Sorenson: The Regional Wrap, Day 1Analysis
Day one is in the books but it looks more like the college baseball gods gave us an incomplete grade for the day since not all the work was finished as expected. The weather was a bummer in more than half of the Regional locations. There were games that were pushed to Saturday altogether, games that will need to be completed Saturday morning and games that sat through hours of rain delays.
The games that did get played? Oh there were some good ones out there. Let’s take a look around at what happened on this first day of the 2016 NCAA tournament. Here we go…
THE HOT LIST
The hottest topics of the day in NCAA tournament play.
1- The Bases Loaded feature.
Damn. This thing is just so freakin’ cool. Once again, this is THE way to watch the Regionals. 32 games – give or take a few – and I got to see each and every big development and white-knuckle moment. Oh and the best part of it all, Matt Schick and Kyle Peterson aren’t too superstitious about mentioning when a pitcher has a no-hitter going. I love the fact that they report news when it is happening.
2- Bad Mother Nature
I got so many texts and tweets telling me how perfect the weather was out in California today. And it was true, it was sunny and cool all day up and down the coast. Arizona was nice and dry too… albeit it was 112 degrees in the Phoenix area. But the Regionals were pocked with awful weather. By my count it appears as if 10 of the 16 Regionals all jammed down in the Southeast were affected by rain, thunder or lightning. As I posted earlier today, can’t some of these universities with all their billions of football money and build some domed stadiums for their baseball programs? Gah.
3- Bombs Away
Okay, check the bats of the Clemson Tigers, because they went insane at the dish vs. Western Carolina tonight. i wonder if they are using those old +5 bats from the late 90s. The Tigers blasted seven home runs in their 24-10 football win, two each for Chris Okey and Mike Triller. Looking at the bigger picture, Clemson has now scored 42 runs in its last two games, this blowout and in the ACC title game win over Florida State, which was an 18-6 win.
4- Game of the Day
UC Santa Barbara 3, Washington 2, 14 innings.
Man, do you think the Huskies miss Troy Rallings or what? The All American closer was not available for tonight’s game and they could’ve used him. Each team used four pitchers as starters Noah Bremer of UW (9.0 innings, 4hits, 1run) and Shane Bieber of UCSB (7.1 innings, 8hits, 1run) pitched well. Both teams scored a run in the 12th inning and the game was decided in the 14th when Austin Bush, a 6-foot-6 lumber jack, swatted the game-winning home run off of UW’s Alex Nesbitt.
5- The Northeast
While everyone was making a big deal about the West getting the shaft, a gaggle of teams from the Snow Belt made huge waves today. Boston College, a controversial ‘loser’ at-large team, took down 2-seed Tulane by a breezy 7-2 count. UConn, who came on strong at the end of the season, raced out to a 7-0 lead on 2-seed Georgia Tech before having to hold on for a 7-6 win. But the biggest winner was Rhode Island, who went down to Columbia, South Carolina and took a 5-4 win from homesteading 1-seed Gamecocks. It was the Rams first-ever NCAA tournament win.
– Peter Alonso, Florida.
Alonso had missed the previous 10 games with a hand injury but made a huge impact upon his return, blasting a pair of towering home runs as part of a 3-for-4 day with three RBI against Bethune-Cookman. So much for Alonso showing any signs of rust, right? The Gators went on to beat the Wildcats 9-3.
WHO IS SITTING PRETTY
Not only did the Tigers beat Utah Valley 7-1 but they also have the comfort of knowing the rains helped them immensely. Now, Rice and SLU will have to play an early morning game on Saturday, then the losers bracket game, then the winner of the morning game will have to turn around and play well-rested LSU in the night game. Oh, and they’ll have to face Alex Lange as well. Yikes.
WHO IS BEHIND THE 8-BALL
– Ole Miss.
Losing 6-5 to Pac 12 champion Utah in 10 innings was a downer to the 10,000-plus Rebel fans that were eerily quiet as the late innings approached. But now, after throwing Brady Bramlett for 5.0 innings and 100 pitches. Now they have to face off with Tulane and will have 12-game starters Chad Smith or James McArthur to throw at the Green Wave and both of them have had shaky moments this season. Even if they make ti through the Greenies, BC’s deep pitching staff and Utah’s nearly unbreakable grit will be tough to overcome.
MOST INTERESTING DAY TWO MATCHUP
– Long Beach State at Miami.
This should be good. The Dirtbags got a great start from Chris Mathewson today, who took a no-hitter into the seventh. Now, the Beach will go with Big West Pitcher of the Year Darren McCaughan (10-1, 1.98) to face the Canes. He will probably square off against Michael Mediavilla, who went 10-1 and 3.23 this year.
MOST INTERESTING DAY TWO MATCHUP, 2.
– East Carolina at Virginia.
The Pirates may have been the two-seed here in Charlottesville, but keep in mind that they won two of three games at UVa earlier this season, so it won’t be a situation where they will be wilting daisies for the defending national champions.
BEST DAY TWO PITCHING MATCHUP
– UConn’s Anthony Kay vs. Florida’s A.J. Puk
How about this for a gun-vs-gun showdown? Both of these flingers should be first round picks in next week’s draft. Should be outstanding. Then again, with Peter Alonso hitting as hot as he was today, that is what will probably be the difference in the game.
BEST CONFERENCE PERFORMANCE
– The Big 12.
On the same day they decided to add a football championship game to their future pigskin schedules, the midlands conference had a stellar day on the diamond too. Texas Tech, TCU and Oklahoma State combined to beat Fairfield, Oral Roberts and Nebraska by a combined 25-1.
WORST CONFERENCE PERFORMANCE
– Nobody, really.
There wasn’t a conference out there that really laid a royal egg. But for the record, the America East, the Atlantic Sun, the Big East, the Horizon, the Ivy League, the MAAC, the MAC, the MEAC, the MVC, the NEC, the Patriot League, the Southern Conference, the Summit, the SWAC and the WAC all went winless on the day.
TWEET OF THE DAY
– Almost expectedly, there was some snipping at the NCAA selection committee from those left out of the Field of 64. Here is what North Carolina ace Zac Gallen wrote about South Alabama’s 14-2 loss to Southern Miss…
– 95 degrees, 101 degree heat index at 4:30pm, Tallahassee Regional
– 72 degrees, at the end of the Dallas Baptist-New Mexico game in Lubbock.
THE DREADED RAIN DELAY:
– With as bad as the weather was today there are too many to choose from. But the one team that really needed to play today but wasn’t able to was Vanderbilt. Having to overcome the death of their teammate Donny Everett, sitting around all day and waiting out a rain delay, which was eventually pushed to Saturday, was just a drag. These guys really needed to play a game and get their minds off the tragedy. They will now play Xavier on Saturday morning and it will be interesting to see if the Dores are locked-in to playing or not.
– 8:04am Pacific Time for Virginia-William & Mary in Charlottesville.
– 1:35am Eastern Time for North Carolina State-Navy in Raleigh.