FSU’s Martin back to CWS; Michigan in 1st time since 1984
Florida State coach Mike Martin, the all-time wins leader in all NCAA sports, will get one more shot at winning his first national championship before he retires.
The Seminoles continued their improbable postseason surge with a 5-4 win over LSU in 12 innings Sunday night to complete a two-game super regional sweep.
Now, Martin and his team are off to Omaha, Nebraska, for the College World Series. It’s the 23rd trip for the program and 17th for Martin.
“So excited I can’t stand it,” he told his wife, Carol, on the field after the game in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Michigan, like Florida State one of the last teams picked for the 64-team national tournament, knocked off No. 1 overall seed UCLA 4-2 in a Game 3 in Los Angeles to secure its first CWS appearance since the Barry Larkin-led Wolverines in 1984. It was the second straight time UCLA failed to make it to Omaha as the top seed. The 2015 Bruins were eliminated in regionals.
Vanderbilt, Texas Tech and Mississippi State also won super regionals to advance. Louisville earned a CWS spot Saturday.
Florida State (41-21) has reached the NCAA Tournament in each of Martin’s 40 seasons, but barely got in this year. An up-and-down regular season and a so-so resume left the Seminoles vulnerable on selection day, and they were awarded one of the last four at-large bids.
They beat No. 4 national seed Georgia twice while going 3-0 in their regional and then they went into Alex Box Stadium, one of the toughest road environments in the nation, and won two close games over the Tigers.
Drew Mendoza delivered the key hit with two outs in the 12th, sending Devin Fontenot’s 2-2 pitch into right field to score Mike Salvatore from second for the walk-off win.
His wife blowing kisses to him from the stands, Martin pumped his right fist and shouted, “Yes! Yes! Yes!” before descending the dugout steps after an on-field celebration. Martin, 75, announced after last season that 2019 would be his final year as coach.
Michigan got a big pitching performance from Tommy Henry, who was battling the flu, and a tiebreaking two-run single in the sixth inning from Ako Thomas, who was 1 for his previous 13.
The Wolverines (45-20) had lost six of eight games spanning the regular season and Big Ten Tournament and were anxious about their fate on NCAA selection day. They won their regional in Corvallis, Oregon, and stayed on the West Coast and eliminated the team that topped the polls for most of the season.
Henry pitched seven strong innings in the deciding game before fellow left-hander Benjamin Keizer took over. With the Bruins threatening with runners on second and third in the ninth, Keizer got the game-ending groundout.
Austin Martin hit two of Vanderbilt’s five home runs in a 13-2 win over Duke the day after the Commodores’ Kumar Rocker threw the first no-hitter in the 20-year super regional era.
Texas Tech’s Kurt Wilson hit a three-run homer in the eighth inning for the fifth and final lead change in an 8-6 win over Oklahoma State.
Mississippi and North Carolina also won and evened their series to force Game 3s on Monday for the final two CWS spots.
No. 2 Vanderbilt (54-11) rebounded from an embarrassing 18-5 loss on its home field in Game 1 on Friday to dominate the Blue Devils. Rocker struck out 19 in his no-hitter Saturday, and the Commodores were up 9-1 in the third inning Sunday on their way to punching their ticket to Omaha for the first time since 2015 and fourth since 2011.
No. 8 Texas Tech (44-18) is in the CWS for the second straight year and fourth time since 2014 after prevailing at home in a back-and-forth three-game series with its Big 12 rival. Down 6-4 in the eighth, Tech pulled within a run when first-round draft pick Josh Jung hit his second homer of the game to bring on Ben Leeper. He walked two batters before Wilson launched a high breaking pitch over the right-field wall.
No. 6 Mississippi State (51-13) is in its 11th CWS and second in a row, this time with first-year coach Chris Lemonis, after beating Stanford 8-1. Dustin Skelton’s three-run triple made it 4-1 in the third inning and Elijah MacNamee hit a three-run homer in the ninth.
In other super regionals, Tyler Keenan tripled, hit one of Ole Miss’ four home runs and had four RBIs to lead the Rebels past Arkansas 13-5, and North Carolina’s Austin Bergner and Austin Love combined for a shutout in a 2-0 win over Auburn.
The eight-team CWS opens with first-round games Saturday and Sunday at TD Ameritrade Park. The matchups, with schedule to be announced: Michigan vs. Texas Tech, Florida State vs. Mississippi or Arkansas, Louisville vs. Vanderbilt, and Mississippi State vs. Auburn or North Carolina.
— Martin was 4 for 10 with six RBIs in the super regional and heads to the CWS with a .410 batting average.
— Pat DeMarco, Stephen Scott and Julian Infante homered for Vanderbilt.
— Texas Tech’s Braxton Fulford homered, doubled and drove in two runs.
— Ole Miss’ Cole Zabowski went 3 for 4 with a homer and three RBIs.
— Ike Freeman’s two-RBI single in the first inning produced the only runs for North Carolina in its win over Auburn.
— Vanderbilt starter Mason Hickman allowed three hits and two runs and struck out nine in four innings.
— LSU’s Fontenot struck out a career-high 11 in 6 1/3 innings of relief, and the only two hits against him came in the 12th.
— Florida State’s CJ Van Eyk went 7 1/3 innings and allowed four runs on eight hits.
— Ole Miss’ Houston Roth pitched four innings of two-hit shutout relief against Arkansas.
— North Carolina’s Bergner and Love combined to limit Auburn to five hits and strike out 11.