TCU, four others punch tickets to Omaha
All the chips were stacked against TCU entering its super regional series finale against Texas.
The Longhorns had the momentum after thrashing the Horned Frogs on Saturday, they had the crowd and they had history clearly on their side.
But not even history could slow down the Horned Frogs on Sunday as they punched a ticket to the College World Series for the first time in program history with a thrilling triumph over the Longhorns.
The Frogs weren’t alone.
UCLA defeated Cal State Fullerton to move on, South Carolina used a Christian Walker eighth-inning home run to beat Coastal Carolina to win, Florida State held off Vanderbilt for a berth and Arizona State once again had a flair for the dramatic in a victory over Arkansas.
The final two spots in the College World Series will be filled Monday with Clemson-Alabama and Virginia-Oklahoma fighting it out.
Here’s an inside look at Sunday and what lies ahead.
Austin: TCU starting pitcher Kyle Winkler isn’t the type that likes to be outdone. After freshman left-hander Matt Purke put together a fantastic start on Friday, Winkler thought it was only fitting to do his part against Texas in the series finale. Winkler did just that by allowing just five hits in 7 2/3 shutout innings as the Horned Frogs notched their first College World Series appearance with a 4-1 triumph. Texas, which has made 33 CWS appearances, will miss the event in its final year at Rosenblatt Stadium.
Charlottesville: Virginia entered the weekend as a heavy favorite over the outmanned Sooners, but Oklahoma also has plans to head to Omaha later this week. The Sooners used a plethora of offense and a solid relief performance from Jeremy Erben to beat the Cavaliers 10-7 to keep their Omaha hopes alive. Interestingly, Virginia starting pitcher Robert Morey only went two innings and Cody Winiarski allowed two runs in three innings of relief work. The series finale could be a tossup.
Clemson: After dropping a tough decision to Alabama in the super regional series opener, the Tigers vowed to bounce back in Game 2. They accomplished that with a vengeance. The Tigers were up 8-2 after just three innings against the Crimson Tide before cruising to a dominating 19-5 victory. CU starting pitcher Scott Weismann gave his team a solid start. For the Crimson Tide, though, starter Adam Morgan had one of his worst outings of the season, allowing eight runs on seven hits in just 2 1/3 innings.
Los Angeles: Cal State Fullerton has been considered the cream of the crop when it comes to college baseball in the state of California the past few seasons. UCLA, though, carries that distinction this season after dispatching the Titans with an 8-1 victory to earn its first trip to Omaha since the 1997 season. UCLA junior left-handed pitcher Rob Rasmussen struck out nine batters and allowed just a run on two hits in a complete-game performance against the Titans. UCLA finally has some postseason swagger.
Myrtle Beach: South Carolina first baseman Christian Walker single-handedly sent the Coastal Carolina nation into an offseason depression. The Chanticleers appeared to be on their way to evening up the super regional series with the Gamecocks. Walker, though, blasted a three-run homer in the bottom of the eighth inning to give South Carolina a 10-9 lead over the Chants. The Gamecocks closed out the game and the series with an easy ninth inning. South Carolina returns to Omaha for the first time since ’04. Coastal, meanwhile, must head back to the drawing board.
Tallahassee: After splitting the first two games, Florida State and Vanderbilt entered Sunday’s super regional series finale expecting a plethora of offense. Both teams, though, actually did adequate jobs on the mound. FSU had a four-run lead heading into the bottom of the ninth inning, but Vandy scored three runs and made the game very interesting. FSU, though, closed out the Commodores with a 7-6 victory to return to the CWS. FSU last reached the CWS in ’08.
Tempe: It’s safe to say this was the best super regional series. Arizona State edged Arkansas in extra innings in the series opener on Saturday. The Devils and Hogs played another extra-inning affair on Sunday, with the Sun Devils advancing to Omaha with a 7-5 victory after Drew Maggi hit a two-run homer in the top of the 12th inning. ASU is making its 22nd trip to the CWS with the series win. Hats off to coach Tim Esmay, who held the interim label for much of the season.
Oklahoma vs. Virginia: The Cavaliers entered the postseason as the favorite to win the national title. Now they must take care of the Sooners in Monday’s series finale just to have a chance to win the national title in Omaha starting this weekend. With a trip to Omaha on the line, the Cavaliers will look to Branden Kline after Cody Winiarski threw three innings of relief work in Sunday’s contest. Kline enters the game with a 3.14 ERA in 63 innings. He has limited opposing teams to a .221 batting average. Virginia is the home team in the game.
Alabama vs. Clemson: The Crimson Tide took the series opener and the Tigers fought back on Sunday with a dominant win. Now a trip to the CWS comes down to one game on Monday with Clemson serving as the visiting team despite playing at home. Alabama will send right-hander Nathan Kilcrease to the mound, while Clemson is slated to start Dominic Leone. Kilcrease enters the contest with a 2.42 ERA in 93 innings. Leon, meanwhile, enters the game with a 4.89 ERA in just 49 2/3 innings.