NCAA Regionals Roundup: Saturday Surprises Abound

Saturday is the most pivotal day of regionals. Teams start to get eliminated from the NCAA Tournament in the day’s first games and the winners of the nightcaps put themselves in prime position to advance to super regionals, needing to win just one game over the next two days.

Fourteen of the 16 regionals have gotten all four of their scheduled games in (Athens and Oxford are both behind due to inclement weather Friday). The hosts of eight of those 14 regionals have already advanced to the regional final—Arkansas (Fayetteville), Florida (Gainesville), Minnesota (Minneapolis), North Carolina (Chapel Hill), Oregon State (Corvallis), Stetson (Deland), Texas (Austin) and Texas Tech (Lubbock).

In the other six regionals, however, upsets abound. Florida State became the first host to be eliminated, as the No. 7 national seed was knocked by Mississippi State on a stunning three-run walk-off home run from Elijah MacNamee. North Carolina State, the only other host to lose its opener, survived its elimination game Saturday with a 9-3 victory against Northeastern. North Carolina State on Sunday will be joined by several other hosts in elimination games.

Saturday’s final game was one of the day’s most dramatic. Stanford and Cal State Fullerton were locked in a classic pitchers’ duel in the Stanford Regional. With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Titans coach Rick Vanderhook called on freshman Jace “Jumbo” Chamberlain to pinch hit. He delivered his first career home run, a walk-off shot for a 2-1 victory that sent Fullerton to the Stanford Regional final for the second year in a row. Stanford is set for an elimination game against Baylor.

Friday delivered two big upsets as Samford beat host Florida State and Army knocked off host North Carolina State. Neither No. 4 seed was able to double down on its victories, however, as Oklahoma beat Samford in Tallahassee and Auburn cruised past Army in Raleigh.

South Carolina beat host East Carolina, 4-2, in a much-anticipated showdown in the Greenville, N.C., Regional. The Gamecocks scored three runs in the first inning to jump out to an early lead that the Pirates were never able to erase. ECU on Sunday will play UNC Wilmington in a rematch of Friday’s opener.

For the second year in a row, Clemson was upset in winners’ bracket game at home by Vanderbilt, the No. 2 seed in the Clemson Regional. The Commodores got five scoreless innings out of their bullpen and did just enough offensively to edge the Tigers, 4-3. This is the third straight year Clemson has hosted a regional and lost Saturday’s winners’ bracket game. It will take on St. John’s in Sunday’s elimination game.

Washington outslugged host Coastal Carolina, 11-6, to take control of the Conway, S.C., Regional. Nick Kahle and Joe Wainhouse, the Huskies’ three- and four-hole hitters, both homered in the victory. Washington is now one win away from advancing to super regionals for the first time in program history, while Coastal Carolina will take on Connecticut.

Ace Watch

Several teams saved their aces for Saturday’s ultra-important games and they delivered in big spots. These games took on an added importance with the draft just two days away.

Logan Gilbert, RHP, Stetson: Gilbert and Stetson rolled to a 10-3 victory against Oklahoma State to advance to the DeLand Regional championship game. The righthander struck out 14 batters and held the Cowboys to two runs on three walks and five hits. Gilbert has now struck out 157 batters this season.

Casey Mize, RHP, Auburn: Having held Mize in the first game only to see Army upset North Carolina State, many wondered if coach Butch Thompson might hold his ace again. He did not, and Mize helped keep the Tigers in the winners’ bracket with a 12-1 victory. He allowed just one run—a solo home run from Jon Rosoff—and struck out 11 batters in seven innings.

Ryan Rolison, LHP, Mississippi: Rolison wasn’t purposefully held for Saturday, but when heavy rain washed out play Friday in Oxford, the lefthander got pushed back a day. He delivered a solid start against Saint Louis and its ace Miller Hogan to beat the Billikens, 9-2. Rolison struck out 13 batters and held SLU to two runs on four hits and three walks. Hogan was knocked out after giving up nine runs (six earned) in three innings.

Brady Singer, RHP, Florida: Singer missed his last two starts due to a strained hamstring but showed no ill affects Saturday in a 3-2 victory against Jacksonville. The righthander struck out six and walked one in seven innings to improve to 11-1, 2.27 and send the Gators to the Gainesville Regional championship game.

Around the Horn

  • Texas took control of the Austin Regional with an 8-3 victory against rival Texas A&M. All-American second baseman Kody Clemens homered twice in the game and is now hitting .344/.432/.700 with 21 home runs. Texas has shaken off last week’s 0-2 showing in the Big 12 Conference Tournament well and is now just a win away from its first super regionals appearance since 2014.
  • Oregon State easily dispatched Louisiana State in a 14-1 victory in the Corvallis Regional. The game was a matchup from last year’s College World Series, when LSU got the better of Oregon State. But on Saturday it was all Beavers. All-Americans Cadyn Grenier, Nick Madrigal, Trevor Larnach and Adley Rutschman combined to go 10-for-20 with nine runs and four RBI.

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