Two wins. That’s all it takes. Two wins during the Super Regional round punches a ticket for a team to advance to the ultimate college baseball destination…Omaha.
For eight squads, that first win was within grasp on Friday. See who took the early advantage on the left side of the bracket:
UC Irvine 8, Oklahoma State 4 – Gm 1
Oklahoma State got a taste of “West Coast Baseball” in the Super Regional opener against UC Irvine as the ‘Eaters gave the Cowboys “death by small ball.” Irvine laid down five sacrifice bunts and took advantage of every extra base they were given en route to an 8-4 victory.
Oklahoma State got out to a 1-0 lead in the first inning with the help of a throwing error. Donnie Walton reached on Taylor Sparks’ high throw, advanced to third on a double and scored on Tanner Krietemeier’s RBI groundout.
UC Irvine took the lead in the fourth inning. After a hit by pitch and wild pitches put a pair of runners in scoring position, Mike Gillespie rolled the dice and let No. 8 hitter, Adam Alcantara, swing away on 3-0. Alcantara grounded one up the middle that Jarrett Arakawa couldn’t backhand and jump throw to first in time. On the two-out play, both runners came around to score with Kris Paulino hustling all the way from second base to put the ‘Eaters ahead.
The ‘Eaters added three runs in the fifth inning and another two in the sixth inning — yet all of those runs scored on only one hit.
Oklahoma State tried to get back in the game in the eighth inning. After a botched potential double play, Tanner Krietemeier blasted an opposite field three-run homer to cut the Irvine lead to 8-4. A second botched potential double play, loaded the bases for the Pokes, but reliever Evan Manarino got Bryan Case to hit a hard shot to third base that the ‘Eaters sent around the horn for an inning-ending 5-4-3 double play.
Manarino pitched two scoreless frames for his first save of the season in relief of Elliot Surrey, who kept the Cowboys off-balance with his mix of pitches. Surrey picked up his eighth win of the year with seven strong innings. He allowed two runs, but both were unearned.
Louisville 5, Kennesaw State 3 – Gm 1
Nick Solak had his national coming out party in the first game of the Louisville Super Regional. Louisville’s freshman designated hitter was 3-for-5 with a run and three RBI. Solak accounted for four of the Cardinals’ five runs, including the two that scored on his game-winning double in the eighth inning.
Kennesaw State, making its first ever Super Regional appearance, took a 3-1 lead in the middle innings. The Owls strung together three walks and two hits for a pair of runs in the fourth inning and manufactured a run in the next frame without a hit. Cornell Nixon walked, was sacrificed to second and came around to score when he tried to go to third base on a ball in the dirt and the catcher threw it away.
But Louisville chipped away. Alex Chittenden’s RBI single in the seventh inning made it 3-2. Grant Kay led off the eighth inning with his third hit of the day. Kay stole second, advanced the third and tied the game when Kyle Gibson laid down the squeeze bunt. After a groundout, Solak provided the game-winning hit in the Cardinals’ final at bat.
Kennesaw State didn’t have much of a chance in the ninth inning against Nick Burdi. Louisville’s closer came in throwing gas, striking out the first two batters. He allowed a two-out single before getting a weak popup to push Louisville one game closer to its third trip to Omaha in eight years.
Vanderbilt 11, Stanford 6 – Gm 1
The Commodores jumped out to an early 10-0 lead and rode it to a comfortable 11-6 victory to put them one win away from a trip to Omaha. Things got tight in the middle innings when No. 14 overall draft pick Tyler Beede struggled with his command and had to be yanked.
Beede allowed Stanford to trim the lead to 10-6, allowing five hits and four walks. But Vanderbilt (45-18) turned the ball over to potential future first day draft pick Tyler Ferguson. Fefguson hadn’t pitched in three weeks, but he shut the door on the Cardinal (34-35) with five strikeouts in 2.2 scoreless innings to pick up his eighth win of the year.
Freshman All-American Bryan Reynolds led the way offensively for Vanderbilt going 4-for-4 with three runs and two RBI. Zander Wiel and John Norwood also drove in two runs each.
John Hochstetter took the loss for Stanford after allowing five runs on five walks and a hit in an inning of work.
Here’s the post-game press conferences from both teams:
Texas 4, Houston 2 – Gm 1
Longhorns outfielder Mark Payton extended his streak of reaching base to triple digits in classic fashion. After a leadoff single, Payton came to the plate and cleared the bases with a two-run homer to give him 100 consecutive games reaching base.
Texas pushed its lead to 4-0 with a run in each the fourth and fifth innings. Nathan Thorhill took care of the rest, allowing two earned runs on seven hits to improve to 8-2. After seven innings, Thornhill turned the ball over to John Curtiss, who retired six of the seven batters he faced to lock down the 4-2 victory.
Payton finished with three hits while C.J. Hinojosa collected two for Texas. Josh Vidales led Houston with a perfect 3-for-3 day and drove in one of the Cougars’ runs.