Wednesday, June 3, 2009

NCAA College Baseball Super Regionals Preview

RT Staff Note: The following is from and The College Baseball Examiner and writer Dan Hughes.

The stage is set. After a weekend of three - and for some teams, four - games, only two wins now separate 16 teams from making it to Omaha for the College World Series.

What will the Super Regionals bring? In this year's regionals we saw a 25 inning game. We saw one team score 37 runs in one game. We saw a pitcher throw the equivilant of a no-hitter (UT's Austin Wood in the 25 inning game) and we saw a No. 3 seed win a regional to be considered this year's Cinderella.

Let's take a look at the 16 Super Regional participants and the journey they took to get this far. Dates and times for the games are set as of this post. Times are subject to change, as is television broadcast coverage.

All of the games will be available on

Be sure to keep it tuned here during the weekend for live updates from all of the Super Regional sites from local Examiners. (See below)

Arkansas at Florida State
Game 1: Friday June 5th, Noon EDT / 9 a.m. PDT (ESPN)
Game 2: Saturday June 6th, Noon EDT / 9 a.m. PDT (ESPN)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday June 7th, Noon EDT / 9 a.m. PDT (ESPN)

Arkansas (37-22, 3-0 post-season)
Probably one of the more surprising entries into the Super Regionals is that of Arkansas. The Razorbacks entered the Norman Regional as a No. 2 seed against the heavily favored Sooners of Oklahoma. The Razorbacks not only beat the Sooners to get to the Super Regionals, they did it twice...convincingly.

Arkansas took care of Washington State in the Friday opener (10-3) and followed that up with a dominant showing against the host school, Oklahoma (17-6).

After the Sooners finished off Washington State on Sunday to earn the rematch, the Razorbacks welcomed them back with an 11-0 lesson in dominance to advance to the Super Regionals.

Andy Wilkins led the way for the Razorbacks in the clinching game, going 5-for-5 with four runs scored, 5 RBI and 2 HR's. On the mound, Drew Smyly pitched 8.1 innings allowing just one hit while striking out 12 en route to the victory.

Florida State (45-16, 3-0 post-season)
Overkill? Perhaps. But however you want to look at it, the Florida State Seminoles sent a message with their 37-6 victory over Ohio State on Sunday. That message is...."We are here to win this thing!"

The Seminoles combined to defeat all three regional opponents (Marist, Georgia and Ohio State) by a combined score of 61-12. The 37 runs scored in the clincher was the most scored in an NCAA tournament game. All told, the Seminoles set or tied 18 NCAA, school or post-season records.

Among those set were an NCAA-record 15 doubles and NCAA post-season records for hits (38) and total bases (66). Shortstop Stephen Cardullo led the way with a 7-for-9 performance with 5 RBI and five runs scored. Nine other players collected at least two hits...five others had at least three.

Virginia at Mississippi
Game 1: Friday June 5th, 2 p.m. EDT / 11 a.m. PDT (ESPN)
Game 2: Saturday June 6th, Noon EDT / 9 a.m. PDT (ESPN)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday June 7th, 3 p.m. EDT / Noon PDT (ESPN)

Virginia (46-12, 3-0 post-season)
Another surprise team in the Regionals was Virginia. The Cavaliers were the No. 2 seed in the Irvine regional, one thought to be Irvine's to lose.

Virginia got started on the right foot against San Diego State, handing phenom and future No. 1 overall draft pick Stephen Strasburg his first loss of the season.

The Cavaliers then played UC Irvine on Saturday, shutting them out. After Irvine defeated San Diego State to earn a rematch against Virginia, the Cavaliers got them again.

Virginia has been underrated all season (despite starting the season 19-0) and it appears that this Super Regional appearance will finally get them some overdue recognition.

Mississippi (43-18, 3-1 post-season)
Ole Miss rolled through the first two games of the Regionals, defeating Monmouth on Friday 8-1 and then defeating Western Kentucky on Saturday 7-4.

The Hilltoppers would not go down without a fight however, defeating Missouri on Sunday before setting their sights on revenge against the Rebels. They got their revenge on Sunday, forcing the Monday win-or-die title game.

But the Rebels jumped ahead 1-0 and then after a 1-1 tie, pulled ahead late to seal the victory.

Rice at LSU
Game 1: Friday June 5th, 7 p.m. EDT / 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN)
Game 2: Saturday June 6th, 5 p.m. EDT / 2 p.m. PDT (ESPN)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday June 7th, 7 p.m. EDT / 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN2)

Rice (43-16, 3-1 post-season)
Rice turned an upset loss to Kansas State on Saturday into fuel for the fire on Sunday and Monday. The Owls outscored Xavier and Kansas State (twice) by a total of 34-8 over the three games Sunday and Monday.

Taylor Wall provided some dominant pitching on Sunday, blanking the Wildcats for the complete-game shutout to force Monday's win-or-go-home game.

The Owls will now travel to Baton Rouge for the Super Regionals against LSU.

LSU (49-16, 3-0 post-season)
The Tigers started and finished strong, defeating Southern 10-2 on Friday and dropping Minnesota 10-3 on Sunday to clinch the Baton Rouge regional. The Saturday game however, kept everyone on edge.

The Tigers defeated Baylor 3-2 on Saturday but it took 10 innings to do it. Leading 2-0 in the 6th, the Tigers allowed one in the 6th and one in the 8th to tie the game at 2-2.

In the 10th, Austin Nola's RBI single gave the Tigers a 3-2 lead which Matty Ott held for his school-record 15th save of the season.
The Tigers now look to become the first team to 50 wins this season.

Louisville at Cal State Fullerton
Game 1: Friday June 5th, 10:30 p.m. EDT / 7:30 p.m. PDT (ESPN2)
Game 2: Saturday June 6th, 5 p.m. EDT / 2 p.m. PDT (ESPN)
Game 3 (if necessary): Sunday June 7th, 10 p.m. EDT / 7 p.m. PDT (ESPN2)

Louisville (47-16, 3-1 post-season)
Louisville won Friday and Saturday with relative ease, beating Indiana 4-2 on Friday then rallying late to beat Middle Tennessee State 3-2 on Saturday. Vanderbilt had to win twice on Sunday and they did just that, eliminating Middle Tenn. State and then forcing Monday's game with Louisville by beating the Cardinals 8-4 on Sunday.

The Cardinals trailed 1-0 going into the 4th inning in Monday's contest, but a three-run fourth thanks to Ryan Wright's three-run homer put the Cardinals ahead for good.

Cal State Fullerton (45-14, 3-0 post-season)
With the exception of Florida State, Fullerton may have had the easiest time in the Regionals. The Titans scored an amazing 41 runs in the three games while allowing only nine.

The Titans offense averaged 20 hits per game in the three games and had a team batting average of .476. The pitching staff posted a team ERA of 2.42.

The clinching victory against Utah was the 200th for head coach Dave Serrano. The Titans now advance to their 10th Super Regional in school history.

East Carolina at North Carolina
Game 1: Saturday June 6th, Noon EDT / 9 a.m. PDT (ESPNU)
Game 2: Sunday June 7th, Noon EDT / 9 a.m. (ESPN)
Game 3 (if necessary): Monday June 8th, TBA (TBA)

East Carolina (46-18, 3-1 post-season)
The Pirates shouldn't be here. For all intents and purposes, the Pirates were beaten and left for dead...twice. But someone forgot to tell that to them.

East Carolina was bombed by South Carolina 12-2 on Saturday after winning earlier in the day because their game was pushed back from Friday due to rain.

But then on Sunday, the Pirates took down Binghamton and then beat South Carolina to set up Monday's game. On Monday, South Carolina took a 6-0 lead early and was up 9-6 going into the bottom of the 9th.

In the 9th, Devin Harris hit a three-run shot to tie the game 9-9. In the 10th, it was Harris again who delivered the RBI single to give the Pirates the win.

North Carolina (45-16, 3-0 post-season)
The Tar Heels waltzed through the Regionals winning all three games by a combined score of 31-8. They played all three regional opponents, defeating Dartmouth on Friday (5-2), Coastal Carolina on Saturday (14-5) and Kansas on Sunday (12-1).

North Carolina's seniors are 12-0 in four years of Regional play and the Tar Heels have an NCAA-best 210 victories from 2006-09. It is also the most wins in a four-year period in school history.

Southern Mississippi at Florida
Game 1: Saturday June 6th, 3 p.m. EDT / Noon PDT (ESPNU)
Game 2: Sunday June 7th, 7 p.m. EDT / 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN2)
Game 3 (if necessary): Monday June 8th, TBA (TBA)

Southern Mississippi (38-24, 3-1 post-season)
Southern Miss became the only No. 3 seed to advance to the Super Regionals when they defeated the No. 1 Georgia Tech Yellow Jackets Monday night.

The Golden Eagles had to play Georgia Tech three times in the Regionals but managed to get the last laugh.

Southern Miss now has the lowest winning percentage of any remaining team in the tournament, but they will be tough to stop.

Florida (42-20, 3-0 post-season)
The Gators survived an early scare and wound up cruising to the Gainsville Regional title. Down 7-5 in the bottom of the ninth in their Friday game against No. 4 seed Bethune-Cookman, the No. 1 Gators rallied in the ninth for three runs to win the opener.

Florida then faced No. 2 Miami who had defeated No. 3 Jacksonville in their Friday opener. The Gators had an easier time with the Hurricanes - despite having lost all three times the two played each other this season by a combined score of 26-8. The Gators won 8-2 on Saturday and awaited the winner of Miami and Jacksonville on Sunday.

Miami forced a rematch, shutting out Jacksonville 4-0, but the Gators were rested and ready, scoring 16 runs and compiling 22 hits as the Gators moved on to the Super Regionals.

Texas Christian at Texas
Game 1: Saturday June 6th, 6 p.m. EDT / 3 p.m. PDT (ESPN)
Game 2: Sunday June 7th, 3 p.m. EDT / Noon PDT (ESPN)
Game 3 (if necessary): Monday June 8th, TBA (TBA)

TCU (37-19, 3-0 post-season)
The Horned Frogs hosted a Regional for the first time in school history and made the most of their home field advantage. They opened the tournament on Friday against the fourth-seeded Wright State and won 6-3.

TCU then unleashed on two-time College World Series champion Oregon State, winning 13-1 on Saturday. Then Oregon State defeated Texas A&M for the second time in three days to set up a rematch with TCU on Sunday.

The Beavers jumped out to an early 4-0 lead that was trimmed to 4-1 in the third inning. TCU tied it in the bottom of the 5th and that is where it stayed until the ninth. In the ninth, Jason Coats scored Matt Holaday from second on a walkoff single to send Oregon State back to Corvallis and the Horned Frogs to Austin to face the Longhorns.

Texas (44-13-1, 3-0 post-season)
The Longhorns had a long and arduous road to the Super Regionals, despite only having to play in the minimum three games. As the No. 1 seed in the Austin Regional and the No. 1 overall national seed, the Longhorns defeated No. 4 seeded Army 3-1 on Friday night.

Texas then took part in a historic game with No. 3 Boston College. With the game tied 2-2 in the 7th inning, Austin Wood came in for the Longhorns and didn't allow a hit for 12.1 innings as the Longhorns and Eagles battled for over seven hours.

Finally, in the top of the 25th, Travis Tucker pushed a single through a drawn-in infield to score Connor Rowe, snapping the 2-2 tie. Then in the bottom of the 25th, Austin Dicharry recorded the final three outs to end the longest tournament game in NCAA history. Boston College then lost Sunday to Army, setting up a rematch between Army and Texas.

But in that game, the Longhorns found themselves down 10-6 to start the 9th. A walk, single, infield single and a fielder's choice closed the gap to 10-7. Then Brandon Loy cleared the bases with a double to tie it up at 10-10.

It looked as if the Longhorns would be playing extra innings again. But Preston Clark had other ideas. After walks to Michael Torres and Brandon Belt loaded the bases again, Clark hit the first pitch he saw from Army's Kevin McKague down the leftfield line for a walk-off grand slam to win the game and the Regional.

Clemson at Arizona State
Game 1: Saturday June 6th, 9 p.m. EDT / 6 p.m. PDT (ESPNU)
Game 2: Sunday June 7th, 10 p.m. EDT / 7 p.m. PDT (ESPN2)
Game 3 (if necessary): Monday June 8th, 7 p.m. EDT / 4 p.m. PDT (ESPN2)

Clemson (44-20, 3-1 post-season)
Clemson had to play Oklahoma State three times to earn the regional victory. After losing their first meeting on Saturday 3-2, the Tigers destroyed both Tennessee Tech 10-0 and the Cowboys 15-1 on Sunday.

A third meeting between the two teams occurred on Monday and Oklahoma State looked as if they would get the better of the Tigers again. But three runs in the 7th and two more in the 8th gave the Tigers the lead for good, and the Regional title.

Arizona State (47-12, 3-0 post-season)
The Sun Devils hosted the Tempe Regional and were never really tested. They won the three games against Kent State and Oral Roberts (twice) by a combined score of 29-10.

The only true test came in the Sunday rematch between ASU and Oral Roberts. After falling behind 3-0 in the first and only one hit after five innings, the Sun Devils could have panicked.

But cooler heads prevailed - even in the desert - and the Sun Devils remained patient at the plate, taking advantage of several walks and a wild pitch to sore four times in the bottom of the 6th to take the lead for good.

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