Defending national champion Florida, Texas, Texas Tech and Arkansas won their winner-take-all games in the NCAA Tournament best-of-three super regionals on Monday and are headed to the College World Series.
The No. 1 national seed Gators beat Auburn 3-2 in 11 innings in Gainesville, Florida, when Austin Langworthy’s deep drive to right field glanced off Steven Williams’ glove and went over the fence for a walk-off home run.
Kody Clemens homered for a third straight game and fill-in starter Matteo Bocchi held Tennessee Tech to one run in a career-high five innings as the Longhorns locked up their NCAA record-extending 36th CWS appearance with a 5-2 win in Austin.
Texas Tech’s Gabe Holt, Brian Klein and Michael Davis homered, and the Red Raiders beat Duke 6-2 in Lubbock Texas, for their third trip in five years to the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska.
Arkansas’ Carson Shaddy hit a three-run homer in a five-run first inning, and the Razorbacks reached the CWS for the first time since 2015 with a 14-4 win over South Carolina in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
Florida, in the CWS for the fourth straight year, prevailed in what turned into a duel between relievers Michael Byrne and Auburn’s Davis Daniel. Byrne pitched four innings, allowed one hit and struck out five. Daniel threw 5 1/3 innings of one-hit ball with six strikeouts.
Cody Greenhill entered with one out in the bottom of the 10th and faced Langworthy, who homered off him Sunday, to start the 11th. Langworthy connected on a 1-2 fastball, and it appeared Williams would make the catch, but the ball went off his glove and out.
“I just saw a pitch up and I happened to get good barrel to it and I saw it go out of the yard,” Langworthy said, “and I was stoked to put my team back to Omaha for the second straight year for me.”
Texas’ Bocchi was called on to make his fourth start of the season because the team’s No. 3 starter, Blair Henley, was unavailable after throwing three innings of relief Sunday.
David Pierce is taking the Longhorns to Omaha in his second year as coach after spending the previous five seasons at Tulane and Sam Houston State.
“It’s never been about me and it never will be, but the thing that I loved is I told these guys back in the fall I want this for you guys,” Pierce said. “But I also want it for those three coaches who have been with me for seven years. To watch all that happen today was really, really special, and I’m just so proud of our team.
“I’ve said before, we’re not always pretty; a lot of times we’re ugly. But we just figure out how to keep playing, and that’s what’s so special about this group.”
Texas Tech’s Josh Jung went 4 for 5 and Holt, the Big 12 freshman of the year, continued his postseason tear by going 2 for 4. Holt finished the super regional 7 for 12.
John McMillon and Dylan Dusek combined to pitch three innings of shutout relief, with McMillon getting out of a bases-loaded jam in the eighth with the Red Raiders holding a 4-2 lead.
Arkansas beat up on South Carolina pitching, converting 11 hits and six walks into its highest run total since hanging 17 on Florida on March 24. Eric Cole went 3 for 3 with a homer and double, Luke Bonfield was 3 for 4 with four RBIs, and five Arkansas pitchers limited the Gamecocks to six hits.
North Carolina (43-18) vs. Oregon State (49-10-1): Tar Heels are 1-4 all-time vs. the Beavers; all five meetings in 2006-07 CWS finals.
Washington (35-24) vs. Mississippi State (37-27): Bulldogs are 4-1 vs. Huskies; last meeting in 1998.
Texas (42-21) vs. Arkansas (44-19): Longhorns are 54-30 vs. their old Southwest Conference rival but lost two in Fayetteville in March.
Texas Tech (44-18) vs. Florida (47-19): Tech won 3-2 in the 2016 CWS in the teams’ only meeting.
Florida took a 2-1 lead in the fourth when Blake Reese stole home on a trick play. Auburn left-hander Andrew Mitchell was holding Nick Horvath on first when Horvath suddenly took a few steps toward second base and purposely fell. Mitchell stepped off the rubber and hesitated, then turned to throw home. Reese had already broken from third and was able to touch the plate with a head-first slide before catcher Brett Wright could get his tag down.
“It’s a left-handed move,” Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan said. “Usually it’s with two outs and two strikes. Really a gimmicky play. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. I think it’s the first time we ran it all year. Speed on both first and third, and it happened to work out for us.”
ANOTHER CLEMENS IN CWS
Clemens will be the third member of his family to play in the CWS. His dad, Roger, pitched on two Texas teams that made it to Omaha and won the national title in 1983 before he went on to a major-league career in which he won seven Cy Young Awards and two world championships. Kody’s older brother, Kacy, was the first baseman for the 2014 Texas team that came within one win of playing in the CWS finals.
“It means a lot,” Kody said. “Kacy and all my brothers have told me that it’s the best time of your life. My dad definitely said it was one of his favorite moments ever playing baseball. I think that everyone is pretty excited. I’m definitely super excited. It’s going to be fun, and we have unfinished business.”
The Detroit Tigers’ third-round draft pick and Big 12 player of the year led the 2018 Longhorns’ trek to Omaha. He’s batting .500 (11 for 22) in the NCAA Tournament with five home runs, two doubles and 11 RBIs.
HE SAID IT
“We had five hits today and a season-low three yesterday. To be able to do that to this group of young men, I am honestly amazed, to be frank with you.” — Tennessee Tech coach Matt Bragga, on Texas shutting down the nation’s No. 1 offense.