Super-Regional Recaps: Day Four

See also: Day One recap
See also: Day Two recap
See also: Day Three recap

Rice finished off Oklahoma, and Georgia and Miami completed comebacks after losing the first game of their super-regionals as all three teams won Monday to set the field for the 2006 College World Series.

Miami made it four teams from the Atlantic Coast Conference in the eight-team CWS field, joining Clemson, Georgia Tech and North Carolina. Four teams is the most ever for the ACC and ties a record set by the Southeastern Conference in 1997 and 2004.

Miami 14, Mississippi 9

Miami third baseman Danny Valencia’s grand slam in the seventh blew open what had been a back-and-forth game, as Miami beat Mississippi 14-9 to earn the Hurricanes 22nd berth in the College World Series.

Until the seventh inning, the lead had see-sawed back and forth, as Mississippi had continually battled back after falling behind. Miami led 3-0 after one inning, only to watch the Rebels tie the game back up on Mark Wright’s three-run home run in the second.

Miami took a 6-3 lead in the third, but Mississippi rallied again, as the Rebels took a 7-6 lead in the fourth, led primarily by Justin Henry’s two-run double. The Hurricanes retook the lead in the sixth, tying the game on a sacrifice fly, and taking the lead when John Jay stole second, then stole third, scoring on a throwing error.

Chris Couglan tied the game back up in the seventh, but from then on, Miami took control, as closer Chris Perez pitched the final five innings, allowing only two runs while striking out five. Mississippi closer Garrett White had a much tougher time, as he allowed six runs, including Valencia’s grand slam in 2 2/3 innings.

Valencia was 3-for-3 with three runs scored and seven RBIs, while Jay notched three hits and three stolen bases.

Georgia 11, South Carolina 6

Georgia used a seven-run seventh inning and three-RBI games by outfielders Joey Side and Bobby Felmy to beat South Carolina 11-6 and advance to its second College World Series in three years. It’s Georgia’s fifth trip to Omaha.

“These kids are unbelievable,” Georgia coach David Perno said. “This group is the most successful Georgia baseball team in the three
year period–ever. They did it all year–they just willed it.
Obviously, we had a huge inning tonight. It’s a special group and a
special team.

“I told these guys before the day started that I was on the 1990 team,
I knew the 1987 team, I was a coach on the 2001 and 2004 teams, and
there wasn’t a more deserving team to go to Omaha than this one. I told
them that they needed to find a way to get it done because they
deserved it more than any other team in our program’s history.”

After getting blown out in the series opener, Georgia appeared to be walking a tightrope, but after winning the second game, it quickly became apparent on Monday that the Bulldogs had an advantage of pitching depth.

Georgia starter Jason Leaver worked only three innings, as he left trailing 3-2. But while the Bulldogs bullpen was able to hold South Carolina to three runs over the final six innings, South Carolina tried to stay away from its own bullpen.

South Carolina starter Wynn Pelzer battled out of several jams caused by his own wildness (seven walks in six innings), but his luck ran out in the seventh. Bobby Felmy led off with a home run to give Georgia a 5-3 lead, and the Bulldogs loaded the bases on a single, error and walk, focing Pelzer from the game.

Gamecocks reliever Chase Tucker could not get out of the jam, as Jonathan Wyatt singled in two runs, and Joey Side followed with a two-run triple. Another reliever, Conor Lalor, had no more success, as Felmy tripled in two more runs to give Georgia a commanding 11-3 lead.

Rice 9, Oklahoma 5

Third baseman Josh Rodriguez tied a career-high with five RBIs,
including a go-ahead two-run single in the sixth inning, as Rice beat
Oklahoma 9-5 to advance to the College World Series for the fifth time
in school history.

Neither team’s starter made it out of the first inning, as both team’s coaches worked to keep the game from getting out of hand.

Rice closer Cole St. Clair entered the game in the first inning with
two outs and two Oklahoma runs in. He ended the inning with a strikeout
and worked the next five innings. The lefthander allowed three runs on
five hits to earn the win. Righthander Bryce Cox held OU to two hits
over three scoreless innings to earn the save.

“You can not afford to get way down with a card like that (St.Clair)
unplayed,” Rice coach Wayne Graham said. “You just can’t. He’s one of the premiere pitchers in the
country and it would have been foolish for the game to be out of hand
before he got in there. It just wasn’™t going to happen.”

Oklahoma’s Sonny Galloway also had a quick hook, as he brought in John Brownwell in the first. Brownwell kept the game under control until the sixth, when Galloway pulled him after he gave up a single and a walk to the first two batters of the inning.

“It was very tough (to pull John Brownell) and we had already made a
couple of trips to the mound,” Galloway said. “He was extremely frustrated from a mental
aspect. He was competing very well and it was very hot. There were a
lot of variables that we won’t get into. When we decided to pull him,
we thought it was the right time.”

Reliever Will Savage was unable to get out of the jam, as Rodriguez’ single drove in two and fiirst baseman Joe Savery followed with a
three-run homer to give Rice an 8-5 lead.

Rodriguez was 3-for-4 with five RBIs to lead Rice.