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2B) and Marcus Davis (3-for-4, 4 RBI, 2 2B) led the FSU offense in support of Scott Sitz (7.1 IP, 7 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K).

BLOOMINGTON REGIONAL

Hosted by Indiana • Bart Kaufman Field • Bloomington, Ind.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 2 Austin Peay 4, No. 3 Florida 3
Game 2: No. 1 Indiana 5, No. 4 Valparaiso 4 | Indiana Rallies For Thrilling Win

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Florida vs. Valparaiso, 2 p.m.
Game 4: Austin Peay vs. Indiana, 6 p.m.

Austin Peay State erased a 3-1 deficit on Michael Davis’ three-run homer in the eighth, propelling the Governors to their 16th straight win, the longest active streak in the nation. Zach Hall (5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER) and Jonathon Crawford (6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K) were solid in no-decisions, and Tyler Rogers worked a scoreless ninth for his 22nd save. In the nightcap, Indiana overcame a 4-1 deficit with four runs in the bottom of the ninth, capped by Chad Clark’s walk-off three-run homer—his first long ball of the year. Cole Webb (7 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) was outstanding in a no-decision for the Crusaders, and Scott Effross (4.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER) turned in strong relief for Indiana to keep the game close until the ninth, when Valpo tacked on a pair of runs before IU’s dramatic rally.

EUGENE REGIONAL

Hosted by Oregon (No. 8 national seed) • PK Park • Eugene, Ore.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 2 Rice 3, No. 3 San Francisco 2, 11 innings
Game 2: No. 1 Oregon 3, No. 4 South Dakota State 2

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: San Francisco vs. South Dakota State, 5 p.m.
Game 4: Rice vs. Oregon, 9 p.m.

San Francisco scored a run in the eighth to tie the first game against Rice, but the Owls won it in bizarre fashion in the 11th. With two outs, Geoff Perrott struck out swinging but reached first on a passed ball to extend the frame, putting runners on the corners. Blake Fox then hit a line drive that USF left fielder Derek Atkinson lost in the sun, resulting in a walk-off RBI single. It was reminiscent of the end of the 2012 Eugene Super Regional, when Oregon left fielder lost Jimmy Rider’s fly ball in the sun, allowing the winning run to score for Kent State in the ninth. Lost in the strange ending Friday, Rice got a strong start from Austin Kubitza (7 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) and brilliant relief from Zech Lemond (4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K). In the late game, Oregon proved to be yet another resilient No. 1 seed, overcoming a 2-1 deficit with two runs in the eighth on Ryon Healy’s two-run double to left-center. South Dakota State’s Layne Somsen (7 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K) and Oregon’s Jake Reed (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K) were both very good in no-decisions.

RALEIGH REGIONAL

Hosted by North Carolina State • Doak Field • Raleigh, N.C.
Read Aaron Fitt’s Regional Preview

Friday, May 31
Game 1: No. 3 William & Mary 4, No. 2 Mississippi 2 | William & Mary Takes Down Ole Miss
Game 2: No. 1 N.C. State 4, No. 4 Binghamton 1 | N.C. State Rides Bullpen To Hold Off Binghamton

Saturday, June 1
Game 3: Mississippi vs. Binghamton, 2 p.m.
Game 4: William & Mary vs. N.C. State, 7 p.m.

William & Mary earned its first-ever NCAA tournament win, taking advantage of two errors and four walks to break a scoreless tie with four unearned runs in the fifth against Mike Mayers. Jason Inghram (8 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) was outstanding for the Tribe, which won its school-record 38th game. In the second game, Tarran Senay hit a two-run homer in the first to put N.C. State ahead for good, as Andrew Woeck and Josh Easley provided a combined 5.1 innings of scoreless, three-hit relief of Ethan Ogburn (3.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER).

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