Vols, Irish, Va Tech lock up NCAA baseball regional titles
Published 11:43 pm Sunday, June 5, 2022
The Associated Press
Tennessee was right where it was expected to be Sunday night, celebrating an NCAA regional title on its home field and eager to continue one of the most dominant runs in college baseball history.
The No. 1 national seed Volunteers, No. 4 Virginia Tech and Notre Dame closed out their regionals and advanced to super regionals beginning Friday.
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Tennessee (56-7) beat Georgia Tech 9-6, never leading until it scored six runs in the ninth inning. Next up is a best-of-three series against Notre Dame, which beat Texas Tech 2-1.
Virginia Tech broke through for its first regional title after making it to finals in its previous two appearances (2013, 2010). The Hokies beat Columbia 7-2 to complete a dominant three-game run.
Virginia Tech, which will host Florida or Oklahoma, had been picked second-to-last in its division in the ACC but ended up with the conference’s best record in league play.
No. 3 Oregon State (vs. Vanderbilt) and No. 5 Texas A&M (vs. TCU) were trying to lock up regional titles late Sunday.
Top-eight seeds that win regionals play at home in super regionals.
Louisville, Coastal Carolina, North Carolina and Southern Mississippi won Sunday night to set up winner-take-all finals Monday.
Louisville beat Michigan 20-1 to put itself on the cusp of its seventh super regional in nine years.
Nick Parker and Reece Maniscalco combined on a four-hitter as Coastal Carolina rolled past No. 8 East Carolina 9-1. Parker pitched eight innings and struck out 10, both career highs, and allowed three hits.
North Carolina, which has fought off elimination twice as a host, beat No. 3 regional seed VCU 19-8 with Vance Honeycutt homering for the ninth time in 10 games.
Justin Storm pitched five innings of two-hit shutout relief to lead Southern Mississippi past LSU 8-4.
Prodigious offense once again was on display at regional sites across the country. Another crazy game in Stillwater, Oklahoma, was Example A.
Oklahoma State came back from a 12-0 deficit to beat Missouri State 29-15 in an elimination game. It was the highest-scoring game in tournament history and happened less than 24 hours after the Cowboys blew a 10-5 lead entering the seventh and lost 20-12 to Arkansas.
The Cowboys’ turnabout against the Bears was complete when Griffin Doersching hit a grand slam for a 17-14 lead in the seven-run sixth inning. They pulled away with 12 more runs in the eighth and ninth and had just over an hour to prepare for a rematch with Arkansas.
No. 16 Georgia Southern was the only national seed eliminated, losing 3-1 on its home field to Texas Tech.
Last year during regionals, there were an average of 12.84 runs per game (both teams). Through Saturday’s games, the average was 14.57 — and that number will go up after Sunday.
Of the 64 teams in the tournament, 17 averaged at least 10 runs in their first two games and 20 teams had hit at least five homers.
THEN THERE’S TEXAS TECH
Texas Tech managed to score just eight runs in four games. The Red Raiders entered the tournament 10th nationally in scoring at 8.7 runs per game. They hadn’t scored so few runs since they put up five runs in their last four games in 2014.
Florida picked up a huge run in its 6-5 elimination game win over Central Michigan when Josh Rivera stole home for a 5-0 lead in the fifth.
With Mac Guscette on first, the Gators put on a double steal. Chippewas lefty Ryan Palmblad was distracted as Guscette took off, and by the time he turned around to see what was going on, Rivera was sliding across the plate.
It was Florida’s first steal of home since 2018 and Guscette’s first steal in 55 career games.
This is the time of year when teams come up with all sorts of good luck charms. For Southern Mississippi, it’s the “Rally Paddle.”
As the Golden Eagles poured out of the dugout to celebrate Christopher Sargent’s bases-loaded single in the 10th inning to beat Kennesaw State 4-3, reserve infielder Charlie Fischer ran onto the field holding a yellow boat paddle high in the air.
A Southern Miss spokesman said the paddle is used to stir the team’s Powerade mix in the clubhouse. Somehow the paddle found its way to the dugout, and you can be sure it’ll be with the team Monday.