Vanderbilt and Texas Tech clinched trips to the College World Series on Sunday, bringing the total number of teams that have punched their Omaha tickets to five. The final three spots will be decided in winner-takes-all Game Threes on Monday. The three national seeds left standing will all be in action Monday, so it’s possible the CWS might feature no national seeds. No fewer than three national seeds have reached Omaha in the first 15 years of the 64-team era.
Vanderbilt beat Stanford 12-5 in Sunday's third game of the Nashville Super Regional, sending the Commodores to Omaha for the second time in program history, and the first time since 2011. And Texas Tech won its second consecutive 1-0 game against College of Charleston to secure its first CWS appearance.
So, the left side of the bracket is set. The College World Series will open Saturday at 3 p.m. ET with UC Irvine taking on Texas in a battle of teams renowned for their small-ball prowess. Saturday's second game, Louisville vs. Vanderbilt at 8 p.m. ET, pairs teams with high-octane, speed-oriented offenses and power-armed pitching staffs. That one is also a rematch of the 2013 Nashville Super Regional. Texas Tech will play the first game Sunday against the TCU/Pepperdine winner, and the Virginia/Maryland winner takes on the Ole Miss/Louisiana-Lafayette winner Sunday night.
CHARLOTTESVILLE SUPER REGIONAL
Saturday: Maryland 5, Virginia 4
Sunday: Virginia 7, Maryland 3 | Series tied 1-1
Monday: 7 p.m. ET (ESPNU)
Daniel Pinero, Mike Papi and Kenny Towns had three hits apiece to lead Virginia's 17-hit attack. Brandon Waddell (5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 ER), and Artie Lewicki (3.1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 0 ER) recorded the final 10 outs to nail down the win and force a decisive Game Three on Monday. For more details, read my report from Charlottesville.
FORT WORTH SUPER REGIONAL
Saturday: TCU 3, Pepperdine 2
Sunday: Pepperdine 3, TCU 2 | Series tied 1-1
Monday: 4 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
The duel between Big 12 pitcher of the year Preston Morrison (6.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K) and West Coast Conference pitcher of the year Aaron Brown (7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K) did not disappoint, but Brown turned in the better pitching performance, then moved to center field and saved the game with his defense.
After the Waves scored twice in the seventh--highlighted by Brandon Caruso's RBI double--to take a 3-0 lead, Pepperdine came back to score two in the top of the eighth, and Jerrick Suiter stole second base to put the tying run in scoring position with two outs. Keaton Jones singled up the middle, but Brown fired a missile to the plate to catch Suiter at the plate and preserve Pepperdine's one-run lead. Suiter made an acrobatic, leaping attempt to evade catcher Aaron Barnett's tag, and it was unclear from replays whether Barnett tagged him on the leg, but Suiter was called out. Eric Karch then worked a 1-2-3 ninth to close out Pepperdine's win and force a decisive game Monday.
LAFAYETTE SUPER REGIONAL
Saturday: Louisiana-Lafayette 9, Mississippi 5
Sunday: Mississippi 5, Louisiana-Lafayette 2 | Series tied 1-1
Monday: 7 p.m. ET (ESPN2)
In a matchup between two of college baseball's best offenses, pitching was the story for most of the game Sunday. Ole Miss got a strong start from Christian Trent (7 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K) in a no-decision, and Carson Baranik (7 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K) matched him for six innings, until the Rebels broke a 1-1 tie with a run in the seventh on Preston Overbey's solo homer. The Cajuns answered with a run in the top of the eighth on Blake Trahan's RBI single to tie the score again, but Ole Miss responded with three in the eighth. With men on first and second and no outs, ULL center fielder Seth Harrison dropped a fly ball to allow the go-ahead run to score, and Colby Bortles followed with a two-run single to give Ole Miss some breathing room. The Rebels will send Sam Smith to the mound in Monday's decisive game against ULL's Cody Boutte.
LUBBOCK SUPER REGIONAL
Saturday: Texas Tech 1, College of Charleston 0
Sunday: Texas Tech 1, College of Charleston 0 | Texas Tech wins super regional 2-0
Pepperdine's Brown wasn't the only center fielder to make a remarkable, game-saving defensive play Sunday. With Texas Tech nursing a 1-0 lead in the seventh inning, College of Charleston put the tying run on second base with two outs, and Champ Rowland hit a fly ball to right-center field, but TTU center fielder Devon Conley made a full-extension diving catch to end the inning. The Red Raiders got another strong start from Dylan Dusek (8 IP, 3 H, 0 R), who combined with three relievers on a five-hit shutout. Cameron Smith entered with men on first and second and no outs in the sixth but escaped the jam unscathed with a fly out and two strikeouts.
Texas Tech has thrown four shutouts in the NCAA tournament and allowed only four runs in its six postseason games. The Red Raiders scored their lone run Sunday in the fourth inning, when Tyler Neslony singled and scored on Adam Kirsch's RBI double.
So the Red Raiders, who were picked to finish in eighth place in the nine-team Big 12 in the preseason coaches' poll, will head to Omaha in coach Tim Tadlock's second year at the helm.
"Right now I don't know if it's really sunk in yet," Tadlock said afterward. "I'm sure when I get home this evening I'm sure it will hit me. I just really appreciate these guys. I mean, they're a special group."
NASHVILLE SUPER REGIONAL
Friday: Vanderbilt 11, Stanford 6
Saturday: Stanford 5, Vanderbilt 4
Sunday: Vanderbilt 12, Stanford 5 | Vanderbilt wins super regional 2-1
The Commodores chased Stanford starter James Logan in a five-run first inning, but once again the Cardinal did not roll over. Stanford got to Walker Buehler (3 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 5 K) for four runs in the third inning to cut Vandy's lead to 5-4, and the teams swapped runs in the fourth to make it 6-5. But the Cardinal would not score again versus Vandy reliever Hayden Stone (6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K), and the Commodores broke the game open with four runs in the seventh, then tacked on two more in the eighth. Bryan Reynolds, Vince Conde and John Norwood combined for nine hits, six runs and five RBIs to lead Vanderbilt's 15-hit attack.