Recapping Saturday's super regionals

June, 12, 2011

Day 2 of the super regionals is in the archives and we've already scanned two tickets to Omaha as North Carolina and Vanderbilt advanced to the promised land with series wins over Pac-10ers Stanford and Oregon State, respectively.

With six more spots still up for grabs in the field of eight, let's take a quick swing around the country and see what happened in the super regional round on Saturday:

Biggest win

Texas A&M: Beating Florida State in Tallahassee is one thing; beating the Noles with Sean Gilmartin on the mound reaches into the astroplane of meaning. FSU's staff beyond the first-round draftee has been a little hither and yon all season and even with the injury to ace John Stilson, the Aggies have to like their chances in Game 2.

Biggest loss

Justin Jones, Cal pitcher: The Cal ace was cruising until he felt stiffness in his biceps as he was warming up for the seventh inning, forcing him to leave the game. As of press time, the severity of his injury isn't known; Jones made it sound like it was a small matter in the postgame press conference. But if the Bears advance to Omaha and the biceps injury turns out to be more severe, it's a huge blow to their Cinderella hopes.

Best bet to go three games

The Santa Clara Super Regional: Despite Cal's dominance tonight, Bears coach Dave Esquer said it right in the postgame press conference: Dallas Baptist "is a scary team, offensively." The Patriots come into this series hitting .311, but were handcuffed by Justin Jones and reliever Logan Scott. Beware Bear backers, coach Esquer hinted that Erik Johnson could be on the bump for Game 2. Keep in mind, Johnson got plenty of use last week -- he started two games at the Houston Regional -- and could be vulnerable.

Best bet to end after two games

The Columbia Super Regional: The UConn Huskies have a deep pitching staff, but not getting a W with Matt Barnes on the mound is a tough pill to swallow. The Gamecocks aren't invincible beyond Game 1 starter Michael Roth, but their offense is capable of bunching together big-time hits and right now, they've got the momentum. Oh, and Matt Price is still available in the bullpen, just in case they should need him.

Play of the day

Nick Vickerson's two-run homer to beat Florida: This is a dream scenario for any ballplayer -- hammering a deep, two-run yard call to win a game and pull a giant upset in the college baseball postseason. That's what happened in Gainesville, as the Bulldogs pulled off an unlikely Game 2 win by a 4-3 score. What a scene.

Tour de force

Aaron Westlake, Vanderbilt: Speaking of cool scenes, what happened in Nashville was off the hook. In the eighth inning -- amid the chants of "Westlake! Westlake!" from the Vandy fans -- the strapping first baseman strode up to the dish and deposited his third two-run home run of the night over the fence, collecting his career-best sixth RBI on the night. All hail Westlake the Great.

Tour de force II

Jordan Etier, Texas: The Longhorn's 9-hole hitter was all the offense that UT would need to beat Arizona State 5-1. He capped his night with three-run dinger in the ninth inning to give the Burnt Orange a nice four-run padding and destroyed the Devils' will to compete. In all, Etier was 3-for-4 with three RBIs. Not bad for a dude who came into game hitting just .233.

Not ready for prime time

Stanford's youth: For the second day in a row the Cardinal staged a good comeback to get within striking distance of the Tar Heels in the late innings. But for the second straight day, they couldn't quite get the tying run across, nor could they stay close, letting the Heels add to their leads in both games.

Say goodbye to ...

Stanford: The Cardinal finish the year 35-22 with a 7-5 loss at North Carolina. As mentioned above, Stanford is young but will have a powerful lineup in the years ahead with guys like Kenny Diekroeger, Austin Wilson, Jake Stewart and Tyler Gaffney.

Oregon State: OSU (41-19) couldn't recapture their magic from 2006 and 2007 and, of course, a lot of that had to do with Vanderbilt being so good. Though the Beavers have to replace some pitching, Pat Casey figured OSU was a year away from greatness anyway.

Quick hits

• Mississippi State fans have to be loving me right about now, since I picked this series to be over in short order. Then again, who wouldn't have picked against the Gators after Friday's 11-1 blitz? Yet, one of the things I noticed about the Bulldogs after seeing them in a Thursday night matchup with Ole Miss in person last month was their never-say-die attitude. The Bulldogs came back twice in that game to beat the Rebels in a raucous atmosphere. I'm not shocked that they overcame yesterday's woes to play much better today. Can't wait for Game 3.

• Caleb Reed really deserves a shout across the rooftops for his performance in the Bulldogs' victory. Coming in for the struggling starter Nick Routt, Reed went the final 5 1/3 innings and gave up just four hits and one run.

• Florida State starter Sean Gilmartin moved into seventh place on the school's strikeout list after throwing his 321st career K in the seventh inning of Saturday's loss to Texas A&M, passing Jon McDonald, who played from 1998 to 2000.

• To the surprise of absolutely no one, Virginia used the remarkable arms of Danny Hultzen and Cody Winiarski to subdue UC Irvine in a 6-0 win. The two power-throwers for the Cavs held the Anteaters to just four singles on the day, despite issuing five walks. Worse news for UCI? Will Roberts takes his 11-1 record and 1.61 ERA to the mound on Sunday.

• After a three-hour, 22-minute rain delay, North Carolina was able to shut down Stanford in the ninth inning to become the first team to win its way to Omaha (Vanderbilt would follow a couple hours later). The Heels will go to the CWS for the fifth time in the last six years under the remarkable guidance of coach Mike Fox.

Eric Sorenson, who runs College Baseball Today, and Walter Villa are regular contributors to ESPN's college baseball coverage. Follow Eric on Twitter: @stitch_head

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