Monday Roundup: Super Regional Field Is Set

With the 100th and final game of the regionals between North Carolina and Florida Atlantic finally in the books after 13 harrowing innings, the super regional matchups are set. Fourteen of the 16 super regional teams are No. 1 seeds, and the others are No. 2 seeds (Oklahoma and Rice). For the second straight year, seven of the eight national seeds advanced, with only No. 8 Oregon falling. Since the field expanded to 64 teams in 1999, an average of six national seeds per year have won regionals. In each of the last two years, just 10 No. 1 seeds won regionals; in each of the previous three years, 13 top seeds won regionals. So this weekend backed up our assertion heading into the tournament that college baseball is top-heavy this year.

Four of the nine SEC teams in the field won regionals, and four of the eight ACC teams did so. The Big 12 went 2-for-3, and the Pac-12 went 2-for-4. The Big Ten and Big East each went 1-for-2, the Big West went 1-for-3, and Conference USA went 1-for-1.

Here are the super regional pairings and schedules, followed by a roundup of Monday’s action.

GAMES BEGIN FRIDAY, JUNE 7 (All times Eastern)
These best-of-three series will be played June 7-9. The national seed is indicated before the team name.

South Carolina (42-18) at No. 1 North Carolina (55-9)
Friday, 1 p.m. (ESPN2); Saturday, Noon (ESPN); Sunday (if necessary), 1 p.m. (ESPN)

Rice (44-18) at North Carolina State (47-14)
Friday, 4 p.m. (ESPN2); Saturday, 4 p.m. (ESPN2); Sunday (if necessary), 4 p.m. (ESPNU)

Oklahoma (43-19) at No. 4 LSU (55-9)
Friday, 7 p.m. (ESPN); Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPN2); Sunday (if necessary), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

UCLA (42-17) at No. 5 Cal State Fullerton (51-8)
Friday, 7 p.m. (ESPN2); Saturday, 10 p.m. (ESPN2); Sunday (if necessary), 10 p.m. (ESPN2)

GAMES BEGIN SATURDAY, JUNE 8 (All times Eastern)
These best-of-three series will be played June 8-10. The national seed is indicated before the team name.

Indiana (46-14) at No. 7 Florida State (47-15)
Saturday, Noon (ESPNU); Sunday, 1 p.m. (ESPNU); Monday (if necessary), 1 p.m. (ESPN2)

Mississippi State (46-18) at No. 6 Virginia (47-10)
Saturday, 1 p.m. (ESPN2); Sunday, 7 p.m. (ESPNU); Monday (if necessary), 4 p.m. (ESPN2)

Louisville (49-12) at No. 2 Vanderbilt (54-10)
Saturday, 3 p.m. (ESPN); Sunday, 4 p.m. (ESPN); Monday (if necessary), 7 p.m. (ESPN2)

Kansas State (44-17) at No. 3 Oregon State (48-10)
Saturday, 7 p.m. (ESPNU); Sunday, 10 p.m. (ESPNU); Monday (if necessary), 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

Super Regional Storylines

• South Carolina returns to Chapel Hill for super regionals for the first time since 2007, when the Tar Heels won in three games. This marks South Carolina coach Chad Holbrook’s first return to his alma mater (where he was a longtime assistant coach) since he left for Columbia after the 2008 season.

• Two of the nation’s best pitching duos will square off in Baton Rouge, where Oklahoma’s Jonathan Gray and Dillon Overton face off with LSU’s Aaron Nola and Ryan Eades. All are potential top-two-rounds draft talents this year or next.

• UCLA faces Cal State Fullerton in a super regional for the first time since 2010, when the Bruins finally broke through with a dramatic super regional triumph against their longtime nemesis. The Bruins had fallen in the Fullerton Regional in 2008 and in the Fullerton Super Regional in 2007.

• Louisville and Vanderbilt will meet in the postseason for the third time in the last five years, and the first time in a super regional. Vandy won a regional at Louisville in 2010, and the Cardinals beat the Commodores in the 2009 Louisville Regional final.

• Indiana and Kansas State are making their first-ever trips to super regionals, at Florida State and Oregon State, respectively. The Seminoles are making their record 13th trip to super regionals (and sixth straight) in the 15th year of the current postseason format.

Monday Roundup

• The final game to conclude was the wildest game of the tournament so far, but No. 1 national seed North Carolina escaped with a 12-11 win in 13 innings. Chris Munnelly (3 IP, 3 H, 2 ER) got the start, but the Tar Heels pulled him with a 4-2 lead in the fourth inning and summoned closer Trent Thornton (4 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K), who continued his recent dominance. But UNC opted to finish the game with ace Kent Emanuel, pitching on one day of rest after throwing 124 pitches Saturday, and Emanuel failed to hold a 6-2 lead in the ninth inning, as FAU’s Tyler Rocklein hit a grand slam to put the Owls up 8-6. Emanuel wound up throwing 51 pitches over 1 2/3 innings, allowing five runs on two hits and three walks. But UNC rallied in the bottom of the frame to score two runs, tying the game on Mike Zolk’s RBI single. The Owls retook the lead on Levi Meyer’s three-run three-run homer in the top of the 12th. But once again, UNC responded in the bottom of the frame against exhausted FAU closer Hugh Adams (3 IP, 5 H, 5 ER), scoring three runs to tie the game again. The Tar Heels finally won it in the 13th on Cody Stubbs’ walk-off RBI single down the left-field line. FAU’s Corey Keller homered twice in the game—including a solo shot in the ninth against Emanuel—giving him five long balls in the regional, after he hit just five homers all season heading into the weekend. Each of UNC’s top four starters pitched in the game, including lefthander Hobbs Johnson (for one batter in the 13th). Johnson threw 89 pitches on Sunday. But when UNC finally gave freshman reliever Reilly Hovis a chance with men on the corners in the top of the 13th, he delivered, escaping the threat with a strikeout.

• The No. 2 national seed, Vanderbilt, had a much easier time in its Monday game, cruising to a 7-1 win against Georgia Tech. Georgia Tech ace Buck Farmer, pitching on one day of rest after throwing 58 pitches over six innings Saturday, wasn’t particularly sharp Monday (4 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K), but he kept the game close until the middle innings, when Vandy pulled away against the Georgia Tech bullpen. Lefthander Philip Pfeifer (5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 2 K) earned the win, and Brian Miller (4 IP, 0 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) provided superb relief to pick up his 16th save. Xavier Turner had three RBIs, and all nine Vandy starters recorded hits as part of a balanced 13-hit attack.

• In the resumption of a game that was suspended by rain Sunday, South Carolina finished off Liberty, 6-4. The Gamecocks extended their remarkable winning streak in postseason games at home to 27 games, including a 16-0 mark at Carolina Stadium. South Carolina makes its fourth straight trip to super regionals, and its 11th in the last 14 years. L.B. Dantzler (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI) led the South Carolina offense, and the Gamecocks got solid relief from Colby Holmes, Adam Westmoreland and Tyler Webb after Jack Wynkoop’s outing (4 IP, 6 H, 2 ER) was cut short by the weather suspension.

• Mississippi State jumped out to a 3-0 lead through two innings and cruised to a dominating 6-1 win against Central Arkansas, clinching the Starkville Regional. Ben Bracewell (2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K) and Chad Girodo (6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 12 K) combined to strike out 17 Bears, while Hunter Renfroe (3-for-4, R, 2 RBI) and Adam Frazier (2-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI) led the MSU offense. The Bulldogs won their first home regional since 2000, earning them a trip to super regionals for the second time in three years.

• Oregon started Jake Reed (1.2 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 4 ER) on two days’ rest, and the Owls jumped on him to take a 5-2 lead through two innings, en route to an 11-4 win in Eugene. Rice closer Zech Lemond (6.2 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 7 K) was outstanding in his first start of the year, and Austin Kubitza (2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R) provided strong relief on two days’ rest to slam the door. With catcher Geoff Perrott sidelined by a leg injury, Hunter Kopycinski (4-for-5, 2 R, 4 RBI, 3B) started behind the plate and led Rice’s 15-hit attack. Ford Stainback and Christian Stringer combined for five hits, while Keenan Cook and Shane Hoelscher combined for five RBIs. Hoelscher put the Owls ahead for good with a two-run single in the first, scoring on the play when J.J. Altobelli made a throwing error.