D-II Road To Montgomery Paved With Upsets

In Division I, teams want to get to Omaha, synonymous with the College World Series. In Division II, Omaha is coming to the College World Series.

The University of Nebraska-Omaha Mavericks are headed to Montgomery. The Mavericks capped off an unprecedented run by going 4-0 in the Central Regional this past weekend, which included the sweep of the three highest-seeded teams in the region. Nebraska-Omaha (36-22) advanced to the Division II World Series for the first time in school history Sunday by defeating tournament veteran Central Missouri 9-4 in Warrensburg, Mo. UNO’™s Evan Porter claimed Central Regional Tournament MVP honors after batting .471 (8-for-17) to go along with his two homers and seven RBIs. Six Mavericks were named to the all-regional team.

The rest of the D-II field includes Kutztown (Pa.), Cal State-Los Angeles, Angelo State (Texas), Franklin Pierce (N.H.), Columbus State (Ga.), Southern Indiana and defending national champion Tampa.
In the North Atlantic Regional, tournament host Kutztown (Pa.) punched its ticket to Montgomery when it beat fifth-seeded West Chester 9-1 Sunday. Kutztown (49-5) will meet up with Nebraska-Omaha on Friday in their first game of the Series. The Golden Bears set a Pennsylvania State Athletic Conference record for wins in a season, passing the previous mark of 48 wins by Slippery Rock in 2003. Kutztown has now won its regional all three times it has served as the regional tournament host. The Golden Bears got a complete-game gem from junior Philip Rummel. In nine innings, Rummel (8-1) scattered eight hits while striking out six. Kutztown senior Ryan Loper was tabbed North Atlantic Regional Tournament MVP honors after he went 3-for-4 with two RBIs in the championship game.

In the North Central Regional fifth-seeded Southern Indiana, making its first NCAA tournament appearance since 1994, stunned the six-team field as it defeated No. 1 seed Grand Valley State (Mich.) 1-0 to advance to the school’™s first-ever CWS. Junior Ryan Rudden scored on a triple hit by junior second baseman Darin Mastroianni in the fourth inning, and that held up as the sixth-ranked GVS Lakers left nine runners on base. Southern Indiana (41-21) was led by junior righthander Jeremy Kehrt, who improved to 6-0 as he held the Lakers scoreless for eight-plus innings while scattering five hits. USI’™s Mastroianni was named regional MVP after hitting .600 with five runs scored, two triples, a double, and six stolen bases.

Northeast Regional top-seeded Franklin Pierce (N.H.) (49-9) advanced to its second straight World Series by defeating fifth-seeded Bryant 5-2 in Ringe, N.H. With the win, the Ravens claimed their third Northeast Regional title in five years. Franklin Pierce (N.H.) junior leftfielder Kevin Renaud continued his torrid hitting and was named the Most Outstanding Player of the regional, hitting .500 (8-for-16) with five runs scored, three home runs, four doubles, and nine RBIs. Renaud now holds the school’™s single-season RBI record with 65 on the year breaking assistant coach Bryan Duplissie’™s previous mark of 62 in 2006.

The Ravens will face South Central Regional Champion Angelo State (TX.) (50-18) at 1 p.m. Saturday at Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery, Ala.

Defending national champion Tampa survived a scare from Florida Southern but the three-run shot by Jose Jimenez in the top of the 10th inning pushed the Spartans back into the World Series. The Spartans advanced to the final eight despite being shut out for the first time all season by Florida Southern (44-16) losing 7-0 in game one Sunday. In game two, Tampa ace Jonathan Holt cruised the first four-plus innings of work giving up one run, but was replaced by Kevin Ferguson in the bottom of the fifth after the Spartans built a 5-1 lead. Florida Southern then put a rally together to tie the game at five, forcing extra innings.

In the top of the 10th, after a leadoff walk and a hit batsmen, Jimenez stepped to the plate with no outs. Jimenez attempted to bunt numerous times but failed to get the ball down and in play. After working the count to full Jimenez turned on a pitch and drove over the right-field wall to give the Spartans a three-run lead. Spartan reliever Anthony Perez worked the tenth for his second victory of the tournament. Holt, who is ranked among BA’s Top 200 draft prospects for 2007 thanks ot his above-average control, was named the South Regional Tournament Most Outstanding Player while four other Spartans were named to the all-tournament team.

Tampa will meet West Regional Champion Cal State-Los Angeles (43-15-1) at 6:30 p.m. in Riverwalk Stadium in Montgomery.

In the South Atlantic Regional, second-seeded Columbus State (Ga.) defeated tournament host and No. 1 seeded Mount Olive (N.C.) 4-1 on Sunday. Columbus State reeled off five consecutive wins after losing in the first round last Thursday. South Atlantic Regional MVP Kurt Mckee two-out RBI-single in the fourth inning of the second game against Mount Olive to break a 1-1 tie and to put Columbus State in the lead for good. In game one, the Cougars got a gem from sophomore righthander Jarrett Coker as he recorded a tournament-high 12 while scattering only four hits to lead the Cougars to a 5-0 victory. Columbus State (48-18) will face Southern Indiana Saturday with the opening pitch slated to start at 6:30 p.m.

As is often the case in the Division I tournament, the West regional was stacked, with five nationally-ranked teams including the nation’™s No. 1 team (Sonoma State). Third-seeded Cal State-Los Angeles swept a pair of games from second-seeded Mesa State (Colo.), 11-0 and 8-3, to get to Montgomery.

Before advancing to Sunday the third-seeded Golden Eagles had to get by Sonoma State (49-10). In a matchup for marquee pitchers, CSLA got a tremendous performance from senior Kyle Owsley and took advantage of some early opportunities to 4-1. Sonoma State’™s ace Brent Lysander, the California Collegiate Athletics Association Pitcher of the Year, was dealt his second loss of the year after allowing five hits and two earned runs in 6 1/3 innings. The Seawolves stranded 10 runners on base. CSLA then overcame Mesa State, first with a complete-game three-hit shutout by freshman Tommy Elrod (4-0), and regional MVP Matt Winkelman had three hits.

In just its third year of existence, the No. 21-ranked Angelo State (Texas) Rams are punching their tickets to Montgomery, after closing out a 3-2 win over Montevallo (Ala.) in the South Central Regional title game. The Rams fell into the loser’s bracket but battled to win a regional that featured heavily favored Ouachita Baptist (Ark.), which had a 50-8 record this season. Angelo State’™s senior righthander Cody Broussard picked up the program’s biggest win as he improved to 12-1 after he scattered seven hits and gave up two earned runs while striking out nine to beat Montevallo in the regional clincer. Angelo State opens CWS play Saturday against Franklin Pierce.