Super Regionals Roundup: Florida State Batters UConn, UNC Wins Thriller

North Carolina, FSU, Tennessee, and Virginia won on Day 1.

super regionals roundup

It was a historic day in Tallahassee as Florida State opened its Super Regionals account with a offensive eruption, routing UConn by a decisive 24-4 margin. The Seminoles broke two of their own NCAA Super Regional records for runs in a game (23 vs. Texas A&M in 2011) and margin of victory (19 vs. Sam Houston State in 2017) as they established a commanding lead in the best-of-three set.

Head coach Link Jarrett is no stranger to decisive wins over the Huskies in postseason action — just three years ago, he presided over a Notre Dame side that won 26-3 over UConn in regionals action.

The Seminoles clubbed five home runs, took advantage of 15 free passes, and had an eight-run cushion before the visitors got on the board. Jaime Ferrer went 3-for-4 with two home runs and three RBIs while Marco Dinges, Max Williams, and DeAmez Ross — a pinch-runner — all went deep as well. Carson Dorsey pitched well for the hosts, recording an out in the sixth before exiting having allowed a lone run on four hits with six strikeouts.

In Knoxville, No. 1 overall seed Tennessee found itself in a tight one with upstart Evansville before flexing its offensive muscle. The Volunteers answered a game-tying effort from the Purple Aces in the top of the fifth immediately and went on to win, 11-6.

Playing the Volunteers in the friendly confines of Lindsey Nelson Stadium has been a challenge this year. In postseason play, Tennessee has put up double-digit runs in four of five games and are outscoring opponents 44-18.

On Friday, the team’s traded blows early. Tennessee built a 5-2 lead entering the fifth via home runs from Blake Burke, Christian Moore, and Billy Amick. A resilient Evansville side tied it up with a 2-run double from Kip Fougerousse and a RBI single from Chase Hug, but the advantage was shortlived.

In the bottom of the fifth, Blake Burke doubled in a run, an error added another, and Hunter Ensley poked a RBI single through the side. Ensley returned to add insurance in the seventh with a three-run shot to cap his day at 3-for-4 with four RBIs.

The game of the night was in Chapel Hill — or “Chapel Thrill”, as some are calling it. Boshamer Stadium has seen no shortage of heroics this postseason, especially for host North Carolina — and Friday’s 8-6 win over West Virginia was no exception. The Tar Heels used a walk-off grand slam in the regionals against LIU, then moved on past LSU with a go-ahead single in the 10th. That magic returned against West Virginia on a night where the Mountaineers leaned heavily on ace Derek Clark.

West Virginia took its first lead of the ballgame in the sixth inning via two-run home runs from Reed Chumley and Kyle West, the latter’s second of the night. Clark allowed a solo home run in the seventh to Colby Wilkerson but returned to the mound in the ninth inning on 130-plus pitches having retired five straight.

His first pitch in an attempt to finish off a complete game and upset victory was ambushed by Luke Stevenson, however, for a game-tying solo home run. Clark got a strikeout but ultimately gave up a single on his 144th and final pitch of the night. The Mountaineers turned to Aidan Major, who fanned Wilkerson before Vance Honeycutt — arguably one of the most talented players to ever wear Carolina blue — launched a no-doubt, two-run, walk-off home run deep into the Chapel Hill night.

North Carolina is in pole position now, backed not only by the knowledge that 78% of Super Regional Game 1 winners move on to Omaha but also by the fact that a depleted Mountaineers pitching staff may not have many answers the rest of the weekend.

With North Carolina’s win decided, channel flippers likely switched over to ESPN2 and caught the end of a fantastic first game between host Virginia and Kansas State. The host Cavaliers won their ninth postseason game in 10 tries at Disharoon Park, 7-4, behind late heroics.

Kansas State has proven up to the task this postseason — the Wildcats showed no fear against host Arkansas in Fayetteville and coasted to a regional crown after dispatching the Razorbacks. The visitors took an early 3-0 behind highlighted by a two-run double from star Kaelen Culpepper.

The Cavaliers chipped away with a pair of productive outs in the sixth before Griff O’Ferrall’s two-run double in the sixth. The lead lasted half an inning: David Bishop went deep to make it 4-4 through six and set the stage for a tense finish.

In the bottom of the seventh, with two on and two out, Henry Godbout sent the fans in a frenzy with a decisive blow: A three-run, eventual game-winning home run to left field. Virginia’s bullpen closed it out and starter Evan Blanco (7 IP, 4 R, 9 K) got the victory.

Saturday’s games

Projected Starters available here.

Featured Image via North Carolina Athletics