The road to Omaha is finally starting to take shape, as the regional phase of the College World Series kicked off with a full slate of games across the country.
With each region serving as a four-team double elimination mini-tournament, the action was intense, as every game was meaningful. It isn't quite win or go home, but only one team can go on to the Super Regional stage from each region, so a win on Day 1 is vital to moving on.
Here's a look at all of the scores, results and biggest storylines that emerged from the first day of regional action.
|(3) Troy 5||(2) Alabama 2||Tallahassee|
|(2) Oklahoma 7||(3) Coastal Carolina 3||Blacksburg|
|(3) Towson 7||(2) Florida Atlantic 2||Chapel Hill|
|(3) Liberty 8||(2) Clemson 3||Columbia|
|(1) Virginia 2||(4) Army 1||Charlottesville|
|(2) Austin Peay 4||(3) Florida 3||Bloomington|
|(3) William & Mary 4||(2) Ole Miss 2||Raleigh|
|(3) Illinois 6||(2) Georgia Tech 4||Nashville|
|(2) South Alabama 9||(3) Mercer 4||Starkville|
|(2) Miami (FL) 7||(3) Oklahoma State 0||Louisville|
|(1) LSU 11||(4) Jackson State 7||Baton Rouge|
|(3) UCSB 6||(2) Texas A&M 4||Corvallis|
|(1) Kansas State 20||(4) Wichita State 11||Manhattan|
|(2) Cal Poly 9||(3) San Diego 2||Los Angeles|
|(1) Florida State 10||(4) Savannah State 0||Tallahassee|
|(2) Rice 3||(3) San Francisco 2||Eugene|
|(4) Connecticut 5||(1) Virginia Tech 2||Blacksburg|
|(1) North Carolina 6||(4) Canisius 3||Chapel Hill|
|(3) Elon 10||(2) UNC-Wilmington 7||Charlottesville|
|(1) Louisville 8||(4) Bowling Green 3||Louisville|
|(1) Mississippi State 5||(4) Central Arkansas 3||Starkville|
|(1) Vanderbilt 9||(4) East Tennessee State 1||Nashville|
|(3) Sam Houston St. 4||(2) Louisiana-Lafayette 2||Baton Rouge|
|(3) Bryant 4||(2) Arkansas 1||Manhattan|
|(1) North Carolina State 4||(4) Binghamton 1||Raleigh|
|(1) South Carolina 7||(4) Saint Louis 3||Columbia|
|(2) Arizona State 4||(3) New Mexico 3||Fullerton|
|(1) Indiana 5||(4) Valparaiso 4||Bloomington|
|(1) Oregon 3||(4) South Dakota State 2||Eugene|
|(1) UCLA 5||(4) San Diego State 3||Los Angeles|
|(1) CSU Fullerton 4||(4) Columbia 1||Fullerton|
Live scoreboard can be found at NCAA.com. Results will be added here as games conclude.
Kansas State Lights Up the Scoreboard
When the fourth-seeded Wichita State Shockers scored two runs to start off the top half of the first inning against Kansas State, it looked like the upset may be on.
The Wildcats responded by scoring nine runs in their half of the inning and never looked back. It was the perfect way to start off a game that would see a total of 31 runs scored. The Wildcats ultimately outslugged the Shockers, 20-11, on the strength of two home runs and four RBI from second baseman Ross Kivett.
As D. Scott Kirchen points out, there are football teams in Kansas that score less than the Wildcats did against the Shockers:
The K-State baseball team's 20 runs against Wichita State means it's scored more than Kansas did in seven different football games in 2012.— D. Scott Fritchen (@DScottFritchen) May 31, 2013
It wasn't the greatest day for Wildcats pitching, but the Wildcats have to love the rhythm that they are in offensively.
No. 1 LSU Off to Strong Start At the Plate
The LSU Tigers finished the regular season ranked No. 1 in the USA Today Coaches' Poll. Against Jackson State, the Tigers showed just how potent their lineup can be.
The Tigers piled up 11 runs in large part because of first baseman Mason Katz's 2-for-2 performance at the plate with a home run, four RBI and three runs.
The news wasn't all good for the Tigers, though. Shortstop Alex Bregman sustained what appeared to be a head injury. According to Jacques Doucet of WAFB out of Baton Rouge, the Tigers star could have sustained a concussion.
Losing Bregman in the lineup could be a bad blow for a team that is primed to make a serious run at a national championship.
Connecticut Shocks Virginia Tech
The Connecticut Huskies became the first team to topple a No. 1 seed in the 2013 regionals with a 5-2 win over Virginia Tech.
The last Big East champions rode a tremendous pitching performance from sophomore pitcher Carson Cross who pitched 6.1 innings while just giving up one earned run and notching three strikeouts.
The Huskies will take on the Oklahoma Sooners on Day 2 of the regionals in hopes of another upset in what should be a pretty good pitcher's duel once again:
Tomorrow's pitching match-up against UConn: LHP Dillon Overton (9-2, 2.89) vs. RHP Jordan Tabakman (6-2, 2.50).— Oklahoma Baseball (@OU_Baseball) June 1, 2013
Whether or not the Huskies can keep up the momentum will be the key storyline in the Blacksburg region.
Chad Clark's Walk-Off Homer Gives Indiana a Wild One
If you're going to atone for a critical ninth inning error, Indiana second baseman Chad Clark knows just the way the do it. Clark went from hero to goat in the ninth inning versus fourth-seeded Valparaiso, clocking a two-run home run to give the top-seeded Hoosiers a 5-4 victory over their upset-minded counterparts.
Indiana baseball's Twitter feed sent out a tweet so exclamatory you could almost hear it as a radio call in your head:
HOLY COW!!!!!!!!!!!! Chad Clark makes up for his top of the 9th error by clubbing a two-run WALK-OFF HOMER!!!!!!!!!— Indiana Baseball (@IUBaseballNews) June 1, 2013
The homer by Clark was just the second of the season for the light-hitting middle infielder, whose .306 on-base percentage is the lowest in the Hoosiers' starting lineup. Clark's bomb was wholly unexpected, especially following his dreadful start to the inning.
Usually as sure-handed as they come, a Clark error helped dig a hole for Indiana in the top of the ninth. The Hoosiers faithful in Bloomington watched on as their club was down 4-1 heading into the bottom of the ninth, with Valpo closer Karch Kowalczyk coming into the game.
Kowalczyk recorded an early out and all seemed to be going smoothly, then Indiana began its rally with one out. Michael Basil singled to third to start the comeback, followed by an RBI double Dustin DeMuth smaked into right-center, and then Casey Smith followed DeMuth up with another double on a 1-2 count.
With Chris Sujka having pinch-run for Smith, Indiana would have been happy had Clark merely moved the runner over to third. But his late-game heroics gave the Hoosiers a titillating start to their regional run.
The loss for Valparaiso wastes a fantastic performance by Cole Webb, who went seven strong, allowing one earned run and seven total base runners. Indiana will be back in action tomorrow versus second-seeded Austin Peay, while Valparaiso tries picking up the pieces versus fourth-seeded Florida.
Vanderbilt Flexes Dominance
The Commodores came into these regionals as the second-ranked team in the country behind North Carolina. They played like it on Friday. Devouring an overwhelmed East Tennessee State squad, Vanderbilt got off to a roaring start with a 9-1 victory in its opening game.
The pelting began in the first inning. Small-balling their way to five runs by the time three outs could be recorded, the top-seeded Commodores made it clear they'd be making slight work of fourth-seeded East Tennessee State. After Tony Kemp, who was one of two Vanderbilt batters to not record a hit, got things underway with a strikeout, six of the next seven men that stepped to the plate slapped the ball for a single.
The result was a massive cushion for Kevin Ziomek, who cruised his way through seven innings. A likely high draft pick, Ziomek faced only 28 batters, allowing three hits and walking just one. East Tennessee State's scored a run against the lefty, but it was unearned.
While the Commodores' bats calmed down a bit over the next few innings, business picked up again in the seventh. Jack Lupo reached base on an error and Xavier Turner singled to the left side of the field, giving him an RBI and setting up the game's most exciting play—a home run by cleanup hitter Connor Harrell. The Tennessean's Jeff Lockridge noted that Harrell's homer put the final nail in the coffin:
That long bomb also ended the day for Middle Tennessee's Jimmy Nesselt, who allowed eight runs (five earned) over 6.2 innings.
Vanderbilt will be back in action tomorrow, taking on third-seeded Illinois. East Tennessee State's shellacked squad will be taking on Georgia Tech.