Michigan, Duke stun top 2 seeds; Texas Tech, Cards also win
Two of the last teams selected for the NCAA Tournament knocked off the top two national seeds Friday night, and now both are a win away from making the College World Series for the first time in decades.
Karl Kauffmann’s second straight dominant postseason start helped put Michigan on the cusp of its first CWS since 1984 and No. 1 UCLA on the brink of elimination. The Colorado Rockies’ second-round draft pick carried a one-hit shutout through eight innings, and the Wolverines survived a stressful ninth to beat the Bruins 3-2 in their super regional opener in Los Angeles.
Duke scored 10 runs in the eighth inning on its way to stunning No. 2 Vanderbilt 18-5 in a game in Nashville, Tennessee, that started three hours late because of rain and lightning. Duke is trying to get to the CWS in Omaha, Nebraska, for the first time since 1961.
Louisville and Texas Tech also won their super regional openers. Game 2s are Saturday, as are the openers in the four other super regionals.
Michigan and Duke are two of the top storylines of the tournament after being assigned No. 3 regional seeds after being among the final four teams awarded at-large bids.
Kauffmann’s performance came a week after he went 8 2/3 innings in a shutout of Creighton in regionals. He allowed a single, walked two and struck out eight before running into trouble. A leadoff walk and two infield singles loaded the bases with one out in the ninth for the Bruins (51-10) before Michael Toglia ripped a two-run single. Jeff Criswell came on and got the last two outs.
“This team is built for three games,” Kauffmann said. “We have a great starting staff and bullpen. And our offense, when we’re rolling, it’s something special. Getting that first win, keep building on the confidence, that’s big for us.”
Jesse Franklin’s two-out, two-run single off previously unbeaten Pac-12 pitcher of the year Ryan Garcia and Jordan Nwogu’s sacrifice fly gave the Wolverines (45-19) a 3-0 lead in the eighth.
Vanderbilt (52-11) allowed eight runs in three games in regionals, but Duke (35-25) jumped on Commodores ace Drake Fellows and knocked him out in the fifth after he had allowed seven runs, five earned.
The Blue Devils’ lead was cut to 8-5 before they exploded for 10 runs on six hits, three hit batters and two walks. The 18 runs were the most allowed by Vanderbilt since Florida posted a 20-8 win in April 2017.
Atlantic Coast Conference pitcher of the year Reid Detmers held East Carolina scoreless through five innings and left after the seventh having allowed one run on five hits in host Louisville’s 14-1 win.
No. 8 Texas Tech beat No. 9 Oklahoma State 8-6 in Lubbock, Texas, and can lock up a second straight trip to the CWS and fourth in six years with a win Saturday.
The Red Raiders (43-17) have won eight straight against the Cowboys (39-20).
“We’re resilient at the plate,” Jung said. “They were putting up runs and we were answering back. If we keep doing that, we’ll be playing for a while.”
Louisville’s Detmers bounced back from a tough outing against Illinois State in regionals last week to put the Cardinals (48-16) one win from their fourth CWS since 2013.
No. 7 Louisville limited an East Carolina offense that averaged 9.8 runs in regionals to one run on six singles and a double. The No. 10 Pirates (47-17) were just 1 for 9 with runners on base.
ECU’s Jake Agnos, the American Athletic Conference pitcher of the year, lasted only four innings in his shortest outing of the season after winning seven straight starts.
Game 1s on Saturday: Mississippi (40-25) at Arkansas (44-17), Florida State (39-21) at LSU (40-24), Auburn (36-25) at North Carolina (45-17) and Stanford (45-12) at Mississippi State (49-13).
GAME 1 MEANS A LOT
Since the current tournament format went into effect in 1999, 79.3 percent (127 of 160) of the teams that won Game 1s in super regionals have advanced to the College World Series.
UCLA squandered an opportunity in the seventh inning. Michael Tolia reached on an error and leisurely took off for second base when he apparently thought Jake Pries had walked on an at-the-knees fastball. But Pries got a called strike three and Joe Donovan easily threw out Tolia.
— Duke’s Kyle Gallagher homered and drove in four runs, and teammate Erikson Nichols had four RBIs.
— Texas Tech’s Josh Jung, the No. 8 overall draft pick by the Texas Rangers, hit his 12th homer.
— Danny Oriente doubled in three runs in Louisville’s four-run fourth inning, and Jake Snider added a double and three RBIs.
— Tyler Fitzgerald, the Giants’ fourth-round draft pick, had four hits for Louisville.
—Michigan’s Criswell took over for Kauffmann and, in his first relief appearance of the season, got a flyout and strikeout to end the game with runners on the corners.
—Texas Tech’s Micah Dallas ran his record to 7-0, striking out nine and allowing two earned runs in five innings.
—Tech’s John McMillon went two innings and struck out three, including the last two batters in the ninth, after the Cowboys pulled within a run in the eighth.