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2017 NCAA Regional Roundup: Cinderella Davidson Now One Win From Taking Regional



Evan Roberts (Photo by Tim Cowie/davidsonphotos.com)

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Strike One: Davidson One Win Away

By now you know the story of how Davidson qualified for the first regional in the program's history, and then how it pulled off its stunning upset of No. 2 national seed North Carolina.

So what can the Wildcats do for the big finale? Win the Chapel Hill Regional. After Saturday, they're just one step away.

Davidson continued its amazing run by knocking off regional No. 2 seed Florida Gulf Coast 2-1. Junior lefthander Evan Roberts, the team's Sunday starter, pitched into the ninth inning—the longest start of his career—and allowed just five hits. He needed just 99 pitches to navigate FGCU's lineup, allowing Nick Rivera's third homer of the regional to start the ninth inning but nothing else.

“That’s one of those games where, unfortunately, someone has to lose," coach Dick Cooke told davidsonwildcats.com "That’s just a good baseball game on both sides of the ledger. Two base on balls total, no errors . . .That’s just good baseball all the way around. Pitched great by both sides. Evan did a phenomenal job, and (FGCU starter Josh Dye) was outstanding. Both guys did a great job of throwing non-fastballs in fastball counts. They got some bad swings, which is what you have to do."

After Rivera's homer, Cooke went to senior righthander Westin Whitmire, who got a pop out and two strikeouts for his 13th save, setting the program's single-season record.

After the excitement of just getting into the tournament followed by beating the region's top seed, Cooke acknowledged the buzz around his upstart team.

“I think that we were still not reeling, but the energy from last night was clearly evident certainly through the fan base leading up to this ball game tonight," he said. "A couple of folks here working for the NCAA commented to me about how loose and relaxed these guys were from the dugout, unsolicited. We’ve had that comment a bunch for a while, so that told me that they weren’t overly distraught about what this means in the grand scheme of life.”

Meanwhile, UNC stayed alive by beating Michigan 8-1 behind a strong effort from Gianluca Dalatri. After Drew Lugbauer homered to give the Wolverines the lead in the second, UNC scored the next eight runs to eliminate Michigan.

On Sunday at 6 p.m. ET, the Wildcats will face the winner of a 1 p.m. game between the Tar Heels and FGCU. If necessary, those teams will meet again on Monday at 6 p.m.

Davidson is likely to start sophomore Josh Hudson (2-3, 5.27) on Sunday. Hudson pitched in the Atlantic-10 Tournament, pitching 6.2 solid innings in a win over Virginia Commonwealth.


Strike Two: Mize Delivers For Auburn

Tennessee Tech's stunning upset of Florida State on Friday threw the Tallahassee Regional into chaos. Now Auburn is poised to capitalize.

Behind sophomore righthander Casey Mize, the Tigers on Saturday advanced to the regional final by beating Tennessee Tech, 5-3. The Tigers will play in the regional championship game at 7 p.m. ET Sunday, facing the winner of Sunday’s first game between Florida State and Tennessee Tech.

Mize tied a season high with 12 strikeouts, pitching the first complete game by an Auburn pitcher in the postseason since 2003.

“It was a good game all around,” Auburn head coach Butch Thompson told auburntigers.com. “For Casey Mize to throw a complete game under 100 pitches in a college baseball game is amazing. He was really fresh tonight and just competed his heart out. Luke Jarvis made a couple of the nicest plays I’ve seen at second base. And I tip my hat to how good the approaches were . . . of Tennessee Tech’s hitters. Casey had to work really, really hard, and he did. We grinded out enough, and then Jay’s home run in the eighth was huge for Casey to go back out and finish the game with a two-run lead.”

Junior Jay Estes was 2-for-2 with two walks and hit his first homer of the year, a solo shot in the eighth that made it 5-3.

Ryan Flick and Chase Chambers homered for Tennessee Tech.

The Tigers are 2-0 in a regional for the first time since 1999, when Auburn went on to beat Tulane to win the regional before losing in the supers to Florida State.


Strike Three: Bears On Parade

Missouri State got home runs from Hunter Steinmetz—leading off the game—and Justin Paulsen to push Fayetteville regional host Arkansas to the brink of elimination with a 5-4 win.

A controversial call went against the Razorbacks as they tried to rally in the ninth. With a runner on and no outs, Luke Bonfield said he was hit by a pitch, which would have put runners on first and second. But Bonfield was not awarded first base, and then struck out on the next pitch. Dominic Fletcher then grounded into a double play as Missouri State won at Baum Stadium.

Missouri State will next face the winner of the loser’s bracket game between Oral Roberts and the top-seeded Razorbacks (43-18) on Sunday night.

Jordan Knutson (8-2) earned the win in relief for the Bears, while Jake Fromson pitched the final two innings to earn the save.

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