Oregon State, Tar Heels, Huskies win super regional openers
No. 3 national seed Oregon State, No. 6 North Carolina and Washington won their openers in the NCAA Tournament best-of-three super regionals Friday and each is one win away from advancing to the College World Series.
Luke Heimlich turned in another strong performance on the mound and Trevor Larnach and Adley Rutschman hit back-to-back home runs in the first inning to lead the Beavers to an 8-1 win over Minnesota in Corvallis, Oregon.
North Carolina got home runs from Cody Roberts and Michael Busch, and Cooper Criswell held No. 11 Stetson to one run over five innings in the Tar Heels' 7-4 win in Chapel Hill, North Carolina.
Levi Jordan and AJ Graffanino each drove in two runs, and Washington survived All-Pac 12 closer Alex Hardy's shaky performance to beat Cal State Fullerton 8-5 in Fullerton, California.
Mississippi State played at Vanderbilt late Friday.
Oregon State is on the cusp of a second straight trip to the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska, and sixth since 2005. Heimlich turned in a dominant performance four days after he was not selected in the Major League Baseball draft for the second straight year.
The two-time Pac-12 pitcher of the year appeared in a super regional for the first time. Last year he missed super regionals and the CWS after The Oregonian newspaper reported he had pleaded guilty to a child molestation charge when he was a minor.
Minnesota, in its first super regional, managed only four singles against Heimlich through seven innings. Toby Hanson homered leading off the eighth for the only run against Heimlich, who had struck out nine and walked none when he left with two outs in the ninth.
North Carolina ended No. 11 overall seed Stetson's nation's-best 18-game win streak while winning its 17th straight at home.
Stetson ace Logan Gilbert went 5 1/3 innings, matching his shortest outing of the season. Gilbert gave up the homer to Roberts, the third off the Seattle Mariners' first-round draft pick over his last 10 innings.
The Hatters batted .311 and outscored their three regional opponents 29-7 but were just 6 of 33 (.182) against the Tar Heels in their super regional debut.
Washington, also playing in its first super regional, won for the 13th time in 15 games and the first time in nine all-time games with the Titans.
Fullerton, despite committing five errors, was within 6-5 in the eighth but left the bases loaded against Hardy. The Huskies' Kaiser Weiss, who entered as a defensive replacement in the sixth, hit a two-run double in the ninth to make it a three-run game.
The Friday winners can clinch berths in the CWS on Saturday.
Game 1s on Saturday: Auburn (42-21) at No. 1 Florida (45-18); South Carolina (36-24) at No. 5 Arkansas (42-18); Duke (44-16) at No. 9 Texas Tech (42-17); Tennessee Tech (52-10) at No. 13 Texas (40-20).
GAME 1 MEANS A LOT
Since the current tournament format went into effect in 1999, 78.9 percent (120 of 152) of the teams that won Game 1s in super regionals have advanced to the College World Series.
BEAVERS ON A ROLL
Oregon State has won its four NCAA Tournament games by a combined 43-5, and the Beavers' 1.00 ERA ranks second in the tournament behind Texas' 0.67.
STARTER'S A CLOSER
Washington Joe DeMers, who had been the scheduled Game 2 starter, took over for Hardy to start the ninth inning and got the last three outs.
Hardy issued two straight walks to load the bases with two outs in the bottom of the eighth. He got a groundout to end the inning. DeMers threw 14 pitches in the ninth. Coach Lindsay Meggs did not announce his pitching plans for Saturday.
BALL ONE ON NO PITCH
Stetson's Jon Meola started his at-bat leading off the seventh inning with a 1-0 count before a pitch was thrown. Home-plate umpire Greg Charles assessed a ball because Tar Heels shortstop Ike Freeman, who was tagged out in a rundown between third and home to end the sixth, was too slow coming out of the dugout. The between-innings break is to be no more than 108 seconds.
HE SAID IT
"Our third baseman doesn't have a pair of sunglasses on. I don't see any clouds in the sky; I do see a sun up there. We gave the guy another chance and he hit a base hit up the middle. We're having a little trouble playing catch." — Fullerton coach Rick Vanderhook, to ESPN2, after third baseman Brett Borgogno lost a pop foul in the sun at the start of Washington's tie-breaking, two-run fifth inning.