Friday's four super regional matchups in the NCAA Tournament feature seven of the eight regional top seeds, and the eighth team—No. 2-seeded Vanderbilt—upset Louisville by the narrowest of margins, a 3-2 victory in the decisive seventh game of the regional. Overall, this year has been as expected—no three or four seeds advanced, only one second seed is hosting a super regional, and six of the eight national seeds are, as expected, hosting a super regional. Today, I’ll break down Friday’s super regionals in Austin, Tallahassee, Los Angeles, and Gainesville. Tomorrow the Tempe, Clemson, Myrtle Beach, and Charlottesville super regionals, which start on Saturday, will be previewed.
To win one of the 16 four-team regional tournaments and thereby progress to a best-of-three super regional, a team must win three games—either finishing 3-0 and wrapping up its business on Sunday evening, or 3-1 and winning a single winner-take-all Monday matchup against a team to which it has already lost. This year, eight teams (Oklahoma, Arizona State, South Carolina, TCU, Texas, Florida State, UCLA, and Florida) all top seeds—finished their regional undefeated.
Austin Super Regional
TCU at Texas (all times Eastern)
Game 1, Friday, 3 p.m.
Game 2, Saturday, 1p.m.
Game 3, Sunday, (If Necessary)
#48, Detroit, Chance Ruffin (RHP)
#57, Boston, Brandon Workman (RHP) (2007 third-round pick by Philadelphia)
#108, Philadelphia, Cameron Rupp (C)
#133, Detroit, Cole Green (RHP)
#206, Washington, Kevin Keyes (RF) (2007 26th-round pick by Texas)
#193, Detroit, Brian Holaday (C)
#339, Milwaukee, Gregory Holle (RHP)
#375, Minnesota, Steven Maxwell (RHP)
How they got here
1. Texas (3-0)
2. Rice (2-2)
3. Louisiana-Lafayette (1-2)
4. Rider (0-2)
Game 1: Louisiana-Lafayette 1, Rice 0
Game 2: Texas 11, Rider 0
Game 3: Texas 4, Louisiana-Lafayette 2
Game 4: Rice 19, Rider 1
Game 5: Rice 9, Louisiana-Lafayette 1
Game 6: Texas 4, Rice 1
Fort Worth Regional
1. Texas Christian (3-0)
2. Baylor (2-2)
3. Arizona (1-2)
4. Lamar (0-2)
Game 1: Arizona 10, Baylor 9
Game 2: TCU 16, Lamar 3
Game 3: TCU 11, Arizona 5
Game 4: Baylor 6, Lamar 4
Game 5: Baylor 4, Arizona 2
Game 6: TCU 9, Baylor 0
Texas’ pitching depth has made it a season-long favorite to make it to the College World Series in Omaha. Despite being one of the nation’s four elite teams (battling for the No. 1 ranking throughout the year with Arizona State and Virginia, and by the end of the SEC schedule, Florida) the Longhorns received the No. 5 national seed. Texas swept its regional, defeating Rider, Louisiana-Lafayette, and Rice by a combined 19-3. Chance Ruffin (and his unbelievable 0.73 ERA and 5.4 K/BB ratio,) Brandon Workman, and Cole Green all project as pro pitchers and were drafted early this week, while sophomore Taylor Jungmann led the Big 12 and finished fifth nationally with a 2.00 ERA, as well as striking out 120 batters against walking 39. Cameron Rupp, Kevin Keyes, and Russell Moldenhauer give the Longhorns plenty of pop, but their pitching should lead them to Omaha. Augie Garrido already was the first coach to win CWS rings in four consecutive decades, and a title this year would extend that streak to a fifth.
Texas Christian also dominated its regional, and although the inclusion of Baylor and Arizona certainly gave the Horned Frogs a tougher road, they managed to sweep the first round by a combined 36-8. The Horned Frogs are incredibly young—boasting the Louisville Slugger Freshman Pitcher of the Year Matt Purke, who finished the regular season 13-0 and boasted 122 strikeouts to 27 walks. The Rangers selected Purke 14th overall last year with their first-round draft. Purke, Holle, and Maxwell give the Horned Frogs a shot against the favored Longhorns, while Matt Curry, Jason Coats and Brian Holaday each have shown the ability to produce runs, with OPS over 1.000. If TCU’s starters—Maxwell, Purke, and Kyle Winkler—pitch as well as they did in the regional, the Horned Frogs could make their first trip to Omaha.
Tallahassee Super Regional
Vanderbilt at Florida State (all times Eastern)
Game 1: Friday, 2 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 1 p.m.
Game 3: Sunday (if necessary)
#199, St. Louis, John Gast (LHP)
#290, Colorado, Geoffrey Parker (RHP)
#300, Cleveland, Tyler Holt (CF)
#721, Arizona, Stephen Cardullo (3B)
#947, Florida, Taiwan Easterling (RF)
#1231, Arizona, Michael McGee (RHP)
#337, Cincinnati, Andrew Hayes (RHP)
#666, Toronto, Aaron Westlake, (LF)
#900, Cleveland, David Hill (RHP)
#950, Colorado, Robert Brewer (RHP)
#972, Seattle, Andrew Giobbi (C)
How they got here
1. Florida State (3-0)
2. Connecticut (1-2)
3. Oregon (2-2)
4. Central Connecticut State (0-2)
Game 1: Florida State 11, Central Connecticut State 3
Game 2: Oregon 5, Connecticut 3
Game 3: Florida State 6, Oregon 4
Game 4: Connecticut 25, Central Conn St. 5
Game 5: Oregon 4, Connecticut 3
Game 6: Florida State 5, Oregon 3
1. Louisville (2-2)
2. Vanderbilt (4-1)
3. Illinois State (1-2)
4. Saint Louis (0-2)
Game 1: Vanderbilt 8, Illinois State 7
Game 2: Louisville 11, St. Louis 2
Game 3: Louisville 7, Vanderbilt 1
Game 4: Illinois State 8, St. Louis 3
Game 5: Vanderbilt 10, Illinois State 4
Game 6: Vanderbilt 7, Louisville 0
Game 7: Vanderbilt 3, Louisville, 2
Florida State drew the short straw, as the only No. 1 seed that didn’t get to host a regional as the NCAA committee—to spur interest in the tournament north of the Mason-Dixon Line—sent the Seminoles to Norwich, Connecticut. Playing at home proved to be of little advantage to either Connecticut or Central Connecticut State, with the Huskies losing to Oregon and Central Connecticut getting hammered by Florida State, 11-3 on the first day of play. UConn throttled its in-state opponent in the first elimination game, 20-5, on Saturday then bowed out after losing for a second time to Arizona.
The least of Louisville’s worries ended up being the suspension of coach Dan McDonnell for the regional’s first two games, a result of using salty language and bumping an umpire in the Big East tournament finale. After taking the first three games, including the first against Vanderbilt, Louisville lost 7-0 and 3-2 to the Commodores to be bounced from the tournament. In the former game, Vanderbilt turned to Richie Goodenow for his first start of the year after burning through their top three starters in three days, including a doubleheader on Sunday. Goodenow not only threw a two-hit, no-walk, shutout, he gave the Vanderbilt bullpen a much-needed rest. The rest helped the Commodores win in 10 innings on Monday, as starters Chase Reid, Sonny Gray, and winning pitcher Taylor Hill each appeared in relief of Grayson Garvin to throw four innings of one-run ball before Connor Harrell laid down a squeeze bunt with one out in the 10thto win the game.
Jason Esposito and Aaron Westlake are the keys to the Commodores’ offense, particularly Esposito, who not only slugged 10 homers, hit .359 and put up an OBP of 1.045, but stole 30 bases on 34 attempts as the cleanup hitter. Although Vanderbilt won’t be playing five games in four days, it will need the all-hands-on-deck approach to pitching to be successful against a Florida State offense that has been simply dominant the past two weeks, in its run through both the ACC tournament and its regional.
Los Angeles Super Regional
Cal State Fullerton at UCLA (all times Eastern)
Game 1: Friday, 10:30 p.m.
Game 2: Saturday, 7 p.m.
Game 3, Sunday, (if necessary)
#73, Florida, Robert Rasmussen (LHP)
#85, Baltimore, Daniel Klein (RHP)
#236, Washington, Matthew Grace (LHP)
#351, Washington, Garett Claypool (RHP)
#598, Baltimore, Matt Drummond (LHP)
#650, Colorado, Chris Giovinazzo (OF)
#722, New York Mets, Erik Goeddel (RHP)
#768, San Francisco, Brett Krill (RF)
#811, Arizona, Nicholas Gallego (SS)
#1079, Kansas City, Mitchell Beacom (LHP)
#1288, Baltimore, Blair Dunlap (OF)
Cal State Fullerton
#4, Kansas City, Christian Colon (SS)
#24, San Francisco, Gary Brown (CF)
#223, Detroit, Corey Jones (2B)
#757, Cincinnati, Daniel Renken (RHP)
#788, Chicago White Sox, Kevin Rath (LHP)
#854, Atlanta, Kyle Mertins (RHP)
#871, Arizona, Christopher Floethe (RHP)
#1242, Seattle, Billy Marcoe (C)
How they got here
Los Angeles Regional
1. UCLA (3-0)
2. LSU (1-2)
3. UC Irvine (2-2)
4. Kent State (0-2)
Game 1: LSU 11, UC Irvine 10
Game 2: UCLA 15, Kent State 1
Game 3: UCLA 6, LSU 3
Game 4: UC Irvine 19, Kent State 9
Game 5: UC Irvine 4, LSU 3
Game 6: UCLA 6, UC Irvine 2
1. Cal State Fullerton (4-1)
2. Stanford (0-2)
3. New Mexico (1-2)
4. Minnesota (2-2)
Game 1: New Mexico 9, Stanford 5
Game 2: Minnesota 3, Cal State Fullerton 1
Game 3: Minnesota 6, New Mexico 4
Game 4: Cal State Fullerton 6, Stanford 5
Game 5: Cal State Fullerton 11, New Mexico 3
Game 6: Cal State Fullerton 7, Minnesota 2
Game 7: Cal State Fullerton 9, Minnesota 5
The most exciting regional was Cal State Fullerton’s, with Minnesota being the only fourth seed to make it to a seventh game as it upset the Titans and forced them to run off four straight victories to make it to the super-regional. Second-seed Stanford also lost to New Mexico on the first day, setting up a 3-versus-4 matchup at the top of the bracket and forcing the Cardinal and Titans playing for their tournament lives. Fullerton shut down any thoughts of the Gophers appearing as the only fourth (or even third) seed to make a super regional, and now must travel 30 miles northwest to take on a red-hot UCLA squad to make it back to Omaha for the fourth time in five years.
Since being swept by Arizona State, UCLA has played nearly flawless, dropping only three games—one of which was on the road at Fullerton. UCLA also lost at home to Fullerton, the second loss of an 8-10 skid that temporarily knocked the Bruins, who started 22-0 and rose as high as No. 3 in the nation, out of the discussion for a national seed.
In their first meeting, at UCLA’s Jackie Robinson Field, Fullerton launched three homers in the first inning for a 5-0 lead off of Garret Claypool, who was drafted by the Nationals this week. Kevin Rath, a White Sox selection, held the Bruins to one run over 4 1/3 inning and Dylan Floro, Dianiel Renken, and Nick Ramirez then all made scoreless relief appearances.
Their second matchup was a similar story, with the Titans taking a 2-0 lead in the first and never looking back, again utilizing short appearances from Nick Ramirez, Renken, and Rath, as well as starter Colin O’Connell and Noe Ramirez.
First-round pick, defensive gem and speedster Gary Brown, the center fielder, is questionable for the series because of injury, limiting Fullerton’s options particularly at the top of its order, though if Cal State’s pitchers can again hold the Bruins’ offense in check, the Titans should be able to count on enough offense from a lineup that gets plenty of men on base, highlighted by Christian Colon.
Gainesville Super Regional
Miami (Fla.) at Florida (all times Eastern)
Game 1, Friday, 7 p.m.
Game 2, Saturday, 7 p.m.
Game 3, Sunday (if necessary)
2010 Draft Picks
#119, Kansas City, Kevin Chapman (LHP)
#152, New York Mets, Matthew Den Dekker (CF)
#975, Minnesota, Thomas Toledo (RHP)
#1104, Anaheim, Hampton Tignor (C)
#1254, Anaheim, Justin Poovey (RHP)
#1297, Cincinnati, Matt Campbell (RHP)
#12, Cincinnati, Yasmani Grandal (C)
#233, Boston, Chris Hernandez (LHP)
#555, Minnesota, David Gutierrez (RHP)
#919, St. Louis, Iden Nazario (LHP)
How They Got Here
1. Miami (FL) (3-1)
2. Texas A&M (3-2)
3. Florida International (0-2)
4. Dartmouth (1-2)
Game 1: Texas A&M 17, Florida International 3
Game 2: Miami 12, Dartmouth 8
Game 3: Miami 14, Texas A&M: 1
Game 4: Dartmouth 15, FIU 9
Game 5: Texas A&M 4, Dartmouth 3
Game 6: Texas A&M 11, Miami 7
Game 7: Miami 10, Texas A&M 3
1. Florida (3-0)
2. Florida Atlantic (2-2)
3. Oregon State (1-2)
4. Bethune-Cookman (0-2)
Game 1: Oregon State 6, Florida Atlantic 4
Game 2: Florida 7, Bethune-Cookman 3
Game 3: Florida 10, Oregon State 2
Game 4: Florida Atlantic 12, Bethune-Cookman 6
Game 5: Florida Atlantic 11, Oregon State 7
Game 6: Florida 15, Florida Atlantic 0
Florida has appeared unstoppable of late as it is on a 19-4 run with two of those losses coming in the SEC tournament after the Gators sealed a national seed. Florida managed to break through to join Virginia, Arizona State, and Texas as one of the nation’s four elite teams, separating itself from an SEC field that was even stronger this season than usual.
The Hurricanes lost a significant portion of their offense to last year’s draft, with catchers Jason Hagerty and Christopher Herrmann, as well as shortstop Ryan Jackson, all going in the top 200 as juniors. Yasmani Grandal had a breakout season, establishing himself as the nation’s top catcher, dominating the ACC with a .411 average, .538 OBP, and .729 slugging percentage to go along with a home run every 15 at bats. Harold Martinez’s presence on the Hurricanes lineup certainly helps as well, hitting 21 home runs (up from last year’s nine.) The primary starter for the Hurricanes is Chris Hernandez, who was their only pitcher to throw more than 75 innings (with 97 1/3) or strike out more than 66, with a 106: 32 K/BB ratio.
Florida’s pitching staff is deeper than Miami’s, and in their regular-season series at Coral Gables, UF shut down Miami to one run for wins in the first and third games. Greg Larson’s bad outing in the second game cost the Gators the sweep, but UF still outscored Miami 17-9 in the series. This series—three months later, in Gainesville, after the Gators have become arguably the nation’s hottest team and dominated the toughest conference—swings significantly in Florida’s favor.