College : : Story
Monday, June 13, 2011

Only two Omaha bids outstanding

Kendall Rogers        

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The Road to Omaha began with 64 teams in the NCAA Regionals and continues this week with 16 teams in eight NCAA Super Regionals vying for the eight lucrative spots in the College World Series.

As part of our NCAA Super Regionals coverage, we take an inside look at Saturday's action around the country.

The skinny: UC Irvine starting pitcher Matt Whitehouse allowed just one earned run in five innings of work, while reliever Andrew Thurman was fantastic, allowing just a run in four innings of work in a huge 6-4 win over Virginia to force a decisive third game in the Charlottesville Super Regional. While Whitehouse and Thurman led the way on the mound, Drew Hillman and Tommy Reyes each had two hits in the game. For Virginia, starting pitcher Tyler Wilson only allowed a run in six innings, but relievers Justin Thompson and Branden Kline were unable to take care of business.
Turning point
: After losing the lead in the seventh inning and regaining the lead in the top of the eighth inning, Virginia appeared to be in good shape the rest of the way against UC Irvine. The Anteaters, though, rose to the occasion in the bottom of the eighth with a three-run frame to take a 4-3 lead. Jordan Leyland had a huge two-RBI double while Tommy Reyes’ RBI single gave the Anteaters the lead for good in a huge 6-4 win.
Player of the game
: 2B Tommy Reyes, UC Irvine – Several Anteaters had integral parts in Sunday’s win over the Cavaliers, but Reyes rose to the occasion more often than not. The talented infielder went 2-for-4 with a run scored and an RBI to lead the offensive cause.
Looking ahead
: With the win over the Cavaliers, the Anteaters forced a decisive third game in the series. The Cavaliers will start outstanding right-handed pitcher Will Roberts, while the Anteaters still aren’t sure who’ll start the series finale. The Cavaliers failed when put in this position against Oklahoma last season. We’ll see if the same holds true this time around. The Anteaters have overachieved this season and a trip to the College World Series would be icing on the cake.

Virginia and UC Irvine tied 1-1
The skinny: Florida starting pitcher Alex Panteliodis and the rest of the pitching staff didn’t exactly do a great job, but the offense picked them up in an 8-6 win over Mississippi State to punch a ticket to Omaha. UF outfielder Preston Tucker went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBIs, while catcher Mike Zunino had another multi-hit day and Daniel Pigott slugged a pair of home runs. While Mississippi State’s pitching wasn’t great, second baseman Nick Vickerson capped off a fantastic weekend with two hits, another home run and four RBIs.
Turning point
: Mississippi State put together a scrappy weekend against Florida, and had the Gators on the ropes after scoring three runs in the top of the seventh inning to take a 6-4 lead. The Gators, though, fight back with a vengeance and showed killer instinct with a three-run home run off the bat of Preston Tucker. The momentum was back in the Gators’ hands and they never looked back.
Player of the game
: DH Daniel Pigott, Florida – The Gators had a huge day at the plate. And though Preston Tucker provided the big three-run home run in the seventh inning, Pigott actually led the way at the plate. He went 3-for-3 with a pair of home runs, two runs scored and three RBIs. Pigott and other Gators sluggers rose to the occasion when needed most.
Looking ahead
: Florida entered the season as one of few expected national title contenders and didn’t disappoint in the first two rounds of the NCAA postseason. The Gators now will face Taylor Jungmann and Texas in their opening game at the College World Series. For Mississippi State, this season was a staunch success. State coach John Cohen entered the campaign in desperate need of a solid year. Well, he notched a postseason appearance and was a win away from advancing to Omaha. It’s safe to say the Bulldogs finally are in firm hands.

Florida advances to College World Series
The skinny: Florida State starting pitcher Mike McGee only lasted two innings against Texas A&M, but that didn’t matter as the Seminoles pounded out 16 hits on the way to a dominant 23-9 win over Texas A&M. FSU first baseman Jayce Boyd had a perfect 4-for-4 day at the plate, while outfielder Stuart Tapley recorded three hits, two home runs and knocked in five runs. It’s also worth noting shortstop Justin Gonzalez went 2-for-3 with a home run, three runs scored and six RBIs. Not one A&M pitcher allowed less than three runs in the game.
Turning point
: With a 1-0 series lead over Florida State after winning the series opener, the Aggies opted to throw co-ace pitcher Michael Wacha in a potential series finale, hoping freshman Derrick Hadley could put together a solid start. Well, he did anything but that. Hadley worked just one inning for the Aggies and allowed six runs. FSU had a commanding 8-0 lead before the Aggies could get on the scoreboard.
Player of the game
: OF Jayce Boyd, Florida State – The Seminoles needed solid offensive production to stay alive on Sunday and got just that from Boyd and others. Boyd had a huge day at the plate, going a perfect 4-for-4 with a double, home run, five runs scored and three RBIs. It’s also worth noting shortstop Justin Gonzalez finished the contest with two hits and six RBIs, while Stuart Tapley slammed a pair of home runs and finished the afternoon with five RBIs.
Looking ahead
: We talked earlier about how the Aggies gambled by throwing Hadley. Well, now they have a decided advantage entering Monday’s contest against the Seminoles. FSU is slated to start sometimes shaky starting pitcher Hunter Scantling, while the Aggies are countering with right-handed co-ace Michael Wacha. Wacha has a 2.10 ERA in 115 2/3 innings and teams are hitting him at a .244 clip. It’s also worth noting he has struck out 110 and walked 23.

Texas A&M and Florida State tied 1-1
The skinny: South Carolina starting pitcher Colby Holmes struck out two batters and allowed two runs on five hits in 4 1/3 innings and the offense took care of business in a solid 8-2 win over Connecticut to advance to Omaha for the second-straight season. While Holmes and reliever Matt Price led the way on the mound, Jake Williams, Peter Mooney and Robert Beary were the key cogs at the plate, each having two-hit and two-RBI performances. First baseman Christian Walker also had a huge day with a home run in the contest. For the Huskies, senior starting pitcher Greg Nappo can’t be blamed for the loss as he allowed just three runs in seven innings.
Turning point
: South Carolina carried a 3-2 lead over Connecticut entering the ninth inning. That lead wasn’t exactly safe with the Huskies possessing a dangerous lineup. The Gamecocks, though, made sure a comeback wasn’t happening with a five-run frame that included a Peter Mooney two-RBI double. The huge top of the inning led to a crisp bottom of the inning that ended with South Carolina earning an 8-2 victory.
Player of the game
: P Matt Price, South Carolina – The Gamecocks had a narrow lead in the eighth inning and a substantial lead in the ninth inning. But having the talented right-handed pitcher on the mound had to make coach Ray Tanner and his team breathe easier the final two frames. Price was fantastic to end the game, striking out four batters and allowing two hits in two innings. Amazingly, the save was Price’s 18th of the season.
Looking ahead
: South Carolina’s thrilling win over Connecticut punched its ticket to the College World Series. With the win, the defending champions will face either Texas A&M or Florida State to begin the tournament. For Connecticut, reaching an NCAA Super Regional was a solid step forward for coach Jim Penders’ club, but we know Penders really wanted to represent the northern half of the country in Omaha. That unfortunately won’t happen but the Huskies have a bright future.

South Carolina advances to College World Series
The skinny: Texas starting pitcher Sam Stafford struck out two and allowed two runs on four hits in four innings and the UT bullpen was exceptional on the way to a 4-2 win over Arizona State. Nathan Thornhill tossed 1 2/3 shutout innings, Hoby Milner threw 2 1/3 shutout innings and freshman closer Corey Knebel earned his 19th save of the season by tossing a solid ninth. For Arizona State, starting pitcher Kyle Ottoson allowed a run on four hits in three innings while reliever Mitchell Lambson allowed three runs on five hits in five innings. Offensively, Riccio Torrez, Joey DeMichele and Deven Marrero were productive. Otherwise ASU had issues establishing an offensive presence.
Turning point
: The Sun Devils and Longhorns were knotted at 2-2 entering the bottom half of the sixth inning. But the ‘Horns rallied to score a pair of runs off an RBI single from Mark Payton and an RBI double off the bat of shortstop Brandon Loy. The Longhorns pitched at an incredibly high level and never looked back the rest of the way.
Player of the game
: SS Brandon Loy, Texas – The Longhorns got some solid pitching performances throughout the night, but Loy led the way at the plate. The veteran shortstop had a productive night at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a pair of doubles, a run scored and an RBI. It’s also worth noting UT leadoff hitter Tant Shepherd recorded two hits and scored a run.
Looking ahead
: The Longhorns pride themselves on getting to the College World Series, and that’s where they’ll be next weekend. The ‘Horns are making their 34th appearance in the event and will face a very balanced Florida club in the opener. Arizona State, meanwhile, finishes the season with a 43-18 overall record.

Texas advances to College World Series
The skinny: It was just a couple of months ago California was under the impression it was about to lose its baseball program. Now, a couple of months after the school announced the program was reinstated, the Golden Bears are headed back to the College World Series for the first time since 1992 after earning a thrilling 6-2 win over Dallas Baptist. Cal starting pitcher Erik Johnson allowed just two runs on three hits in six innings while Dallas Baptist starting pitcher Jared Stafford struggled, allowing five runs on six hits in 3 2/3 innings. Several Bears, including Austin Booker, Tony Renda, Chadd Krist and Derek Campbell had productive nights at the plate.
Turning point
: California led Dallas Baptist 3-2 after three innings of play. But after the Patriots went scoreless in the top half of the fourth inning, the Golden Bears answered in a big way in the bottom of the frame with an RBI double from Derek Campbell and an RBI single from Tony Renda to give Cal a 5-2 advantage. The Golden Bears didn't look back from that point forward.
Player of the game
: C Chadd Krist, California -- Several Golden Bears had productive offensive performances, but Krist led the charge. He went 2-for-4 with a home run, a run scored and three RBIs. It's also worth noting Renda and Campbell recorded three hits while Booker recorded two hits.
Looking ahead
: California has had a whirlwind campaign and it's fitting to see it finish the season at the College World Series. The Golden Bears will face the winner of Monday's series finale between UC Irvine and Virginia to open the CWS. Dallas Baptist, meanwhile, had an incredible campaign and took a huge step forward this spring. It finished the spring with a solid 42-20 overall record.

California advances to College World Series

Kendall Rogers is the college baseball editor for Perfect Game USA and has covered the sport for over 10 seasons. He can be reached at

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