College World Series roundup
Florida 3, Auburn 2 (11)
Robbed of extra-base hits in his previous two at-bats, Florida's Austin Langworthy got a little lucky in his final one.
Langworthy homered off Steven Williams' glove in the 11th inning, giving the overall top-seeded Gators a victory against Auburn in the deciding game of their NCAA super regional Monday night and sending the defending national champions to the College World Series for the fourth consecutive year.
Langworthy lined a fastball off freshman All-American closer Cody Greenhill (6-3) to the right-field wall. Williams had a bead on it, but it bounced off his glove and over the fence. It was Langworthy's fourth homer of the season and second in the best-of-three series, both against Greenhill.
"It's unbelievable," said Langworthy, who had hits in the right-field gap and down the left-field line erased by diving catches. "I think in this game everything comes back to you. That's how this game works."
Williams dropped to the ground in disbelief as Florida players rushed the field and waited for Langworthy to cross home plate before mobbing him.
Williams' teammates and coaches walked to right field to console him.
"It won't define him," Tigers coach Butch Thompson said. "It will be part of his journey."
The Gators (47-19) advance to play Texas Tech in Omaha, Nebraska later this week. Florida is headed there for the seventh time in the last nine years.
Auburn (43-23) was trying to get to the CWS for the first time since 1997.
Florida closer Michael Byrne (3-1) allowed one hit in four innings. Byrne pitched in all three games, part of a staff that allowed just seven runs in the series.
"He's special," Florida coach Kevin O'Sullivan said. "He's a starter that's in the back end of the bullpen."
The Gators scored conventionally and unconventionally before the walk-off homer, getting a solo home run from Jonathan India in the first inning and then scoring with a nifty double steal in the fourth.
India, the fifth overall pick by Cincinnati in last week's MLB draft, drove his 20th homer of the season into the bullpen over the right-center-field fence. India became the fifth player in program history with at least 20 dingers in a season.
Auburn tied it on Williams' two-out, RBI single in the third. Florida went back ahead with a little trickery.
With two outs and runners at the corners, Nick Horvath took off toward second and then intentionally belly flopped in the middle of the base path. It seemingly confused left-hander Andrew Mitchell, who hesitated just long enough with the ball for Blake Reese to score from third. Reese's head-first slide beat Mitchell's throw.
Both teams had chances in the closing innings, but none of them got it done until Langworthy's game-ender.
"Obviously, he's been swinging the ball really well as of late," O'Sullivan said. "I felt really good about him coming to the plate. Not sure I expected him to hit a walk-off home run, but I certainly thought he would give us a really good at-bat."
The Tigers don't look like a one-year wonder. They had four freshman All-Americans this season: Williams, Greenhill, designated hitter Julien Edouard and starter Tanner Burns. The foursome is expected to make up the core of the team in Thompson's fourth season.
Dalton made a pair of mistakes in consecutive innings. He errantly rounded second base on a ball hit toward the right-center-field gap, thinking it would drop, but Jay Estes made a diving catch and then threw Dalton out trying to get back to first. Dalton misplayed a single in the ensuing frame, allowing Luke Jarvis an extra base. Jarvis moved to third on a wild pitch and then scored on Josh Anthony's fly ball to right. Dalton made a strong throw home, but Jarvis beat the tag by inches.
Arkansas 14, South Carolina 4
Nothing short of a return to the College World Series would have been good enough for an Arkansas team that started the year in the top 5 of most national polls and loaded with expectations.
Facing the prospect of failing to reach that goal in a winner-take-all third super regional game, the Razorbacks responded.
Led by Eric Cole's three hits, including a home run, No. 5 national seed Arkansas (44-19) blasted its way back to Omaha with a win over South Carolina.
The trip to the College World Series is the first since 2015 for the Razorbacks, and it's their fifth in the last 16 seasons under coach Dave Van Horn. History aside, the victory was a refreshing nine innings of relative relaxation in what's been a pressure-packed season for Arkansas.
"This season has been a grind, and there's been a lot of expectation, which probably (the players) feel as much as the coaching staff does," Van Horn said. "They've handled it every day, come and worked extremely hard, and they kind of showed you what they're made of tonight."
Cole scored five runs and had a pair of RBIs for Arkansas, and Luke Bonfield added three hits and four RBIs in the convincing win. The Razorbacks scored five runs in the first inning, highlighted by a three-run home run by Carson Shaddy.
The rout was on from there, other than a brief moment of tension when the Gamecocks (37-26) closed the lead to 7-2 in the top of the fourth — much to the delight of 11,217 fans in Baum Stadium.
"They took all the drama out of that game, which I really appreciate," Van Horn said. "I guarantee you that."
Barrett Loseke (3-2) earned the win for Arkansas while allowing one run in 2 1/3 innings of relief of starter Isaiah Campbell, who struck out five in four innings.
Jacob Olson had a pair of home runs for the Gamecocks, who were trying to return to the CWS for the first time since 2012. Carmen Mlodzinski (3-6) took the loss after allowing five runs, four earned, in his only inning of work.
South Carolina started this season 13-11 before rebounding and forcing Monday's game with an 8-5 win over the Razorbacks in the second game of the super regional on Sunday. However, the Gamecocks pitching staff simply didn't have enough rested arms left to shut down one of the top offenses in the country.
"(Arkansas is) clearly one of the best teams in the country," South Carolina coach Mark Kingston said. "And they played probably their best baseball tonight."
The Razorbacks improved to 35-4 at home and won 15 of their final 16 games in Fayetteville.
"This is a tough team, and we understand how talented we are," Shaddy said. "We like the expectations; it makes us play better."
Martin's first-inning home run was his 14th of the season and Arkansas' school-record 93rd overall before Cole pushed the total to 94 with his seventh-inning blast. The previous best was 92 home runs in 64 games in 2010, and the Razorbacks needed one fewer game to top that mark this season. Arkansas entered Monday's game fourth in the country in total home runs, trailing only Tennessee Tech, Clemson and Florida.
Texas Tech 6, Duke 2
Michael Davis and Texas Tech are going back to Omaha.
Davis hit the biggest of the Red Raiders' three home runs, a tiebreaking two-run shot that put them ahead to stay, in a win over Duke to send them to the College World Series for the third time in five seasons.
"Just kind of coming out and having fun, taking in every moment," said Davis, a senior shortstop playing at home for the last time. "That final out, that's probably the most enjoyable thing I've got to do since I got here."
The Red Raiders (44-18) led for good after Davis' homer in the fourth made it 3-1 in the deciding game of the best-of-three NCAA super regional.
It was the 12th homer of the season for Davis, the only current position player for the Red Raiders who got in the lineup when they were in Omaha two years ago. He was playing second base then.
Gabe Holt and Brian Klein also homered for Texas Tech, which is 20-0 this season when having multiple homers in a game.
"You never plan on home runs," coach Tim Tadlock said. "Guys got some pitches in the middle of the plate."
Klein went deep in the seventh to make it 4-2. Holt's solo shot in the third started the scoring, and he added an RBI single in the eighth.
Jimmy Herron had three hits and both RBIs for Duke (45-18), which was in its first super regional. He had an RBI infield single in the fourth, and a run-scoring triple in the sixth.
"This team will be my brothers for life," Herron said. "Just because we're not going to Omaha, none of that changes. We all still had an incredible season, made memories."
Ty Harpenau (7-2) allowed one run while working three innings in relief, striking out three and walking one. Dylan Dusek, the fifth-year senior who has been dealing with a blistered finger and is the only player to be part of all three CWS seasons for Texas Tech, took over with a runner on and no outs in the ninth. He finished for his first save.
Matt Dockman (0-1), the third of six Duke pitchers, gave up hits to the only two batters he faced, including Davis' home run.
Texas Tech has made all of its College World Series appearances in Tadlock's six years.
"Those first two teams were special too," Tadlock said. "What I'm really excited about is, there's a good part of the country that's going to get to see some of these guys play. They deserve that. There's some good players."
The Blue Devils had 10 hits, along with six walks and a hit batter. But they left 14 runners on base, including the bases loaded in the eighth without scoring.
"When you're facing an offense like Texas Tech, you've got to be really good at picking those guys up," Duke coach Chris Pollard said. "None of us, if you know this group of guys, had any thought that we'd lose this ballgame. It's tough to get that close."
Temperatures were in the upper 90s for the afternoon game in Lubbock, and the turf playing field registered at more than 150 degrees.
Texas 5, Tennessee Tech 2
Relying on strong pitching and sufficient hitting, Texas advanced to the College World Series.
Kody Clemens and DJ Petrinsky hit home runs, Matteo Bocchi was effective in a rare appearance as a starting pitcher, and Texas defeated Tennessee Tech.
Texas (42-21), under second-year coach David Pierce, returns to the CWS for the first time since 2014.
"It feels awesome," Pierce said. "We're not always. A lot of times we're ugly. But we just figure out how to keep playing. That's what so special about this group."
Texas took the super regional series by winning the last two games after losing the first on Saturday.
Clemens hit his 24th home run of the season — one less than the national leader Spencer Torkelson of Arizona State. Clemens has 11 home runs in his last 15 games.
The matchup of starting pitchers seemed to favor Tennessee Tech.
But left-hander Alex Hursey (8-5), the No. 3 starter for Tech (53-12), lasted just three innings, allowing four runs.
Pierce used his No. 3 starter, Blair Henley, in relief on Sunday. So Bocchi (4-1) made only his fourth start of the season and allowed one run in a season-high five innings. Nolan Kingham, the Game 1 starter on Saturday and the sixth pitcher for Texas on Monday, came on in the ninth, walking one to load the bases but inducing Brennon Kaleiwahea to ground out and end the game. Parker Joe Robinson pitched 2 2/3 innings of scoreless relief for Texas.
Tech leads the nation with 135 home runs, but the Golden Eagles hit only one in the series. They also lead the nation in batting average but had just five hits on Monday, matching their season-low, after managing only three a day earlier, fewest since 2015.
"I am honestly amazed," Tech coach Matt Bragga said. "I give credit to them. I think that they really pounded the strike zone. They went after us with fastballs. Our guys were a little late and that doesn't happen very often with our guys."
Ryan Reynolds, moved from sixth to ninth in the Texas batting order on Sunday after a 2-for-17 performance through his first four NCAA Tournament games, doubled home two runs in the second.
Clemens and Petrinsky hit solo home runs in the third to put Texas ahead 4-0. After Clemens hit home runs in the first two games, Bragga said he might walk him every time on Monday. Instead, he pitched to Clemens, who went 2 for 3.
"With nobody on I guess they tried to attack me," Clemens said. "I got some pitches to hit."
Texas will appear in the CWS for the 36th time, more than any other school. The Longhorns also have the most victories there, 85. Their six national championships, the last two won under the late coach Augie Garrido, who died in March, are tied for second most. Southern Cal has 12.
The Golden Eagles won five games in the 2018 NCAA Tournament, including two on the same day at host Mississippi to win the Oxford Regional. Before this year, they had only won four games in the tournament.
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