No. 1 Vols, other top seeds win NCAA regional openers easily
The top seeds that played their NCAA baseball regional openers Friday went unbeaten, and most won easily.
No. 1 Tennessee, No. 2 Stanford, No. 4 Virginia Tech, No. 7 Oklahoma State and No. 8 East Carolina each scored in double digits, and no margin of victory among the top eight seeds was less than five runs.
Vanderbilt, which reached the last two College World Series finals, continued its late-season swoon and will have to fight its way out of the loser’s bracket to advance.
Tennessee gave a performance fitting of the team that leads the nation in home runs and ERA. Jordan Beck hit two of the Volunteers five homers and Blake Tidwell allowed three hits and struck out seven in 7 2/3 innings of a 10-0 victory over Alabama State.
The Volunteers will play Saturday against Campbell in what could be a slugfest between teams that lean on the long ball. The Campbells hit four homers in their 15-8 win over Georgia Tech and have gone deep in 20 straight games.
Stanford set a program record for runs in a postseason game with its 20-7 victory over Binghamton. Virginia Tech pulled away from Wright State late in a 15-8 win.
No. 5 Texas A&M scored seven of its runs with two outs in an 8-2 win over Oral Roberts. No. 7 Oklahoma State rose a pair of four-run innings to a 10-5 win over Missouri State.
No. 8 East Carolina scored its most runs in 108 all-time NCAA Tournament games and extended its nation-best win streak to 19 games in a 17-1 victory over Coppin State.
No. 3 Oregon State played New Mexico State late Friday, and No. 6 Miami’s game against Canisius was postponed because of a tropical storm.
San Diego, a No. 3 regional seed from the West Coast Conference, pulled the biggest surprise. The Toreros held off Vanderbilt 3-2 in Corvallis, Oregon, in their first regional game since 2013.
Vanderbilt lost for the first time in five regional openers since 2016 and has now dropped six of seven games for its worst stretch since 2018. The Commodores have batted .233 while being outscored 66-23 over the seven games. Pitching has been the program’s identity under Tim Corbin, but the staff has an 8.70 ERA with 37 walks and 59 strikeouts the last 61 innings.
VOLS’ LEADER OUT
Tennessee catcher Evan Russell, who has played 228 games and is one short of tying the program career record, sat out against Alabama State. Coach Tony Vitello said Russell told him he was sick. Charlie Taylor started behind the plate.
HALL ON THE BALL
Conference USA pitcher of the year Tanner Hall pitched four-hit ball over eight shutout innings in Southern Mississippi’s 2-0 win over Army. He retired the first 11 batters he faced and finished with nine strikeouts, the ninth time in 15 starts he’s fanned at least that many.
Texas A&M’s Joseph Menefee struck out seven in three innings of relief against Oral Roberts. Among Division I pitchers with at least 100 career innings, Menefee is the leader in strikeouts per nine innings at 13.99.
FIRST TIME’S THE HARDEST
First-time qualifiers Coppin State and Hofstra got rough introductions to regionals.
Coppin State has never had a winning record since its program began in 1984, and the Eagles were predictably overmatched against an East Carolina program making its 32nd NCAA appearance.
Bryson Worrell homered twice in an eight-run third inning for the Pirates, and Coppin State’s Jordan Hamberg walked seven while giving up nine runs in 2 1/3 innings.
Mac Horvath hit two of North Carolina’s five homers in a 15-4 win over Hofstra. The Tar Heels have won eight straight and 16 of 18.
TOUGH DAY ON HILL
Northeast Conference pitcher of the year Joshua Loeschorn, who entered the day tied for the national lead with 11 victories, turned in the worst start of his career in Long Island’s 23-2 loss to Maryland. He lasted 1 2/3 innings and gave up nine runs, eight of them unearned after he committed back-to-back errors in the second. He allowed five hits, walked three and hit a batter.
AROUND THE HORN
Louisville beat Southeast Missouri State 7-2 for its 11th straight win in a regional opener, the longest streak of its kind. … Stanford’s 20 runs were its most ever in a postseason game. … Seven of Cayden Wallace’s 13 homers for Arkansas have come since May 14. He hit two in a 7-1 win over Grand Canyon. … Oklahoma’s Peyton Graham hit his second grand slam in 10 days, this time connecting in an eight-run fifth inning that broke open the Sooners’ 16-3 win over Liberty. … Michigan’s Jimmy Obertop homered twice in an 8-6 win over Oregon and has a team-best 22 RBIs in the last 12 games.
Regionals in Statesboro, Georgia, and Coral Gables, Florida, had their schedules altered because of rain. UNC Greensboro-Georgia Southern will play Saturday. Canisius-Miami and Arizona-Mississippi also were pushed back.
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