June 2, 2012
East Carolina's offense exploded, with all nine starters notching at least one hit and six Pirates recording multiple hits as the Pirates defeated Ivy League Champion Cornell, 10-6. UCF advanced to the regional final in Coral Gables with a 9-8 win over Stony Brook. Rice allowed just two hits, but lost to Arkansas on an unearned run, 1-0. UAB's magical postsesason run came to an end with an 8-1 loss to Mississippi State.
EAST CAROLINA 10, CORNELL 6
CHAPEL HILL, N.C. - After dropping the NCAA Chapel Hill Regional opener to St. John's Friday, June 1, East Carolina staved off elimination with a 10-6 victory over Cornell Saturday afternoon at Boshamer Stadium.
With the win, the No. 2-seeded Pirates kept their season alive as they are set to take the field again Sunday afternoon at 1:00 p.m. (ET) in yet another elimination game. The Purple and Gold awaits the loser of Saturday's nightcap, which features the tournament's two undefeated clubs, North Carolina and St. John's.
Trailing 4-2 after four frames, East Carolina exploded for five runs in the fifth to seize a 7-4 advantage. Drew Reynolds (2-for-5), who opened the scoring with a solo home run in the third, led off the fifth-inning rally with a single up the middle before moving to second after Corey Thompson was hit-by-a-pitch. John Wooten executed a sacrifice bunt back to Cornell starter Brian McAfee, whose throw to first sailed wide, allowing Reynolds to score, while Thompson and Wooten advanced into scoring position.
Jay Cannon, experiencing action in his first career NCAA post-season action, drove in Thompson with a run-scoring ground out to short, knotting the score at four. Senior catcher Zach Wright lifted a towering sacrifice fly just shy of the warning track in left, giving East Carolina a slim 5-4 edge.
Chase McDonald, who has now collected at least one hit in all six NCAA post-season contests, singled to continue ECU's offensive outburst in the fifth. The Greenville, N.C., native's base knock chased McAfee from the mound as Cornell replaced the freshman right-hander with TJ Parthemer.
Jack Reinheimer greeted Parthemer with an infield single to third, keeping the inning alive for Mike Ussery, whose RBI single increased the lead to two runs. Tim Younger added a run-scoring single - the third consecutive hit off Parthemer - to put East Carolina ahead 7-4.
McAfee (6-1) yielded six runs (three earned) on eight hits and walked two in 4 2/3 frames. Parthemer did not record an out after entering with two down in the fifth as he allowed three hits and a run before giving way to Connor Kaufmann.
Kaufmann avoided further damage in the fifth by retiring Reynolds, ECU's 10th batter of the frame. The right-hander walked a pair, allowed one hit and one run before leaving the game in the seventh with a reoccurring injury.
Cornell wasted little time answering East Carolina's attack, scoring a pair of runs in its half of the fifth to climb back within one, 7-6. Pirate starter Kevin Brandt retired just one batter in the inning before being replaced by fellow southpaw Tyler Joyner. Cornell got hits from Chris Cruz (single), Brandon Lee (double) and Tom D'Alessandro (single) against Brandt to pull within a pair of runs, 7-5.
Joyner entered the game with the bases loaded and one out. The Rocky Mount, N.C., native promptly hit Ben Swinford to force in a run, which was charged to Brandt and trimmed the Pirate advantage to one. Joyner responded by retiring Brenton Peters on a shallow fly ball to left and striking out Marshall Yanzick to preserve East Carolina's one-run edge.
Brandt, who entered the game with a 1.85 ERA, surrendered six runs (four earned) on a season-high 11 hits in 4 1/3 innings. He walked one and struck out two, moving into sixth place on ECU's all-time strikeout list with 272.
Joyner (6-2) was brilliant after escaping the bases loaded jam in the fifth as he went on to allow just one hit and one walk, while striking out three in 4 2/3 scoreless innings.
The Pirates gave themselves much-needed breathing room by plating a trio of runs in the seventh to seize a 10-6 lead.
After Reinheimer and Younger drew walks to put runners on first and second with one out, Cornell reliever Kellen Urbon retired Reynolds on a lineout to Cruz and induced a soft grounder off the bat of Thompson, but Yanick stumbled as he fielded the slow roller and his throw to first eluded Hager, allowing Reinheimer to score.
With an 8-6 lead, East Carolina capitalized further on Yanick's miscue as Wooten (RBI single) and Cannon (RBI double) put the Pirates ahead, 10-6.
Urbon surrendered just one unearned run on three hits in 2 2/3 innings.
Cornell threatened in the ninth as the Big Red had two guys on base, but Kevin Tatum's fielder's choice groundout sealed the win for Joyner and ECU.
All nine ECU starters recorded a hit, while Reynolds, Wooten, Cannon, Wright, McDonald and Reinheimer each produced a pair of knocks. Cannon was the only Pirate with more than one RBI.
Reynolds' solo blast into the pine trees behind the right-field fence put ECU ahead 1-0 in the third. The Pirates added another run in the fourth to claim a 2-0 lead. Reinheimer drove in Wright, who singled and stole second to set up the scoring play.
Cornell roughed up Brandt in the fourth with four runs to take a two-run lead. The Big Red were able to do so behind RBI hits from Lee, D'Alessandro and Swinford, while pushing across another after Yanzick was hit by a Brandt offering with the bases loaded.
The 2012 Ivy League Champions finished the season with a 31-17-1 ledger, while advancing to the NCAA Tournament for only the second time in program history.
With the triumph, ECU (36-23-1) kept its hopes alive of reaching its fourth regional championship game in five years. First pitch for tomorrow's game is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. (ET). If East Carolina wins the afternoon game, the Regional Final will begin at 6:00 p.m.
UCF 9, STONY BROOK 8
CORAL GABLES, Fla. (UCFAthletics.com) - Given the scouting report on Stony Brook starting pitcher Brandon McNitt early Saturday morning and told he could expect fastballs ranging from 83-to-85 miles per hour, UCF slugger Jeramy Matos playfully asked, ``Does anybody here throw hard?''
Matos, a free-swinging junior from Lake Worth, crushed a hanging slider some 400 feet in the sixth inning Saturday night to break a 5-all tie and lift UCF to a 9-5 defeat of Stony Brook in the NCAA Regional.
Matos' fifth home run of the season and a jaw-dropping catch by senior right fielder Alex Friedrich in the eighth inning to preserve the lead put the second-seeded Knights (45-15) one win away from winning the regional and advancing to a Super Regional for the first time in school history.
The Knights will play the winner of the Missouri State-Stony Brook Sunday night at 7 p.m. at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. Missouri State, 2-1 losers to UCF on Friday, stunningly eliminated top-seeded Miami earlier on Saturday.
``From our standpoint we had a bunch of clutch plays and I couldn't be prouder of our kids,'' UCF head coach Terry Rooney said. ``This is where you want to be - where somebody has to beat you twice. But at the end of the day we just have to play one game at a time. ... They're at a point where they expect to win this regional. They do, and that's what everybody's mindset has to be. These kids came in here on a mission.''
Friedrich, UCF's best defensive player all season, made arguably the most important play of the season in the eighth inning when he jumped at the wall and caught a laser off the bat of Stony Brook slugger William Carmona. The catch kept a runner at second base and preserved UCF's one-run lead at the time. It was the second stellar defensive play of the series for Friedrich, who had a diving catch near the foul line in Friday's victory.
``Off the bat it sounded pretty well-hit, but I thought he might have gotten jammed a little bit. I took a couple of steps back (before the pitch) because the wind was howling and I didn't want to get burned,'' Friedrich said. ``I heard (centerfielder) Ronnie (Richardson) talking to me the whole way. I heard gravel (from the warning track) and then I heard fence. I have to give Ronnie for talking me through that play.''
In a season already filled with so many firsts, the Knights can accomplish another first on Sunday if they can win and move onto next week's Super Regional.
``It's a big advantage instead of having to play a double-header (on Sunday), we just have to play one game,'' Matos said. ``If we lose we have another day. But they are going to be in the sun all day and it's all teed up for us. We just have to take care of our business.''
UCF raced to a 5-0 lead in the first two innings thanks to a Stony Brook throwing error and a three-run home run by junior shortstop Darnell Sweeney. Stony Brook (47-12) tied the game at 5-all to set the stage for Matos' heroics.
Matos, a 6-foot-2, 210-pounder, is somewhat of an all-or-nothing hitter who rarely gets cheated on swings. He entered his decisive sixth inning at-bat with more strikeouts (41) than hits (32), but he certainly didn't miss a slider than hung out over the plate. The blast to left-center not only sailed over the 365-foot marker, but cleared the 30-foot scoreboard beyond the fence. It put UCF up 8-5 and energized the more than 1,000 UCF fans who made the three-hour drive from Orlando to support the Knights.
``I was looking for an off-speed pitch because that's what they've been throwing me. I saw the hanger and threw my hands at it. I realized it was hit pretty well,'' Matos said. ``It's been a little tough (seeing so many off-speed pitches), so I've been trying to let the ball get deep because I have quick hands and hit the ball to the opposite field.''
After Matos' blast, UCF added an insurance run that proved to be the difference in the game. Friday hero Ronnie Richardson led off with a walk, stole second, was sacrificed to third by Sweeney and driven home by Chris Taladay. It was Taladay who had the game-winning hit on Friday as well.
Said Matos: ``We knew those few runs weren't enough, especially in college baseball. That sacrifice fly by Taladay with Darnell Sweeney moving (Richardson) over was huge. That was a big run for us.''
Lefty Chris Matulis, one of the heroes from Friday with his first collegiate save, pitched five innings in relief of starter Ray Hanson on Saturday. He yielded four runs and four hits, while striking out two and walking two.
Joe Rogers, who worked out of a bases loaded jam on Friday, got the save on Saturday. He struck out two in the inning and his 13th save of the season came with the tying run on second base.
UCF loaded the bases in the first and got two runs when Stony Brook second baseman Maxx Tissenbaum hurried a throw on a double-play ball. The errant throw staked the Knights to a 2-0 lead.
Sweeney made Stony Brook pay for pitching around Richardson in the second inning, hitting a 0-2 fastball over the right field wall to give the Knights a commanding 5-0 lead. A Miramar native, Sweeney talked in the days before the regional about it being a dream come true to play a postseason series near his South Florida home.
``We talked this afternoon at our team meal and I told the kids that we'd have to find a different way to win. I really believed that,'' Rooney said. ``It was 2-1 yesterday and it was (high-scoring), but another one-run game today. We found a way.''
The 5-0 lead for UCF would be short-lived as Stony Brook leadoff hitter Travis Jankowski blasted a three-run home run in the second inning and slugger William Carmona doubled in two runs in the fourth.
That just set the stage for Matos' tiebreaking home run, Friedrich's clutch catch and Rogers' heroics in the ninth inning. Now, the Knights on the verge of making some school history if they can win on Sunday.
``These guys showed up this year when they got back (from the summer break) on a mission,'' Rooney said. ``We had a bunch of guys who had the opportunity to sign professional baseball contracts and they didn't. This group of kids got UCF back to a NCAA Regional last year. They all came back on a mission to put themselves in position to win a regional. It's all about the kids and they've done a great job so far.''
ARKANSAS 1, RICE 0
HOUSTON - Arkansas pitchers Ryne Stanek and Barrett Astin combined to shutout Rice 1-0 Saturday night and propel the Razorbacks to the championship game of the NCAA Houston Regional being played at Reckling Park.
With the win, Arkansas improved to 41-19 on the year. The victory was Razorback coach Dave Van Horn's 400th at the university. The Hogs will play the winner of a 1 p.m. Sunday elimination game between Rice and Sam Houston State.
The championship game will be at 6 p.m. on Sunday. The winner of the Rice/Sam Houston State game would have to beat Arkansas twice to win the regional.
Saturday's loss dropped the Owls to 41-18 and marked the program's first shutout loss in a regional played at home.
Sam Houston State advanced to play Sunday by beating Prairie View A&M 4-2 earlier in the day on Saturday.
In Arkansas' win Saturday, Stanek scattered five hits and struck out four in seven innings of work to improve to 7-4.
Astin, who earned his 10th save of the year, retired the side in the eighth and got three straight outs after giving up a leadoff base hit to J.T. Chargois in the ninth inning. Chargois advanced to third on a sacrifice bunt and grounder before being stranded.
Arkansas grabbed a 1-0 lead in the second inning.
Dominic Ficociello led off the frame with a walk and advanced to second when Brian Anderson laid down a bunt. With two outs, an error on a shot by Derrick Bleeker down the third baseline scored Ficociello for the game's only run.
Both teams got out of middle inning jams.
Rice starting pitcher Austin Kubitza struck out Jake Wise to end the fifth inning and strand Bleeker at third. Bleeker had doubled and advanced to third on a groundout.
In the sixth inning, Rice third baseman Shane Hoelscher made a throw home on a Matt Reynolds' grounder to the left side of the infield and catcher Craig Manuel tagged out Tim Carver who tried to score on the play from third. Carver had led off the sixth with a walk, moved to second on a sacrifice and later stole third.
Later in the sixth, Reynolds would steal second and execute a double steal with Ficociello to put runners at second and third before Brian Anderson flew out to left field to end the inning.
In 7.1 innings of work, Kubitza scattered two hits and struck out eight. The loss dropped him to 6-5 on the year. Chargois pitched the final 1.2 innings, striking out three.
Arkansas would turn a 643 double play to get out of the fourth inning and the Owls would strand two runners in the fifth.
After giving up a total of four hits in the third through fifth innings, Stanek retired the side in the sixth inning, covering first for a close play to end the frame.
The Owls would get a runner to third for the first time in the game in the seventh Rathjen led off the inning with a single and advanced to third on a pair of groundouts. But with runners on the corners and facing a 3-2 count, the Owls' Ryan Lewis flew out to centerfield to end the threat.
MISSISSIPPI STATE 8, UAB 1
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The UAB baseball team saw its postseason come to an end Saturday with an 8-1 loss to Mississippi State in an elimination game at the NCAA Tallahassee Regional at Florida State's Dick Howser Stadium.
A tight game into the middle innings, Mississippi State scored all eight of its runs from the fifth through the seventh frames and really opened things up with a five-run sixth.
The Blazers (32-30) were eliminated from their second-ever NCAA tournament appearance and first since 1991. The team's 32 victories this season are the most for the program since 1996.
Mississippi State (40-23) advanced to play on Sunday and will meet the loser of Saturday evening's game in Tallahassee between Florida State and Samford.
"I would like to say that I do not want the two losses at the end of the year...one to the No. 3 national seed by one run on their home field and one to the SEC Tournament Champion who just got done winning five games in Birmingham to win that title...obviously two of the elite programs in the country (be the focus)," UAB head coach Brian Shoop said. "I don't want those two losses to be the focal point or take away from an incredible accomplishment by this group of young men to win the Conference USA Championship - the first in the history of the program.
"It's not like we have a history and tradition like Florida State and Mississippi State have. It has to start somewhere and I'm always going to remember this season."
UAB starter Ryan Nance got off to a fast start on the mound Saturday, breezing through the first four and two-thirds innings and facing just one over the minimum before running into trouble with a pair of two-out walks in the fifth. Mississippi State nine-hole hitter Sam Frost followed with a double off the wall in right center field -- just the Bulldogs' second hit of the game -- to score both runners.
The Frost double snapped a streak of 11 straight shutout innings for Nance (4-4) dating back to his start in last week's Conference USA tournament championship game. The senior closer-turned-starter threw a career-high 99 pitches and struck out a career-best seven batters. He issued four walks -- one intentional -- with all of them coming in Mississippi State's two-run fifth.
UAB got one of those runs back in the bottom of the fifth when pinch hitter Tyler Mims drove in Keith DePew with a ground ball. But despite having runners at second and third with no outs in the inning, the Blazers managed to get just the one run across as Mississippi State reliever Caleb Reed came on to limit the damage.
Mississippi State then opened the game up with five runs in the sixth against UAB reliever Chase Mallard. The Bulldogs sent 11 batters to the plate, collected four hits and had the benefit of a pair of UAB errors and walks. Wes Rea doubled home a pair of runs in the inning, while Mitch Slauter sacrificed one home with one of three bunts in the frame, and Trey Porter drove one in with a single. Another run scored on an error as the Bulldogs opened up a 7-1 lead.
"You come to a regional on the big stage and you really want to play well," Shoop said. "I thought we did one game, and did not play well today - to take nothing away from Mississippi State, who is obviously a fine team and played very well. The wheels kind of fell off in the sixth for us, and I would tell you - and I'd have trouble convincing you - but I'd tell you that we are normally a pretty good short game team."
MSU then tacked on another run in the seventh inning on a sacrifice fly from Frost, who drove in a game-high three runs on the day.
The Bulldogs used three pitchers with starter Kendall Graveman throwing just the first three and two-thirds innings without allowing a run. Ross Mitchell (3-0) earned the win in relief, tossing one inning and allowing the only UAB run. Reed then came on to throw the final four and two-thirds of shutout baseball and was credited with the save.
UAB had a chance to do some damage in the fourth inning when a walk and a hit batter put a pair of runners on with one out, but Mitchell came out of the Mississippi State bullpen to get a ground-ball double play to get out of the inning with the game still scoreless.
The Blazers then put the leadoff runner on in fifth, sixth and seventh innings but scored only the one run in the fifth. They stranded a base runner in every inning but the eighth.
DePew had a pair of hits for UAB in his final collegiate game, while Porter and Matthew Britton led Mississippi State with two hits each.