Super Regional Roundup: Three Hosts Take Openers

Hosts won three of the four super regional games on Friday's schedule. UC Irvine was the only visiting team to win, in the final game of the day. Last year, seven of the eight teams that won super regional openers went on to reach Omaha, and in 2012 six of the eight teams that won Game One advanced.


Mark Payton

Mark Payton (right) is greeted after his first-inning homer Friday (Photo by Andrew Woolley)

Friday: Texas 4, Houston 2
Saturday: 3 p.m. (ESPN)

Texas coach Augie Garrido has made a point this year to repeatedly emphasize how important it was for Mark Payton and Nathan Thornhill to decide to return for their senior seasons in Austin. Those two veterans led the Longhorns to a victory in Friday's super regional opener against Houston. Payton (3-for-5) belted a two-run homer in the first inning to give Texas a lead it would not relinquish, as Thornhill (7 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 K) and John Curtiss (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R) held the Houston bats at bay. The Longhorns chased Jake Lemoine (4.2 IP, 7 H, 4 ER) in the fifth inning, and Houston mounted its only real threat in the bottom of the fifth, when it scored its only two runs.


Friday: Louisville 5, Kennesaw State 3
Saturday: 7 p.m. (ESPNU)

Kennesaw State took a 3-1 lead into the seventh inning, but the Cardinals scored a run in the seventh and three more in the eighth to snag a 5-3 come-from-behind win. Kyle Gibson's squeeze tied the game in the eighth, and Nick Solak (3-for-5, R, 3 RBI) followed with a go-ahead two-run double, as the Cardinals got to KSU bullpen stalwarts James Connell and Justin McCalvin. Kyle Funkhouser (7 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 5 BB, 7 K) earned a no-decision for the Cardinals, who got scoreless innings from Kyle McGrath and Nick Burdi to nail down the victory.


Friday: Vanderbilt 11, Stanford 6
Saturday: 2 p.m., ESPN2

The Commodores jumped on a wild John Hochstatter (1 IP, 1 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 2 K) and Chris Viall (1.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 4 ER) to build a 10-0 lead through three innings, then held off Stanford's comeback bid to win 11-6. Bryan Reynolds (4-for-4, 3 R, 2 RBI) led the Vanderbilt offense in an ugly game that featured a combined 15 walks. Tyler Beede (4.2 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 4 BB, 2 K) breezed through three innings before running into trouble in the fourth and losing his command in a four-run fifth, but Tyler Ferguson (2.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 5 K) and Brian Miller (1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R) settled things down. Vandy will send Carson Fulmer to the mound Saturday with a chance to clinch its second trip to Omaha.


Taylor Sparks

Taylor Sparks, drafted by the Reds on Thursday, had four hits and scored twice Friday.

Friday: UC Irvine 8, Oklahoma State 4
Saturday: 9 p.m. (ESPNU)

Irvine's loose, aggressive style continued to work wonders against an OSU juggernaut, a week after the Anteaters gave Oregon State fits. UCI scored two runs on an infield single to second base in the fourth inning to take a 2-1 lead, then tacked on three more in the fifth to chase Oklahoma State ace Jon Perrin (5 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 3 ER). The 'Eaters scored back-to-back runs on wild pitches in that frame (one of them coming on an attempted intentional walk), then added two more in the fifth on a squeeze and a delayed steal. Leadoff man Taylor Sparks (4-for-5, 2 R) led the offense for Irvine, which got another strong start from Elliot Surrey (7 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K). The Anteaters are one win away from their second trip to Omaha, and ace Andrew Morales has yet to take the mound.