Survivors put upset-filled regional round in rear view

Published 10:00am Wednesday, June 4, 2014

When Jackson State beat No. 6 national seed Louisiana-Lafayette 1-0 on the opening night of the NCAA Tournament, it stunned the college baseball world.

By Monday, however, it was clear that the success of underdogs and collapses by highly-ranked teams were par for the course.

Only three of the eight national seeds — Virginia, TCU and Louisiana-Lafayette — survived the regional round to advance to this weekend’s super regionals. The number of national seeds that lost in regionals matches 2007 for the most since the NCAA went to its current tournament format in 1999.

Nine of the 16 No. 1 seeds also bowed out, and the 16 remaining teams include four No. 3 seeds and No. 4 College of Charleston.

One of the No. 3 seeds, Kennesaw State, made the super regionals in its first appearance in the Division I tournament. The Owls won the NAIA Division I title in 1994, and the NCAA Division II national title in 1996.

“As a team in the ‘90s as Division II, that was huge. But I think this is going to put more of a stamp on Kennesaw State baseball,” Kennesaw State coach Mike Sansing said after his team beat Alabama on Monday to win the Tallahassee Regional. “It’s been a long process for sure, the reclassification, but it’s great to be here today and where we are.”

Among the casualties of the upset-filled regional round were some of college baseball’s heavy hitters. South Carolina, Oregon State and LSU, who have combined to win five of the last eight national titles, all lost regionals in their home stadium.

The mighty Southeastern Conference also took a huge hit. It put a record 10 teams into the tournament, but only two — Ole Miss and Vanderbilt — are still playing.

“It sucks,” South Carolina outfielder Tanner English said after the Gamecocks lost to Maryland on Sunday in the championship game of the Columbia Regional. “We’re done playing for the year. I think we definitely fell short of what we wanted to do, obviously, to lose like that in that fashion, at home in front of your fans.”

Vanderbilt will host Stanford in the super regionals. Ole Miss will travel to face Louisiana-Lafayette, which bounced back from its 1-0 loss to Jackson State in the regional opener to win four straight games and its first regional title since 2000.

Louisiana-Lafayette (57-8) beat last year’s national runner-up Mississippi State twice to advance. Now the Cajuns will try to dispatch Mississippi’s other SEC team, Ole Miss (44-18), which swept its way to the Oxford Regional championship.

Ole Miss has won eight of its last 11 games overall, but ULL has won 14 of 15 and is 5-1 against SEC teams this season.

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