Super Regionals Roundup: Evansville Stuns Tennessee, FSU Outlasts UConn in Extras

Evansville upset No. 1 national seed Tennessee while three teams punched tickets.

super regionals roundup

James Tibbs did not have a good regional — he went 0-for-9, and while walking six times, didn’t impact the games the way the ACC Player of the Year so often did during the regular season. That changed in a hurry against UConn. Tibbs homered three times, including a go-ahead two-run shot in the 12th inning that secured Florida State‘s return to the College World Series for a 23rd time.

The Huskies showed admirable fight after losing by 20 runs the day prior. UConn led, 7-6, entering the eighth before Jaxson West tied it with a home run. The Seminoles went up in the ninth on a sacrifice fly, but Huskies’ pinch-hitter Matt Malcom stepped up to leadoff the bottom of the frame and tied it to ultimately force extras.

Tibbs finished 5-for-6 with six RBIs. UConn was paced by Luke Broadhust, who went 4-for-5 with a double, a home run, and six RBIs.

For the first time in the Super Regional Era, a four-seed from a regional knocked off the No. 1 overall seed — and did it by erasing an early deficit. Evansville, who have captured the nation’s attention in its run through the Greenville Regional, barely had time to get settled before Tennessee had built a 4-0 lead highlighted by three first-inning home runs.

The Purple Aces didn’t falter, though, with Cal McGinnis cutting into the deficit with a two-run home run in the fourth. They took the lead for good in the next inning via RBI singles from Kip Fougerousse, Brent Widder, and Cal McGinnis. Brendan Hord and Fougerousse added much-needed insurance with a pair of two-run home runs. That proved pivotal as the Volunteers got the go-ahead runs aboard in a three-run ninth inning but Shane Harris wriggled out of trouble to secure the save.

It felt that if West Virginia was going to have a shot at advancing, it badly needed that Derek Clark start on Friday that slipped away in the ninth. The Mountaineers — resilient all season — kept it close with host North Carolina, but the Tar Heels and reliever Dalton Pence shut the door and advanced to the College World Series for the first time since 2018.

Vance Honeycutt — the hero of Friday — homered on the very first pitch he saw to stake North Carolina to an early lead. Parks Harber added a RBI single in the third and that would prove to be enough. Jason DeCaro was excellent — 6.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 5 K — and Pence closed it out. It wasn’t without tense moments, seeing as the Mountaineers loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, but a groundout to first ended it.

For back-to-back years and the second time in the last three, Virginia is back in the College World Series. The Cavaliers polished off a quick sweep of Kansas State behind a five-run top of the ninth inning that broke open a close game. It was a one-run game heading into the final inning before a two-run triple from Jacob Ference and a three-run double from pinch-hitter Luke Hanson.

Jay Woolfolk turned in a quality start for the Hoos, while Chase Hungate locked it down late. He retired all six batters he faced and struck out one. Casey Saucke hit a solo home run in the win for Virginia, who is looking for its second title and first since 2015.

While Texas A&M erased an early 6-3 deficit through two innings to beat Oregon, the victory was marred by the loss of stalwart right fielder Braden Montgomery. Montgomery, a consensus Top-10 prospect in the upcoming MLB Draft, tripped amidst an awkward slide into home plate and suffered a clean break of his right ankle (per Jeremy Booth). While the Aggies have no shortage of talent, losing an elite talent at this stage of the season is a crushing blow.

The Aggies trailed by two entering the fourth before a pair of costly errors from the Ducks tied it up. A fielder’s choice RBI for Hayden Schott gave them the lead before they added on. Chris Cortez settled things down for Texas A&M out of the bullpen: He pitched nearly six scoreless innings in relief of Ryan Prager (1.2 IP, 6 R) and fanned 10. Evan Ashenbeck closed out the win.

Don’t let the Gators get hot. Florida, one of the last teams in the Field of 64, has quickly made the most of its opportunity. The Gators won the Stillwater Regional and went into Clemson and used a massive seven-run sixth inning to flip a game that they’d trailed early, 4-1.

Tyler Shelnut homered in the fourth to make a two-run game, then Jac Caglianone claimed the lead for good with a monster three-run homer in the fifth. Four more runs followed in the frame and a late push from the Tigers’ proved to not be enough.

Hosts Kentucky put on an absolute clinic against Oregon State in one of the more intriguing Super Regional matchups. Trey Pooser was fantastic against the Beavers’ lineup — he allowed a single hit over seven shutout innings while walking four and striking out eight. When he walked off the mound in the seventh, the Wildcats only lead by three — until they put up seven runs in an inning to allow a comfortable final few frames.

The seventh was a masterclass in what Kentucky has done all season. They scored runs on a sacrifice bunt, a failed pickoff attempt, a two-run home run, a dropped third strike and throwing error, and a wild pitch. Ryan Nicholson went 3-for-5 with a home run, double, and three RBIs.

There’s something about NC State in the postseason. The Wolfpack absolutely unloaded on host Georgia, spoiling its Super Regional opener behind an 11-run second inning. The offensive outburst removed all doubt early as the Bulldogs emptied their bullpen while the Wolfpack got a gem from Sam Highfill. Here’s that second inning, in entirety:

Highfill went six innings of one-run ball against a potent Wolfpack lineup while Andrew Shaffner spun three scoreless out of the bullpen. Offensively, Alec Makarewicz (3-for-4, 2B, HR), Jacob Cozart (3-for-6, 2 HR, 3 RBI), and Luke Nixon (3-for-4, 2B, 3 RBI) all stood out.

Sunday’s Games

Projected Starters available here.

Featured Image via Evansville Athletics