Regionals weekend is always one of the best weekends in college sports, and this year’s version of the NCAA Baseball Tournament did not disappoint.
The Breeze Fest
There weren’t many regional sweeps, but some teams breezed through their regionals.
We hardly heard anything out of Austin all weekend as Texas blasted through their regional winning three straight games by a combined score of 26-6.
Not many people picked Auburn to win their regional even as a host, but they blew through the competition.
Tennessee and Texas A&M both went 3-0, but they had to work a little bit to win their respective regionals.
Speaking of working hard, Notre Dame won all three of their games, but two of them – both against Texas Tech – were decided by just one run. And their game against host Georgia Southern was a close 6-4 game.
And then it didn’t feel like Ole Miss won the Coral Gables Regional easily because they played late on Monday, but the weather was the only thing holding back.
Coming From Behind
There are always a few teams that are able to battle out of the loser’s bracket to come back and win a regional.
Louisville lost to Michigan on Saturday sending them to the loser’s bracket where they beat Oregon 8-5 to advance to the regional finals.
They blasted Michigan 20-1 on Sunday night, and then battled from behind on Monday for an 11-9 win.
After a controversial call went against Michigan that would have ended the 8th inning, Levi Usher drove in a pair to tie the game at 9. Then Cameron Masterman hit a huge 2-run homer to give Louisville the lead.
In Hattiesburg, Southern Miss lost a tough one 7-6 on Saturday to LSU and then fought their way through the loser’s bracket for a rematch. They won Sunday night, forcing a game seven on Monday.
The Golden Eagles were up 7-4 in the seventh, but LSU pushed across two in the bottom of the seventh and then Gavin Dugas hit a pinch-hit homer in the eighth to tie it up.
But Southern Miss responded in the top of the 9th with a Danny Lynch sac fly to score Christopher Sargent who had led off the inning with single. And then Tyler Stuart shut the door.
North Carolina dropped a close 4-3 game to VCU on Saturday, but then won a close game over Georgia on Sunday thanks to a home run robbing catch.
In their rematch against VCU they took care of business winning 19-8 and 7-3.
Stanford came all the way back against Texas State to walk off the Bobcats in the bottom of the 9th in game seven.
Making Things Difficult
We had a lot of game sevens in this year’s regionals, meaning a lot of teams made things difficult for the teams that advanced.
Coastal Carolina lost their first game of the Greenville Regional and then fought all the way back to force a game seven against East Carolina, but the Pirates prevailed, pulling away late for a 13-4 win.
It looked like Oklahoma was going to breeze through the Gainesville Regional winning their first two games 16-3 and 9-4. But Florida got some big performances from some of their freshman pitchers and pushed Oklahoma to a game seven.
The Gators were up 2-1 in the seventh and Brandon Neely was cruising allowing just 4 1 earned run on 4 hits with no walks. But a weather delay ended his day after 6.2 innings.
After the 5.5 hour rain delay, the Sooners came back with a 3-run eighth inning highlighted by a 2-run homer from All-American Peyton Graham.
Wyatt Langford hit his 26th home run of the year for Florida in the 9th to bring them within one, but Oklahoma would hold on for the 5-4 win.
After a scare against New Mexico State in their first game of the Corvallis Regional, Oregon State bounced back with a 12-3 win over San Diego on Saturday.
Devin Futrell and Thomas Schultz for Vanderbilt shutdown the Beavers on Sunday night, setting up a back-and-forth game on Monday in which the Beavers held on for a 7-6 win thanks to a seventh inning home run by Matthew Gretler.
UConn won a close one against Wake Forest to start the College Park Regional and then took down the host, Maryland, 10-5. But the Terps came back and won on a walk-off Sunday night in a wild game.
But the Huskies prevailed on Monday; although, there was controversy in that one as well.
Greatest Regional Ever – Arkansas and Oklahoma State
In a year that saw a lot of great regionals, there may have been none better than the one in Stillwater.
You knew going in there could be some fireworks with Oklahoma State and Arkansas being so close geographically.
The two teams met in the winner’s bracket on Saturday in one of the wildest games you’ll see. Oklahoma State was up 10-5 after six and 10-8 after seven.
Then the pitching fell apart in the eighth as Arkansas scored 8 runs, highlighted by a Jalen Battles grand slam. Arkansas would go on to win 20-12.
In the first rematch on Sunday night it was Oklahoma State’s chance to play spoiler. The Hogs were down 6-3 after five, but came back to take an 8-7 lead after eight innings. Oklahoma State scored 3 in the 9th to take the lead back, only to watch Arkansas tie it up in the bottom of the 9th.
But Oklahoma State put up 4 in the top of the 10th and held on to force a game seven.
On Monday, Arkansas scored 4 runs in the fourth to take an early lead, which they extended to 5 runs scoring another in the sixth.
It looked like Oklahoma State might actually go quietly, but this regional couldn’t end without some more drama.
The Pokes scored one in the seventh and two in the eighth. In that eighth inning, Oklahoma State had the bases loaded with one out.
Dave Van Horn had gone to freshman Hagan Smith earlier in the inning. Against his first three batters he hit one, got a force out on a bunt, and then walked one.
But the 18-year-old rose to the occasion striking out Chase Adkison and the hottest hitter on the planet in Roc Riggio – another freshman – to escape the jam.
Michael Turner had a big two-out, 2 RBI double in the ninth to put the game away as Arkansas won by a final score of 7-3.