By day’s end–weather permitting–we’ll know at least 15 of the 16 teams that will be playing in super-regionals next weekend (with only Charlottesville having the potential to be dragged out until Tuesday). Here’s a look at what remains to be decided:
In the Chapel Hill regional, North Carolina is sitting pretty. The Tar Heels remain unbeaten at 2-0, and they will take on Western Carolina at 1 p.m. after the Catamounts dispatched East Carolina 9-5 yesterday. WCU must win two games to advance, and UNC still has two starters fresh and ready to go. Righthander Luke Putkonen is likely to get the ball in the first game, with Adam Warren ready in case of a second game.
At least two and possibly three games remain in the Charlottesville regional. Rutgers and Oregon State still need to play their elimination game at 1 p.m., with the winner taking on a rested and unbeaten Virginia club at 6. Oregon State probably has the pitching depth to make a run at the Cavaliers if the Beavers can get by Rutgers, but the Scarlet Knights will just have to hope they can slug their way through three consecutive wins. The Cavs are in good shape.
In College Station, Texas A&M forced a decisive final game against Louisiana-Lafayette with a 4-1 win last night behind seven strong innings from Scott Migl. This could be a staff day for both teams, but the Aggies have more arms and the momentum. Expect a high-scoring affair in today’s game, scheduled for 7 p.m. ET.
In Columbia, Mo., Louisville pushed Missouri to a decisive game with a 4-3 win yesterday. The Cardinals have burned up much of their pitching to get to today’s 2 p.m. ET showdown, but they’ll throw everything they’ve got at the Tigers today. We could see an extended outing for hard-throwing closer Trystan Magnuson. Missouri’s bullpen was spared somewhat by Aaron Crow’s complete game in its opener against Kent State, and the Tigers have played one fewer game than the Cardinals, so give Mizzou the edge.
In the other Columbia regional (in South Carolina), Charlotte slugged its way to a 12-10 win against North Carolina State yesterday and now must beat rested and unbeaten South Carolina twice today. The first game is scheduled for 4 p.m. ET, with the if-necessary game to follow. Something tells me there’s a decent chance we could see a bit of 49ers ace Adam Mills today, though he threw 115 pitches in Charlotte’s regional-opening win against N.C. State. The Gamecocks have righthanders Mike Cisco and Blake Cooper both rested and ready to go. Advantage: Gamecocks.
In Myrtle Beach, host Coastal Carolina scored on a sacrifice fly in the eighth inning to beat St. John’s 6-5 and earn a rematch with Clemson. The Tigers are in great shape on the mound, with righthanders D.J. Mitchell and P.J. Zocchi both rested–Mitchell will get the start in the first game today at 3 p.m. ET, with the if-necessary game scheduled for 7. Coastal Carolina will have to pull out all the stops. Righty John Mariotti lasted just 1 2/3 innings against the Tigers yesterday and might be able to go again today, and Nick McCully threw 25 pitches over two scoreless innings of relief in the night game–he figures to get some action today as well. Ace Bobby Gagg thew 103 pitches on Friday but could probably pitch a little today if needed, and he likely will be.
In Nashville, No. 1 national seed Vanderbilt stayed alive with a pair of wins yesterday, beating Austin Peay State 11-5 and topping Michigan 10-7. Righthanders Nick Christiani and Brett Jacobson both threw long stints against the Wolverines, so Vandy will turn to junior righthander Tyler Rhoden in today’s decisive game at 7 p.m. ET. The Commodores turned to Rhoden in their sixth and final SEC tournament game last weekend against Arkansas, and he delivered 6 2/3 strong innings, allowing four runs. Michigan is likely to counter with 6-foot-8 righty Chris Fetter, who lost his last two regular-season starts and hasn’t pitched since May 19 against Iowa. Fetter did go 6-1 before his late-season skid. This one could go either way, but it’s hard to bet against the Commodores after the way they battled back in the SEC tournament and again in this regional.
In Round Rock, play was suspended in yesterday’s UC Irvine-Texas game with the Anteaters leading 6-5 in the bottom of the seventh inning. Play will resume at 2 p.m. ET, and if the Longhorns comes back to win, they’ll need to beat the ‘Eaters again at 4 p.m. Give UCI a big edge because of its rested bullpen–its starters went a combined 17 innings over its first two games, leaving just one inning of mop-up work for the ‘pen.
Finally, in Wichita, the host Shockers got a run in the ninth on Derek Schermerhorn’s walk-off RBI double against Arizona closer Daniel Schlereth to break a 3-3 tie and force a decisive game today at 8 p.m. ET. I suspect Wichita State will call upon ace righthander Travis Banwart, who threw just 48 pitches over 1 2/3 innings in a loss to New Orleans on Friday. Arizona could give the ball to talented but inconsistent righthander Mike Colla, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see a Preston Guilmet appearance, despite his 121-pitch effort Friday against Oral Roberts.
I’m heading over to the Chapel Hill regional this afternoon, and I’ll be blogging with updates and analysis from there and around the country all day. Check back tomorrow for our top 25 rankings, podcast and weekly chat.