NCAA Baseball Regionals: ASU, Utah and UW all 1-1; UA postponed

Arizona State and Washington won elimination games while Utah lost a winner's bracket contest Saturday in the 2016 NCAA Division I Baseball Championship. Arizona's winner's bracket game was postponed to Sunday.

Washington

Jack Meggs was having a bad game. He lost a fly ball in the lights in the fifth inning, allowing two runs to score, and he was 0 for 3 when he stepped up to the plate with a runner on in the eighth. That’s when he turned it around, however, as Meggs’ two-run homer – just his second of the season – lifted Washington to a 9-8 victory over host Vanderbilt, erasing a six-run deficit in the process.

Washington moves on to face the loser of UC Santa Barbara-Xavier on Sunday for the right to play in the regional final. Host Vanderbilt, which has had a tough week following the drowning death of freshman pitcher Donny Everett on Thursday, has been eliminated from the postseason.

Spencer Jones was stellar in relief for the Dawgs, earning the win after throwing 3.2 scoreless innings, striking out four Commodores and scattering four hits and two walks.

Trailing 8-2 heading into the bottom of the sixth, the Dawgs tacked on a couple of runs thanks to Levi Jordan’s RBI groundout and AJ Graffanino’s two-out RBI single.

The Huskies really turned up the heat in the bottom of the seventh, when Joey Morgan hit a two-out, three-run homer to close the gap to 8-7. Gage Matuszak followed with a deep fly to left field that hit off the elevated wall and landed over the lower fence in left center. Instead of being a home run were it hit a few feet to the right, Mutszak had to settle for a ground-rule double and was stranded at second.

The Commodores had a chance to break the game back open in the eighth, but Jordan made an incredible backhand stab at second on a tricky hop off the bat of Will Toffey with runners and second and third and two outs.

After John Naff hit a solo shot to tie the game at 1-1 in the fourth, Vanderbilt exploded for four runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth to take an 8-2 lead. One of the Commodores’ runs in the fifth was a gift, as Meggs lost a fly ball in the lights, allowing two runs to score (it would have been a sac fly had he caught it, so one run would have come in).

However, Meggs – the son of Washington baseball head coach Lindsay Meggs -- more than made up for being unable to make that catch in the fifth when he stepped to the plate in the eighth.

Naff, Matuszak and Graffanino each went 2 for 4 for the Dawgs, with Naff and Graffanino adding one RBI apiece.

Leadoff hitter Ethan Paul went 4- for 5 with 3 doubles and an RBI for Vanderbilt.

Utah

Utah blew a three-run lead in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to Boston College in the Oxford Regional, surrendering three runs in the bottom of the seventh despite only one hit leaving the infield. Relief pitching and defense failed the Utes – Bill Kinneberg’s bullpen was responsible for two of the three runs allowed in the seventh and could not strand an inherited runner, while the Utes’ defense as a whole committed three errors throughout the game.

With the loss, Utah will face Tulane in an elimination game Sunday at noon MT/11 a.m. PT. Meanwhile, Boston College advances to its first regional championship since 1967 and will play the Utah-Tulane winner at 4 p.m. MT/3 p.m. PT.

Starting pitcher Dalton Carroll was solid on the bump, going six-plus innings and allowing two runs, but the leadoff double he gave up to the last batter he faced in the seventh set the table for Boston College’s comeback.

Hunter Rodriguez came on in relief of Carroll with the Utes leading 3-1 and got Gabe Hernandez to pop up a bunt attempt with runners on the corners and nobody out, but Rodriguez’s toss to first went into right field and allowed a run to score. Dylan Drachler soon came on for Rodriguez and hit the first batter he faced to load the bases with nobody out. After getting a force out at home, Drachler walked home a run to make it 3-3 and got a double-play ball to short, but Cody Scaggari fumbled it just enough to not be able to turn the 6-4-3. This allowed Jake Palomaki to score and give Boston College a 4-3 lead.

The Utes didn’t threaten much in the eighth or ninth, not getting a runner past first in the eighth and going down in order to end the game.

Kellen Marruffo went 2 for 3 with an RBI, while Josh Rose went 2 for 4 and Scaggari went 2 for 5 with an RBI for Utah. Rodriguez picked up the loss on the mound, not retiring either of the two batters he faced and giving up two earned runs.

Reliever John Witkowski picked up the win for the Eagles, throwing one scoreless inning after supplanting starter Mike King, who in 6.2 innings gave up three runs on seven hits.

Utah raced out to a 2-0 lead in the top of the first thanks to back-to-back two-out run-scoring hits from Marruffo and Hunter Simmons, with Marruffo’s double driving home Scaggari and Simmons’ single bringing home Marruffo. The Utes extended their lead to 3-0 in the fourth with another two-out RBI single, this time off Scaggari’s bat.

Boston College got one across in the fifth after Johnny Adams grounded into a 6-4-3 double play with runners on first and third and nobody out, allowing Joe Cronin to score.

Arizona State

Jordan Aboites threw his first career complete game and catcher Brian Serven drove in three runs to lead Arizona State to a 4-1 win over Oral Roberts in the Fort Worth Regional to keep the Sun Devils’ season alive. Arizona State now awaits the loser of Gonzaga-TCU for the right to play in the regional championship.

Aboites grinded his way through the latter innings, getting out of a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the eighth unscathed and striking out the game-tying runner at the plate with runners on second and third and two down in the ninth. The 5’6’’ senior struck out seven Golden Eagles while walking one and scattering 11 hits.

Arizona State got on the board in the top of the first without registering a hit, as Serven’s sacrifice fly drove home Gage Canning, who drew a leadoff walk, stole second and advanced to third on a wild pitch.

The bats woke up for the Sun Devils as the game wore on, with Serven getting into the action again with a leadoff double in the fourth and scoring the second run of the game after Andrew Snow lofted a soft liner into shallow left with runners on the corners and two out.

Two-out hitting continued to be instrumental in the fifth, as David Greer’s two-out single set the table for Serven, who homered to left on a 3-0 pitch to give Arizona State a 4-0 lead.

After getting shut out by host TCU 7-0 on Friday, Oral Roberts scored its first and only run of the regional on a two-out RBI single from Noah Cummings in the sixth. However, the Golden Eagles couldn’t get timely hitting beyond that – Oral Roberts stranded a runner on third in three of the last four innings.

Aboites was helped by solid defense, most notably getting a flashy 6-4-3 double play to end the fourth, with Snow bare-handing Colby Woodmansee’s throw to second and relaying to first well in time.

Serven went 2 for 3, while Snow and Greer each went 2 for 4 at the plate for Arizona State. Catcher Matt Whatley and left fielder Michael Hungate each went 3 for 4 for Oral Roberts.

Starter Nick Wood gave up four runs over five innings in the loss for the Golden Eagles, who went 0-2 in regional play for the second consecutive year.

Aboites threw 117 pitches, 84 of them for strikes.

Arizona State will next play Sunday at 2 p.m. CT/noon PT in another elimination game. 

The fellas didn't forget to have a little fun in the dugout, either:

 

Arizona

Arizona will not play on Saturday due to weather conditions in the Lafayette Regional. A first-pitch time has not been set for Sunday, as the elimination game in that regional between Princeton and Sam Houston State hasn't even started yet.

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