Jace “Jumbo” Chamberlin Puts Fullerton in Driver’s Seat
If you were going to pick a moment for your first career home run, the bottom of the ninth inning, tied 1-1 in a winner’s bracket game in a regional against Stanford would be a pretty good choice.
For Cal State Fullerton freshman Jace Chamberlin, that dream scenario is a reality, as his ninth-inning blast gave the Titans a 2-1 walk-off win over Stanford on Saturday, moving his team to 2-0 for the weekend and in the driver’s seat to advance to a super regional out of the Palo Alto Regional for the second year in a row.
The Chamberlin homer will be remembered, but Tommy Wilson and Brett Conine deserve a lot of credit for this win as well. Wilson started the game for the Titans and threw six innings, giving up three hits and one run with no walks and six strikeouts. Conine came on and tossed the final three innings, giving up three hits and a walk to go along with five strikeouts.
Cal State Fullerton is at it again. They play their best baseball when it matters most, and thanks in large part to Jace Chamberlin, the hopes of yet another run to the College World Series are very much alive and well.
Veteran Hitters Come Through for Minnesota
Minnesota is an incredibly well-rounded team. Any team that has done enough to host a regional kind of has to be. If you had to pinpoint their bread and butter, though, it would be a deep lineup led by a ton of veteran players who have been in the program for a long time.
On Saturday, in a nail-biting 3-2 win over UCLA to move to 2-0 in their home regional, it was those veterans who came through once again for the Gophers.
In the second inning, trailing 1-0 after a Michael Toglia sacrifice fly put UCLA on top, senior Alex Boxwell connected for a solo home run. The Bruins went back on top 2-1 in the bottom half of the frame, and that was it for the scoring for a while.
For Minnesota, freshman starting pitcher Patrick Fredrickson once again pitched with poise beyond his years to wiggle out of several jams and end up throwing six innings, giving up four hits and one run with five walks and seven strikeouts. UCLA starting, freshman Zach Pettway, did the same, as he ably navigated through the dangerous Gophers’ lineup in a road setting on the way to throwing seven innings, giving up four hits and one run with one walk and four strikeouts.
Things got going again for Minnesota in the eighth when junior Terrin Vavra led off with a double into the left field corner. One batter later, Eli Wilson singled him home, with Vavra sliding home just before the tag on a close play at the plate.
Vavra was the catalyst in the rally that brought him the go-ahead run in the tenth as well, as he led off with a single. After being moved to second on a Wilson sac bunt, senior Micah deposited an RBI double into the right field corner to give Minnesota the 3-2 it wouldn’t relinquish.
Max Meyer was outstanding again in relief for Minnesota. He threw three innings, giving the Gophers the chance to take the lead and then protecting the lead in the bottom of the tenth. Along the way, he gave up just one hit and one walk and struck out six.
Minnesota is sitting at 2-0, which is a great place to be, but now is where it gets interesting. If you’re going to nitpick this team, it’s that their starting pitching behind Reggie Meyer and Patrick Fredrickson has been inconsistent. Jake Stevenson, Sam Thoresen, and Nick Lackney have all had some run in the rotation, but none have established themselves as the clear third option. The Gophers need one of the them to come up big on Sunday.
Hatters Move to 2-0
If there has been any part of hosting the program’s first regional that has made Stetson uncomfortable, they sure haven’t shown it.
After coming away with an 8-3 win over Hartford to kick off their weekend on Friday, they took down Oklahoma State emphatically on Saturday by a 10-3 score.
Logan Gilbert, a pitcher who will hear his named called early in next week’s MLB Draft, was on his game for the Hatters. He threw seven innings, giving up five hits and two runs with three walks and 14 strikeouts. Offensively, Stetson got a run in the first on a Brooks Wilson RBI single, a run in the fourth on a fielder’s choice, and a run in the fifth on a passed ball, but the big blow came on a three-run homer from Jorge Arenas in the sixth to make it a 6-1 lead.
Ben Onyshko finished the game off with two scoreless innings, and that sets up Stetson wonderfully from a pitching standpoint for the rest of the weekend. Jack Perkins is ready to go for the regional final, and the closer, Wilson, has yet to throw. The win to clinch a place in the super regionals is the toughest to get, but Stetson really couldn’t have looked the part any more than they already have this weekend.
SEC Aces Dominate
Auburn’s Casey Mize, Mississippi’s Ryan Rolison, and Florida’s Brady Singer were all on the mound Saturday night, and each came through in a big way.
In a 12-1 win over Army, Mize threw seven innings, giving up four hits and one run with two walks and 11 strikeouts. The only run he surrendered came on a Jon Rosoff homer in the sixth inning.
Rolison’s Mississippi team won going away as well, as they came away with a 9-2 win over Saint Louis. He threw seven innings, giving up four hits and two runs (which came in the first two innings of the game) with three walks and 13 strikeouts. That also means he won the marquee pitcher’s duel between he and Saint Louis ace Miller Hogan. The Rebels were all over Hogan, tagging him with nine hits and nine runs (six of which were earned) in three innings of work.
As a quick aside, the game might have been out of hand already, but SLU reliever Connor Lehmann’s performance is worth mentioning. After coming in for Hogan in the fourth inning, he threw five perfect innings of relief with six strikeouts.
Florida snuck past a game Jacksonville squad 3-2, thanks in large part to Singer’s start. He threw seven innings of his own, giving up five hits and two runs with one walk and six strikeouts.
All three gave their team just what the doctor ordered.
Washington in the Catbird Seat with Win over Coastal Carolina
Don’t look now, but somewhat quietly, Washington has jumped out to a 2-0 start in the Conway Regional, putting them in great position to advance.
A big second inning was the catalyst in Saturday’s 11-6 win over Coastal Carolina. Most of the biggest bats in the UW order were involved. The first run came home when A.J. Graffanino singled home Levi Jordan. Later in the inning, Mason Cerrillo singled home Graffanino to make it 2-1, but the big blow was a grand slam off the bat of Nick Kahle in the frame, putting the Huskies up 6-1.
Coastal Carolina refused to go quietly, and eventually they pulled within a run at 7-6, but Washington stretched the lead out once again thanks to a two-run homer from Joe Wainhouse in the sixth inning, his 16th of the season, and after that, they never looked back. On the mound for UW, neither Lucas Knowles or Josh Burgmann had their cleanest outing of the year, but the duo of Stevie Emanuels and Alex Hardy combined to toss three shutout innings to close things out.
Washington doesn’t have the reputation of a team that typically puts up runs in bunches, but that’s what they done through two days in the regional, as they’ve scored 18 total runs in two games. With the way they’ve been swinging the bats and Jordan Jones ready to start a regional final on Sunday afternoon, the Huskies really are sitting pretty.
UNC-Wilmington Survives Weather, Ohio State to Fight Another Day
Both the Ohio State Buckeyes and bad weather proved to be formidable foes for UNC-Wilmington on Saturday.
The former fought them tooth and nail for 13 innings. OSU starting pitcher Ryan Feltner held them to two runs over six innings, and while the bullpen duo of Austin Woodby and Seth Kinker weren’t at their best, they kept the Buckyes in the game. The defense, so often a pain point for OSU this season, came through on a couple of occasions as well.
In the seventh, with the game tied 2-2, Ohio State left fielder Tyler Cowles threw out UNCW’s Mason Berne trying to score on a single to left. Something similar occurred in the 11th. After tying the game 3-3 earlier in the inning, UNCW tried to walk-off with a win on a Kep Brown single to center, but Levi Gesell was thrown out at the plate by Dillon Dingler on a close call.
There is no replay review in regional play (although there probably should be), but even if there had been, the replays that were shown on TV were inconclusive to say the least. The foot of Levi Gesell and the tag of OSU catcher Jacob Barnwell arrived at the plate at the same time, and the call really could have gone either way.
After the rain delay, which came in the 12th inning, UNCW just had a little bit more left in the tank. They threatened from the very start of the 13th inning, forcing reliever Yianni Pavlopoulos from the game in favor of Kyle Michalak, and Kep Brown came through with a bases-loaded single, which scored Noah Bridges.
Ohio State is eliminated with the loss, and they have to be left thinking about how quickly fates can change in a regional. Just about 24 hours prior to the rain delay occurring, they held a lead against South Carolina and looked poised to move to the winner’s bracket. Now, instead, they’re heading home.
Elijah MacNamee Makes Florida State Pay for Questionable Decision
Florida State jumped out to a 2-0 lead over Mississippi State with single runs in the third and fifth innings, and then a rain delay came prior to the bottom of the ninth inning, taking the teams off of the field for nearly two-and-a-half hours, but let’s cut to the chase here. The story is what happened in the bottom of the ninth.
Drew Parrish started the game for FSU, and was outstanding, holding MSU at bay for eight innings. But after the delay, having thrown more than 100 pitches already, head coach Mike Martin and his staff sent Parrish out there for the ninth. The move was widely panned on social media the moment it became apparent that’s what was happening, but as long as it worked, it would probably end up being forgotten.
But that’s the thing. It didn’t work. Jake Mangum led off the ninth with a walk. A pop out and a strikeout nearly helped Parrish wiggle out of the jam, but it was clear he wasn’t as sharp as he had been, as he then walked Hunter Stovall to bring the go-ahead run to the plate in the person of Elijah MacNamee. All MacNamee did with the chance was launch a no-doubt three-run home run to left to give MSU a walk-off win.
As if that’s not already painful enough for FSU, the loss eliminates the Seminoles, making them the first host team to meet that fate this postseason.
Northeastern Eliminated by NC State
It’s important to remember that a team’s (or a conference’s) performance in the NCAA tournament should not be used as an indictment or endorsement of the job the selection committee did in putting together the field of 64. Any small handful of games can produce such a wide range of results that you can’t simply use that small sample size to draw conclusions.
With that said, those who opposed Northeastern’s inclusion in the tournament will have plenty of fodder with the Huskies’ 0-2 showing in the Raleigh Regional. To be fair, they got a tough draw. Their opener was against an Auburn team that had a case to host. Then, when Army upset NC State, their loser’s bracket game was against the host Wolfpack rather than the Black Knights.
In what is likely to be his last start in front of the home crowd in Raleigh, veteran lefty Brian Brown was a workhorse. He threw a complete game, giving up eight hits and three runs with no walks and eight strikeouts in NC State’s 9-3 win. Not only did it get the job done to move his team to Sunday, but it also sets up their pitching well for having to win two games on Sunday. Thanks to Brown, everybody in the bullpen should be available.
LIU-Brooklyn is First Team Sent Home
It was a tough couple of days in Conway for the Blackbirds of LIU-Brooklyn. After dropping a 16-1 decision to host Coastal Carolina on Friday, they were sent home after a 10-3 loss to UConn on Saturday.
The fact that they were outscored 26-4 in two games is tough, but it’s probably more painful for the Blackbirds that they were actually in control of the elimination game for a period of time.
Through three innings of play on Saturday, they were up on the Huskies 3-0. Edward Modica put them on top 1-0 when he scored on a wild pitch in the second, and he came through with a two-RBI single in the third to give his team that three-run lead. But then things turned on a dime.
A big part of that sea change was UConn bringing in Tim Cate. The lefty came on in the third after the Modica two-RBI single, got out of that inning, and then proceeded to throw five scoreless frames after that. He came on trailing 3-0, but by the time he exited the game in the seventh, the Huskies were up 7-3. Over his 5.1 innings, he gave up one hit and two walks with six strikeouts, and while it might be hyperbolic to say he singlehandedly saved UConn’s season, it’s safe to say he had a starring role in doing so.
Offensively, the Huskies banged out 13 hits, led by two-hit days from Michael Woodworth, Isaac Feldstein, Troy Stefanski, John Toppa, and Christian Fedko.
Quick Friday Recap
Regional Friday is in the books, and there was plenty to remember. We had some big-time upsets (hello, Army West Point!), we had some #Pac12AfterDark (shouts to Stanford vs. Wright State), and we had some host teams looking dominant, as expected (hat tip to North Carolina, Texas, Coastal Carolina, and Minnesota).
Saturday play is officially underway, and by the time the early evening rolls around, we’ll be down to 48 teams remaining. But before the results start rolling in on Saturday, let’s quickly go back over some superlatives from Friday’s action.
Biggest Upset: Army not only upset NC State on Friday night, but they handled them relatively routinely by a 5-1 score. Tyler Giovinco shut down the Wolfpack bats through 6.1 innings of work, and Jacob Hurtubise used running the bases as an art form to generate rallies out of thin air.
0-1 Team Most Likely to Win a Regional: This award goes to Florida State, which lost to Samford 7-6 on Friday, for a couple of reasons. For one, much of their competition to win the regional in Tallahassee is behind the eight ball already. Oklahoma is in the winner’s bracket, but they used five pitchers to get past Mississippi State on Friday and they’re currently without two of their best hitters, Steele Walker and Kyler Murray. Mississippi State used eight pitchers in that game and FSU leads them early in an elimination game Saturday. And with Samford, the four seed, you wonder if they’ll have enough depth to get it done. Beyond that, though, FSU has been here before. Last year, they dropped their regional opener to Tennessee Tech before storming back and winning their home regional.
Best Pitching Performance: For the combination of the opponent and the overall numbers, this award goes to Nick Sandlin of Southern Miss in his team’s 9-0 win. Against a pretty good Dallas Baptist offense, he threw seven shutout innings, giving up three hits and four walks with ten strikeouts. The performance lowered his season ERA to 1.06.
Best Offensive Performance: Louisville’s Logan Wyatt probably secured this award within two innings of his team’s game against Kent State on Friday. In his first at-bat, he connected for a grand slam. In the second inning, one batter after KSU ace Joey Murray was lifted, he added a three-
run homer. In a 13-6 win over the Golden Flashes, the Cardinals got plenty of insurance runs, but it turns out that his two big blasts were all that they needed.
Most Dominant Team Performance: Coastal Carolina left no doubt in their 16-1 win against LIU-Brooklyn on Friday. A 2-0 game in the middle of the fourth got broken wide open with back-to-back five spots for the Chanticleers in the bottom of the fourth and fifth innings. Anthony Veneziano threw seven shutout innings, and the CCU offense got a little something from just about everyone. No single player had more than two hits on the day, but 11 different players had a hit, and Seth Lancaster, Kieton Rivers, and Kyle Skeels had home runs.