Super Regional Roundup: Texas, Louisville, UC Irvine Advance To CWS

A trio of teams secured trips to the College World Series by completing super regional sweeps Saturday. Texas blanked Houston 4-0 to reach Omaha for the 35th time in program history, more than any other team. After missing regionals in back-to-back years, Texas rebounded to reach Omaha for the eighth time since 2000 (also more than any other program), and the first time since 2011.

Andrew Morales

Andrew Morales (Photo courtesy UC Irvine)

Louisville completed a sweep of Kennesaw State with a 7-4 win, sending the Cardinals to Omaha for the second straight year, and the third time since Dan McDonnell became head coach in 2007.

And UC Irvine blanked Oklahoma State 1-0 to reach Omaha for the second time in program history, and the first time since 2007. Andrew Morales threw a five-hit shutout to lead the Anteaters to their second straight win against the Big 12 champions, a week after they eliminated Pac-12 champ and No. 1 national seed Oregon State. Coach Mike Gillespie has led Irvine to the brink of the CWS twice before, losing super regionals in heart-breaking fashion at LSU and Virginia. This time, his Anteaters closed the deal, sending Gillespie to Omaha for the first time since 2001, when he was at Southern California. In the first round next week, he’ll face off against Texas’ Augie Garrido in a battle of college baseball coaching titans (and a rematch of the 1995 CWS Finals coaching matchup). They also happen to be the only two men to play in the CWS and lead two different programs to Omaha as coaches.

AUSTIN SUPER REGIONAL

Friday: Texas 4, Houston 2
Saturday: Texas 4, Houston 0 | Texas wins super regional

Parker French (6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 0 K) and three relievers combined to shut out the Cougars, who out-hit the Longhorns 10-8 but left 14 runners on base. Texas did all its scoring in a four-run fourth inning to chase Aaron Garza (3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER), highlighted by C.J Hinojosa’s two-run single.

Houston took a huge step forward in coach Todd Whitting’s fourth season, finishing 48-18 to tie the school record for wins, reach its first regional since 2008 and its first super regional since 2003. But Houston’s starting pitching—which was so good all season long—failed to produce a quality start in two games against Texas, which jumped out to early leads in both games and rode its quality pitching to victories.

CHARLOTTESVILLE SUPER REGIONAL

Saturday: Maryland 5, Virginia 4 | Maryland leads best-of-three series 1-0
Sunday: Noon (ESPN2)

Charlie White (3-for-5, 2 R) led the offense for Maryland, which took control of the game with three runs in the fourth inning and held on for a 5-4 win. Jake Stinnett (6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 2 K) didn’t have his best stuff, but he and relievers Bobby Ruse and Kevin Mooney escaped jams throughout the game, stranding 14 Virginia baserunners. Nathan Kirby (4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K) struggled for the Cavaliers, who got strong relief work from Whit Mayberry (4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K) to keep them in the game. Mike Shawaryn takes the mound Sunday for Maryland, which will try to reach Omaha for the first time ever. Virginia will counter with Brandon Waddell.

FORT WORTH SUPER REGIONAL

Saturday:  TCU 3, Pepperdine 2 | TCU leads best-of-three series 1-0
Sunday: 5 p.m. (ESPNU)

Brandon Finnegan

Brandon Finnegan (Photo by John Williamson)

The Horned Frogs broke a scoreless tie with two runs in the fourth on Derek Odell’s two-run single, then added a crucial insurance run in the fifth on a fielder’s choice. Brandon Finnegan (6.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) kept the Waves scoreless until the seventh, when Chris Fornaci’s two-run homer cut the TCU lead to one. Pepperdine threatened again in the eighth, putting runners on second and third with one out, prompting TCU to summon closer Riley Ferrell from the bullpen. Ferrell escaped with a strikeout and a groundout, then struck out the side in order in the ninth to nail down the win.

Sunday’s matchup should be a good one: Big 12 pitcher of the year Preston Morrison against West Coast Conference pitcher of the year Aaron Brown.

LAFAYETTE SUPER REGIONAL

Saturday: Louisiana-Lafayette 9, Mississippi 5 | ULL leads best-of-three series 1-0
Sunday: 8 p.m. (ESPN2)

Ole miss jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the top of the second, but it was all Louisiana-Lafayette from there. The Cajuns scored a run in the bottom of the second, then took the lead with five runs on three hits in the third, taking advantage of two walks and a hit batsman by Chris Ellis to kickstart the rally. Tyler Girouard’s three-run homer highlighted that rally, and the Cajuns tacked on three more in the fifth, capped by another mammoth homer by Dylan Butler, a solo shot. ULL’s combination of power, speed, base-hit bunts and plate discipline was simply overwhelming. And Austin Robichaux (7 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) settled down after a rocky start to earn the win, helping the top-ranked Ragin’ Cajuns draw within one win of their first Omaha trip since 2000.

LOUISVILLE SUPER REGIONAL

Friday: Louisville 5, Kennesaw State 3
Saturday: Louisville 7, Kennesaw State 4 | Louisville wins super regional

Cole Sturgeon

Cole Sturgeon (Photo by Andrew Woolley)

For the second straight game, Kennesaw State built a two-run lead by the middle innings, and for the second straight game Louisville stormed back to win. Max Pentecost hit an RBI single in the first and a two-run double in the third to help the Owls carry a 4-2 lead into the fifth inning, when Louisville surged ahead with three runs, highlighted by Nick Solak’s two-run homer. Cole Sturgeon added a two-run single in the sixth to give the Cardinals some breathing room, helping Anthony Kidston (6 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) improve to 9-0 on the season. Four Louisville relievers combined to work three innings of two-hit, scoreless relief, capped by Nick Burdi (1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K). The Cardinals are 10-0 in regional and super regional games over the last two years, and they’ll have more CWS experience on their roster than any other team in Omaha.

LUBBOCK SUPER REGIONAL

Saturday: Texas Tech 1, College of Charleston 0 | Texas Tech leads best-of-three series 1-0
Sunday: 2 p.m. (ESPNU)

Chris Sadberry (8 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K) was brilliant for Texas Tech, out-dueling Taylor Clarke (8 IP, 5 H, 1 ER) in a brisk 1-0 affair. The Red Raiders scored their lone run in the third inning, when Stephen Smith singled with one out and scored on Tyler Neslony’s RBI triple. Sadberry took it from there, and Jonny Drozd worked a 1-2-3 ninth for the save, helping Texas Tech pull within one game of its first-ever CWS appearance.

NASHVILLE SUPER REGIONAL

Friday: Vanderbilt 11, Stanford 6
Saturday: Stanford 5, Vanderbilt 4 | Series tied 1-1
Sunday: 2 p.m. (ESPN2)

The Cardinal evened the series with a 5-4 win on Wayne Taylor’s walk-off homer in the ninth, capping a riveting back-and-forth affair. Vanderbilt took a 1-0 lead on Cal Quantrill (7 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K) in the second inning, and the Cardinal went ahead with two runs in the fourth against Carson Fulmer (6.1 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 9 K). Stanford added two more in the seventh on RBI singles by Taylor and Brett Michael Doran, but Vandy responded with two in the eighth and another in the ninth on a bases-loaded hit-by-pitch to tie the score. That set the stage for Taylor’s latest big home run; his three-run shot in the eighth inning last Sunday helped come from behind to beat Indiana. This one came on a 95 mph fastball from Adam Ravenelle that Taylor deposited over the right-center-field wall.

STILLWATER SUPER REGIONAL

Friday: UC Irvine 8, Oklahoma State 4
Saturday: UC Irvine 1, Oklahoma State 0 | UC irvine wins super regional

Irvine ace Andrew Morales was brilliant in his third shutout of the season, holding Oklahoma State’s high-powered offense to five hits and two walks while striking out eight. Morales retired the final 10 hitters of the game, and 15 of the last 16, to make an early 1-0 lead stand up. The Cowboys started bullpen stopper Vince Wheeland (6.2 IP, 9 H, 1 ER) with their season on the line, and Irvine got to him for a run in the first on Jonathan Munoz’s RBI double down the left-field line. The Anteaters squandered a couple of opportunities to pad the lead, but it proved to be enough for the masterful Morales, who also earned the win in Irvine’s regional opener against UNLV and then threw 4.1 strong innings on two days’ rest in Monday’s regional final against Oregon State.

The Texas-Irvine game in Omaha should be a real treat, featuring two of college baseball’s most brilliant strategists and masters of small ball. Gillespie and Garrido also happen to be two of the sport’s most colorful personalities, and their press conferences might be as much fun as the game itself.