Florida State righthander Drew Carlton (Larry Novey)

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Sorenson: Super Regional Wrap, Day 2

Analysis

I’m torn tonight, StitchHeads. I mean, it seems like the entire world is upside down. Like as if gravity is going to suddenly say “screw it, I’m done working. You’re on your own, Earth” and everything starts to float off aimlessly.

After the first two days of the Super Regionals, should the completely crazy, upside-down thinking be…

A- It doesn’t matter where you play in the post-season?

or B- There are a lot of home teams who probably didn’t deserve to play at home?

Through these two days it is obvious that the home teams have played some horrid baseball and/or been terribly overrated. Well, before any of you fan bases get all curled at me, yes the road teams deserve a massive amount of credit for this occurrence. There have been some mentally tough roadies out there this weekend, going into some arduous environments and just saying, “We’re not scared.”

For the record, road teams are 9-3 so far this weekend. We’ll see if things change over the next two days. Still a lot of baseball to be played.

Here is the best and worst of what went on today on diamonds around the South.

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BIGGEST TREND:
– Quiet Stadiums

As mentioned above most of the home teams have had a really pathetic start to this Super Regional round. With LSU’s loss to Coastal Carolina tonight, it marked the first time in the 64-team era of NCAA tournament play where none of the Super Regional hosts have swept their way through the Super Regionals. So yes, with the home teams going 3-9 so far, there have been a LOT of long faces and hushed tones in the stands.

Former LSU pitcher and color commentator Ben McDonald said in 11th inning of today’s Arizona-Mississippi State game, “It’s amazing that 14,000 fans could be this quiet.”

Jake Fraley and Kramer Robertson of LSU couldn't believe what was happening to them in their loss to Coastal Carolina.Jake Fraley and Kramer Robertson of LSU couldn’t believe what was happening to them in their loss to Coastal Carolina.

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BIGGEST WIN:
–  Boston College stays alive

The Eagles got a 5-3 win in game two vs. Miami and now push that series to a game three on Sunday. This is big for two reasons. 1- The Eagles actually have a puncher’s chance vs. the Canes because they’ve built up some confidence through these first two games and know they can play with the Canes. And 2- They represent the best chance for the New England area of the country to have a team in Omaha.

The last time there was a team from New England in the College World Series was Maine in 1986, when “Throw Mama From The Train” was the No. 1 movie. That area of the country could use a shot in the arm.

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BIGGEST LOSS:
– LSU dropping an 11-8 decision to Coastal Carolina

Yes, I know the Rally Possum is still alive. The Tigers could totally come back from this 1-to-0 deficit vs. the Chanticleers. But this was a bad deal for the Tigers. This game just gave a huge shot of confidence to their mid-major opponent. I mean, if they can pock-mark Alex Lange as badly as they did, there is not anyone else in the LSU arms corps they can’t handle. Yes, they came back from a 4-2 deficit with a future first round draft pick staring them down from the mound. This should be interesting. Still the last two times that LSU lost it’s opening game in the Super Regionals, it came back to win its way to Omaha, in 2003 vs. Baylor and in 2008 vs. UC Irvine.

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BEST BET TO GO THREE GAMES:
– UCSB at Louisville

For game two, The ‘Ville is either going to go with Kyle Funkhouser, a fourth round draft pick in this week’s MLB draft, or Drew Harrington, a third round draft pick. Oh, and if things get dicey, they can always bring in Zack Burdi, a first round draft pick. So yes, the Cardinals are still in decent shape, even if the specter of losing to another Big West team in the Super Regionals for the second straight year is looking like a possibility.

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WORST PERFORMANCE:
– The SEC.

It has not been a good start to the Super Regional round for the southern monster conference. Luckily, Texas A&M beat TCU 7-1 tonight, otherwise the SEC has gone 1-6 so far with their regular season champion already eliminated in Mississippi State. There is still time to turn this around, but the reputation has taken a shot to the solar plexus. And yes SEC denizens, the rest of the country is watching you.

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TOUR DE FORCE:
– Drew Carlton, Florida State.

The sophomore right-hander held that potent Florida offense to two hits. Not a typo. TWO MEASLY HITS. Yes, a lineup that features Buddy Reed, Peter Alonso and JJ Schwarz could get nothing going. Carlton’s complete game helped FSU down No. 1 national seed Florida 3-0 for a 1-0 lead in the Gainesville Super.

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TOUR DE FORCE II:
– Brent Rooker, Mississippi State

The dude done well. After going 4-for-10 with six RBI in the Regionals last weekend, the Bulldog DH reprised his hot bat tonight, going 3-for-4 with two home runs and also three RBI.

But then, they pulled him in the eighth inning and he did not play a factor in the extra innings.

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NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYERS:
– Miami’s defense.

Coming into the NCAAs as having the best defense in the country, the Hurricanes sure didn’t play like that tonight. Two costly errors led to BC’s big four-run fourth inning, but the Canes also made a few uncharacteristic mental lapses out in the field as well. In all, two of the Eagles runs were unearned.

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NOT READY FOR PRIME TIME PLAYER II:
– Alex Lange, LSU.

A great start went south in a hurry once the Chanticleer batting order got a second look at him. In all, the future first-round draftee went 5.0 innings, giving up seven hits, six earned runs and three walks, while also striking out eight Chants batters. He was noticeably distressed over his last few batters. Coach Mainieri couldn’t help but give him the hook.

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OMAHA BOUND:
– Arizona.

The Wildcats went into Dudy-Noble Field and took a pair of one-run games from Mississippi State, culminating in tonight’s 6-5, 11 inning win and becoming the only team to qualify for the College World Series so far. And again, they did it on the road in the toughest environment in the country, stuffed with 14,000-plus rabid fans amongst the smell of the Left Field Lounge and all it’s barbecue and bourbon. Arizona completed a big comeback from a 5-1 deficit in scoring four late runs to push the game into extra innings before winning it in the 11th inning on a bases-loaded RBI single by Caesar Salazar.

But keep this irony in mind. UofA head coach Jay Johnson and pitching coach Dave Lawn were at Nevada last season and won the Mountain West conference with 41 wins and still did not get an at-large bid to the NCAA tournament. This year, as the third-place team in the Pac 12, they win their way to the Promised Land.

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SAY GOODBYE TO:
– Mississippi State.

It was a historic year for the Bulldogs, winning the SEC regular season title, winning road series at Vanderbilt, Florida and LSU and also nabbing their first national seed ever. But then came the invaders from the West. To the casual observer it was a stunning two-game sweep at the hands of Arizona. But those who have been paying attention know there is a history with MSU and teams from the West since their last appearance in Omaha. They have gone 9-10 vs. Occidental teams since that fateful title series.

2013:
0-2 vs. UCLA in national championship series

2014:
0-2 vs. UC Santa Barbara
1-1 at Arizona

2015:
2-0 vs. Arizona
1-2 vs. San Diego

2016:
0-1 at UCLA
1-0 at USC
3-0 vs. Oregon
1-0 vs. Fullerton
0-2 vs. Arizona

BEST LINE
– Mike Rooney, on UCSB’s win over Louisville:
“If you’re looking for an example of how the West is underrated, UCSB is your poster child. They finished third in the Big West Conference and here there are taking game one from Louisville on the road.”

BEST LINE II:
– Mike Cousins, play-by-play man at the Baton Rouge Super Regional for ESPN on the quiet crowd at LSU:
“Other than a mass at Vatican City, I don’t know how you can have 10,000 people this quiet all at once.”

THE DREADED GLITCH AWARD
– The ESPN Gamecast.

Dear powers-that-be, PLEASE bring back the old reliable GameTracker. Gah! The ESPN GameCast froze up in the early evening. Among it’s many glitches at one point it showed this for the TCU-Texas A&M game…

ESPNglitch-TCU,TAMU

FYI, the A&M-TCU score was never 1-to-1 tonight.

QUICK HITS
– As reported a number of times already today during the games on TV, in the 17 years of Super Regional play, the team that won the first game has gone on to win 79 percent of the time. And of course, you can add Arizona to that list now.

– So far in this year’s NCAA tournament there have now been 202 home runs hit. Last year, In last year’s total NCAA tournament, including the CWS, there were only 150 circuit clouts hit. Here are the home run totals for the last few years in the post-season:
2016: 202 Home Runs
2015: 150
2014: 87
2013: 110
2012: 139
2011: 159
2010: 385

– Parity is an often overused word. But it is getting more and more true, especially in the Super Regionals. From 1999-2009 64 percent of the National Seeds won their way to Omaha. But from 2010-2015 only 46% of the National Seeds have advanced, 22 out of 48.

– Arizona’s advancement to the CWS will be the 17th trip to Omaha for the Wildcats in all. The last time they were there they won the whole enchilada in 2012, beating South Carolina in the title series. Since that season the UofA hasn’t made the NCAA tournament. Arizona has won the national title four times.

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