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NCAA Regional Roundup: Pair Of No. 3 Seeds Pull Upsets



Strike One: Surprise, Surprise

Texas A&M taking down regional host Houston doesn't stand as a big surprise, but Sam Houston State emerging from the Lubbock Regional and beating a national seed qualifies.

The two No. 3 seeds pulled upsets Monday in a day that also saw three other regional hosts—Clemson, Arkansas and Southern Miss—fall.

Sam Houston State rallied from a two-run deficit to beat national No. 5 seed Texas Tech 4-3 to advance to the program's first super regional. The Bearkats took advantage of some sloppy play by the Red Raiders, grabbing the go-ahead run in the sixth when Hunter Hearn scored on a check swing by Lance Miles that Texas Tech shortstop Orlando Garcia could not handle.

Redshirt junior lefthander Riley Cooper, who got the win Sunday with 3.2 innings in relief, pitched 4.2 innings Monday and was named MVP of the regional.

“We talk about all the time that if you show up to the field and you're only 40 percent, you give 100 percent of that 40 percent," Cooper told gobearkats.com. "Coach (Matt) Deggs told me he just needed one inning and that he didn't care if the ball couldn't reach the plate. I just wanted to do it for the guys behind me and the guys in the dugout. That's what we all do it for–each other.”

The Bearkats are the first Southland Conference program to advance past the regional round, an accomplishment that was not lost on Deggs.

“It really hasn't hit me yet," Deggs told gobearkats.com "This is a program that works, lives and talks about us being a David in a land full of Goliaths . . . they deserve this moment. I am so thankful to the Lord that he carried us through this thing. Four weeks ago, we were getting on a bus after getting swept by Houston Baptist. This group is very tough and resilient. We talked this week that it's only impossible until somebody does it.”

Sam Houston will face Florida State in the super regional after the Seminoles beat Auburn 6-0 Monday behind a complete-game, two-hit shutout from redshirt junior righthander Wil Zirzow, who struck out 11 and walked none.


Strike Two: Aggies Hold On

To this point, Texas A&M sophomore righthander Stephen Kolek is best known as the younger brother of 2014 No. 2 overall pick Tyler Kolek. That could change after Monday. Kolek turned in his best start in college, striking out nine in 8.1 innings as the Aggies upended regional host Houston 4-3, giving A&M its third straight regional crown.

Kolek blanked the Cougars into the ninth before Houston rallied. Reliever Kaylor Chafin entered the game with one out and one on and hit the first batter he faced to put two runners on. Chafin regrouped to get Lael Lockhart to ground to third base, but an error loaded the bases with one out. A single and a sacrifice fly made it 4-3, but Cason Sherrod relieved Chafin and struck out No. 78 MLB Draft Prospect Connor Wong to end it.

Texas A&M will next face NCAA Tournament darling Davidson in a Super Regional this weekend.


Strike Three: All The Rest

The remainder of the 16-team Super Regional field was set Monday as No. 3 national seed Florida held serve and will next face Wake Forest; Florida State blanked Auburn and will face upstart Sam Houston State; Missouri State nipped Fayetteville host Arkansas 3-2 to take that regional and face Texas Christian; Kentucky beat N.C. State 10-5 and will face No. 7 national seed and rival Louisville, and Long Beach will face Cal State Fullerton after dispatching Texas.

The other surprise came in Clemson, where No. 2 regional seed Vanderbilt knocked off the regional host 8-0 behind six scoreless innings from junior righthander Matt Ruppenthal and two homers from No. 163 MLB Draft Prospect Will Toffey, who was named the regional MVP.

The Commodores advanced to the Corvallis Super Regional to face No. 1 national seed Oregon State.

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Toffey drove in five runs, hitting a two-run homer to center field in the third inning, then belting a three-run homer in Vanderbilt’s four-run fifth inning.

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