One of the best things about the NCAA tournament is that all 64 teams are still alive on Day 2. But the point of a tournament is to weed teams out, and that's what began to happen Saturday. For now, only one SEC team has been affected, but it's only possible for one of them to get through the playoff without facing the prospect of elimination, and even that is not a certainty.
Baton Rouge Regional: (2) LSU 2, UNC-Wilmington 0: In a game that went very late because of inclement weather that has dogged this regional in particular -- no one said it never rains in Alex Box Stadium -- the Bayou Bengals punched their ticket to the final and are one win away from preparing for the Baton Rouge Super Regional. The star of the game was Alex Lange, who pitched a complete-game shutout by scattering six hits and two walks across nine innings while striking out 12. Did I mention that Lange is a freshman? Because we wouldn't want to forget that detail.
Gainesville Regional: (4) Florida 8, USF 2: Another national seed that has breezed its way to a regional final, Florida has now defeated its two opponents by a combined score of 27-2. The Gators had six extra-base hits in this one -- four doubles and two-run home runs by Buddy Reed and Harrison Bader. A.J. Puk pitched seven scoreless innings, allowing four hits and one walk while striking out eight. Worth noting: This regional is paired with the Tallahassee Regional, where Florida State is currently undefeated.
College Station Regional: Cal 2, Texas A&M 1 (14 innings): Every once in a while, you get a baseball game where both teams stubbornly refuse to lose. And sometimes, you get a game like this one, where both teams stubbornly refuse to win. Between the two of them, Texas A&M and Cal managed to leave 30 men on base in a game where just three runs were scored. That included nine runners who were stranded after the ninth inning. Nick Banks actually hit the go-ahead home run for A&M in the top of the 11th, but it was caught on a great play by Brian Celsi. The Aggies did not have the same luck when Mitchell Kranson hit the walk-off homer in the bottom of the 14th.
Nashville Regional: Vanderbilt 6, Indiana 4: It started out looking like a long day for the Commodores after the Hoosiers jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first two innings. Then came the four-run third for Vanderbilt, and the Dores would never trail again. Dansby Swanson won the game with a two-run homer in the top of the ninth, opening the door for Kyle Wright to come in and pick up the save in a perfect inning. Rhett Wiseman was 3-for-5 with a double.
Los Angeles Regional: Cal State Bakersfield 2, Ole Miss 1: After scoring just two runs in two games in the first round, Ole Miss became the first SEC team eliminated in the tournament.
Stillwater Regional: Arkansas 7, Oklahoma State 5: The Razorbacks seized control of this regional with their second win in a row, and could actually host a Super Regional because Missouri State -- the national seed whose regional is paired with this one -- shares its park with a minor-league team that intends to use it next weekend. Why did the NCAA give Missouri State a national seed anyway? Because this year's selection committee showed a dogged determination to do nothing that made sense. In any case, the Hogs won Saturday's game with a five-run eighth inning that featured nine batters, as well as two throwing errors and a wild pitch by Oklahoma State pitchers. When it was all over, the Hogs had scored five runs on three hits.
Tallahassee Regional: Auburn 1, Mercer 0: I suppose you could call this a pitchers' duel, even though Mercer sent five pitchers to the mound and the two teams combined for almost twice as many hits (13) as strikeouts (seven). And that's not even counting the seven walks. But it was a low-scoring game, so PITCHERS' DUEL. The key play was a Blake Logan sacrifice fly in the sixth that drove in Jordan Ebert.
This is even more fluid that Saturday, because any team that has lost a game at this point now has to win twice on Sunday to stay alive. It's not quite an if-necessary situation -- that won't crop up until Monday -- but whether these games involve SEC teams is still up in the air. The SEC's website shows Coastal Carolina-Texas A&M being on the SEC Network, while Florida's website lists its game airing on the SEC Network -- which makes sense; the SEC Network has a 4 p.m. ET window, and that's the only potential SEC game that fits. My assumption is that either the College Station or Stillwater game will take the network's 7 p.m. ET slot, though they could try to slide that to 8 p.m. ET if they wanted to pick one of those games up. (For whatever it's worth, the LSU website lists its game as airing on the SEC Network.) Your best bet tomorrow is to check your local listings and keep in mind that any game that doesn't make television will be streamed on WatchESPN.
|Noon ET||Tallahassee||College of Charleston vs. Auburn -- ELIMINATION GAME||ESPN3|
|1 p.m. ET||College Station||Coastal Carolina vs. Texas A&M -- ELIMINATION GAME||SEC Network|
|4 p.m. ET||Gainesville||Florida vs. USF / Florida Atlantic winner||SEC Network|
|6 p.m. ET
||Florida State vs. College of Charleston / Auburn winner
|7 p.m. ET||College Station||Cal vs. Coastal Carolina / Texas A&M winner||SEC Network*|
|7 p.m. ET||Stillwater||Arkansas vs. Oklahoma State / St. John's winner||SEC Network*|
|8 p.m. ET||Baton Rouge||LSU vs. UNC-Wilmington / Tulane winner||ESPN3*|
|8 p.m. ET||Nashville||Vanderbilt vs. Indiana / Radford winner||ESPN3|