The 2014 NCAA Baseball Tournament breeds chaos. Last weekend, 64 teams battled it out in the regionals. Four days later, only 16 teams remain, advancing to play in the super regionals this weekend.
Upsets have been the major theme of the tournament thus far, as just three of the eight national seeds still stand. Oregon State and Florida, the top two national seeds, are gone.
The super regionals begin Friday with four Game 1s in what is sure to be an entertaining day of college baseball. Below is a preview of all the action.
Stanford (34-24) vs. Vanderbilt (44-18), 1 p.m. ET, ESPN2
In the Nashville Super Regional, Stanford takes on Vanderbilt in the first game of the day. Stanford is riding high after its 5-4 walk-off victory over national seed Indiana, thanks to freshman Tommy Edman’s clutch two-run blast with two outs in the bottom of the ninth.
The team’s advancement into the super regional seems especially improbable, considering the Hoosiers’ late-game dominance, per SFGate.com’s Tom FitzGerald: “The Hoosiers were 39-0 when leading after the seventh inning until Stanford rallied to beat them twice in 24 hours.”
Stanford was not among the Pac-12’s best this season, finishing in a tie for fifth place. But the team has played resilient playoff baseball ever since. With newfound confidence, the Cardinal won’t be intimidated by Vanderbilt.
For the third time in four years, and the second year in a row, Vanderbilt heads to the supers, thanks to Ro Coleman’s walk-off single over Oregon. The Commodores have advanced because of timely hitting and an impressive pitching staff that includes a pair of right-handers in Tyler Beede and Adam Ravenelle.
The team is 3-0 this postseason, outscoring its opponents 21-4.
Houston (48-16) vs. Texas (41-19), 4 p.m. ET, ESPN2
Houston takes on Texas in a Lone Star State matchup in the Austin Super Regional.
Making their first NCAA tournament appearance since 2008, the Cougars are 4-1 this postseason. They advanced to the supers by drubbing LSU, 12-2, due in large part to a seven-run third inning.
Cougars coach Todd Whitting was more than pleased with his team's effort in the must-win game, per his interview with Houston's athletic department: "Wow - we came out of the gates, obviously got down two runs and it's kind of how we are. We just come right back and answer them and then put up the big seven-run inning. Never really gave in - never really gave LSU a chance to get back in the thing."
Houston’s offense has been on fire as of late, scoring 26 runs in its last three games.
Outside of Texas’ opening-game victory over Texas A&M, the offense hasn’t been there for the Longhorns. The pitching has, however, as the staff has given up just seven runs through four postseason games. The team advanced to its first super regional since 2011, thanks to pitcher Chad Hollingsworth’s two-hitter in a 4-1 victory over the Aggies.
It will be interesting to see if the Longhorn pitchers can quiet Houston’s bats.
Kennesaw State (40-22) vs. Louisville (48-15), 6:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
This Louisville Super Regional battle pits Kennesaw State against Louisville. The Owls are the hottest team in college baseball right now, having won 26 of their last 28 games. Although the team didn’t have to play national seed Florida State in the regional, it beat Georgia Southern and won two of three against Alabama to advance to the supers in its first postseason appearance.
Meanwhile, Louisville looks to return to the College World Series for the third time in program history and for the second year in a row. Louisville is no stranger to the supers, and the team took to Twitter to let everyone know:
The Cardinals are undefeated this postseason (3-0) and have won each game by at least three runs. Pairing Louisville’s strong pitching staff with a balanced offensive attack has proven to be a tough combination. If any team can halt Kennesaw State’s momentum, it’s the Cardinals.
UC Irvine (38-23) vs. Oklahoma State (48-16), 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPNU
UC Irvine faces Oklahoma State in Stillwater in what should be a gritty affair. UC Irvine advanced to the supers by twice beating Oregon State, the tournament’s top national seed, in one of the tournament’s biggest upsets. With the victory, the Anteaters booked their fourth trip to the supers in program history.
They're playing with a lot of confidence, so don’t expect them to perform like an underdog against Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State rallied to beat Cal State Fullerton, 6-4, to advance to the supers for the first time since 2007. The Cowboys trailed 4-1 in the sixth inning but scored five unanswered runs in the final two innings to escape the regional round. Oklahoma State has an impressive lineup and a strong bullpen but would be wise not to underestimate the Anteaters, who look to knock off another top team.
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