Samford, Army upset ACC foes; Gators win NCAA opener easily

A couple No. 4 regional seeds from lightly regarded leagues upset opponents from the mighty Atlantic Coast Conference, shaking up what had been a mostly ho-hum first day of the NCAA Tournament.

Samford of the Southern Conference held on to beat No. 7 national seed Florida State 7-6 on Friday night in the Seminoles’ home stadium in Tallahassee. Army of the Patriot League upset No. 16 national seed North Carolina State 5-1 on the Wolfpack’s field in Raleigh.

Last year, Florida State rebounded from an opening loss to 4-seed Tennessee Tech to win its regional and eventually reach the College World Series.

Samford led 6-1 before FSU pulled within a run in the bottom of the fifth, and the Seminoles had a runner on first in the bottom of the ninth when Cal Raleigh, their All-ACC catcher and conference tournament MVP, grounded out to end it.

Army led 5-0 when NC State loaded the bases with one out in the bottom of the seventh against a tiring Tyler Giovinco. The Wolfpack pushed across one run after Sam Messina relieved, and they had runners on first and second with one out in the bottom of the ninth against Cam Opp. Opp got a strikeout and groundout to finish the game.

Samford plays Oklahoma on Saturday, and Army faces Auburn and the possible No. 1 overall draft pick in pitcher Casey Mize.

Defending national champion Florida shook off Columbia for a 13-5 win in its opener Friday.

Florida, the No. 1 national seed, had entered the tournament off losses in six of seven games, and Columbia led 3-2 after three innings. Jonathan India, the Southeastern Conference player of the year, doubled in two runs in a six-run fourth and the Gators went on to win in Gainesville, Florida.

CONFERENCE CALL

The SEC went 7-1 (Georgia and Mississippi were rained out), the Big 12 was 4-1, Pac-12 4-0, ACC 3-3, American 2-2 and Big Ten 1-3.

CLOSE CALL

Stanford avoided being the second straight No. 2 national seed to lose its tournament opener, outlasting Wright State 4-3 in 13 innings.

Freshman Christian Robinson hit an RBI double that scored Andrew Daschbach from first base, sending the Cardinal to a winner’s bracket game against Cal State Fullerton on Saturday night. Wright State, the Horizon League regular-season and tournament champion, will take on Baylor in an elimination game.

Last year, Davidson beat North Carolina twice in Chapel Hill, with the second win sending the Wildcats to the super regionals.

YOU LIKE OFFENSE?

Twelve teams scored 10 or more runs in regional openers. The wildest game was in Tallahassee, where No. 3 regional seed Oklahoma overcame deficits of 5-0 and 10-7 in a 20-10 victory over No. 2 Mississippi State. The teams combined for 34 hits in a 4-hour, 42-minute game that the Sooners broke open with a nine-run seventh inning.

Mississippi State hadn’t given up so many runs since a 20-9 loss to Arkansas in March 2009.

MARVELOUS ON MOUND

— American Athletic Conference pitcher of the year Aaron Fletcher threw a four-hitter in Houston’s 9-1 win over Purdue, his third complete game of the season.

— Andrew Crane and Corey Childress struck out 13, walked one and scattered seven hits as Troy beat Duke 6-0.

— Drake Fellows allowed three hits, walked two and struck out eight in seven shutout innings in Vanderbilt’s 2-0 win over St. John’s.

— North Carolina’s Cooper Criswell and three relievers combined to strike out 10, walk none and limit North Carolina A&T to five hits in an 11-0 win.

— Joe DeMers scattered six singles and allowed one run over eight innings as Washington beat UConn 7-1.

— Arkansas’ Blaine Knight held Oral Roberts to three hits and two runs over eight innings in a 10-2 win.

— Nick Bush, Devin Fontenot and Todd Peterson combined to hold San Diego State to two hits and one run after the fourth inning in LSU’s 6-4 win.

— Cal State Fullerton’s Colton Eastman and Blake Workman combined to limit Baylor to five hits and one earned run and strike out 10 in a 6-2 win.

— John Doxakis, Stephen Kolek and Christian Roa combined to strike out 17 as Texas A&M beat Indiana 10-3.

BIG HITTERS

— No. 10 national seed Clemson held off No. 4 regional seed Morehead State when Jordan Greene’s RBI single in the bottom of the 10th gave the Tigers a 4-3 win.

— Logan Wyatt hit a grand slam and a three-run homer as Louisville won its nation-best 16th straight regional game, 13-6 over Kent State.

— Kieton Rivers homered, doubled and drove in five runs to lead Coastal Carolina to a 16-1 win over LIU Brooklyn, which is in the tournament for the first time since 1972.

— South Carolina’s Danny Blair hit the go-ahead, three-run homer in an 8-3 win over Ohio State. Blair entered the game with two home runs in 104 games. Buckeyes star reliever Seth Kinker had pitched 60 1/3 innings this season without giving up a homer.

— Nick Madrigal went 3 for 5 with four RBIs as Oregon State beat Northwestern State 9-3.

— Wil Dalton went 4 for 5 with two doubles, a home run and six RBIs in Florida’s win, and the Gators had a season-high 10 extra-base hits.

— Jake Pries’ sacrifice fly finished a four-run rally in the bottom of the ninth that gave UCLA a 6-5 walk-off win over Gonzaga.

— Michael Bush hit his team-leading 13th homer, doubled and drove in five runs for North Carolina.

— Auburn’s Steven Williams went 4 for 4 with a homer, double and five RBIs in a 13-4 win over Northeastern.

WEATHER ISSUES

The start of the Oxford (Mississippi) Regional was pushed back to Saturday because of heavy rain. Tennessee Tech plays Missouri State and Ole Miss meets Saint Louis, with the revised schedule calling for three games Sunday.

The Campbell-Georgia game at Athens, Georgia, was postponed until Saturday because of rain.

SPEAKING

“You all have questions for me now?” — Samford coach Casey Dunn at the start of his postgame news conference following the Bulldogs’ upset win over Florida State. On Thursday, no one asked him a question during the pre-regional news conference.

 

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