Sean Wymer struck out national player of the year Brendan McKay in two key situations while pitching 4 1/3 innings of shutout relief, and TCU was on the right side of two close plays in a 4-3 win over Louisville in a College World Series elimination game Thursday night.
The Horned Frogs (49-17) jumped out to a quick 4-0 lead, with one of their runs coming on a play at the plate that withstood a video review. Wymer (6-4) limited the Cardinals (53-12) to two hits after they had pulled within a run on McKay’s 18th homer of the year and Logan Taylor’s first homer in 123 games.
McKay came up two more times with chances to tie the game or give Louisville the lead, but Wymer struck him out to end the fifth and eighth innings. Louisville coach Dan McDonnell was ejected in the eighth for arguing a call at second base.
TCU, which took a 4-0 lead in the second inning against Nick Bennett (5-1), advances to the Bracket 2 final needing to beat Florida on Friday night and again Saturday to reach the best-of-three championship series for the first time.
Jared Poche’ became LSU’s career wins leader, Jake Slaughter hit a three-run homer, and the Tigers eliminated Florida State from the College World Series with a 7-4 win Wednesday night.
LSU (50-18) advanced to the Bracket 1 final against No. 1 national seed Oregon State, which beat the Tigers 13-1 on Monday. The Tigers would have to beat the Beavers on Friday and again Saturday to reach the best-of-three finals next week.
Florida State (46-23) will go home without a national title for a 22nd time, and 16th under Mike Martin, who completed his 38th year as coach. No program has as many CWS appearances without winning the championship.
Poche’ (12-3), making his school-record 69th career start, won for the 39th time to break the record Scott Schultz set from 1992-95. He left after Quincy Nieporte and Cal Raleigh homered on consecutive pitches in the ninth. Zack Hess struck out the side for his third save.
Slaughter, making his first CWS start and batting out of the 9-hole, barely cleared the left-center fence when he connected on a hanging breaking ball from FSU starter Cole Sands (6-4) in the second inning. The homer, which made it 5-0 and ended Sands’ night, was the freshman’s first since March 15 and third of the season.
Slaughter, who had been a pinch runner and pinch hitter in the Tigers’ first two CWS games, got the start in place of Nick Coomes and also came up big on defense. He somehow kept his foot on the bag as he laid out to catch second baseman Cole Freeman’s relay to complete an inning-ending double play in the third, and he snagged a low liner off Jackson Lueck’s bat in the fourth.
Andrew Karp struck out seven and limited the Tigers to two singles over 5 1/3 shutout innings in relief of Sands. The Tigers tacked on a couple insurance runs in the ninth against Drew Carlton.
Brian Howard matched his career high with 12 strikeouts in seven-plus innings, Omaha native Ryan Merrill homered to start a three-run third and TCU beat Texas A&M 4-1 in a College World Series elimination game on Tuesday.
The Horned Frogs (48-16) avoided going 0-2 for the first time in five all-time CWS appearances. The Aggies (41-23) have gone two-games-and-out in their last three appearances and have lost eight in a row in Omaha.
Howard (12-3), the Oakland Athletics‘ eighth-round draft pick, flummoxed the Aggies with pinpoint location of his fastball and cutter. He struck out six of the first seven batters he faced and held the Aggies scoreless until Braden Shewmake’s RBI groundout in the sixth inning.
Texas A&M starter Stephen Kolek (4-5) was knocked out in 2 2/3 innings, matching his shortest start of the season. Kaylor Chafin held the Frogs to three singles the rest of the way.
Howard left after George Janca doubled leading off the eighth. Sean Wymer came on and retired six straight to end the game and earn his second save.
Merrill graduated from Millard West High School in Omaha and passed on a chance to walk on at Nebraska, opting instead to play two years at nearby Iowa Western Community College. The St. Louis Cardinals drafted him in the 15th round in 2015, but he opted to go to TCU for the possibility of someday returning to his hometown to play in the CWS.
He became the starting shortstop last year and the Frogs made the CWS, where he batted .300 with a .462 on-base percentage and made the all-tournament team. In the Frogs’ first game in this year’s CWS he went 1 for 3 in a 3-0 loss to Florida on Sunday.
In his first at-bat Tuesday he drilled Kolek’s 1-2 pitch off the back wall in the right-field bullpen for his sixth homer of the season and seventh of his TCU career. Evan Skoug doubled in a run and Elliott Barzilli had an RBI single to make it 4-0.
Since the Big 12 Tournament, Howard is 4-0 with a 1.20 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 30 innings. He struck out 12 for the second time in four starts.
The game matched teams located 175 miles apart and rivals since their days in the old Southwest Conference. TCU won three-game super regionals against the Aggies in 2015 and ‘16, and beat them 11-10 in 15 innings in their regular-season meeting. The Aggies still lead the all-time series 162-94-4.
Brady Singer pitched seven strong innings and Austin Langworthy and Deacon Liput homered to lead Florida to a 5-1 win over Louisville in the College World Series on Tuesday night.
The Gators (49-18) have won their first two CWS games for the first time in four appearances since opening 3-0 and reaching the finals in 2011.
Louisville (53-11) managed one run on six hits and struck out nine times against Singer (8-5). Florida pitchers finished with 10 strikeouts, making it their fifth straight game with double-digit Ks.
The left-handed-swinging Langworthy sliced a ball just inside the left field foul pole in the third and Liput hit a three-run homer to right in the fourth. Both homers came against Louisville starter Kade McClure (8-4), who otherwise was impressive in striking out nine and walking one in six innings.
The 6-foot-7, 230-pound McClure had kept the game close until there were two outs in the fourth. He walked Nelson Maldonado and Jonathan India singled before Liput drove a low 1-2 pitch into the bullpen for his second homer in four games and third of the season. He celebrated in the dugout by dumping a bucket of ice water over the head of a Gators staff member.
Singer hummed along through six innings, striking out eight, walking none and limiting the Cardinals to three singles. Louisville broke through for a run in the seventh when Brendan McKay doubled and scored on Colin Lyman’s two-out single. A base hit and walk followed, but the Cardinals left the bases loaded when Logan Taylor grounded out.
Alex Faedo limited TCU to two singles and struck out 11 in seven innings, and Florida posted its first College World Series shutout since 1991 with a 3-0 win Sunday night.
Faedo, the Detroit Tigers‘ first-round draft pick this month, retired 10 in a row before turning the game over to closer Michael Byrne to start the eighth.
Faedo (8-2) has been part of seven of the Gators’ nine shutouts this season. The shutout was Florida’s second in its 36 all-time CWS games and first in Omaha since a 5-0 win over Florida State 26 years ago.
Jared Janczak (9-1) took the loss, and Byrne earned his 17th save.
JJ Schwarz, Christian Hicks and Nelson Maldonado each drove in runs for the Gators (48-18), who will play Louisville in a Bracket 2 winners’ game Tuesday night. The Horned Frogs (47-17) play Texas A&M in an elimination game Tuesday.
Louisville 8, Texas A&M 4: Louisville had an early five-run lead against Texas A&M and national player of the year Brendan McKay was on the mound. It should have been game over, right?
“We knew Texas A&M wasn’t going to fold,” coach Dan McDonnell said.
The Aggies didn’t. They pulled within a run in the sixth inning before Sam Bordner shut them down with three innings of no-hit relief, and the Cardinals went on to a victory in the College World Series.
The Cardinals (53-10) used six singles and a walk to build a 5-0 lead in the second inning against Corbin Martin (7-4). Texas A&M chipped away against McKay (11-3) to make it 5-4 before Bordner entered and continued to flash his postseason dominance. The sophomore has given up no runs and one hit in his last 11 innings over four appearances.
“I think Sam’s been the X factor, a little under the radar,” McDonnell said. “When you’re in that first out-of-the-bullpen or middle relief role, it’s just not as sexy, and you don’t get as much attention. But clearly Sam’s been hot all year.”
Greg Deichmann drove in the go-ahead run during a wild eighth inning, and Louisiana State won its 17th straight game with a 5-4 victory over Florida State in the College World Series on Saturday night.
Jared Poche’ (11-3) worked 2 2/3 shutout innings in a rare relief appearance for the win. Tyler Holton (10-3), who pitched a workmanlike 7 1/3 innings, took the loss.
LSU (49-7) was down 4-3 when a bizarre sequence turned the game in the eighth. Cole Freeman reached on a base hit and Antoine Duplantis singled past diving second baseman Matt Henderson.
The ball rolled past Steven Wells, and the right fielder was off-target with his throw trying to get Duplantis at second. Freeman headed for home, and third baseman Dylan Busby’s throw to catcher Cal Raleigh popped out of his glove as Freeman slid past. There were three errors on the play — two on Wells and the other on Raleigh.
Alec Byrd relieved Holton, and Deichmann singled through the right side against a pulled-in infield to bring home Duplantis for the lead.
The Seminoles (45-22) had runners on first and second in the ninth when Zack Hess ended the game with a strikeout of Busby.
Florida State got out to a quick 2-0 lead against starter Alex Lange, who labored in his six-plus innings. Lange walked Taylor Walls to start the game, and then Busby cleared the wall in dead center with his team-leading 15th homer of the season.
Lange, the No. 30 overall draft pick by the Chicago Cubs, had difficulty controlling his fastball, and the Seminoles had their leadoff man reach base in six of the first seven innings. Lange allowed seven hits, walked four and struck out eight before coming out when he hit 9-hole batter JC Flowers to start the seventh.
Poche’, the Tigers‘ No. 2 starter most of the season, came on for his first relief appearance of the season with the Tigers trailing 4-3. He allowed two singles before giving way to Hess.
LSU’s first run scored on a freak play. Duplantis was stealing when Holton threw a wild pitch on what would go down as a dropped third strike. Duplantis took third on the play as Raleigh chased the ball and came home when Holton failed to cover the plate.
Michael Papierski homered into the seats above the left-field bullpen on Holton’s first pitch of the fifth inning to pull LSU to 4-3.
Oregon State had lost only four games this college baseball season, entering the first game of the double-elimination College World Series in Omaha with a 54-4 mark.
It is a record of historic proportions, and in that begs a simple question: How? On Saturday, Cal State Fullerton received a lesson.
The Titans for a few, giddy innings, led 5-1. They lost 6-5.
Oregon State began wresting back control in the bottom of the sixth inning. It began with No. 3 hitter KJ Harrison. He put the game in a stranglehold in one breathtaking, seven-minute at-bat when Fullerton led by three runs.
The action began with a 2-2 count.
Right-hander Colton Eastman threw a fastball. Harrison fouled it back. Off-speed, yanked foul. Breaking ball, bounced foul. Fastball, fouled back. Curveball, fouled back. Fastball, fouled back.
Harrison fought off everything Eastman had. Three minutes had elapsed. The count was unchanged. Harrison chomped on green chewing gum. Eastman squinted his eyes. A fastball went wide — a full count.
Off-speed, fouled back. Then, finally, a ball high and away. Harrison walked.
It hadn’t even scored a run, merely loaded the bases, but the game had noticeably shifted.
It was Eastman’s fourth walk in the inning. He exited. Oregon State singled twice off Titans right-hander Blake Workman, and the score was tied.
Two innings later, the eighth, with a two-out single, hit batsman and a run-scoring single by Adley Rutschman against Workman, the game was won.
“We never caught our breath,” Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook said.
Fullerton had tasted sunshine against Oregon State but only for a moment.
That is more than most teams are afforded. No team, ever, has dominated college baseball as Oregon State has this season. Its resume ventures into the realm of the ridiculous. The Beavers own the best winning percentage in Division I history. They have won 22 games in a row, which isn’t even their best streak this season. They had one of 23 earlier in the year.
But Fullerton shocked them in the first inning. With two runners on, Timmy Richards tagged a ball toward the outfield, pausing abruptly before first base as the baseball began its final descent somewhere near the left-center-field fence.
The runner ahead of him had held back to make sure it wasn’t caught. Richards wouldn’t risk catching him.
This is Cal State Fullerton and fundamentals must always be minded, even on home-run balls. Richards resumed his trot only when the ball landed in the outfield seats.
“I don’t think I could have taken a better swing to that ball,” he said.
The Titans’ brand of hard-charging, sound baseball, plus the modicum of power provided by Richards, had made Oregon State jittery early.
By the fourth inning, the ESPN broadcast reported that the Beavers were concerned that Fullerton (39-23) was reading All-American right-hander Jake Thompson’s grip, intercepting his pitches. Later that inning, Chris Hudgins tagged a pitch that needed no advance warning, a hanging curveball, for a two-run single.
Thompson is the nation’s winningest pitcher, at 14-0, but he surrendered five runs in 3 2/3 innings.
Fullerton right-hander Connor Seabold held Oregon State to just one run, but he nibbled around the plate and had to retire after five innings and 97 pitches.
Eastman, who had been a hero in the super-regional series against Long Beach State that sent Fullerton to the College World Series, labored. In the dugout after the sixth inning, he sat with his head down.
“They’re really good. And I’m stupid,” Vanderhook said. “I outthought myself. Eastman was on a normal rest. We had a healthy lead. At that point, I figured let’s turn it over to the best guy, and definitely outthought myself. Probably would do it different again. And I let them get back in the game, and you don’t do that to good teams.”
In the dugout afterward, Vanderhook asked his team for just one out. Then, they’d catch their breath. They did.
By the eighth inning, Harrison stepped to the plate again. He caught a pitch on the barrel. Center fielder Scott Hurst plucked the ball right below the yellow line atop the fence, saving a long double.
It was the second out. But Oregon State was not done.
“That’s why they’ve only lost four games,” Vanderhook said.
Colton Eastman figured that nothing good was going to come out of a trip to the dentist, but this hit him in two places.
It was February, and the Cal State Fullerton pitcher discovered that he needed to have his wisdom teeth removed. It coincided with tightness in his elbow, and he found out the two issues were related.
“They said the nerves in my teeth were connected to my arm,” Eastman said.
The Titans erred on the side of caution and shut down Eastman, a preseason All-American pick as a sophomore this season, for more than two months. They now appear to be a potentially big pain for opponents in the College World Series.
Rested and eager, Eastman gives Fullerton a No.1-caliber starter at its disposal just in time for the double-elimination tournament that starts with Saturday’s matchup against Oregon State.
Eastman’s return seems to set up the Titans well, particularly if they absorb a loss. Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook ideally can use him as the third starter, behind Connor Seabold and John Gavin, and he even opened the possibility of Eastman coming out of the bullpen.
“It just gives us more depth,” Vanderhook said. “Just to have another quality body and arm and competitor to put in there, it’s not hurting us one bit right now.”
Eastman started the deciding Game 3 of last weekend’s super regional and no-hit Long Beach State through five innings of an eventual 2-1 win that clinched a berth to Omaha.
Eastman’s pitch count has increased incrementally from 39 pitches in his May 14 return to 106 last Sunday.
“He’s still getting his feel back, which is the scary part, because he’s not all the way there yet,” Seabold said. “But once he gets there this season, we’re in really, really good shape.”
In the small sample size of his college career, Eastman already has shown that he likes this stage. In his college debut last season, he retired the first 16 batters against Stanford. Eastman bookended that in the regular-season finale when he went a career-high 8 1/3 innings with nine strikeouts against the Dirtbags to clinch the Big West title.
Eastman, a Fresno product who says he wasn’t recruited heavily by Fresno State, has had that penchant for clutch play since late in his high school career.
“I’m a really intense guy when I get into it,” Eastman said. “I like large crowds. I like everyone watching one player — the pitcher.”
Fullerton takes a similar swagger into the opener, even as the third-place team from the Big West. The Titans are not nationally seeded, but they welcome a matchup against the No. 1 Beavers.
“That’s what we wanted, because we know we’re better than them,” Seabold said. “We know we can beat them. If we play the better game, we’ll win. That’s what we’ve got to believe.”
Oregon State won’t have ace Luke Heimlich, but Jake Thompson helped lead the Beavers to a nation’s best 1.80 ERA. The Beavers (54-4) haven’t lost since April 29.
“Shoot, Oregon State’s lost four times this year so I’m sure we have a good chance,” Vanderhook said jokingly after the Titans clinched the matchup.
Vanderhook had his players do extra running drills to prepare them for Omaha’s humidity. He thinks that might make the Beavers uncomfortable.
“I hope it’s really, really hot,” Vanderhook said. “I don’t think they’ve seen any humidity. Maybe they run out of juice a little early. We’ll see what happens.”
Seabold wilted on Omaha’s stage two seasons ago when, as a freshman starter, he lasted 2 1/3 innings in a loss to Louisiana State.
That loss sent the Titans home. They were “two-and-barbecue,” to invoke the phrase used when a team goes 0-2 and has nothing left to do but enjoy the food in Omaha.
Redemption comes with a challenge for those Titans who haven’t played in as big a venue as TD Ameritrade Park, in a nationally televised setting.
“I’ll still be nervous,” Seabold said. “There’s going to be up to 3,000 people at the stadium, especially for the opening game, so it’s going to be a little nerve-wracking. But once I settle down, and get into my rhythm, I’ll be fine.”
The long history of Blair Field has featured lots of high stakes, last-out moments, but perhaps no emotional swing was heavier than Sunday afternoon.
Silence fell on one side of the venerable stadium while frenzy consumed the other when Cal State Fullerton’s Brett Conine struck out David Banuelos for a 2-1 win against Long Beach State that sent the Titans to the College World Series.
Electric atmosphere. Taut drama. Masterful pitching and clutch defense. Game 3 of an NCAA super regional fulfilled its promise and packed it with bigger meaning.
“That’s what it’s supposed to be like,” Cal State Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook said. “Southern California is not like that, at all, and I think today was probably the most energetic college baseball game in the history of Southern California that I’ve ever seen in my career here so far.”
Right-hander Colton Eastman took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and Conine made a six-out save to give the Titans a matchup with No.1 national seed Oregon State in Omaha.
Fullerton won with two hits. The game winner was a two-run single by Hank LoForte in the fourth inning, and Conine navigated eighth and ninth innings in which the Dirtbags put runners on third base, only to see the final snapshot a Titans dogpile near their dugout.
“This is huge,” shortstop Timmy Richards said. “There’s no better way than to do it than to beat them at the field [and] get to go to Omaha one last time.”
Eastman won a regional-clinching game for the second straight week in his longest outing of the season at 106 pitches. He didn’t think he would see Omaha when he injured his elbow this season, nor did he care that Long Beach State had won five of six games against Fullerton in the regular season.
“You can have the Big West, but I’ll take Omaha,” Eastman said when asked about the meaning of his celebration upon getting his last out.
Dirtbags starter John Sheaks gave up no hits in the first three innings to match Eastman, and LoForte’s single was the first hit of the game.
“I think it’s probably my biggest accomplishment in my career,” LoForte said.
It would have been a feat for Long Beach State to reach its first College World Series since 1998. It managed four runs and stranded 28 runners in the three-game series.
The Dirtbags ended a scoreless streak at 22 innings, from the second inning of Game 1 to the sixth inning Sunday, when a passed ball by Chris Hudgins allowed Jarren Duran to score.
That was all their scoring. Richards made a highlight throw on Laine Huffman’s grounder to deep short for the first out of the eighth.
Coach Troy Buckley said the Dirtbags chased fastballs up and took strikes on the outer half of the plate.
“The strikeouts have been a problem for us, it’s just the strikeouts that we had when runners were in scoring position,” Buckley said. “You don’t make them play catch. And their defense was fantastic. Their outfield, boy, it looked like there was six guys out there at times.”
Buckley and Vanderhook were frustrated that the two best Big West teams were forced to play each other to get to the final eight.
The immediate frustration for the Dirtbags, though, was evident in Duran’s face, smeared with eye black. Asked what it felt like to see the Titans celebrate on their field, Duran said, “I can’t say that.”
Taylor Walls had two home runs and three Florida State pitchers teamed up for a four-hitter as the Seminoles are back in the College World Series for the first time since 2012 after their 19-0 super-regional win over Sam Houston State on Sunday night.
Meanwhile, Evan Skoug homered for the second consecutive day, Brian Howard extended an impressive postseason pitching streak and Texas Christian advanced to its fourth consecutive CWS with an 8-1 victory over Missouri State at the Fort Worth, Texas, super regional.
The second game of the Wake Forest-Florida super regional in Gainesville, Fla., was suspended in the bottom of the fifth because of rain. The game will resume at 1:04 p.m. EDT Monday with the Demon Deacons leading 5-4. Florida won the series opener Saturday.
Walls, a junior shortstop, reached base in all seven of his plate appearances. He was 3 for 3, drove in four runs and had five runs scored. His home run to left on the third pitch of the game off Bearkats starter Heath Donica was part of a four-run first. Wells also led off the third with a solo shot to left.
The Seminoles (45-21), who had 13 hits among 10 players, had four home runs. Quincy Nieporte, who also drove in four runs, had a three-run homer to left in the second and pinch-hitter Kyle Cavanaugh homered to lead off the eighth. It is Florida State’s first four-homer game this season.
Donica (9-3) allowed a career-high eight runs in two innings, surpassing the previous high of seven. The senior right-hander, who was the first of seven Bearkats pitchers, allowed five hits along with having three walks, three strikeouts and three hit batters.
Jaxxon Grisham was Sam Houston State’s only player to reach third base. He had a one-out double in the seventh, advanced to third on a Taylor Beene ground out and then was stranded.
Drew Parrish (6-3) started for Florida State and had nine strikeouts in five innings. Sam Houston State, which made the super regional for the first time, ends the year 44-23.
Skoug’s two-run homer gave the Horned Frogs (47-16) a 4-1 lead in the third inning after his two-run shot in the eighth of the opener erased a one-run deficit and sent TCU on the way to its first super regional sweep.
Howard (11-3) won his fifth consecutive NCAA Tournament start going back to last season, striking out 11 in 7 1/3 innings to help TCU become the first school since North Carolina (2006-09) with four straight trips to Omaha.
It’s the fifth CWS bid for the Horned Frogs, all since 2010. TCU, the No. 6 national seed, is looking for its first championship.
Hunter Steinmetz hit a leadoff homer for the Bears (43-20), who were trying for the second College World Series berth after knocking off host Arkansas in the Little Rock Regional. The other CWS trip was in 2003.
Missouri State starter Doug Still (8-3) gave up eight hits and four runs in five innings.
England won the Under-20 World Cup by beating Venezuela 1-0 in the final on Sunday for its first global soccer title since 1966.
Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored in the first half, and goalkeeper Freddie Woodman preserved the lead by saving a second-half penalty from Adalberto Penaranda as Venezuela missed out on a first FIFA trophy.
It ends decades of English underachievement on the international stage since winning the senior World Cup 51 years ago on home soil.
“We have proved we are the best team in the world at this age group,” Calvert-Lewin said. “We have proved we are as good as any country and hopefully there will be opportunities for the lads next season.”
Although England hosts the world’s richest soccer competition — the Premier League — playing time for young homegrown players like Calvert-Lewin can be limited as the their places in teams are taken by imported players. A recent UEFA report found that 62 percent of players in England’s top tier were foreign — the highest in Europe.
Calvert-Lewin only made his first appearance for Everton in the second half of last season. Dominic Solanke, the striker who was awarded the Golden Ball as the tournament’s best performer, recently left Premier League champion Chelsea for Liverpool after making just one substitute appearance.
England winning its first Under-20 title indicates there is talent coming through the youth ranks, especially as some other eligible players were not in South Korea because they have already been promoted to the senior team or are preparing for the Under-21 European Championship.
Of the 16 members of the World Cup-winning squad who did play in the Premier League this past season, half were loaned out to a different club.
“It is not for me to tell the clubs how to do their business. They have their own pathways lined up,” England coach Paul Simpson said ahead of the final. “We want to see as many of our players playing first-team football as possible.”
Unlike their English counterparts, most members of the Venezuela squad are from cash-strapped clubs that, just like the rest of the country, have been affected by widespread shortages, triple-digit inflation and rampant crime.
“They played with their heart and dignity,” Venezuela coach Rafael Dudamel said. “We were not able to give the country the joy it wanted but people will not forget these players.”