NCAA Regional Tournament Review
Ten schools from the Southeastern Conference made it to the NCAA Tournament, with four hosting in the regional round. Top-seeded Florida defeated Columbia and Jacksonville but lost the third game to Florida Atlantic. That loss set up a winner-take-all finale between the Gators and the Owls, and Florida knocked off FAU, 5-2, to advance to the Super Regionals, where the Gators will host Auburn in Gainesville.
The Tigers actually had a much easier time in the regionals despite traveling to Raleigh, North Carolina. Auburn was very explosive on offense and easily handled Northeastern, 13-4, in the opener. Army upset regional host North Car-olina State in its opener, while Auburn cruised by the Black Knights, 12-1. The Tigers then defeated N.C. State, 15-7, to advance to the Super Regional for the first time since 1999.
In the Fayetteville Regional, Arkansas dominated its first two opponents by a score of 10-2 in each game. The Diamond Hogs blitzed through Oral Roberts before defeating Southern Mississippi. The Razorbacks’ game against Dallas Baptist was more challenging, but the Hogs prevailed, 4-3.
Arkansas will face a familiar foe in the Super Regionals. South Carolina had to travel to Greenville, North Carolina, but still fi-nished 3-0 to advance to the next round. The Gamecocks beat Ohio State, 8-3, and defeated host East Carolina, 4-2. In its final game, South Carolina knocked off No. 4 seed UNC-Wilmington, 8-4.
Vanderbilt and Mississippi State each had to travel for the regionals, but both squads still advanced to the Super Regionals. The Commodores blanked St. John’s, 2-0, and snuck by host Clemson, 4-3, in the second game. In Vanderbilt’s second matchup against the Tigers, the Co-mmodores dominated, 19-6, thanks in part to nine home runs. Shortstop Connor Kaiser hit three of those home runs and had 10 RBI.
The Bulldogs’ path to the Super Regionals was more challenging, especially after their 20-10 loss to Oklahoma in the opening game. Mississippi State rallied to eliminate host Florida State, 3-2, and slipped past Samford, 9-8, in the next elimination game. The Bulldogs then defeated the Sooners in back-to-back games to advance to the Super Regionals. The Dawgs won the first game, 13-5, and the second game, 8-1.
Ole Miss, Georgia, LSU and Texas A&M all were eliminated. The Rebels lost twice to Tennessee Tech in one of the biggest upsets in the tournament. Georgia dropped two straight games to Duke, and the Blue Devils advanced to win the Athens Regional.
Texas A&M won its first game against Indiana but lost to Texas and the Hoosiers in the next two contests. LSU was the No. 2 seed in the Corvallis Regional but were no match for Oregon State, who defeated the Tigers 14-1 and 12-0.
NCAA Super Regionals Preview
Of the 16 teams competing in the Super Regionals, six are from the SEC. Three teams from the league are guaranteed to make it to the College World Series be-cause three matchups are between only SEC teams. Florida hosts Auburn, Arkansas hosts South Carolina and Vanderbilt hosts Mississippi State.
The Gators took two of three games from the Tigers in late April. Florida isn’t playing its best baseball right now but this is still a very challenging series for Auburn. The Tigers will need Casey Mize to have his best game in his start in the opener.
Arkansas took two of three games from South Carolina earlier this year in Fayetteville. All three games were close but South Carolina did not score a run in the final two games of the series.
In the first conference series of the season, Vanderbilt swept Mississippi State in Starkville. The Commodores now host the Bulldogs with a trip to the College World Series on the line.
Super Regional Predictions
Gainesville: Florida 2, Auburn 1. Flo-rida advances.
Lubbock: Texas Tech 2, Duke 1. Texas Tech advances.
Fayetteville: Arkansas 2, South Carolina 1. Arkansas advances.
Austin: Texas 2, Tennessee Tech 0. Texas advances.
Fullerton: Cal State-Fullerton 2, Wa-shington 1. Cal State Fullerton advances.
Nashville: Vanderbilt 2, Mississippi State 1. Vanderbilt advances.
Chapel Hill: North Carolina 2, Stetson 1. North Carolina advances.
Corvallis: Oregon State 2, Minnesota 0. Oregon State advances.
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NCAA Regional Tournament Review