UPDATED THROUGH ALL GAMES SUNDAY
With Sunday’s action in the books, five teams have secured places in the College World Series: LSU and UCLA both won super regionals Saturday, while Indiana, North Carolina State and Louisville scanned their tickets Sunday. Mississippi State and Virginia had their game suspended by rain in the seventh inning with the Bulldogs leading 5-3, and they’ll resume play Monday afternoon at 4 p.m. ET. Two other super regionals were pushed to decisive third games: South Carolina-North Carolina and Kansas State-Oregon State. Here’s a roundup of the day’s action, starting with the three super regionals that were decided Sunday.
Tallahassee Super Regional
For the first time in program history, Indiana is going to the College World Series. The Hoosiers slugged their way to an 11-6 win Sunday against Florida State to sweep the Tallahassee Super Regional. Indiana is the first Big Ten team to reach the CWS since Michigan in 1984.
Indiana, our preseason pick to win the Big Ten, has been in the BA Top 25 nearly all season, and it headed into the postseason ranked No. 8, ahead of Florida State (No. 11). IU was clearly the better offensive team on paper, but the Hoosiers were fighting history; they had never won a regional before this season, had not won a share of the Big Ten title since 1949, had not won it outright since 1932. Florida State was playing in its 13th super regional in the last 15 years, gunning for its 22nd trip to Omaha. FSU hadn’t lost a series at Dick Howser Stadium since the 2011 super regionals against Texas A&M.
For the second straight day, Indiana jumped out to a 4-0 lead—this time jumping on Scott Sitz (4.1 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) for four runs in the first inning. But for the second straight day, Florida State battled back to tie the game—at 5-5 in the top of the fifth, when it chased Aaron Slegers (4.1 IP, 9 H, 5 R, 3 ER). But once again, Indiana answered immediately after FSU tied the score, as Sam Travis (1-for-4, 4 RBI) hit a two-run homer in the bottom of the fifth to put Indiana ahead for good. It wasn’t always pretty, as Indiana continued to look shaky at times defensively and continued to give FSU free bases via walks, hit batsmen and wild pitches. But lefty Will Coursen-Carr (4 IP, 2 H, 1 ER) kept the Seminoles at bay until the ninth, when Ryan Halstead got D.J. Stewart to line out to left with the bases loaded, setting off a dogpile around the pitcher’s mound.
Back in March, I visited Indiana and caught a midweek game against Louisville—its first opponent in Omaha next week. I wrote then about the new golden age for college baseball in the Hoosier State. It’s safe bet that people in that part of the country really have college baseball fever now.
Nashville Super Regional
Louisville eliminated the top-ranked team in the Baseball America Top 25, completing a sweep of the Nashville Super Regional with a 2-1 win against Vanderbilt. The Cardinals did all their scoring in the second inning, getting RBI singles from Zak Wasserman and Sutton Whiting to take a 2-0 lead. Jeff Thompson (7 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K) took it from there, repeatedly getting the Commodores to swing through or pop up high fastballs. Like UCLA’s Adam Plutko and Nick Vander Tuig, Louisville’s Chad Green and Thompson proved the value of having experienced, mature, unflappable upperclassmen leading a rotation. The Commodores put runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth, but lefthander Cody Ege struck out Mike Yastrzemski to end the game.
Louisville heads to Omaha for the first time since 2007. The Cardinals ranked No. 4 in Baseball America’s preseason rankings, so their trip to the CWS is far from a surprise. With an absurdly deep pitching staff and a deep, athletic, experienced lineup, Louisville should be considered one of the favorites to win its side of the bracket and take home the national championship. But Vanderbilt’s demise is a legitimate upset—the Commodores posted the best record ever in Southeastern Conference play (26-3) and did not lose a series all year. Vandy had a great season and a special group of players who will be remembered fondly, but ultimately this team failed to live up to its postseason potential, like the similarly loaded 2007 Vanderbilt team that lost in a home regional. As many talented teams as Vanderbilt has had in the Tim Corbin era, the ‘Dores have still reached Omaha just once in their history.
Raleigh Super Regional
N.C. State clinched its first trip to Omaha since 1968 with a truly epic 5-4 win. The longest super regional game ever lasted 17 innings and five hours, 10 minutes—and that’s not counting a 77-minute rain delay in the bottom of the 12th. Jordan Stephens (6.1 IP, 8 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K) helped the Owls carry a 4-1 lead into the ninth inning, but the Wolfpack rallied for three runs in the ninth against Rice star closer Zech Lemond, who blew the save for the second straight day. Tarran Senay’s RBI double down the right-field line tied the game and forced extra innings; neither team would score again until the 17th. John Simms (7.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K) provided dominant relief until the Wolfpack finally got for him in the top of the 17th, when Senay singled, advanced to third on a Brett Williams double and scored on an error by Michael Ratterree. N.C. State got superb relief in extras from Chris Overman (3 IP, 0 H, 0 R) and Ethan Ogburn (5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K). Ogburn stranded runners at the corners in the bottom of the 17th to end it. Our Jim Shonerd was on hand and will have much more on N.C. State’s triumph early Monday morning.
Chapel Hill Super Regional
South Carolina bounced back from Saturday’s loss with a dominating 8-0 win against No. 1 national seed North Carolina, evening the series at 1-1. The Gamecocks seized control of the game with five runs in the second inning to chase Hobbs Johnson (1.2 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB), highlighted by Joey Pankake’s two-run double and L.B. Dantzler’s two-run single. North Carolina never really threatened against lefty Jordan Montgomery (9 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 3 K). The Tar Heels were shut out for the first time in 96 games; they have not lost back-to-back games all season, but they’ll face another lefty in Monday’s decisive third game—freshman Jordan Wynkoop. Montgomery’s complete game also kept lefties Adam Westmoreland and Tyler Webb fresh for Game Three. UNC will counter with Benton Moss, who has struggled down the stretch.
Corvallis Super Regional
Oregon State leveled the series at one game apiece with a dominating 12-4 victory against Kansas State. The Beavers jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning, sparked by back-to-back solo homers by Michael Conforto and Dylan Davis to open the scoring. The game was never close thereafter, as eight Beavers recorded multiple hits as part of a 21-hit barrage, led by Tyler Smith (4-for-5, R, 3 RBI) and Kavin Keyes (4-for-5, 4 R). Freshman Andrew Moore (8 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 9 K) improved to 14-1 to tie the Oregon State single-season record for victories. The series will be decided Monday at 10:05 p.m. ET.
Charlottesville Super Regional
The Bulldogs are just six outs from Omaha, holding a 5-3 lead in the bottom of the seventh inning. Adam Frazier (2-for-4, 2 RBI) continued to swing a hot bat for the Bulldogs—he is 8-for-10 so far in the series. Wes Rea’s massive two-run homer over the left-field bleachers in the third broke a 1-1 tie, and MSU tacked on two more in the fourth to take a 5-1 lead. Virginia got back into the game on Nate Irving’s two-run double in the sixth, but Chad Girodo struck out Mike Papi to strand runners at second and third, keeping Mississippi State in the driver’s seat. Chad Girodo (4.2 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 10 K) was mowing down the Cavaliers out of the MSU bullpen.