Before Sunday, Washington was the only baseball team in the tradition-rich Pac-12 to never make it to the College World Series.
The Huskies finally are going to Omaha.
Kaiser Weiss’ bases-loaded sacrifice fly in the bottom of the 10th inning gave Washington a 6-5 win over host Cal State Fullerton in a wild Game 3 of their NCAA tournament best-of-three Super Regional.
Mississippi State also locked up a CWS berth Sunday night with a 10-6 win over host Vanderbilt in 11 innings.
The Huskies and Bulldogs join Oregon State and North Carolina in the CWS starting Saturday.
“This weekend, we’ve been working this whole year for it,” said Weiss, wearing a “Destination Omaha” cap moments after the game. “We always say, ‘Omaha no matter what.’ We grind it and we just wanted the opportunity. We had the opportunity and we seized it. It’s a team effort, all around, everyone.”
The rest of the eight-team CWS field will be filled out Monday after four winner-take-all Game 3s. Auburn, Texas, South Carolina and Duke won Sunday to force those deciding games.
Washington was cruising along against Fullerton with Joe DeMers carrying a perfect game until Hank LoForte doubled leading off the seventh inning.
The Titans scored three runs in the ninth to go up 4-3, but Washington got the run back in the bottom half. LoForte barely cleared the right-field wall with two outs in the top of the 10th for his second home run of the season and a one-run lead for Fullerton. But two errors in the bottom half allowed Washington to load the bases before Weiss lifted his winning sacrifice fly to left.
Mississippi State completed an improbable journey to the CWS by beating a Vanderbilt team that had swept three regular-season games from the Bulldogs in Starkville, Mississippi, by a combined score of 19-4.
The Bulldogs went through an in-season coaching change and needed to sweep Florida in their final regular-season series to secure an NCAA at-large bid. They’ve staved off elimination five times and will head to the CWS for the first time since 2013 after Tanner Allen doubled in the go-ahead run in a four-run 11th.
“So many times this year, we continuously had our backs against the wall — getting swept opening weekend, starting off 2-7 in SEC play,” Bulldogs center fielder Jake Mangum said. “We had everybody stick with us. The fan base stuck with us, teammates all stuck together. We never gave up, whether we’re down to our last pitch in Tallahassee or getting walked off last night. We’re going to Omaha.”
— NCAA Baseball (@NCAACWS) June 11, 2018
- Luke Jarvis’ walk-off RBI single in the bottom of the ninth inning gave Auburn a 3-2 win over the defending national champion and No. 1 overall seed Gators in Gainesville, Florida.
- Kody Clemens homered and doubled, and Texas pitchers held Tennessee Tech to a season-low three hits in a 4-2 win in Austin.
- LT Tolbert hit a grand slam for one of South Carolina’s three homers in an 8-5 win over Arkansas in Fayetteville, Arkansas.
- Joey Loperfido and Max Miller each doubled and tripled, and Duke combined for 10 runs in the fourth and fifth innings in an 11-2 win over Texas Tech in Lubbock, Texas.
Jarvis was 0-for-7 in the Super Regional before he singled in the Tigers’ winning run against closer Michael Byrne with one out in the bottom of the ninth.
“That’s as cool as it gets,” Jarvis said. “You’re not hitting the ball well and, sure enough, you come up in a big situation and all you’ve got to do is put the ball in play.”
Auburn is bidding for its first CWS appearance since 1997; Florida is trying for a fourth straight. The Gators go into the winner-take-all game 30-6 at home, and they haven’t lost back-to-back games in Gainesville since April 2017.
Tennessee Tech, which came into Sunday batting a nation’s-best .337 and averaging 10.1 runs, managed only two runs and three hits against Texas’ Chase Shugart and Blair Henley. The Golden Eagles are trying to make the CWS for the first time. No team has made it to Omaha more than Texas. The Longhorns are looking for their 36th trip and first since 2014.
South Carolina, hoping to get to the CWS in coach Mark Kingston’s first year and for the first time since 2012, never trailed against the Razorbacks. The Gamecocks broke things open in the fifth on back-to-back homers — Tolbert’s slam to right and Hunter Taylor’s solo shot to left. It was Tolbert’s second grand slam against Arkansas this season.
“This is what I’ve been waiting my whole life for, to play in this moment,” Tolbert said. “That’s why I came to South Carolina. Now we’re one game away. Tomorrow is what we’re fixed on now.”
Arkansas is looking to return to Omaha for the first time since 2015. The Hogs go into Game 3 with a 34-5 record at home. South Carolina is the only team to beat them twice at Baum Stadium, also having done it April 12.
Duke, playing for its first CWS appearance since 1961, had six extra-base hits and scored double-digit runs for the third time in seven NCAA Tournament games.
Blue Devils starter Graeme Stinson pitched six shutout innings. He’s allowed one run in 13 1/3 tournament innings with 18 strikeouts and two walks.
GOING THE DISTANCE
This marks the first year since the tournament went to its current structure in 1999 that six of the eight super regionals will have required three games.
A FLIP AND A HOOK’EM
Texas star Kody Clemens inspired a run of Twitter commentary for his trip around the bases when he homered in the third inning. He flipped his bat as the ball flew over right field and stared into the Tennessee Tech dugout as he rounded third and flashed the “Hook ’em Horns” sign.
Clemens, a third-round draft pick by the Detroit Tigers and son of seven-time Cy Young Award winner Roger Clemens, faced no retribution from Tech pitcher Travis Moths the next time he came to bat. Tech coach Matt Bragga said he didn’t want his players’ emotions to get the best of them.
“When he did that, it is what it is. I get it,” Bragga said. “It’s the heat of the moment, he’s excited, they’re up, hit a big home run. More power to him. I understand that. It’s part of the game.”
HE SAID IT
“Obviously, everybody’s disappointed. We’ve been here before. Hopefully we’ll feed off that experience.” — Florida coach Kevin O’Sullivan, on his team winning decisive games in the 2017 regional and super regional as well as last week’s regional.