It’s regional championship Sunday in college baseball, or at least that will be the case in some regionals this evening.
By the time we’re done today, every regional will have at least one fewer team taking part, and a pretty good number of them will have crowned a champion.
Let’s go through some of the most notable results on this Sunday of regional action.
Regional Champions Crowned
- Washington finished off a perfect 3-0 weekend in the Conway Regional with a 9-6 win over UConn Sunday evening. The big hit, a three-run double that made it 9-6 in the bottom of the eighth, came off the bat of A.J. Graffanino. Joe Wainhouse added a home runs as well, his third of the weekend, and his 17th of the season. This upcoming super regional appearance will be the first for the program.
- Stetson dominated their home regional this weekend. They kicked things off with an 8-3 win over Hartford, followed that up with a winner’s bracket game win over Oklahoma State by a 10-3 score, and then beat OSU 11-1 to punch their ticket to a super regional. Stop me if you’ve heard this before, but Stetson’s pitching was outstanding. Starter Jack Perkins threw a complete game, giving up three hits and one unearned run with one walk and 13 strikeouts.
- Vanderbilt comes through the Clemson regional for the second year in a row. This time around, they took down the host Tigers in the regional final by a 19-6 score, largely on the strength of nine home runs, including three from Connor Kaiser, which doubled his total for the season, now six. This one was tight early on, as Vandy starter Mason Hickman (5 IP, 6 H, 5 R) didn’t have his cleanest start, but the bullpen trio of Maddux Conger, Jackson Gillis, and Tyler Brown threw four shutout innings in relief, giving the offense room to go to work. This loss has to hurt Clemson, as it’s the third consecutive year they’ve been eliminated in a home regional. Meanwhile, the Commodores will likely be hosting a home super regional next weekend, regardless of who comes out of the Tallahassee Regional final between Mississippi State and Oklahoma.
- Arkansas went 3-0 in a home regional and defeated Dallas Baptist 4-3 on Sunday night to advance to a super regional. Razorbacks’ starter Isaiah Campbell didn’t record an out and was lifted with the bases loaded in the first inning. Jake Reindl came on, limited the damage that inning to one run, and then did a fantastic job from that point forward. He ended up throwing seven innings in relief, giving up five hits and one run with no walks and four strikeouts.
- Auburn cruised through the Raleigh Regional and punctuated their weekend with a 15-7 thrashing of host NC State. The Tigers’ pitching wasn’t as sharp as it had been the first two days of the regional, but it didn’t have to be, as their offense scored at will for much of the evening. Steven Williams enjoyed a 3-for-5 day, Jay Estes was 3-for-4, and Josh Anthony was 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI out of the nine spot in the order. Their win sets up what could very well be an all-SEC super regional against Florida.
- Texas Tech is on to the super regionals after a 3-0 showing in their home regional. Louisville made a little run late to make the regional final at least remotely close for a while, but Tech wasn’t really challenged at all in their three games, including Sunday night, when they eventually pulled away for an 11-6 win. At the plate, Zach Rheames was a perfect 4-for-4 with two home runs and five RBI.
- Minnesota is through to the program’s first super regional after a 13-8 victory over UCLA on Sunday night. The Gophers got only two innings out of starting pitcher Jake Stevenson, who gave up four runs in those two innings, but they got outstanding relief work from Jackson Rose (4 IP, 5 H, 1 R) and Brett Schulze (2 IP, 1 H, 0 R), who settled things down and allowed the offense to go to work against a UCLA pitching staff that appeared to simply run out of steam.
- North Carolina won a slugfest against Houston 19-11 to go 3-0 in the Chapel Hill Regional. It didn’t really matter who the Cougars put out on the mound, the Tar Heels were locked in at the plate. They collected 18 hits and walked nine times. Michael Busch, Ike Freeman, and Zach Gahagan all had three-hit days. Gahagan and Kyle Datres each had a home run.
- Cal State Fullerton, much like Vanderbilt, has won a road regional at the expense of the same opponent two years in a row. In this case, that opponent is Stanford, as the Titans took down the Cardinal 5-2 to advance to the super regional round. Fullerton got great work on the mound from starter Tanner Bibee, who threw 6.2 innings, giving up five hits and two runs with one walk and 11 strikeouts.
- Texas moved to 3-0 and advanced to a super regional with a 3-2 win over Indiana on Sunday night. As if it could have happened any other way, Kody Clemens had the big hit for the Longhorns, an RBI double in the seventh that scored David Hamilton and gave UT the 3-2 lead. Indiana loaded the bases in the ninth with one out, but Chase Shugart, who started Friday’s game against Texas Southern, came on and struck out back-to-back hitters to get out of the jam.
- Oregon State had absolutely no trouble going 3-0 and advancing out of their home regional. On Sunday night, they drubbed LSU 12-0, behind strong work from Kevin Abel, who threw eight innings, giving up three hits and one walk with eight strikeouts. Offensively, they featured a relentless 14-hit attack that included home runs from Steven Kwan and Cadyn Grenier.
Mississippi Moves into Driver’s Seat
You can say this about Tennessee Tech. That team has belief. Although any team that leads the country in as many offensive categories as they do is going to have that same level of belief.
The Rebels jumped on TTU starting pitcher Marcus Evey for two runs in the first, but the Golden Eagles fought back to tie it in the second on back-to-back home runs from Nick Osborne and Brennon Kaleiwahea. Mississippi went up 4-2 in the fifth, but Tennessee Tech came back to tie it 4-4 in the bottom half of the inning. The Rebels went up 5-4 in the sixth, but you guessed, it the Golden Eagles tied it 5-5 in the bottom half. And even as the hosting Rebels moved out to a 9-5 lead heading into the bottom of the ninth, the Golden Eagles rallied to score three runs and make it a 9-8 final.
With the win, Mississippi is in great position. Not only does an opponent have to beat them twice in a row, but both candidates, Missouri State or Tennessee Tech, have been taxed. Missouri State had to go to extras to eliminate Saint Louis early Sunday, Tennessee Tech had the emotional loss to Mississippi, and those two teams have to play late on Sunday to determine who moves to the regional final.
Indiana Survives Game of Streaks Against Texas A&M
Indiana’s offense has been a little bit stuck in neutral over the last couple of weeks, and in the first inning of their elimination game against Texas A&M on Sunday, the dam seemed to break, as the Hoosiers put up nine runs.
Luke Miller, Matt Gorski, and Logan Sowers had run-scoring singles, Ryan Fineman plated a run on a sacrifice fly, and Scotty Bradley (2-run HR) and Matt Lloyd (3-run HR) each had homers.
But that was it for Indiana, as the Texas A&M bullpen immediately shut it down from there. After giving up the last three runs in the first inning, Cason Sherrod threw four scoreless innings, and Nolan Hoffman threw four shutout innings as well.
As this was going on, the Aggies’ offense came alive and chipped away, little by little.
Chris Andritsos drove in two with a ground-rule double in the bottom of the first to make it 9-2. George Janca singled home a run in the second to make it 9-3. The fifth inning came with a Michael Helman RBI double and an Andritsos sac fly that scored Helman. Suddenly, A&M was within reach at 9-5. A Logan Foster RBI single in the seventh made it 9-6, and in the ninth, the Aggies made it interesting. A Will Frizzell RBI single made it 9-7, but with two men still on, IU’s closer, Matt Lloyd, got Allonte Wingate to ground into a 4-6-3 double play to end the game.
The Hoosiers will now move on to a regional final against Texas. The hill ahead of them is steep, to be sure, but two strengths of this Indiana team are the ability to put up runs in bunches (as we saw against Texas A&M) and pitching depth. Those traits bode well for their ability to at least compete against the Longhorns Sunday evening.
Coastal Carolina Becomes Second Host Eliminated
Coastal Carolina did most of the hard work to mount a successful comeback against UConn on Sunday afternoon.
Things looked relatively bleak when an Anthony Prato solo homer and an Isaac Feldstein two-run shot in the seventh made it 5-2 in favor of the Huskies, but a Zach Biermann two-RBI single and a bases-loaded walk for Parker Chavers tied things up 5-5 in the top half of the eighth, giving the hosting Chanticleers some new life.
It was understandably deflating for CCU, then, when Christian Fedko put the Huskies back on top in the bottom of the eighth with a solo homer. With Cory Wood at second base after a single and a stolen base, the Chanticleers were retired in the ninth, eliminating them short of advancing to the next stage of the tournament.
After cruising past LIU-Brooklyn in the opener, Coastal just simply didn’t get the starting pitching they needed to have success against better teams in the regional. Jason Bilous gave up seven hits and seven runs in just 3.2 innings against Washington on Saturday, and against UConn, Zack Hopeck got through just five innings, giving up six hits, three walks, and two runs.
UConn has a tough task ahead of them, as they’ll now have to beat Washington twice to win the regional, but at this juncture, they’re thankful to simply still be playing.
Mississippi State’s Roller Coaster Ride Continues
Mississippi State’s stay in the Tallahassee Regional has been a microcosm of their topsy turvy season overall. They dropped a bizarre 20-10 decision to Oklahoma to kick things off, but then jumped off the mat and took down Florida State in dramatic fashion 3-2 thanks to a walk-off home run from Elijah MacNamee, staving off elimination.
On Sunday against Samford, they advanced to the regional final against Oklahoma, but not before the Bulldogs from the SoCon put up a fight. MSU got out to a 3-0 lead in the first inning after home runs from Jake Mangum and MacNamee. That became a 5-0 lead after single tallies in the second and third. But then Samford put up five of their own in the third to tie it up.
Then it was an 8-5 Mississippi State lead that Samford cut to 8-6, and when MSU made it 9-6, Samford made things interesting again with two runs in the eighth to make it 9-8. A clutch J.P. France strikeout of top hitter Brooks Carlson to end the bottom of the eighth is the only thing that kept Samford from applying more pressure. In one of the few routine happenings in this one, France went back out for the ninth and pitched a 1-2-3 frame to close out the win.
So Mississippi State now has a date with the Sooners Sunday evening. Who knows how much MSU has left in the tank? Pitching depth was already not their forte, and now that depth has been compromised by having played one more game than OU and having to cycle through some pitchers they might have preferred to rest against Samford.
At the same time, how could you count them out? They’ve been counted out time and again this season, only to fight back and prove themselves each time.