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Fitt’s Bits: Super Regional Monday Roundup

Postseason


11:36 p.m. ET

Can you believe the way this super regional weekend ended?

Florida’s Austin Langworthy had been robbed of extra-base hits in his last two at-bats, but he would not be denied in the 11th inning. Langworthy hit a laser to deep right field off Cody Greenhill, and it looked like Auburn right fielder Steven Williams had a plan on it — but the ball hit Williams’ glove and deflected right over the fence for a walk-off home run. Florida wins 3-2 and advances to Omaha for the fourth year in a row. What an incredible finish to a thrilling weekend of baseball.

So the field is set, and so is the schedule. Six of the eight CWS participants hosted regionals, and all six of them were also home for super regionals. Mississippi State was a No. 2 seed in the Tallahassee Regional, then won a super regional on the road at Vanderbilt. And Washington was a No. 3 seed in the Conway Regional, then won a road super at Cal State Fullerton. Six of the eight super regional series went to three games — the most in the super regional era, which began in 1999.

Here’s the opening weekend CWS schedule:

SATURDAY, June 16:
3 p.m. ET: No. 3 Oregon State vs. No. 6 North Carolina
8 p.m. ET: Washington vs. Mississippi State

SUNDAY, June 17:
2 p.m. ET: No. 5 Arkansas vs. No. 13 Texas
7 p.m. ET: No. 1 Florida vs. No. 9 Texas Tech

11:08 p.m. ET

Arkansas is headed back to the College World Series for the fifth time since 2004 under coach Dave Van Horn. The Razorbacks rebounded from yesterday’s lopsided loss with a convincing 14-4 victory today over South Carolina. That was a tour de force performance that ended in a Hogpile — Arkansas jumped out to a 5-0 lead in the first inning and never looked back. The Razorbacks will be one of the clear favorites to win it all in Omaha.

So there is one spot left in the 2018 CWS field. Auburn and Florida are knotted 2-2 in the bottom of the 10th — relievers Michael Byrne and Davis Daniel have come up huge in the late innings. This is the third extra-inning Game Three in the last 24 hours; before this year, just three super regional Game Threes went to extra innings in the entire 64-team era, dating back to 1999 (hat tip to the great Jeremy Mills of ESPN for that little nugget).

10:44 p.m. ET

Auburn left fielder Judd Ward just saved the day — yet another standout defensive play from the Tigers, who have flashed incredible leather all night. Earlier, Jay Estes robbed Austin Langworthy of extra bases with a diving catch in the right-center gap. Then, in the bottom of the eighth with a runner on first base, Langworthy sliced a ball down the left-field line that looked destined for extra bases — but Ward had other ideas. Catch of the series, right here:

 

10:10 p.m. ET

Arkansas is all over South Carolina, 13-3 in the seventh inning. It looks like the Razorbacks are well on their way to Omaha.

So we’ll have to rely upon Gainesville for our late-innings drama tonight. And the Auburn-Florida game is shaping up as a gem. The Tigers just tied it up 2-2 in the seventh on this sacrifice fly by Josh Anthony. Florida right fielder Wil Dalton threw a rocket to the plate to make it much closer than it probably should have been, but Luke Jarvis slid in ahead of the tag:

 

9:20 p.m. ET

Blake Reese just stole home to put Florida ahead 2-1 in the bottom of the fourth.

That was tricky, tricky, tricky, you Gators. With men at the corners and lefthander Andrew Mitchell on the mound, Nick Horvath broke from first and appeared to fake-stumble halfway between first and second, prompting pitcher to step off — as Reese broke for home behind him. Kevin O’Sullivan told ESPN an inning later: “It’s just a lefthander move, usually with two outs and two strikes. It’s really a gimmicky play, sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I think it’s the first time we ran it all year. But we had speed on both first and third, and it just happened to work out for us.”

8:51 p.m. ET

Will Holland made something happen for Auburn in the top of the third, hitting a two-out single, stealing second and scoring on a Steven Williams RBI single. Tie ballgame in Gainesville — adjust your TV setup accordingly.

8:13 p.m. ET

Florida and Auburn are underway in the final game of super regional weekend. No. 5 overall pick Jonathan India just gave the Gators a 1-0 lead with a solo homer in the bottom of the first, showing off his strength to the opposite-field gap with a drive to right-center that just kept carrying. Florida freshman righty Jack Leftwich worked a scoreless first, but the Gators have an early lead against Auburn senior lefty Andrew Mitchell.

 

Meanwhile, in Fayetteville, Arkansas has padded its early lead to 7-0 after three innings. The Gamecocks have their work cut out for them against Isaiah Campbell, who looks really good so far.

7:48 p.m. ET

Texas Tech is the sixth team to scan its ticket to Omaha this year. The Red Raiders tacked on a couple of runs in the ninth, and Duke’s ninth-inning rally attempt fell short, as the Red Raiders held on for a 6-2 win to reach Omaha for the third time in five years. Texas Tech never made the College World Series before Tim Tadlock arrived in Lubbock; now the Raiders have made it three times in his first six years at the helm. That’s quite a machine he’s building.

Duke has certainly elevated its program under coach Chris Pollard. First the Blue Devils broke through to regionals in 2016 for the first time in 55 years. Now they’ve not only made it two regionals in three years, but they have won a regional for the first time since 1961. But in Lubbock, Duke squandered a late lead to lose the series opener, then bounced back to pound the Red Raiders in Sunday’s second game — only to see the Raiders bounce back and win Monday’s finale. Duke had its chances — most notably in the eighth inning, when it stranded the bases loaded, down just 4-2. But Texas Tech made big pitches and got some big swings, particularly its three long balls in Monday’s clincher.

So it’s on to Omaha for the Red Raiders.

7:32 p.m. ET

Arkansas has wasted no time jumping on Carmen Mlodzinski. Senior second baseman Carson Shaddy just launched a towering three-run homer to put the Hogs up 5-0 in the first inning. Shaddy has had a huge series — he now has nine RBIs on the weekend.

 

7:09 p.m. ET

Duke had a golden opportunity in the eighth, loading the bases with two outs against John McMillon. But the Red Raiders fireballer escaped.

Meanwhile — South Carolina and Arkansas are underway in Fayetteville, in the third of four super regional games today. Isaiah Campbell is on the mound for Arkansas — which Campbell will show up today? When he’s on, he’s very good, but he’s been up and down this season.

Arkansas righthander Isaiah Campbell (Aaron Fitt)

6:35 p.m. ET

It’s 3-2 Texas Tech at the seventh-inning stretch, as both teams are mixing and matching aggressively with their bullpens. Ty Harpenau did strong work for the Red Raiders, allowing just one run on the defensive misplay over three strong innings of work. Now John McMillon is on the hill, and he looks good…

6:20 p.m. ET

Duke freshman Chase Cheek is a speedster with a bright future, but he’s only in the game today because junior center fielder Kennie Taylor injured his hamstring yesterday. He made the most of his opportunity today, sparking a Duke rally with a triple. The Red Raiders made a defensive miscue to help Duke cut the deficit to 3-2.

5:30 p.m. ET

Duke tied it 1-1 on a double by Chris Crabtree and an RBI infield single by Jimmy Herron… but Texas Tech struck right back.

Now Duke will go to sidewinder Ethan DeCaster, one-half of its two-headed monster at the back end of the bullpen this year. Red Raiders are making a lot of loud contact; both of these offenses may prove difficult to slow down today, but TTU in particular looks locked in.

5:08 p.m. ET

Texas Tech has taken a 1-0 lead on a screaming line drive off the bat of Gabe Holt that cleared the fence in right for a solo homer — that ball got out in a hurry.

 

Jarvis got two strikeouts in the third using his excellent changeup, and also allowed a double to Josh Jung on a hanging slider. We’ll see how much longer Duke rides the freshman, who has been a reliever all season — but you’d expect to see him feature that changeup more, because it is a major weapon for him.

Meanwhile, Davis Martin seems to be finding his feel for his slider, which he used to strike out Max Miller in the third, stranding men at the corners.

It’s 1-0 Texas Tech after three innings.

4:45 p.m. ET

 

4:32 p.m. ET

Duke righty Bryce Jarvis (Aaron Fitt)

With the Texas game in the books, it’s time to shift our attention to Lubbock, where TTU’s enigmatic junior righty Davis Martin is taking on Duke’s talented freshman Bryce Jarvis. Martin has great stuff, but his command has come and gone over the course of his inconsistent junior season, and he hasn’t been particularly fine with his fastball location early on today, as Duke loaded the bases (and then stranded all three) in the first.

Jarvis has been a force out of the Duke bullpen this year, but he was sidelined yesterday with a stomach illness. He owns one of the best changeups in the nation, which accounts for many of his 64 strikeouts in 44.2 innings this year. But he also has a solid fastball that sits around 90 mph, and he has developed a very good slider as well. I have thought his three-pitch arsenal and advanced feel for pitching would make him a very good starter next year, and today he’ll get a chance to give Duke fans a sneak preview.

No score in Lubbock as we head to the bottom of the second.

4:22 p.m. ET

It wasn’t easy, but Texas survived to beat Tennessee Tech 5-2, sending the Longhorns to Omaha for a record 36th time — and the first time since 2014. The Golden Eagles loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but Nolan Kingham got Brennon Kaleiwahea to ground out to end the game, stranding three.

It was a characteristically valiant comeback effort for Tennessee Tech, which has plenty to be proud of, after elevating the program to new heights. This team went 53-12, took down No. 4 seed Ole Miss in the Oxford Regional after running through the losers’ bracket, sending TTU to its first super regional.

And Tennessee Tech won the first game of that super regional, but Texas showed plenty of character by bouncing back with consecutive victories. Most impressively, Texas held that explosive TTU offense — which led the nation in scoring at more than 10 runs per game this season — to just two runs in each of the final two games. Matteo Bocchi started and turned in five innings of one-run ball today, earning the win.

 

4:10 p.m. ET

We’ve got a developing in Austin — Tennessee Tech will not go down quietly. The Golden Eagles have two men aboard with one out in the ninth, down 5-2. Texas has summoned ace Nolan Kingham to try to close it down.

Meanwhile, Duke and Texas Tech are underway in Lubbock, and the Blue Devils are making Davis Martin work in the top of the first, with the bases loaded and two outs.

3:40 p.m. ET

Texas and Tennessee Tech are battling in the first of four games today, with a trip to Omaha on the line. Texas leads 5-2 in the bottom of the seventh, and Tennessee Tech stopper Ethan Roberts just exited with a runner on first base. It was a very emotional exit for Roberts, who fought tears as he walked off and then slammed his glove down. The righthander came up huge all season for TTU, and pitched his heart out here in the postseason. The Golden Eagles are showing all kinds of guts right now — just watch third baseman Trevor Putzig hobble around like Kirk Gibson did 30 years ago, playing through obvious pain.

But Texas has been really locked in today; Kody Clemens and DJ Petrinsky each have solo homers, and Ryan Reynolds hit a key two-run double to kickstart the offense in the second inning. Right now the Longhorns are just six outs from Omaha. The TTU offense is explosive and can strike at any moment, but time is running short. Stay tuned.

 

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