The Big 12 did not bring its A-game to the NCAA baseball Regionals on Saturday. Two teams were eliminated, and they really struggled to even compete. Two more teams fell victim to their first loss, as each of those teams failed to produce runs in eight of the nine frames in which they batted.
However, while the four early games saw mediocre performances, the three who started past 9 p.m. central time put on quite a display. TCU, Texas, and Texas Tech all won. These three teams are now one victory away from the Super Regionals. Whoever will stand in their way will have to beat them not once, but twice. These are the same three programs that qualified for the 2014 College World Series. Will history repeat itself? We’ll have to wait to find out. Until then, here’s the recap of Saturday’s action.
No.4 Oral Roberts 14 No.3 Oklahoma State 6
Oklahoma State is eliminated.
The Cowboys couldn’t get over the hangover of a heartbreaking walk-off home run, and Oral Roberts took full advantage. The Golden Eagles scored multiple runs in four different innings. Oklahoma State trailed 7-0 before they placed a run on the board. The pokes used six pitchers in the game and only one lasted a full two innings.
Despite the early elimination, Oklahoma State wouldn’t have been here without an absolutely astonishing run. First, they swept in-state rival Oklahoma to edge Kansas State for the final spot in the Big 12 Tournament. The Cowboys would become the first No.8 seed to go unbeaten and win the Big 12 Tournament. This six game winning streak gave Oklahoma State an automatic bid, which likely would have been its only way into the tournament. Additionally, the pokes were one out away from a seventh straight victory and a ticket to the winner’s bracket. There’s no telling how far the team would have gone if they had secured that final out.
This is a young squad which will graduate just five seniors. Look out of Oklahoma State in 2018.
Fort Worth Regional
No.1 TCU 9 Central Connecticut State 6
TCU final got to take the field at 9:45 p.m. which is approximately when game four should have been finishing up. The Horned Frogs got a quality start out of Mitchell Traver, but Brendan Smith provided a quality start for Central Connecticut State. The game remained scoreless until the fifth inning when Connor Wanhanen drew a walk. He would steal second and advance to third on a throwing error. He would score on a Josh Watson RBI double.
The Horned Frogs added two more in the sixth on a Nolan Brown single up the middle. It wasn’t until the eighth inning when TCU blew the gate open. With two runners on, CCSU made a pitching change. The first pitch Jared Gallagher threw, Evan Skoug blasted over the right field fence. This started a 6-run inning to place TCU up 9-1.
However, the Horned Frogs were a tad sloppy defensively throughout the night. TCU really lost focus in the ninth, committing two official errors. However, a few more mental mistakes took place. This allowed CCSU to send up the potential tying run to the plate. The Horned Frogs prevailed though, and are now 1-0 in the Regional.
Traver held a no-hitter into the fifth inning. Prior to giving up his first hit, TCU committed two errors. Traver did not surrender a walk until the seventh inning. After all was said and done, Traver allowed one earned run on two walks and one hit through seven innings.
Both bullpens combined to surrender 11 earned runs.
Cam Warner finished the night 3-for-4 scoring two runs.
TCU will be considered the visiting team when they play Virginia 4 p.m. Sunday. If the Horned Frogs lose, they will be schedule to play again shortly after their meeting with Virginia.
No.1 Houston 17 8 No.2 Baylor 3
Baylor is eliminated.
Baylor was in trouble right out of the gates. The first two Cougars reached base, and then Corey Julks blasted a two-run shot to get the home crowd rowdy. Starting pitcher Alex Phillips lasted just two innings. Baylor used seven pitchers on the day. Houston gained an 8-0 lead before Baylor got on the board, and really put it out of hand with an 8-run frame as soon as Baylor did score. To make matters worse, Baylor had to sit through a rain delay to end a miserable pitching performance in the NCAA Regionals. Overall, the Bears just had an awful May.
The future is bright though. Steve Rodriguez has done an excellent job turning this program around after a few rebuilding years. It’s just his second season, and his track record at Pepperdine proves the sky is the limit with a Power Five program.
Long Beach Regional
No.2 Texas 5 No.1 Long Beach State 3 (12 innings)
Travis Jones became a hero Sunday morning when he hit the game-winning single to bring in two runs and place Texas in the lead.
This was a back-and-forth affair between two solid ball teams. Starting pitchers Morgan Cooper and Darren McCaughan dueled for seven innings before Long Beach State went to the bullpen. Just three walks were issued between the two staff aces.
Long Beach State struck gold first when Daniel Jackson doubled and eventually scored. The 49ers also added a run in the second inning on a solo blast from Brock Lundqvist. However, Bret Boswell answered the bell after each of those runs with a solo home runs.
With the game tied at 2-2 in the seventh, Texas committed an error which allowed Ramsey Romano to score. If there is one good thing the Big 12 Conference has been really good at this postseason though, it’s hitting home runs. Once again, the long ball came into factor as Zane Gurwitz launched a big fly in the eighth inning to make it 3-3 and send it into extra innings.
This wasn’t the first time Texas went into extra innings in round two. In 2009, Austin Wood pitch more than 12 no-hit innings during a 25-inning affair. Texas won that game against Boston College, and eventually went to the national championship before losing to LSU.
Texas now has two chances to defeat it’s next opponent. If it garners a win in those two chances, the Longhorns will advance to the Super Regionals. Their game is scheduled for 7 p.m. pacific time.
No.1 Louisville 11 No.2 Oklahoma 1
Don’t let the score fool you. This was a pitcher’s duel for seven strong innings. Oklahoma, who was the home team while on the road, struck gold first in the fifth inning when Kyle Mendenhall doubled to bring in Domenic DeRenzo after a walk.
Louisville would tie up the game in the sixth, but they really broke through in the eighth. Oklahoma pitching gave up four walks, hit one batter and allowed four hits during the frame. Seven runs were scored while the Sooners used three pitchers out of the bullpen. This included their closer JB Olsen who produced one out.
The Sooners must win three consecutive games, including two against Louisville, to advance to the Super Regionals. Oklahoma will face Xavier for the second time this regional at noon central time. If Oklahoma wins, they will face Louisville at 6 p.m. central time
No.1 Texas Tech 6 No.3 Sam Houston State 0
Texas Tech blasted three home runs, including two from Tanner Gardner. Big 12 Conference Pitcher of the Year Steven Gingery struck out eight Bearkats over a span of six innings. He surrendered two hits and two walks.
Jose Quezada fanned five batters in two innings of relief work. Dylan Dusek also added a shutout inning. Each surrendered one hit.
The three-homer performance comes against Sam Houston State’s ace pitcher, Heath Donica. Despite allowing four runs on nine hits, Donica’s ERA is still 1.93.
Sam Houston State will face Arizona in an elimination game Sunday. Tech will face the winner with two chances to beat them. The first opportunity for Tech is scheduled for 6 p.m. central time Sunday.
No.1 Wake Forest 4 No.2 West Virginia 3
West Virginia fans outnumbered Wake Forest fans in Winston-Salem, North Carolina. This may have pumped up the nomads early on as West Virginia skyrocketed to a 3-0 lead in the first inning. Kyle Gray led off with a double down the right field line. He would score on a Darius Hill RBI single. Shortly after, Jackson Cramer belted a two-run homer. That would be all the scoring for West Virginia though, as Parker Dunshee settled in to finish off seven innings. In those seven innings, the Wake Forest starter allowed six total hits and just one walk.
Starting pitcher Isaiah Kearns was stellar through his first four innings. Once the fifth came around, he allowed a two-run bomb and was immediately taken out. Sam Kessler also provided quality work, tossing 2.2 innings of relief work. He would eventually issue a walk that would come around to score once Braden Zarbinsky took over for the Mountaineers.
West Virginia had a chance to retake the lead in the eighth inning, but stranded two runners on base. Wake Forest started off the ninth with a single, and that run would come around on a walk-off hit.
West Virginia must now win three consecutive games, including two against Wake Forest, to advance to the Super Regionals. They will face Maryland for a second time this weekend with a first pitch set for noon eastern time. If they defeat Maryland, they will face Wake Forest at 5 p.m. eastern time.
Other news and notes around the field of 64
Cal State Fullerton punched the first ticket to the Super Regionals by taking down host Stanford. They will play the winner of the Long Beach Regional.
Former Big 12 Conference member Nebraska was eliminated by Holy Cross. It was the Crusaders first NCAA Tournament win since 1978. Holy Cross featured the second worst RPI ranking in the field at 210.
Former Big 12 Conference member Texas A&M is one victory away from advancing to the Super Regionals. The Aggies came from behind to take down No.4 seed Iowa in the Houston Regional. Texas A&M had the second worst RPI ranking out of the at-large bids. Only UCLA, who was eliminated Saturday, held a worse RPI ranking among the at-large bids.
The Hattiesburg Regional was postponed due to weather.
Rice, a traditional baseball powerhouse, needed a comeback to dispose of crosstown rival Texas Southern in the Baton Rouge Regional. Despite having the worst RPI ranking of the field, Texas Southern scored 13 total runs and held leads against the two teams it faced.
Davidson is the early pick for the title of Cinderella. The Wildcats upset No.2 national seed North Carolina Friday, and followed it up with a victory over Florida Gulf Coast Saturday. Davidson is one victory away from advancing to the Super Regionals, and will have two chances to defeat its next opponent.