College : : Story
Sunday, June 10, 2012

Saturday Super Regionals roundup

Kendall Rogers        
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WACO, Texas -- Facing Baylor right-handed pitcher Trent Blank isn't the remedy for a struggling offensive lineup.

Knowing that entering Saturday's contest between Arkansas and Baylor, it was obvious the Razorbacks offense would be facing an uphill battle throughout the afternoon.

As expected, the Hogs struggled immensely against Blank, as the Bears moved to within one win away from returning to the College World Series for the first time since 2005 with an absolutely dominant 8-1 win over Arkansas.

"I thought Blank was outstanding. He went out there and got a lot of ground balls," Arkansas coach Dave Van Horn said. "I knew it was going to get tough when we got down four runs. Baylor took it to us a little bit today."

The Bears did a little of everything in the victory. In addition's to Blank's big-time pitching performance, the offense was clicking, touching up Arkansas starting pitcher DJ Baxendale -- who pitched beautifully last weekend in the Houston Regional -- for five runs in just four innings of work.

BU outfielder Logan Vick hit a pair of homers in the game, while the usual suspects such as senior catcher Josh Ludy and junior first baseman Max Muncy put together impressive performances. Muncy also made some outstanding defensive plays at his position, while shortstop Jake Miller was terrific for the Bears.

But going full circle, Baylor's performance all ties in to what Blank accomplished.

Blank has an unorthodox collection of pitches. He has a low three-quarters pitching motion and attacked the Arkansas hitters with a fastball only in the 84-85 range, sometimes hitting 86 on the radar gun. He also flashed an incredibly nasty slider with some run and a solid changeup.

"Against right-handed hitters, he was sinking the ball down and in on guys. He'd then throw the slider hard away and it was tough to pick up for some guys," Arkansas first baseman Dominic Ficociello said. "He just did a really good job of sinking the ball under our bats today."

Blank put together an impressive statistic line. He struck out five batters and allowed just one run on seven hits in six innings of work. He also threw 72 of his 109 pitches for strikes to earn his 11th victory, the first Bears pitcher to accomplish that goal since 2000.

"He just got ahead of us all night. We fouled off some pitches, but we hit too many ground balls," Van Horn said. "We talked about staying underneath the baseball, but you can work on it all you want. He pitched pretty well."

Unless some approaches change, the script might be much the same as the Hogs look to keep their Omaha chances alive with a win Sunday afternoon. To do that, though, they must touch up Baylor starting pitcher Josh Turley.

Turley, a left-hander, is very similar to Blank in the sense that he does a tremendous job of locating his pitches and spinning the ball. Arkansas, though, knows the task at hand.

"We just have to be aggressive. We have to go to the plate with a plan, not just swinging it," Ficociello said. "We knew he was going to sink it and we didn't prepare ourselves well enough to get beneath the ball. We have to get after it a little better."

On this day, the Hogs got Blank-ed.


Game 2: Stony Brook 3, Louisiana State 1

THE SERIES: Tied 1-1

PLAYER OF THE GAME: P Tyler Johnson, Stony Brook

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Based on recent history, Stony Brook knew it didn't need to do much in the way of run production with senior right-handed pitcher Tyler Johnson on the mound. The Seawolves did just enough, though, putting the game away essentially in the third inning with a two-run frame, thanks to RBI singles by Sal Intagliata and William Carmona. The Seawolves never looked back with a 2-0 lead.

THE SKINNY: After losing the series opener to LSU, Stony Brook showed a lot of heart by putting together an impressive and gutsy performance in Game 2 against the Tigers. The Seawolves captured a 3-1 victory as senior right-handed pitcher Tyler Johnson struck out just one batter, but allowed just one run (none earned) on three hits in a complete game performance. He also threw 70 of his 127 pitches for strikes. From an offensive standpoint, the Seawolves were rather quiet, but first baseman Kevin Courtney put together a three-hit performance.


Game 1: South Carolina 5, Oklahoma 0

THE SERIES: South Carolina leads series 1-0

PLAYER OF THE GAME: P Michael Roth, South Carolina

IT WAS OVER WHEN: The Gamecocks knew they didn't need to do much with left-handed pitcher Michael Roth on the mound. So, when they scored three runs in the bottom of the second inning, things were looking pretty good. South Carolina scored the three runs on an LB Dantzler RBI double, a wild pitch and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Chase Vergason. The Gamecocks didn't look back after the strong second inning.

THE SKINNY: In what was his final start at Carolina Stadium in his collegiate career, South Carolina left-handed pitcher Michael Roth certainly gave the home fans something to cheer about. The lefty only recorded three strikeouts, but allowed no runs and just six hits in 7 2/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, reliever Tyler Webb finished the game with 1 1/3 innings of shutout baseball. Offensively, LB Dantzler had a key double in the game, while outfielder Evan Marzilli and first baseman Christian Walker each had two hits. For the Sooners, starting pitcher Jordan John was lifted from the game after allowing three runs in just two innings.


Game 1: Kent State 7, Oregon 6

THE SERIES: Kent State leads series 2-1

PLAYER OF THE GAME: SS Jimmy Rider, Kent State

IT WAS OVER WHEN: In what was a crazy game throughout, it only was fitting the two teams played a wild ninth inning to finish it. Kent State entered the bottom of the ninth in complete control of the contest, but had issues throwing strikes, while the Ducks got some key hits. Oregon eventually had the winning run on second base when J.J. Altobelli hit a screaming liner to the left-center field gap. Just when you thought Altobelli had the game-winning hit, Kent State center fielder Evan Campbell made an outstanding grab to preserve the victory.

THE SKINNY: When you dissect the statistics from the game, it's incredible Kent State actually escaped the contest with a victory. For instance, Flashes ace left-handed pitcher David Starn did a very nice job early in the game of not allowing many runs, but had control issues throughout the night. Starn walked seven batters, struck out five, and allowed four runs on five hits in 6 1/3 innings of work. Meanwhile, shortstop Jimmy Rider had a big night at the plate, going 2-for-5 with a double, two runs scored and two RBIs, while T.J. Sutton had two doubles and finished the contest with two runs scored and an RBI. For the Ducks, starting pitcher Alex Keudell allowed six runs (two earned) on nine hits in 7 1/3 innings of work.


Game 1: Florida 7, North Carolina State 1

THE SERIES: Florida leads series 1-0

PLAYER OF THE GAME: P Hudson Randall, Florida

IT WAS OVER WHEN: After two scoreless frames by both clubs to start the contest, the Gators scored four runs in the bottom of the third inning on a pair of RBI singles and a two-run throwing error. That was all the Gators needed to secure the victory, as sure-handed starting pitcher Hudson Randall pitched yet another gem.

THE SKINNY: Florida right-handed starting pitcher Hudson Randall put together one of his best starts of the season, as he guided the Gators to a dominant 7-1 triumph over N.C. State. Randall struck out four batters and allowed just six hits in seven shutout frames. Meanwhile, junior catcher Mike Zunino had a big-time performance at the plate, going 2-for-4 with a home run, two runs scored and three RBIs, while Daniel Pigott had a hit and two RBIs and outfielder Preston Tucker went 2-for-3 with three runs scored and an RBI. The Gators are in fantastic shape heading into Game Two on  Sunday.


Game 2: UCLA 4, Texas Christian 1

THE SERIES: UCLA wins series, advances to College World Series


IT WAS OVER WHEN: TCU put together yet another gutsy performance, but it was unable to get much offense going for the second-straight night. The Frogs only trailed UCLA 3-1 going to the seventh inning, but the Bruins extended their lead to 4-1 with a sacrifice fly. With the way David Berg and the Bruins bullpen has performed in the NCAA postseason, that easily was all they needed to seal the deal and a trip to the College World Series.

THE SKINNY: UCLA sophomore right-handed pitcher Nick Vander Tuig flirted with a no-hitter last weekend in the Los Angeles Regional. He didn't flirt with a no-hitter against TCU, but put together an outstanding performance in a 4-1 victory. Vander Tuig struck out five batters and allowed just one run on five hits in six innings of work. Meanwhile, reliever David Berg struck out three batters and worked three scoreless frames to finish the game. The Bruins got a solid offensive performance from first baseman Trevor Brown, who went 2-for-4 with a run scored in the contest.


Game 2: Arizona 7, St. John's 4

THE SERIES: Arizona wins series, advances to College World Series


IT WAS OVER WHEN: Arizona is one of those clubs that can jump on an opposing pitcher in a hurry. And that's exactly what it did against usually excellent St. John's starting pitcher Sean Hagan. The Wildcats scored there runs in the first inning on RBI singles, while they added a fourth run in the second inning to take a 4-0 lead to the bottom of the second. The Wildcats never looked back from that advantage.

THE SKINNY: Arizona starting pitcher Konner Wade put together an impressive start last weekend against Louisville, and continued his impressive ways against the Johnnies. Wade was tremendous in the victory, striking out just two batters, but allowing just four runs (two earned) on six hits in a complete game performance. Meanwhile, designated hitter Bobby Brown, who came up big in the opener, went 2-for-5 with two RBIs, shortstop Alex Mejia had two hits and third baseman Seth Mejias-Brean went 3-for-5 with two runs scored and an RBI. For the Johnnies, it was rather surprising Hagan allowed five runs in just six innings.


Game 1: Baylor 8, Arkansas 1

THE SERIES: Baylor leads series 1-0

PLAYER OF THE GAME: P Trent Blank, Baylor

IT WAS OVER WHEN: Baylor right-handed pitcher Trent Blank put together an excellent performance in the win over Arkansas. With that, this game was pretty much over when the Bears added two runs to their already two-run lead in the third inning. The Bears scored the two runs on a Josh Ludy solo home run and a Cal Towey RBI double. With a 4-0 lead after three innings, Blank settled in and the Bears put together an impressive victory.

THE SKINNY: Baylor veteran right-handed pitcher Trent Blank was fantastic in an 8-1 win over Arkansas. Blank, who has been very consistent this season, struck out five batters and allowed just one run on seven hits in eight innings of work. Meanwhile, third baseman Cal Towey went 3-for-4 with two doubles, while Max Muncy had three hits and outfielder Logan Vick went 2-for-4 with two homers, two runs scored and three RBIs. Arkansas starting pitcher DJ Baxendale had a tough day on the mound, allowing five runs on six hits in four innings.

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