Auburn, Texas, South Carolina and Duke won in the NCAA Tournament super regionals on Sunday to even their best-of-three series and force Game 3s on Monday that will send the winners to the College World Series.
Luke Jarvis’ walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Auburn a 3-2 win over the defending national champion and No. 1 overall seed Gators in Gainesville, Florida.
Kody Clemens homered and doubled, and Texas pitchers held Tennessee Tech to a season-low three hits in a 4-2 win in Austin.
LT Tolbert hit a grand slam for one of South Carolina’s three homers in an 8-5 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Joey Loperfido and Max Miller each doubled and tripled, and Duke combined for 10 runs in the fourth and fifth innings in an 11-2 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.
Jarvis was 0 for 7 in the super regional before he singled in the Tigers’ winning run against closer Michael Byrne with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
“That’s as cool as it gets,” Jarvis said. “You’re not hitting the ball well and, sure enough, you come up in a big situation and all you’ve got to do is put the ball in play.”
Auburn is bidding for its first CWS appearance since 1997; Florida is trying for a fourth straight. The Gators go into the winner-take-all game 30-6 at home, and they haven’t lost back-to-back games in Gainesville since April 2017.
Tennessee Tech, which came into Sunday batting a nation’s-best .337 and averaging 10.1 runs, managed only two runs and three hits against Texas’ Chase Shugart and Blair Henley. The Golden Eagles are trying to make the CWS for the first time. No team has made it to Omaha more than Texas. The Longhorns are looking for their 36th trip and first since 2014.
South Carolina, hoping to get to the CWS in coach Mark Kingston’s first year and for the first time since 2012, never trailed against the Razorbacks. The Gamecocks broke things open in the fifth on back-to-back homers — Tolbert’s slam to right and Hunter Taylor’s solo shot to left. It was Tolbert’s second grand slam against Arkansas this season.
“I kind of blacked out when I was running the bases. I don’t even remember what happened,” Tolbert said. “This is what I’ve been waiting my whole life for, to play in this moment. That’s why I came to South Carolina. Now we’re one game away. Tomorrow is what we’re fixed on now.”
Arkansas is looking to return to Omaha for the first time since 2015. The Hogs go into Game 3 with a 34-5 record at home. South Carolina is the only team to beat them twice at Baum Stadium, also having done it April 12.
Duke, playing for its first CWS appearance since 1961, had six extra-base hits and scored double-digit runs for the third time in seven NCAA Tournament games.
Blue Devils starter Graeme Stinson pitched six shutout innings. He’s allowed one run in 13 1/3 tournament innings with 18 strikeouts and two walks.
In late Game 3s on Sunday, Mississippi State played at Vanderbilt and Washington was at Cal State Fullerton.
GOING THE DISTANCE
This marks the first year since the tournament went to its current structure in 1999 that six of the eight super regionals will have required three games.
A FLIP AND A HOOK’EM
Texas star Kody Clemens inspired a run of Twitter commentary for his trip around the bases when he homered in the third inning. He flipped his bat as the ball flew over right field and stared into the Tennessee Tech dugout as he rounded third and flashed the “Hook ’em Horns” sign.
Clemens, a third-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers and son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, faced no retribution from Tech pitcher Travis Moths the next time he came to bat. Tech coach Matt Bragga said he didn’t want his players’ emotions to get the best of them.
“When he did that, it is what it is. I get it,” Bragga said. “It’s the heat of the moment, he’s excited, they’re up, hit a big home run. More power to him. I understand that. It’s part of the game.”
HE SAID IT
“Obviously, everybody’s disappointed. We’ve been here before. Hopefully we’ll feed off that experience.” — Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan, on his team winning decisive games in the 2017 regional and super regional as well as last week’s regional.
AP Sports Writer Mark Long contributed from Gainesville, Florida.