The final tickets to Omaha were punched Monday night as Mississippi, TCU and Virginia prevailed in Super Regional action. They will join Louisville, Texas, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt and UC Irvine when the College World Series begins play at TD Ameritrade Park this weekend.
TCU was the first team to secure its berth Monday when it came back to defeat Pepperdine, 6-5, and win the Fort Worth Super Regional. The Horned Frogs, who were nominally the visiting team, took the lead in the top of the ninth on a suicide-squeeze bunt, and closer Riley Ferrell worked around two walks in the bottom of the inning to secure the team's first trip to the College World Series since 2010.
Virginia was the next to clinch its spot in the field, as it routed ACC rival Maryland, 11-2, to win the Charlottesville Super Regional. The Cavaliers were up six runs by the end of the third inning and then added five runs in the eighth to remove all doubt. This will be their third trip in six years to the College World Series.
In the final game of the night, Mississippi came back to defeat Louisiana-Lafayette, 10-4, and win the Lafayette Super Regional. The Rebels took the lead for good in the fifth inning on a passed ball and then pulled away late. With the victory, they advanced to the College World Series for the fifth time in school history and the first since 1972.
In all three games, players who were selected last week in the 2014 First-Year Player Draft played a big role.
Perhaps nowhere was the draftees' impact felt more acutely than in Charlottesville. Virginia had eight players drafted last week (the second-highest total), and the first five of them all had a hand in the victory. Right-hander Nick Howard, who was selected 19th overall by the Reds, got the Cavaliers out of a jam in the eighth inning and recorded the final four outs of the game to secure the victory.
Left fielder Derek Fisher and first baseman Mike Papi, who were selected back-to-back in Compensation Round A by the Astros and Indians, each collected a hit and an RBI. Fisher added a walk and two runs. Center fielder Brandon Downes and second baseman Branden Cogswell, who were drafted in the seventh round by the Royals and A's, combined to go 3-for-9 with three RBIs and two runs.
TCU also got some help from its draftees. First baseman Kevin Cron, the D-backs' 14th-round pick, went 2-for-5 with a home run, a double and two RBIs. And the winning run was scored by Jerrick Suiter, the Pirates' 26th-round selection.
Not to be outdone by Cron, Pepperdine center fielder Aaron Brown also homered and doubled Monday. The Phillies' third-round pick went 3-for-4 with two RBIs and a run, but it wasn't enough to lead the Waves back to Omaha.
Mississippi led all schools with nine players drafted last week, and several came through in the clutch Monday. Hitting back-to-back in the Rebels' lineup, center fielder Auston Bousfield and third baseman Austen Anderson led the offense with two hits apiece. Bousfield, the Padres' fifth-round pick, went 2-for-6 with two doubles, a run and an RBI. Anderson, the Orioles' ninth-round selection, went 2-for-3 with a home run, two runs and two RBIs.
Now, the action moves to Omaha, where there will be nine players who were selected in the first three rounds. There will be 51 players overall who were drafted, ranging from Vanderbilt right-hander Tyler Beede (14th overall to the Giants) to UC Irvine right-hander Sam Moore (1,209th overall to the Dodgers).
NCAA Baseball Championships
Fort Worth Super Regional
TCU 6, Pepperdine 5
Charlottesville Super Regional
Virginia 11, Maryland 2
Lafayette Super Regional
Mississippi 10, Louisiana-Lafayette 4
College World Series schedule
UC Irvine vs. Texas, 3 p.m.
Louisville vs. Vanderbilt, 8 p.m.
Texas Tech vs. TCU, 3 p.m.
Virginia vs. Mississippi, 8 p.m.