We’re through three days of the 2015 regionals. So really, be honest, how do your brackets look? Have they been busted by Virginia Commonwealth’s run? Or Columbia’s upset streak? Or by UC Santa Barbara’s pratfall? Or by all these double-digit inning games? It has been another wild one for sure. These last few days of May should lead to a lot of June madness ahead.
Although there have been dramatic finishes, crushing home runs, stellar pitching and five-star defensive plays all throughout the brackets, perhaps the biggest storyline from the weekend so far could be the way Mother Nature has wreaked havoc on the regionals. Six of the regionals were adversely affected by rain this weekend, pushing a lot of Game 6s from their usual spot on Sunday night to Monday afternoon. In all, six games on Monday will involve an unbeaten team vs. a team that needs to win twice. With unbeaten teams listed first, these are the matchups:
• VCU vs. Dallas Baptist in Dallas Regional
• LSU vs. UNC Wilmington in the Baton Rouge Regional
• Louisiana Lafayette vs. Rice in the Houston Regional
• Illinois vs. Wright State in the Champaign Regional
• Florida State vs. College of Charleston in the Tallahassee Regional
• Vanderbilt vs. Radford in the Nashville Regional
And here are the winner-take-all Game 7s:
• Miami vs. Columbia in the Coral Gables Regional
• California vs. Texas AM in the College Station Regional
• NC State vs. TCU in the Fort Worth Regional
• UCLA vs. Maryland in the Los Angeles Regional
1-seeds sent home
Of the 16 teams to receive a No. 1 seed and hosting a regional, 13 are still alive in the chase for Omaha. The only top dogs to drop out of the race have been UC Santa Barbara, which was hosting out at the Diamond in Lake Elsinore, Oklahoma State and Houston.
The Gauchos sent future big league arms Dillon Tate and Justin Jacome to the mound but were still eliminated in two straight games by San Diego State and USC. The Cowboys were eliminated on their home field for the second straight season, this time dropping a winner’s bracket game to Arkansas on a few key miscues, then dropping a late lead to St. John’s.
Six move on to the supers
In order, these are the teams that took care of business in three days and will go move on to the next round.
• Louisville. The Cardinals move on to a third straight super regional round, having won 10 straight home games in postseason play.
• Florida. If ease of wins was the measure the Gators may have been the most impressive team of the weekend, outscoring their opponents 29-3.
• Missouri State. This will be the second trip to the supers for Keith Guttin’s charges. But due to the Springfield Cardinals’ home schedule next weekend, MSU will travel to Arkansas instead of hosting.
• Arkansas. Speaking of the Hogs, they were in three straight close games but went unbeaten in Stillwater to win a regional for fourth time in past seven years.
• Cal State Fullerton. For as much trouble as the Titans had early in the season, they went 3-0 here. Saturday’s epic 14-inning battle with Arizona State ended with a bases-loaded walk.
• Virginia. For the third time under Brian O’Connor, the Cavaliers were sent out west and for the second straight time they come out as regional winners, disposing of San Diego State once and USC twice.
A lot of coaches have rolled the dice on their decisions for starting pitching. And all of them have paid off so far.
• LSU went pitcher by committee for its opener vs. Lehigh and won 10-3 behind a potent offense. Because of that, Paul Mainieri was able to use Alex Lange in the win over UNCW and now will have normal Friday guy Jared Poche for the rematch Monday.
• TCU found itself in the loser’s bracket after an upset loss to NC State on Saturday night. But weekend starters Alex Young and Tyler Alexander had yet to be used. Coach Jim Schlossnagle took a chance by giving Brian Howard just his fourth start in the elimination game vs. Stony Brook. The Frogs survived the Seawolves 8-3. Then in the Sunday night game the Frogs used Alexander’s complete game to help get past the Wolfpack 8-2, setting up a Monday rematch.
• Texas AM, facing elimination on its home field, started Tyler Stubblefield, a preseason All-SEC type who came in having pitched just two innings all season. But the big lefty held his own, going four innings to get the Aggies off to a good start. They would eventually win in 12 innings to extend the regional one more game.
The cardiac kids
Nobody has had more of a panic than the fans of the Louisiana Lafayette Ragin’ Cajuns. In their first two wins the Cajuns overcame a 6-2 deficit against Rice on Friday and then broke up a no-hit bid by Houston’s Seth Romero before overcoming a 1-0 deficit Sunday. Both comebacks took place in the ninth inning of each game. And on top of all that, both game-winning runs were unearned.
Another big run by Cinderella?
VCU has pulled the rare feat of being a No. 4 seed and starting the regional round at 2-0 and going into the finals round needing just one win to reach the super regionals. They’ll face Dallas Regional host Dallas Baptist on Monday. Only four other teams in the field-of-64 era have started the regionals 2-0 as a 4-seed. Here are previous four and how they ended up:
• College of Charleston, 2014. Won regional in Gainesville before losing supers at Texas Tech
• Minnesota, 2010. Lost twice to Cal State Fullerton in regional finals.
• Fresno State, 2008. Won Long Beach Regional on the way to the national championship.
• Pepperdine, 2004. Lost twice in regional finals to Cal State Fullerton