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The NCAA Tournament has returned.
Beginning at 12 p.m. ET tomorrow, the most jam-packed weekend of the season begins. We have you covered here at Baseball America. Below, find the schedule, results, how you can watch, and once game begins more analysis below.
|12 p.m.||(2) Duke vs. (3) Liberty||Liberty, 11-6||Knoxville||ACCN|
|12 p.m.||(1) East Carolina vs. (4) Norfolk State||ECU, 8-5||Greenville||ESPN3|
|12 p.m.||(1) Florida vs. (4) South Florida||USF, 5-3||Gainesville||SECN|
|12 p.m.||(2) South Carolina vs. (3) Virginia||SC, 4-3||Columbia||ESPN2|
|12 p.m.||(1) Texas Tech vs. (4) Army||TTU, 6-3||Lubbock||ESPNU|
|1 p.m.||(2) Georgia Tech vs. (3) Indiana State||GT, 7-6||Nashville||ESPN3|
|1 p.m.||(1) Notre Dame vs. (4) Central Michigan||ND, 10-0||South Bend||ESPN3|
|2 p.m.||(2) NC State vs. (3) Alabama||NCSU 8-1||Ruston||ESPN3|
|2 p.m.||(2) Oregon State vs. (3) Dallas Baptist||DBU, 6-5||Fort Worth||ESPN3|
|2 p.m.||(1) Texas vs. (4) Southern||UT, 11-0||Austin||Longhorn|
|3 p.m.||(1) Arkansas vs. (4) NJIT||ARK, 13-8||Fayetteville||ESPN3|
|3 p.m.||(1) Mississippi State vs. (4) Samford||MSU, 8-4||Starkville||ESPN3|
(2) Southern Mississippi vs. (3) Florida State
(2) Oklahoma State vs. (3) UC Santa Barbara
|4 p.m.||(1) Stanford vs. (4) North Dakota State||STAN, 9-1||Stanford||ESPN3|
|5 p.m.||(2) Miami vs. (3) South Alabama||UM, 1-0||Gainesville||ACCN|
|5 p.m.||(1) Oregon vs. (4) Central Connecticut||UO, 13-10||Eugene||ESPN3|
|6 p.m.||(2) Charlotte vs. (3) Maryland||CHA, 13-10||Greenville||ESPN3|
|6 p.m.||(1) Tennessee vs. (4) Wright State||TENN, 9-8||Knoxville||ESPN3|
|7 p.m.||(2) Arizona State vs. (3) Fairfield||ASU, 7-6||Austin||ESPN3|
|7 p.m.||(1) Louisiana Tech vs. (4) Rider||LT, 18-2||Ruston||ESPN3|
|7 p.m.||(1) Old Dominion vs. (4) Jacksonville||ODU, 4-3||Columbia||ESPN3|
|7 p.m.||(1) TCU vs. (4) McNeese State||TCU, 12-4||Fort Worth||ESPN3|
|7 p.m.||(2) North Carolina vs. (3) UCLA||UNC, 5-4||Lubbock||ESPNU|
|7 p.m.||(2) UConn vs. (3) Michigan||UCONN, 6-1||South Bend||ESPN3|
|7 p.m.||(1) Vanderbilt vs. (4) Presbyterian||VU, 10-0||Nashville||SECN|
|8 p.m.||(2) Nebraska vs. (3) Northeastern||NEB, 8-6||Fayetteville||ESPN3|
|8 p.m.||(1) Ole Miss vs. (4) Southeast Missouri||MISS, 6-3||Oxford||ESPN3|
|8 p.m.||(2) VCU vs. (3) Campbell||VCU, 19-4||Starkville||ESPN3|
|9 p.m.||(2) UC Irvine vs. (3) Nevada||UCI, 7-0||Stanford||ESPN3|
|10 p.m.||(1) Arizona vs. (4) Grand Canyon||UA, 12-6||Tucson||ESPN3|
|10 p.m.||(2) Gonzaga vs. (3) LSU||ZAGS, 3-0||Eugene||ESPN3|
In the final result of the night, Arizona secured a (SCORE) win over Grand Canyon. Tied 4-4 in the bottom of the sixth, Wildcats left fielder Tanner O’Tremba, who had just 11 starts coming into the day, connected for a two-run homer to put his team ahead for the first time in the game. The Cats added another run in the seventh on a Tony Bullard RBI triple, and after GCU got back in the game with two runs in the top of the eighth to pull it within a run at 7-6, Arizona ran away and hid with a five-run bottom of the eighth that included two bases-loaded walks. Because the Lopes pushed them, the Wildcats were forced to use five pitchers to secure the victory. On Saturday, we’ll see how that effects the way they handle the pitching staff in a winner’s bracket game against UC Santa Barbara.
Gonzaga got a gem from Alek Jacob in a 3-0 win over Louisiana State. The righthander threw a shutout, giving up four hits and one walk with nine strikeouts. Offensively, the Zags scored two in the second inning on an RBI single from Guthrie Morrison and an RBI double off the bat of Ernie Yake. They also added one on in the sixth on a Brett Harris RBI single. A fun Pacific Northwest showdown between Oregon and Gonzaga looms Saturday night.
To collect its 22nd consecutive win, Virginia Commonwealth put a beating on Campbell 19-4. It only scored runs in four separate innings, but in those innings, seven, four, six and two runs were scored. The Rams had 17 hits on the day but also took advantage of eight walks. Hunter Vay led the way by going 3-for-5 with two home runs and four RBI, and nine-hole hitter Hogan Brown drove in six runs. Given that they didn’t really have to stress over the win on Friday, the Rams couldn’t ask for much more going into a big showdown with Mississippi State on Saturday night.
UC Irvine Michael Frias did an impressive job of shutting down a powerful Nevada offense in a 7-0 win. He threw a two-hit shutout with two walks and five strikeouts. Offensively, Justin Torres had a homer for the Anteaters and shortstop Taishi Nakawake had three hits while also making some sparkling plays defensively. A Saturday night matchup against Stanford will be a lot of fun.
The legend of Tim Elko grew a little more in Mississippi’s 6-3 win over Southeast Missouri State. In a scoreless game in the third, Elko launched a grand slam, setting off beer showers galore on the Swayze Field outfield berm. That was all the offense Ole Miss would need as it turns out, but it would add insurance in the fifth and sixth on RBI singles from T.J. McCants and Peyton Chatagnier. SEMO hung around to make it a game but the trio of Derek Diamond (4.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R), Jack Dougherty (3 IP, 4 H, 2 R) and Taylor Broadway (1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R) held the Redhawks at an arm’s length.
Nebraska scored a hard-fought 8-6 win over Northeastern in Fayetteville. Down 4-0 early, Nebraska fought back with three runs in the fourth on a Cam Chick three-run homer, one in the fifth on a Spencer Schwellenbach sacrifice fly, three more in the sixth on a Mojo Hagge RBI single, a balk and a Joe Acker RBI single, and one more in the seventh on a first-and-third steal of home of sorts. The Huskies battled back to make an 8-4 game an 8-6 game, but Schwellenbach came in to get the last two outs of the eighth and throw a scoreless ninth. The Cornhuskers will get a shot at top-ranked Arkansas on Saturday night.
Arizona State narrowly pulled a 7-6 victory from the jaws of defeat against Fairfield. The come-from-behind win had to feel particularly good given the way ASU gave up the lead earlier in the game. With the Sun Devils up 4-2 in the seventh, Fairfield took a 5-4 lead thanks to a wild pitch and a pair of bases-loaded walks. It also added a run in the eighth to make it a 6-4 lead. ASU first chipped back with a run in the bottom of the eighth on a Sean McLain RBI double, then finished it off in the ninth with a bases-loaded hit by pitch to tie and a McLain RBI single to win it. It’s a big win for ASU that earns it a shot at Texas on Saturday night. For Fairfield, it’s a tough loss to swallow. Playing as well as it did proves that it was a deserving team in the field of 64, but there’s no doubt it wanted that win to hammer the point home.
McNeese State held a 2-1 lead over Texas Christian going into the bottom of the seventh inning, but TCU exploded for six runs in that inning and five more in the eighth to open up a game that would eventually end in a 12-4 Horned Frogs victory. Beyond the win, it’s great news for TCU that lefthander Austin Krob threw eight innings. The only thing more important as a host than winning the opening game is to win the opening game without having to use many pitchers to get it done.
North Carolina held of late rallies by UCLA to hold on for a 5-4 win in Lubbock. In the eighth, holding on to that 5-4 edge and with the Bruins having already plate a run in the frame, reliever Shawn Rapp got a tapper in front of the plate from Jack Filby to leave the tying run on third. In the ninth, Gage Gillian struck out Matt McLain to leave the tying run on first. The biggest hit of the game for UNC was a seventh inning two-run homer for Danny Serretti, which turned a narrow 3-2 lead into a 5-2 lead, giving the Tar Heels the insurance it would end up needing.
Connecticut impressed with a 6-1 win over Michigan. Righthander Austin Peterson was excellent, giving up two hits and one run in 5.2 innings, and the Huskies’ lineup did a nice job sticking to it and getting to Michigan lefthander Steven Hajjar late in his outing. After pushing across one run in the third on an Erik Stock RBI single, the knockout blow came via a three-run sixth inning featuring a Reggie Crawford RBI single and a Chris Brown two-RBI single. A pair of insurance runs came home in the seventh on a Stock two-RBI double. UConn has a tough task ahead of it in a game against Notre Dame on Saturday night, but with righthander Ben Casparius on the mound, it has to feel pretty good about its chances.
There wasn’t much doubt about Vanderbilt’s 10-0 win over Presbyterian. Kumar Rocker was dominant, throwing seven shutout innings with nine strikeouts, and first baseman Dominic Keegan hit two home runs and drove in five. Left fielder Troy LaNeve also chipped in with four RBI.
Louisiana Tech didn’t have to break much of a sweat to down Rider 18-2. The game was never really in doubt, as La Tech opened up a 5-0 lead after two innings and never looked back, but a nine-run bottom of the eighth make the final score look a bit worse than it actually was. Second baseman Taylor Young had a massive game, going 4-for-5 with two doubles, two homers and nine RBI. On the mound, lefthander Jonathan Fincher gave up six hits and two runs in eight innings. A winner’s bracket game against North Carolina State on Saturday night should be a dandy.
Surviving a tense ninth inning, Old Dominion collected a 4-3 win over Jacksonville. This win was all about the bullpen for ODU. Righthander Hunter Gregory was hit by a comebacker in the second inning and had to exit with his team trailing 3-2. From there, Jacob Gomez threw four scoreless innings, Jason Hartline threw 2.2 scoreless frames and Noah Dean got the final two outs. All of the runs scored in the game came in those first two innings. After Gomez got out of the second innings scoreless, the offense came back in the bottom half and scored two on a Kyle Battle two-RBI double. The top-seeded Monarchs move on to face host South Carolina Saturday night.
Charlotte got its stay in the Greenville Regional off to a good start with a 13-10 win over Maryland. The 49ers got to Maryland freshman righthander Jason Savacool early and often, scoring eight runs against him in his 3.1 innings of work. The Terrapins scored four runs in the top of the seventh to keep things relatively close, but the Charlotte bullpen was able to hold them off long enough. First baseman David McCabe, who missed significant time this season with injury, paced the offense with two homers. Shortstop Jack Dragum was four-for-four with a home run and DH Will Butcher was 3-for-5 with a homer of his own.
In what turned out to be the game of the day, Tennessee fought off a tough challenge from Wright State, one of the toughest four seeds in the field. Thanks to five home runs, two from Tyler Black and Alex Alders and one from Quincy Hamilton, Wright State took an 8-5 lead to the bottom of the ninth inning. But in that frame, with the crowd at Lindsey Nelson Stadium making a ton of noise, Tennessee loaded the bases and then unloaded them on a Drew Gilbert walk-off grand slam. It’s the seventh walk-off win of the season for the Volunteers and this one couldn’t have come at a better time. The loss has to be gutting for Wright State, but it’s a reminder of how cruel the postseason can be for underdogs. As many memorable No. 4 vs. No. 1 upsets as we’ve had through the years, there have been many more heartbreaking near misses like this one.
Against the stereotype of Oregon games played at home, the Ducks won a slugfest against Central Connecticut State 13-10. Oregon scored in each of the first six innings, including four in the bottom of the fifth, but CCSU just wouldn’t go away. Down 13-6, the Blue Devils put up a four-spot of their own in the seventh to make it 13-10, but the duo of Andrew Mosiello and Kolby Somers combined shut them down over the final 2.2 innings to close out the win. Both Kenyon Yovan and Anthony Hall two-homer games for the Ducks, who move on to the winner’s bracket Saturday night.
Miami beat South Alabama 1-0 in a magnificent pitchers duel. Alejandro Rosario (6.1 IP), Daniel Federman (0.2 IP) and Carson Palmquist (2 IP) combined to shut out the Jaguars on four hits. The South Alabama duo of Tyler Lehrmann (4 IP, 4 H, 1 R) and Jeremy Boyd (4 IP, 0 H, 0 R) was nearly as good, but an Adrian Del Castillo sac fly in the fifth inning made the difference. Now the Gainesville Regional gets really interesting. Miami has been about as inconsistent as Florida this season, we saw South Alabama’s struggles offensively on display tonight and you have to wonder if USF will come back down to earth at some point this weekend. It’s hard to know which of those teams to bet on being able to hold of Florida, which is more than talented enough to come back through the loser’s bracket.
It was not as easy as Arkansas probably would have preferred it to be, but the Razorbacks came away with a 13-8 win over NJIT to kick off the Fayetteville Regional. A seven-run fourth inning ended up being the difference in a game when the Highlanders just refused to quit. If nothing else, if you are Nebraska and Northeastern, the other two teams in this regional, you can take some solace in the fact that NJIT was pesky enough that Arkansas was forced to spend a lot of time at the park on Friday and the Razorbacks had to use some of their better bullpen arms, including Kevin Kopps. With as good as Arkansas is, that may not end up mattering, but it’s a small win, and when you’re trying to top the best team in the country, you have to take those where you can get them.
In Tucson, UC Santa Barbara made a statement with a 14-4 win over Oklahoma State. Lefthander Rodney Boone was solid in allowing four runs in 7.1 innings and that was more than enough on a day when the offense scored 14 runs on 18 hits. DH Marcos Castanon, who only returned from injury last week, was a catalyst, going 5-for-6 with a double, a home run and five RBI. Having him back in the lineup along with McClain O’Connor, who has also missed significant time this season with injury, could be a game-changer for the Gauchos.
Stanford made quick work of North Dakota State in a 9-1 win. Righthander Alex Williams gave up three hits and one run with nine strikeouts in seven innings, and the Cardinal offense scored eight runs off of NDSU lefthander Max Loven in 6.1 innings. Second baseman Tim Tawa led the lineup with two homers and four RBI.
Oxford promises to be one of the most competitive regionals of the 16, and on Friday, a 5-2 Florida State win over Southern Mississippi did nothing to change that perception. USM took a 2-0 lead in the first on an error and an RBI single by Christopher Sargent, and that’s where the scored stayed until the sixth, when FSU finally got to righthander Hunter Stanley. After Tyler Martin reached on an error to begin the inning, Logan Lacey hit a two-run homer to tie it. Three batters later, Elijah Cabell added a solo shot to make it 3-2. Mat Nelson added his 23rd homer of the season, keeping him tied with South Carolina’s Wes Clarke for the national lead, to give the Seminoles some insurance in the eighth. A matchup between FSU pitching and a very good Mississippi lineup on Saturday night (should Ole Miss get past Southeast Missouri State) should be a fun one.
Mississippi State held off Samford with an 8-4 win in Starkville. The MSU offense was relentless, scoring in five separate innings, with much of the damage coming against Samford starter Samuel Strickland. Rowdey Jordan and Luke Hancock both enjoyed three-hits days, and righthander Will Bednar gave up three runs in seven innings.
In what will likely be the upset of the day, South Florida upset Florida 5-3 to begin the Gainesville Regional. It was a strange day at Florida Ballpark all around. After USF went up 1-0 on a Nelson Rivera RBI double in the second, it jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the third on a two-run homer from Riley Hogan. But it was no normal three-run homer. As the ball was leaving the yard, UF right fielder Sterlin Thompson leaped to make the play. The ball briefly went into his glove, but as his body collided with the wall, it fell just behind the wall for a home run. Then, a more than two hour rain delay hit. On its face, that seemed like a good thing for Florida, which could use it as a reset, even if it meant the end of the line for starter Tommy Mace, but it didn’t work out that way, as the Bulls added on with runs in the sixth and seventh while its bullpen held the Gators off. It’s asking a lot for a team that has been as inconsistent as Florida this season to come back through the loser’s bracket to win the regional, but it is one team that probably feels like it has the pitching to get it done.
North Carolina State, a trendy pick to win the Ruston Regional as the No. 2 seed, took a big step in that direction with an 8-1 win over Alabama. Righthander Reid Johnston gave up four hits and one run in eight innings and the offense slugged five home runs. The primary concern with NC State is pitching depth, so perhaps the best news from Friday was that it only had to use one reliever, Chris Villaman, with relief ace Evan Justice still fresh and ready to be used Saturday.
A 7-6 win for Georgia Tech on Friday against Indiana State was as important to the Yellow Jackets as it was gutting for the Sycamores. ISU led 6-2 at the seventh-inning stretch. At that point Missouri Valley Conference pitcher of the year Geremy Guerrero had held a powerful lineup to two runs on six hits. After a leadoff double, Guerrero was lifted, and Georgia Tech pounced, batting around on the way to scoring five runs and taking the lead. The Georgia Tech bullpen, which has been leaky at times this season, was able to hold it from there. For Indiana State, that’s a tough way to lose a game in which your ace pitched like one. It’s also an incredibly important win for the Yellow Jackets. With its pitching concerns, it has to win games in which its best arm, lefthander Brant Hurter, starts and that was the case on Friday. Stranger things have certainly happened, but it would have been an extremely tall task to ask Georgia Tech to have enough pitching to come all the way back through the loser’s bracket, especially since that would likely entail beating Vanderbilt twice. Now, assuming a Vandy win over Presbyterian, they can instead focus on trying to do so once on Saturday.
Things were hairy early on for East Carolina, but the Pirates were able to steady the ship late in the game and hold on for an 8-5 win over a feisty Norfolk State team. Frankly, ECU looked tight coming out of the gate. The offense struggled to get much going in the early innings, even as the Spartans made some errors, which gifted the Pirates two runs in the first, and starter James Deloatch issued plenty of walks. On top of that, the NSU offense put pressure on lefthander Carson Whisenhunt early and often, eventually scoring three runs against him and chasing him after four innings. And the Spartans even took a 4-3 lead in the top of the sixth when it induced a balk from pitcher A.J. Wilson on an attempted steal of home. But ECU answered back with four runs in the bottom of the sixth, including three on a two-out, three-run homer for Thomas Francisco on a 3-2 count. That one swing allowed the Pirates to breathe a sigh of relief and coast in for the win from there. With righthander Gavin Williams ready to throw in the winner’s bracket game Saturday night, ECU is in good shape.
In the marquee game of the early first pitches on Friday, hosting No. 2 seed South Carolina scored a hard-fought 4-3 win over Virginia. This one absolutely lived up to the advance billing. Early, it looked like a slugfest might break out. Gamecocks’ first baseman Wes Clarke started the scoring in the first with a two-out solo homer. Virginia answered back with two solo shots in the third from brothers Jake and Zack Gelof. But after South Carolina lefthander Julian Bosnic, who came on when starter Brett Kerry left with an apparent injury in the third inning, allowed a run on an infield single in the fourth, the pitchers settled in. Bosnic ended up throwing 3.2 innings, giving up just the one run, and Daniel Lloyd came on after Bosnic and threw three more scoreless frames. For the Cavaliers, lefthander Andrew Abbott was pitching well, right up until he hit a wall in the sixth. He walked George Callil to lead off the inning, and after getting two outs, Clarke hit a ground-rule double. Josiah Sightler followed with a two-run double. Kyle Whitten relieved Abbott, but issued a walk and then an RBI single from Colin Burgess to give the Gamecocks the lead for good. The Columbia Regional is the one this year that feels the most up for grabs, at least among the top three teams in the field, and South Carolina landed the all-important first blow.
Notre Dame and Texas joined Texas Tech among the host teams that got routine wins on Friday. Notre Dame did so with a 10-0 victory over Central Michigan to begin the festivities in South Bend. Righthander John Michael Bertrand was unhittable in tossing a shutout with five hits and one walk allowed. Offensively, the long ball was good to the Irish. First baseman Niko Kavadas had two and left fielder Ryan Cole and catcher David LaManna had one each. Central Michigan was a tough No. 4 seed as a veteran team with a real ace in Andrew Taylor, but Notre Dame made it look easy. The Longhorns beat Southern 11-0 behind seven shutout frames for righthander Tristan Stevens and a three-hit day for first baseman Zach Zubia.
The most shocking early result on Friday had to be Liberty blitzing Duke early and winning 11-6. It’s not that it’s a huge surprise that the Flames won the game, but it’s that it didn’t even really let the Blue Devils get into the game. Liberty was up 11-0 after four innings, thanks in large part to a six-run fourth, and it was able to coast in from there. DH Brady Gulakowski led the way by hitting two home runs and driving in six and just two Liberty pitchers were pressed into duty. If you’re Duke, you are now looking for a performance like the one it got in the 2018 Athens Regional when it lost its opener and got down in its elimination game before storming back to not only stave off elimination but win the whole thing.
Texas Tech got an ideal win in its opener against Army in Lubbock. The Black Knights did grab 1-0 and 2-1 leads early on, but Tech gained control pretty quickly and led 6-2 by the end of the fifth inning on the way to a relatively routine 6-3 win. Shortstop Cal Conley homered twice and drove in three runs. Righthander Chase Hampton threw six innings, giving up seven hits and two runs (one earned), and all told, the Red Raiders had to use just three pitchers, two of whom, Connor Queen and Micah Dallas, should be able to pitch again as soon as tomorrow. Texas Tech really couldn’t have drawn it up better on terms of setting itself up for success the rest of the weekend. </p>