June 11, 2012

Around the Super Regionals

Super Regional Results & Capsules

Super Regional Notes


Ducks Run Out of Magic as Flashes Advance to CWS

By Taylor Gelbrich



EUGENE, Ore. – Oregon’s magical season ended in a walk-off loss to Kent State in the deciding third game of the Eugene Super Regional.


In what will go down as the best Super Regional of them all this weekend, the Golden Flashes (46-18) was able to punch their first ticket to Omaha in school history. The Ducks (46-19) were able to conjure up a little late-inning magic once again to tie it up in the eighth, but it was the Golden Flashes who pulled out the magic in the end.


"It's really hard to find the words what this means for Kent State and the Mid-American Conference to go to the College World Series," said Kent State head coach Scott Stricklin. "We've been to Regionals, we've had opportunities, and we’ve just never been able to get out of a Regional. So for us to get to a Super Regional was a huge step for us, but to come on the road and play such a good team in Oregon in front of a great crowd and to find a way to win, it goes to show how tough our kids are."


Kent State followed its starter, Tyler Skulina, to a victory as he gave up no runs on two hits in 5.2 innings. He did not pick up the win, but he set the tone in this game early on for the Golden Flashes.


Oregon's path was a little different. Ducks’ starter Jeff Gold lasted only 1.2 innings and was followed by four other pitchers. No Oregon pitcher went longer than 2.2 innings and the Ducks limited KSU to just two hits after Gold left the game.


"It makes it tough as a hitter when they bring in different pitchers and you may see two different pitchers in two different at-bats," said KSU second baseman Derek Toadvine. "So you can't really get locked in on one and both of the guys they brought out of the pen have two different styles of pitching, so as a hitter you kind of have to pick a pitch that you want to work with."


For the third straight game in this Super Regional, the Golden Flashes struck first. In the bottom of the first, Jimmy Rider got things going with a base hit and David Lyon followed with a base hit of his own. George Roberts moved the runners over to second and third with his groundout to Gold.


Then the Golden Flashes pushed through on a T.J Sutton base hit through the left side, scoring Rider from third. Gold was able to strand runners on the corners after striking out Nick Hamilton to end the inning.


Kent State would continue to apply the pressure in the second. Sawyer Polen led off with a hit and the Golden Flashes would add two more base hits to load the bases for Evan Campbell. Gold was able to get Campbell to roll into the 4-6-3 double play, but Kent State put another run on the board in the process.


"We had some chances to extend the lead early on we had the 2-0 lead," Stricklin (left) said. "Bases loaded, 1-0 and Evan Campbell is up, and we bounce into a double play. So we scored a run, but we gave them some momentum and again it felt like last night all over again. It was the same score, 2-0. You knew they were going to come back. They are such a good team and they have such good approaches."


Rider followed with a walk and that would spell the end to Gold's day as the Ducks would bring in Brando Tessar for relief. Tessar hadn't pitched since hurting his arm on April 15 at Stanford. Tessar was able to get Lyon to ground out to first to end the inning. Kent State took a 2-0 lead through two.


The Ducks would come back just like they had all season. In the eighth, J.J. Altobelli lined a ball to center field to lead off the inning and Aaron Payne followed with a walk. Oregon played Duck baseball and Aaron Jones sacrificed the runners over and the Ducks had two in scoring position with just one out and the heart of the line-up coming to the plate.


Ryon Healy provided Duck fans with the biggest hit in program history as he stayed over the ball and lined it through the right side that brought in both runners. Just like that the game was tied at 2.


The drama wasn't over.


It was the bottom of the ninth and on the mound was sophomore closer Jimmie Sherfy (left), who had tallied 19 saves and more than 90 strikeouts in a little over 60 innings. The Ducks looked to be in good shape.


Sherfy walked Toadvine to start the inning and Campbell sacrificed him to second with Rider coming to the plate. Sherfy worked to a full count and delivered a slider on the outer half that Rider was just able to get a piece of as it went sailing high into short left field.


It looked to be a routine fly ball, but Brett Thomas lost the ball in the sun with his head moving back and forth trying to find it and his arms in the air. Altobelli went into full pursuit from short and went diving for the ball, but was unable to come up with it. The ball kicked off Altobelli's leg into the left field foul wall and by the time the Ducks were able to get to the ball, Toadvine was just about to slide into home for the walk-off victory.


"I thought ahh, that's a sure out, a little looper, wish I could have put more barrel on that and got it down the line," Rider said. "As I was running, I saw it and that's good placement, can it get down? Then I saw it land and it was a pretty good feeling."


When Thomas (left) was asked what he was thinking when he saw Kent State cross the plate he said, "Unreal…I know we worked so hard for this, but that team, Kent State, they deserve it. They are a quality ball club and I am going to root for them in the College World Series, that's for sure."


Every game in this Super Regional was decided by one run and every game included a late-inning comeback by both teams and sometimes even two comebacks in one game.


Kent State moves onto the College World Series where it will take on Arkansas in its first game in Omaha on Saturday, June 16, at 4 p.m. CT.


(photos courtesy of Kent State & Oregon Media Relations Offices)